Hardcover: 208 pages
Publisher: Simon Pulse (October 5, 2010)
Summary: Strasnick’s slim second offering packs a lot into its short chapters: divorce, broken friendships, crushes, the lines between love and sex and more. Characterization, scenes, dialogue and setting are seamlessly distilled into so few sharp, image-rich phrases that the novel reads almost as if it were written in verse. Less is definitely more here, and readers are plunged into Alex’s physical and emotional world within three to four words. Although the plot moves swiftly, the author’s ability to capture Alex’s inner world in so few words give the novel depth and balance. Complex and thought-provoking.
My review: It takes a certain degree of skill to write a novel of short length while retaining its power, symbolism and relaying its messages succintly. Strasnick's second book achieves this. Alex (Al) is witnessing her mother's inability to handle the breaking down of her marriage. Moving into her deceased mother's house, she makes Al leave behind her childhood home, her father, dog, and best friend,Evie. Dealing with her own stuff, Al also has to take on caring for her mom while adjusting to a new school. At school she meets Fred, cute, different and appealing. She also meets his twin sister, Adina, too possessive, quirky, and strange.
By introducing Al to the twins, Strasnick mirrors the problems in Al's life in an interesting and layered way. Adina has some serious issues to contend with, especially her relationship with her brother, and Al realizes over time just how ill this girl is. While I enjoyed the story I never really connected with or truly cared for any of the characters. I felt as though I was reading a character study. I'm the type of reader who loves to be immersed in the books I read. I didn't feel that here but my experience wasn't altered because of the story's brevity. I still found this novel to be powerful; I just wanted more to really get into it.
Favorite excerpt: From page 123, ARC.
"I filled my cup with steaming water. "Three's a crowd. . . ." I mumbled, dropping a green tea bag into my mug. Three. Three used to feel right. Me, Mom, Dad--the perfect unit. Now three felt lopsided and odd. Me, Evie, Ben. Me, Adina, Fred. Someone was always, always getting pushed to the side. "Why?" I asked Caroline. "Why do you want me to stay?"
She glanced up. Her eyes, pretty and blank and blue. "You make your dad happy."
I thought about Mom, home alone in pieces. Dad had Caroline. Mom had me, and I was here.
"Stay for lunch at least?"
I needed to leave. "Can't."
Cover comment: Cute, different, made me think of Al walking down a street in her new town with Fred off to the side somewhere. I really like it.
Book source: Around the World tours