Lauren's Reviews > Down to the Bone

Down to the Bone by Mayra Lazara Dole
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's review
Apr 03, 11

bookshelves: young-adult
Read from March 22 to April 01, 2011

There were plenty of sympathetic characters in Dole's YA debut, but odd choices in story-crafting made this a slower read than I would have liked. Main character Laura's attempts to balance her acceptance of her sexuality with her need to feel loved by her family fuel the novel, and there were a lot of situations and issues here that I hadn't seen explored in other GLBT YA novels, such as Laura's having been in a long-term lesbian relationship before starting to explore the gay community, and her at-first reluctant friendship with genderqueer Tazer. All of this was quite interesting, and I liked seeing Laura take small steps toward becoming the person she knew she wanted to be.

But it took a long time, story-wise, to get to this point. Each chapter seemed to have at least one scene with a meandering conversation that summarized things we already knew -- e.g., Laura updating her best pal Soli on the goings-on at her job or her not-relationship with Francisco -- or a meandering conversation about things that didn't have much relation to the story at hand -- e.g., Soli, Laura, and Tazer talking about their quinces. Plus, most chapters started with several paragraphs (or pages) of summary about the things that had gone on between the end of the last chapter and the beginning of the new one. This resulted in a conversational, almost bloggy style of storytelling, which perhaps works for some readers, but it also meant that a lot of events were happening offstage. For instance, the reader is told about Laura's relationship with Francisco, but he rarely pops up as a character with an active role in a scene, and by the time a climactic scene does happen between the pair, it's hard to muster the appropriate emotion when the story itself hasn't spent much time helping the reader get invested in the conflict. Better developed were the relationships and conflicts between Laura and her surrogate family, and Laura and her mom.

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