If you've read or seen Election and Little Children, you know what off-kilter characters Tom Perotta creat...moreTwisted Tales of Disillusionment and Divorce
If you've read or seen Election and Little Children, you know what off-kilter characters Tom Perotta creates. And we get to meet a lot of these divorcees, criminals, adulterers, dirty cops, and teenagers with grudges in this collection of short stories. What amazes me is how likable Perotta makes these despicable characters. It's like life has given these sad sacks a tough road, so of course they choose to muck it up even further.
Though the author seems to return often to stories about teachers and students, there is a good amount of variety in points of view. We start with a recent high school graduate who shocked everyone when he didn't get into college, like all of his honor student peers, and now works as a pizza delivery man. He has to fend off a local policeman who likes to pull him over and make sexual advances. Though he shows panache in handling the cop, he shoots himself in the foot in a major area of his life.
Next is a teacher who feels hurt by a negative comment on grademyteacher.com. She confronts the student who wrote it and surprisingly they bond, almost becoming bffs. The teacher has an urge to do something unethical, and like most of Perotta's characters, she goes for it.
One of the most depressing stories is about a teenage boy who suffers the aftermath of a football concussion. The story accurately shows how a life can fall apart from Post-Concussion syndrome. We can only hope for a happy ending for the boy, but for Perotta's characters, happy endings often don't exist.
However, sometimes he lets his characters get revenge, like in the story of a smart high school boy who gets paid to take the SAT for other students. Don't mess with him!
Overall, I admire the writing but not the bleak view of humanity shown in these stories. (less)
This New Adult romance will be released 8-1-14, and the psychological aspects of the story enticed me to read an adva...moreLove Blooms in Wilderness Program
This New Adult romance will be released 8-1-14, and the psychological aspects of the story enticed me to read an advanced copy.
Kelsie is a 17-year-old cheerleader who’s a hot mess. Her best friend died in a car accident, and Kelsie unfairly blames herself. To numb her emotional pain, she starts self-injuring. While cutting oneself is horrifying, I didn’t fully appreciate the horror until I was right there with Kelsie, feeling her pain and her disgust from taking it out on her body.
To try to curb her harmful behavior, Kelsie’s father sends her to a wilderness therapy program. She is ill-prepared and ticked off, with her huge suitcase and even bigger attitude. But the counselor Chris knows just how to handle her, and Kelsie settles down enough to get through the first day, eventually growing closer to the other teens in the program.
JC is the young man who captures her attention the most. He’s athletic, light-hearted, and also blames himself for a loved one dying.
Keslie tells her story to the woman hired to keep her safe—Marta—after she finishes the program. Therefore, the novel consists of flashbacks, which might not have been the best choice for the pacing of the plot. I thought the story took a while to get going. Also, the nicknames Kelsie bestows on each program participant seemed to interfere with clarity and my connection to the characters.
But once the plot kicks into gear, I was riveted. Another boy in the program has it out for JC, and a brewing storm threatens the safety of the group. That’s when Kelsie is forced to grow up fast, discovering that people may not be what they seem.
I dislike when parents are portrayed as incompetent twits in YA and NA stories. Though Kelsie's stepmother is a shrew, I'm glad her father works hard at redeeming himself.
Kelsie’s interactions with JC provide much-needed lightness given the darkness they’ve experienced. The characters seem to be their age, which I appreciate.
I grab a handful of shirts and organize them by type, short-sleeved or long-sleeved, and color. After a few minutes, JC stands behind me and places his hand around my waist. “You really are OCD.” “Is that a problem for you?” “Yes, that is the final straw. I can handle everything else, but putting my shirts in rainbow order is too much.”
I loved the ending, which left me with a relieved, buoyant feeling. This is a wonderful debut novel! (less)