Rating: 4/5 Stars
Release Date: 3/9/2010
Publisher: Dial Books
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About the Book: Seventeen-year-old Lennie is still reeling from her older sister's sudden death. Bailey was the one in the spotlight and Lennie the shadow-without her, Lennie isn't sure how to cope. Lennie finds herself caught between two boys-Toby, her sister's boyfriend, and Joe-the new boy in town. Lennie struggles between overcoming her grief and finding happiness again and ultimately becoming the star of her life.
GreenBeanTeenQueen Says: I really liked this book and I didn't like it. It's one of those books that I struggled to really decide how much I liked it.
I think Ms. Nelson is a very talented writer. This is one of those rare books that I actually wanted to mark up-I wanted to take a pencil and underline all my favorite passages, (but of course I had a library book, so I didn't mark them and sadly, turned the book back in so I can't share them with you!) But there were lines that I thought were incredibly delicious and and examples of brilliant writing. But I felt there was almost too much. As I kept going, I felt like the book was all metaphors. It was like it worked in the beginning, so why not keep it up? It lost some of the beauty after awhile-instead I was rolling my eyes at how many metaphors were packed into each page.
In between chapters (either at the end of beginning) the reader would find poems written by Lennie that had been written on papers and buried, on tree branches, on to-go cups and throw away, etc. The first time I encountered this, it really jarred me. The book is told in first person from Lennie's point of view, so when I came across these poems that then said "found under a bench" or "found on a tree branch" it really threw me. Here I was used to a first person narrative and now I have some unseen narrator telling me these poems were found. It didn't really work for me and I almost put the book down after the first couple of chapters. But I stuck with it-and I'm glad I did, because I soon got used to the random poetry that was found. It all makes sense in the end and if you stick with it, hopefully it won't seem strange after awhile.
The poems though made me wish that the book had been written in verse. They were so beautiful and heartbreaking-I would love to see Ms. Nelson write an entire book in verse-I think it would be great! The other perk of the poems were that they really give the reader a look into Bailey's life-through them we get to know her and we understand Lennie's grief. I understood it, yet I never really grieved with her. I would have liked to know more about Bailey. I also wanted more of Lennie's grandmother and her Uncle Big. I know it never was their story, but I would have liked to get to know them more and have their characters a little more fleshed out.
Toby and Joe were both great characters, although I felt I never got to know Toby as Toby-he was always sad Toby (what was he like before that made Bailey love him so much?). And the fact that he was described as lion-like in appearance was odd to me. Joe almost seemed too sweet and too perfect. And his eyelashes-really, how many times does someone need to hear about eyelashes?? That really bugged me. But I could see why Lennie was attracted to both boys and both the romantic storylines made sense to me. The ending is somewhat corny and sappy, but reader's who enjoy romance will eat it up I'm sure.
Even with all it's faults, I still really liked this book. It's not a fast moving book-it's slow and steady. At times there isn't much dialogue, so some of the chapters drag a little. But it's a book that has stuck with me after I've read it. As for who I'll booktalk it to, I think fans of Sarah Dessen are the prime audience, but I might also hand it over to someone looking for a quieter realistic fiction.