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The Sharp Time

3.4  ·  Rating Details ·  534 Ratings  ·  94 Reviews
Sandinista Jones is a high school senior with a punk rock name and a broken heart. The death of her single mother has left Sandinista alone in the world, subject to the random vulnerability of everyday life. When the school system lets her down, her grief and instability intensify, and she ponders a violent act of revenge.

Still, in the midst of her crisis, she gets a job a
Hardcover, 228 pages
Published November 8th 2011 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
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Community Reviews

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{This review was originally published on Clear Eyes, Full Shelves.}

And look at me: My mother gave me a punk-rock name, but my spirit is composed of elevator music: Tra-la-la-la./Don’t mind me./I’m a nice girl./I have good manners./I’ll not bother you./Tra-la-LA!

Mary O'Connell's The Sharp Time is a unique, quiet novel that sneaked up on me.

I credit Trish Doller with my discovery of The Sharp Time, as she posted about it on her (fabulous, must-follow) Tumblr, and since I adored Trish's book (my
Bailey (IB Book Blogging)
Sep 17, 2011 Bailey (IB Book Blogging) rated it it was amazing
THE SHARP TIME is a brilliantly crafted YA novel that had my emotions going. I became so invested in Sandinista's complicated and heart-breaking story that I could think of nothing else while I was reading. It is so blatantly honest and real that you can't help but get sucked in. This is the first novel I have read from O'Connell and it certainly won't be the last.

Sandinista is one of those characters who will stick with you forever. Her mother, the one person she had a connection with, died in
Oct 04, 2012 Kelly rated it it was ok
Sandinista Jones is struggling through the loss of her mother and with the fact she can no longer handle the way her math teacher treats a fellow student who has been mainstreamed. It's straight on bullying. When Sandinista ditches school, she knows she's got to take on a job to fill her time. She takes it at Pale Circus, a vintage store in town.

Coworker Bradley quickly takes a liking to Sandinista, and the two of them spend a week together sharing their secrets with one another (fully and not-s
Oct 29, 2011 Chelsea rated it liked it
I was not sure what to expect with this book. The premise sounded promising and the cover is a pretty rainbow of colors... but there was nothing that really stuck out for me and screamed "you have to read this book!" And I will be honest, it took a little work to get into this story. Mary O'Connell writes with flowery descriptions and a short attention span. Sandinista is brilliant as a narrator, but the reader has to work hard to keep up with her thoughts. There is no exposition and explanation ...more
Jenn Estepp
Jan 25, 2016 Jenn Estepp rated it really liked it
3.5, probably. Today I will round up, because I have an admitted weakness for the Iowa Writer's Workshop. Fair warning if you don't though - or even if you're one of those people who roll their eyes at the mention of it. (And if you've no idea what I'm talking about, just ignore this portion of the program.) It's very much a product of an author who has spent time there. Without question, it's the most literary young adult novels I've ever read. And I mean that with all due respect to the YA des ...more
OMGosh. This book has left me pretty much speechless. Like, I don't even know where to begin with how beautifully haunting this book was...

For me, the thing that stood out about The Sharp Time from almost every other YA book I've read was that the writing was so incredibly intelligent and just-- beautiful. Like I'm talking, jaw-droppingly, can't even believe it, beautiful. The whole time I was reading, I was totally mesmerized and just wanted to savor every word. It was like reading poetry in pr
Dec 21, 2015 Laura rated it liked it
Review posted 10/25/2011 at Owl Tell You About It.

Sandinista Jones has to be one of the coolest teen narrators I’ve come across. Sure, she’s lost and bitter, but she’s also witty and real. She and her co-worker Bradley were the saving graces of an otherwise confusing book. I think the plot itself works, but the way Sandinista’s brain works sometimes lost me. Her thoughts were so clouded by anger and depression that I was left wondering what the hell was going on. I’m guessing this was a little b
Jul 20, 2011 Sara rated it it was amazing
Oh my, I loved this book. I am well beyond my teenage years, and I found The Sharp Time to be so much more sophisticated than most "grown-up" books. That's Mary O'Connell's genius--she's so funny and accessible and reading her (also loved "Living With Saints") is such a delight that you forget how freaking smart she is. Sandinista is that smart, soulful girl you always wanted to know (or wish you were) in high school and the way she navigates the ragingly unfair circumstances of her life is ... ...more
Trish Doller
Sep 30, 2013 Trish Doller rated it it was amazing
Really liked this one! Characters were well-defined, tension was great, loved (!) the gritty realism of the setting SO much. I think there are cultural references that might be lost on some younger readers, but not so much that it diminishes the overall effect of Sandinista's story. Definitely a keeper for me.
Cathy Blackler
Apr 27, 2011 Cathy Blackler rated it really liked it
I will post a more thorough review a little later. But for now, Mary O'Connell has crafted a haunting tale of loss, grief, acceptance, and the strength it takes to work through it all when it seems that no one is paying attention.
Sep 15, 2011 Michelle rated it really liked it
Posted on Book Chelle.

3.5 but rounded up.

The Sharp Time by Mary O’Connel is a week filled of strong emotions. Eighteen year-old Sandinista Jones is filled with pain and grief. She lives alone in Kansas City. She lost her mother not too long ago, and there is nothing in her life that gives her hope or self-worth.

After an altercation at school, Sandinista questions and analyzes her life. Piece by piece, she relives through her past, attempts to cope, and definitely, longs for her mother. She is bi
Dec 23, 2011 Skye rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own, ya
This review is also posted on my blog, In The Good Books.

The death of her beloved mother and the constant failures and shortcomings of the world around her leaves Sandinista caught between constant defeatism and rage. On the weird and wonderful Thirty-Eighth street, plans for violent revenge take root and a redemptive friendship is formed.

Sandinista had one of the most capturing and passionate voices I've ever read. Everything she was feeling was laid out bare -- her pleas, her grief, the memory
Rachel Smalter Hall
In the past year I’ve read books that are smart, strange, sad, funny. Yet Mary O’Connell’s teen novel The Sharp Time takes the cake for "loveliest."

First, there’s the heroine’s name: Sandinista Jones. Next, you’ve got the frothy sweet vintage couture she wears to her job at The Pale Circus. And did I mention her teenage crush on the boy with a tiny crucifix tattooed to the pad of his thumb?

Much has been made of the fact that O’Connell is a graduate of the same Iowa Writer’s Workshop that produce
Nov 28, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone!
After being injured in an attack by a hysterical algebra teacher, Sandinista Jones realizes, "I am not some child trapped in a subpar day care, I am an eighteen year old adult with my own goddamn getaway car," and slips away from her classroom "as if for a dental appointment." She promptly applies for a job at the Pale Circus, her favorite vintage clothing store. There is nothing, and no one, to stop her. And there's the rub. Her mother, her sole adult guardian, has died in a freak accident, lea ...more
Andrea Hoag
Nov 10, 2011 Andrea Hoag rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Teens and Gen-X/Gen-Y
Even though this is Ms. O'Connell's debut novel, it doesn't have the feel of a first book. It's too fluid and captivating to be the work of a newcomer. Sandinista Jones will feel like a hilarious best friend whose voice you'll love to have banging around in your head for a couple of days. Even though the book bears a sense of tragedy (18 y.o. Sandinista's single mother recently died) she's so sharply observant and mordantly funny that each page is a literary minefield of jabs and jewels to be sa ...more
Gerri Leen
Jan 12, 2012 Gerri Leen rated it it was amazing
I wish there were a way to give bonus stars, because this book really deserves some. Fabulously written: this is a narrator who loves words, who inhabits the world and invests it with so much significance and meaning the way she describes things, and who you can really get behind (you WILL care what happens to her, even if she starts out a little bit of a cipher). This is straight YA, no paranormal, but yet there is still a little bit of a fairy tale aspect to this. But mostly, it's one of the m ...more
Jan 01, 2016 Heather rated it really liked it
I was mildly disappointed in The Sharp Time by Mary O’Connell because it wasn’t what I expected. I expected shock, excitement, and I’m not sure what else. What I got was a book that felt dry and somewhat dull. The book is much more reflective, with meandering thoughts and daydreams throughout, than I’d anticipated. That made it a bit of a chore to read at first, because I was expecting a faster pace. Still, Sandinista is an interesting character whose story will touch your heart. Despite my disa ...more
Dec 10, 2011 tarawrawr rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own

The Sharp Time by Mary O’Connell is phenomenal. Seriously phenomenal.

I’ve read a lot of YA books about parents dying and kids being shipped away which leads to some epic boarding school adventure or something like that, and etc. But Sandinista’s story is different – she’s alone.

I was absolutely amazed by Mary O’Connell while reading The Sharp Time. The writing style is seriously amazing. It’s more st
Feb 22, 2013 Jess rated it really liked it
Shelves: ebooks
The first few pages, I wasn't sure I would like this book. The descriptives felt a little overdone and I imagined the author with a thesaurus pulling out too many words. The sentences ran on and on. Then it clicked. I was inside Sandinista's head. It was so different than the way my own thoughts go, that I loved being pulled in by her. I really ended up enjoying the way she described the things around her, all relating back to the incidents in her life. The long trailing thoughts were indicative ...more
Amber Wortz
Mar 09, 2012 Amber Wortz rated it really liked it
Amber Wortz
Contemporary Realistic Fiction

"The Sharp Time" by Mary O'Connell is a work of fiction about a high school senior who has just lost her mother and is thrown into the world of real-life and taking care of herself. When her math teacher humiliates her in front of her entire class, she is forced to think about who really cares about her and who she really cares about. Through the help of a new friend and a special possession, she begins to find the person she knows she needs to be.
I was h
Dec 08, 2011 Susan rated it really liked it
when i first started reading this book, i was so mesmerized by the style of writing. the words were so lush, grandiose, and i couldn't put the book down. halfway through it though, the ADD aspect began to annoy me. i am sick of the words, " Have you paid attention ?" and "Sandinista, you're a real cool person, you're a real cool person everyday." granted, the character had ADD, and she seemed to not be able to not focus on either Catherine Bennett,Alecia Hardway,the pink gun, and her thoughts on ...more
Anastasia (At Bookish)
Jun 26, 2012 Anastasia (At Bookish) rated it did not like it
I finished. Oh thank god I'm finished.

This book took forever to read. It's short enough that I would normally have finished it in a few hours, but it took me a week to finish instead.

And the thing is, I'm not sure why. It wasn't an awful book. It just... wasn't very interesting. I felt like there wasn't anything going on in the book. Sandinista was caught up on the same thing throughout the entire book, and it got annoying. So, don't waste your time on this book. Find a better realistic fictio
Feb 02, 2012 Angie rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, ya
I really enjoyed this debut novel by Lawrence author Mary O'Connell (as I did her short story collection, Living with Saints). I loved the voice of the main character, Sandinista Jones, at times wickedly funny and achingly vulnerable. Living on her own after her mother's death, she walks out of high school and into a job at a hip vintage clothing store and its hodgepodge surrounding businesses. Meanwhile, she entertains violent revenge fantasies against one teacher while hoping to be saved by an ...more
Dec 26, 2012 Reba rated it it was ok
This book was well written. The author certainly has a way with words and phrases, and I liked Sandinista as a character. So, why only two stars? Sadinista's voice, totally inauthentic to me. I have spent the last 9 years as a librarian at two different public schools and served as the Young Adult librarian at a public library, and I have never, ever met an eighteen year old who thinks and talks like Sandinista. I was still able to enjoy the book, but not as much as I would have liked.
Jun 27, 2011 Janiejane rated it it was amazing
In this amazing novel, O'Connell grapples with intense issues and topics. The author writes honestly and touchingly about realizing that authority figures can disappointing you and those you trust can betray you. Sandinsta Jones is the best young narrator since Holden Caufield and will stick with me for a long time. I can't wait for all my friends to read this book since I know they'll love it. So happy to have found a great new author!
Aug 17, 2012 Dennis rated it really liked it
I'm thinking of adding a new tag, "atmospheric", for this book. I could see and feel and even smell O'Connell's fictional Kansas City. Sandanista Jones and Bradley have stayed with me for several days now after finishing the book. Even the supporting characters were real, not just sketched in. I like Mary O'Connell's writing a lot, and since she lives in my favorite town, maybe I'll get to tell her so in person some day.
Nov 28, 2011 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: 10th grade and up, especially girls
Another fine book about bullies and what to do about them - this time around it's a horrible teacher attacking the main character as well as her mentally challenged classmate. Sandinista Jones is a funny, sad, challenging character, completely believable in her sadness, inability to act, and her ADD episodes. I loved the supporting characters too, especially the people involved in the vintage clothing store, The Pale Circus. A must read.

Language, underage drug and alcohol use.
Laura Kirk
Jun 30, 2011 Laura Kirk rated it it was amazing
The Sharp Time is both poetic and shattering. My heart was in my throat many times throughout the book but when I finished the last page I had to turn away and weep silently from the beauty and weight of the story.
Dec 05, 2011 Kirsty rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this book - it was so refreshing and different to most of the YA I read where chasing some boy is paramount.
Oct 22, 2011 Danya rated it liked it
This review was for my blog event Psychtember, so it's formatted a little differently than usual, to reflect the mental health theme. I've structured things as though the book is the patient and I'm giving them an assessment. Each axis is an aspect of the book that I'll give my thoughts on (characters, plot, etc.), and the validity score refers to how psychologically accurate I think the book is, with the final diagnosis being my shooting star rating. The rating still reflects my overall view of ...more
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Mary O'Connell is a graduate of the University of Kansas and the Iowa's Writer's Workshop. She is the author of the short story collection Living With Saints (Grove/Atlantic) and her debut novel, The Sharp Time, was published by Delacorte in November. She lives with her husband and her three children in Lawrence, Kansas.
More about Mary O'Connell...

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“So maybe my own life is not so drastic and dreadful...maybe I am just like all those other girls who have come before me with their oily T-zones and random terrible days and bittersweet triumphs, the world billowing out behind them.” 2 likes
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