Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Harcourt Children's Books, 2011
Source: Received an ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
This book dives right into the drama with main character Eleanor Crowe admitting her pregnancy and marrying the father, her long-time boyfriend Lam. Her parents then live for Africa to help children of AIDS, her older sister lives in California and is attempting to convince Eleanor to give her the baby, and Eleanor is left practically alone to serve as a counselor at a fat camp run by her new in-laws. As time passes, the pressure mounts and Elly must make some difficult choices.
This is a bit of a change in YA for me. Elly is somewhat of an abrasive character. She smoked, drank, and got high while messing around with her older boyfriend and she fully anticipated having a miscarriage, which would make the decision for her. She's always felt like a disappointment to her parents and she's quick to judge and get defensive. Elly is so self-destructive and emotionally immature, definitely not ready to be a mother. But as the book continues, her snarky attitude made me laugh and she was able to gain some of my sympathy. She's in a tough situation but she's a fighter.
Additionally she begins to discover a maternal side as she interacts with the kids at the camp. Elly had zero experience going in but begins to find her way, feeling sorry for kids under pressure from their parents to lose weight and for the bullied among them. I also appreciated the big cast. Sometimes so many characters can be confusing but Nolan did a great job of fleshing them out and keeping them distinguishable for me. Furthermore, none of the characters were perfect; they were SO imperfect with many different facets and they seemed like real people.
Of course that meant, that there were a lot of stuff I didn't like. People frequently made the wrong choices especially Elly and Lam and their relationship. I just wanted to save them from their stupid mistakes but I could only keep reading. The other part I didn't like was the ultimate ending, which seemed just a bit too pat; no spoilers here though-read it for yourself!