This book was… interesting. It’s not your usual YA read. Unwanted teen pregnancy, abandoned babies, and the ensuing moral dilemmas–I’ll be honest, it caught me off guard. I’ll admit it, I picked this book from the library’s catalogue because I thought the cover looked spooky. (So so wrong).
Let’s talk appeal factors. The novel’s pacing was excellent, fast enough to maintain a steady level of interest, but not so rapid that there wasn’t time to sneak in some nice, thought-provoking introspection from the protagonist, Cameron–so, all in all, perfect for teens reading below grade level. There was nice balance of dialogue and description, and I felt the language was accessible for the target audience. My only complaint is that Katie, Cameron’s twin sister, has a very dark back-story that is only alluded to, and I thought this should have been explored in greater depth or omitted.
The characterizations were quite well done, considering this book packed a lot of action into only 124 pages. Even minor characters like Cameron’s crush/shoulder-devil are surprisingly well-rounded. Loved that it was told from Cameron’s point of view, rather than Katie’s–a male protagonist, huzzah! The first-person narration made it easy to like the already likeable Cameron.
As for the story itself–to put it simply, it’s complicated. It is well-written, provocative, surprisingly relevant, and retains that appealing whiff of scandal without becoming sordid or sensational. That being said, there are a lot of prickly moral issues raised and believe me, it gets TENSE. This is a potentially a good thing–it will hopefully make readers ponder these difficult grey areas. However, do not discount the potential to seriously weird out readers uncomfortable with this much heaviness in a YA novel.
My favourite part was when Cameron remembered an embroidered saying framed on his grandmother’s wall that said This Too Shall Pass — this made me get all teary thinking about the things we say to keep us going. Sniff. Cue Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” and movie-Sam’s inspirational speech about the shadow being a passing thing even though THEY’RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE IN OSGILIATH!
Anyway. Back to the book. Recommended. Full of weighty issues that will have you thinking about right and wrong and the grey areas in between. Lots of lessons: appearances can be deceiving, people are complex and multi-faceted, and perfection is a massive myth. (I am so tempted to insert a LOTR reference right here but I guess one per post is enough.)
Seriously, though, this book was a downer. Even the “hopeful” ending was pretty depressing… Everyone in this book needs a kitten.