Monday, August 27, 2012
Since You Left Me
Egmont USA, 2012
YA Contemporary Religious
Source: Received an e-ARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
After reading Zadoff's previous works Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have (which apparently I did not review) and My Life, The Theater, and Other Tragedies, I requested this expecting another great contemporary read from the male perspective. And I would say that I found a sensitive and endearing male voice in the person of Sanskrit Aaron Zuckerman (yes that is his first name as bestowed upon him by his yoga-obsessed mother).
Sanskrit's life isn't going so well. As evidenced by the title, he feels pretty abandoned. His parents are divorced with his mother deeply enmeshed in her yoga studio and his dad barely managing to parent on the weekends. His younger sister Sweet Caroline (yes, that is her full name, like the song) is kind of annoying, as younger sisters are and she seems to be developing her own life away from the family. Sanskrit's crush is forever out of reach. And his former best friend has discovered God after a trip to Israel. His now-deceased grandfather left him an inheritance that can only be spent on school where he must receive a Jewish education despite his own lack of faith.
But the book opens at the parent conference for his orthodox Jewish private school, his flaky mother doesn't show. Since his stubborn behavior already has him on the trouble-list, he blurts out a lie, just a little lie to buy him some time. Unfortunately that little lie has big consequences; some people start to draw nearer but what will they do when the truth is discovered?
Like I said above, I really liked Sanskrit whose voice is compelling and kept me turning the pages even though I knew some bad things would happen as his lies are found out. Because once you tell one lie, you usually end up telling more to cover your tracks. His lies get pretty big but I never lost my sympathy and connection to Sanskrit.
What I didn't like so much was his mother whose guru comes to visit before taking her back to India with him. I just could not handle how selfish she was. I get being frustrated with your life but you don't abandon your kids; you just don't. Plus she was so resistant to Sanskrit's opinions, which were spot-on even if he wasn't always able to present them as well. I just really disliked the mother and consequently the end. I didn't think much of the father either but he wasn't in the book that much. Sweet Caroline, though somewhat a pain, was pretty cute :) I want to emphasize the importance of their family to the story as it comes to take center stage while the lie percolates at Sanskrit's school.
Overall: A warm novel about family and truths featuring a strong male voice.
Cover: I really like the colors-they're very bold and bright and stand out from all those covers with people on them. The plane is also relevant to the plot.