I ordered Love & Leftovers soon after I finished Audition because I'd really enjoyed that novel in verse and I'd remembered that April h4.5 stars
I ordered Love & Leftovers soon after I finished Audition because I'd really enjoyed that novel in verse and I'd remembered that April had really enjoyed this one as well. The verse in Love and Leftovers is actually far more enjoyable than in Audition, as it plays with form to build tension throughout the novel. If you're nerdily interested in that sort of thing, L&L is worth reading for that aspect alone.
What I was really surprised by was how compelling and "edgy" (ugh, I hate that word) this one is. The marketing for L&L made me assume it was a "cute/sweet" read (I've got no problem with that at all), but it actually dealt with a lot of issues in a realistic manner, particularly teens and intimacy in many of its forms.
Marcie is dragged on a permanent vacation from her hometown of Boise to New Hampshire by her mother. Once summer is over, their vacation doesn't end, and her mother enrolls Marcie in school in New England, where she's incredibly lonely. Despite that she has a boyfriend, Marcie begins a sort of relationship with J.D. The fluid nature of young adult relationships was handled extremely well, and while I am often uncomfortable with themes of cheating (and frankly, I have a hard time categorizing this as cheating) in novels for any age, the very real consequences (positive and negative) of this plot-line were extremely well-done.
When Marcie returns to Idaho, she's reunited with her group of friends, The Leftovers, and boy did I love the scenes involving all of them. It reminded both of when I was that age and my friend pool was very similar and was relatable for me now as a supposed grown-up who still has a motley mix of friends. The results of what happened while Marcie was marooned in New Hampshire come to a head in interesting and believable ways and there are some moments in which I was absolutely cringing in a way I do whenever I watch Freaks & Geeks ("It's too real! Make it stop!").
I have a few thoughts that are of a spoilery nature, so click through at your own risk:(view spoiler)[
There's a theme throughout this novel of the results of being the person from which intimacy (emotional or physical) is witheld. I don't think I've seen this in a YA book, at least in such an overt manner, and boy is it something that's overdue. Marcie, her father and her sometimes boyfriend Linus all at some point suffer from the results of being emotionally or physically, for lack of a better word, abandoned--and, wow, they all dealt with it in realistically intense ways.
I normally have an issue with YA novels in particular where teen boy characters are judgy regarding female characters' sexuality. In L&L, Linus freaks out because he assumes that Marcie had sex with J.D. back in New Hampshire. Later on, he discovers that he assumed wrongly. However, this is not the catalyst for mending the pair's relationship; there's none of that, "Oh, since you're still this perfect virginal girl, we can get back together." nonsense. Instead, the tables are turned, and the Leftover he starts dating does the same to him, remaining emotionally and physically distant. That is what causes him to realize that what he did to Marcie prior to her leaving for New Hampshire was just as bad as what she did to him by starting a sort of relationship with J.D.
Finally, while we have a "happy for now" resolution for this book, I didn't get the feeling that there was an overblown "happily ever after" assumed in L&L. As someone who is married to a wonderful guy I met when I was 17, I get pretty offended when I read reviews saying that teen love isn't real love, but at the same time, I always get the icks when a contemporary YA implies that the young couple will be happy forever. Hurray to Sarah Tregay for walking that line beautifully, ala Sarah Dessen. (hide spoiler)]
- I had a hard time with J.D. as a character, because I kept thinking he was J.D. McCoy, and he was totally not a J.D. McCoy. If anything, he was kind of a male Lyla. - Hallelujah to the rare YA novel that embraces teen girl sexuality in a positive way. Seriously. I'm sure for this reason, some folks will have a problem with L&L. - I wish I could ask the book designer if the use of Lobster font for the poem titles was a shout out to New England. - If someone had told me you could use the word "boner" in a poem, I probably would've enjoyed poetry more as a teenager. - This poem stuck out to me as articulating something that a love of women of all ages wrestle with:
If my mom says women are not property
how come I want to belong to someone?
-My favorite line (aside from the boner poem, obviously):
That's how we spent the day
drizzling sarcasm over the truth dropping bad jokes like f-bombs
I highly recommend this one for folks who love realistic, contemporary YA and for people who're interested in checking out novels in free verse. This one is super-approachable and beautifully executed. I usually buy books in digital form, but I did buy the hardback of this one and it's full of post-it notes with favorite lines marked out. Sarah Tregay will definitely go onto my auto-buy list.
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I love, love, love this novel. I mean, I loved A Little Wanting Song by the same, but Graffiti Moon, I adored. The story is simple, and short, about aI love, love, love this novel. I mean, I loved A Little Wanting Song by the same, but Graffiti Moon, I adored. The story is simple, and short, about a single night after a group of teens have graduated from their last year of school, and it beautifully captures those nights that only happen when you're 16/17/18/19, when you stay out late and there's So Much Excitement. This is the type of book that's why I love reading YA. I can't say a lot about the plot, specifically, because it'll spoil it for you, so here's a rundown of Graffiti Moon's general awesomeness:
-Fabulous dialog. Funny, clever, fast and real. This is not your angsty, overwrought Dawson's Creek-style teen dialog. -The chapters from Ed's POV killed me! Killed me! He's perspective is just so tough--there's a lot happening in his life and seeing his reactions hit me in the gut. -The girls are funny and smart--yay! -Ed kind of reminded me of Tom Mackee from The Piper's Son, but also some of my favorite artistic male YA characters, like Adam from If I Stay/Where She Went and Seth from Freefall. This is a good thing. -The arts are a big part of the backdrop to this story: glass blowing, painting, poetry. Right On. -I love the gritty, urban backdrop of Graffiti Moon. It takes place in Melbourne, Australia, a place I've never been, but I felt like I was there while reading the book.
If you can track this one down, give it a read--it's a wonderful example of what's good in contemporary YA.
The following are a few of my favorite quotations from Graffiti Moon... (Possibly spoilerish--you've been warned.)(view spoiler)[
The yellow’s right. The green, too. The sky’s all wrong. I need the sort of blue that rips your inside out. You don’t see blue like that round here.
‘I think surfers are maybe her type,’ Dylan says. ‘You’re stuffed, then.’ ‘I could be a surfer if I tried.’ ‘Surfers don’t wear checked shirts and iron their jeans and shave twice a day.’ ‘I like to be neat.’ ‘And that’s fine. But you’ll never be a dude.’ ‘Dude’s a stupid word,’ he says. ‘Yes, it is,’ I tell him.
I’m not making a lot of sense but I keep going because her eyes are pinning me down. She knows now that I’m him, that I’ve lost my job. That I’m planning to rob the school later. She knows it all but she doesn’t know why. ‘In your head, Shadow was this great person and I’m nothing.’ Her eyes keep pinning me down. ‘I can barely even read.’
I look at that spot on her neck and make a few travel plans.
I missed him after he’d gone. I mean, it’s not like the tingle feeling stopped because he grabbed my arse. I spent the weekend after our date wishing I could stab him with my fluffy-duck pen and staring at the phone hoping he’d call. Dating is a very tricky business.
I told her he wasn’t who I thought he’d be. Mum stroked my hair and said, ‘Sometimes they aren’t. Sometimes they make you vomit.’ This did not comfort me.
‘Where’s the fire, Lucy Dervish?’ Dad asks. In me. Under my skin. I figure I’ve got enough to give a little to Ed. I take off under a dark sky fading out and turning pink. I owe him some words.