There are these certain books that are written only to fall in the cracks, to be trampled on and overshadowed by more hyped, outrageously popular books which oftentimes end up being a huge let down. It is my hope that Winter Town
doesn't end up falling into this category.Winter Town
is Stephen Emond's sophomore novel, and it centers around the friendship of two teenagers named Evan and Lucy. They grew up together, did everything together: drew comic slides; read fantasy tombs until their eyes hurt; made up life stories for the graves' occupants in the neighborhood cemetery; and walked the streets endlessly, just talking of anything and everything. As youngsters, they were inseparable. That is until Lucy's parents split up and Lucy had to move from New England to Atlanta with her mother. Now Evan and Lucy only see each other during winter break. And this year, when Lucy arrives back in town, she's doesn't look — nor act — anything like Evan remembers. At first, Evan and Lucy get off to a bad start; but soon after they're right back to their old banter and games. Except for those few moments when Lucy seems to fold in on herself, hide under her new exterier and act like New Lucy™. So what, exactly, is Lucy hiding? What happened to her over the last year that could potentially break her and Evan apart?
I can't even begin to express the utter joy, devotion, and love I have for this little gem. I feel like when I was twelve and snuck into my kitchen and poured myself three cups of coffee in a row from my parents new coffee marker. In other words, seriously, seriously
hyperactive. I've been on a strange yet unsettlingly pleasant cloud since finishing Winter Town
. Although I sometimes betray myself and think that perhaps another genre is where I'm happiest, most of my brain knows that the realistic genre is my favorite. It (almost) always has the most engaging and authentic characters in young adult literature.Winter Town
is realistic fiction at its best: it's not fluffy, candy-cane-coated chick lit nor is it angsty, melodramatic soap; it the the perfect balance. The characters have their issues, their family drama, their secrets — they are
teenagers. But there's never a gorge of anything sugary or
depressing. Emond knows how to showcase a teenager's life without making it overly done on either side of the spectrum.
Emond's characters are at once endearing and exhausting, fun and frustrating. On the surface, Evan seems simple and and almost mundane — but if you look closely he comes to life and you see a whole other side to his character. He flourishes with the turn of each page.
And Lucy! What a wonderfully infuriating character! She takes a little getting used to, but I ended up truly appreciating her originality and quirkiness. She is as different from Evan as spaghetti is from hydrogen, but they balance each other out. Their friendship is startlingly real and whimsical. I loved it.
On that note, I'm sure most people who are thinking of reading this are wondering whether Evan and Lucy end up becoming . . . more than friends.
I'll never tell
. . . You'll just have to read it to find out.
Stephen Emond isn't just a fantastic writer; he also does the illustrations for Winter Town
, and they really add flare to the story.(This photo has been borrowed from the author's website. No copyright infringement is intended.)
Lastly, I'm unsure as to how many people will enjoy Winter Town
to the degree that I did. But if I can help even one person choose to read this book and have it turn out much the same for them as it did for me, I've done my job.
As for me, I'm sure Winter Town
will stay with me for a very long time. 4.5 stars