Carol Kean's Reviews > Maggie Come Lately

Maggie Come Lately by Michelle Buckman
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Dec 23, 2011

it was amazing
Recommended to Carol by: no one
Recommended for: teenage girls
Read from December 22 to 23, 2011 — I own a copy , read count: 1

At last, a writer who can write, and a contemporary teen heroine who isn't full of herself! Maggie is a marvelous character, and the social issues she faces are timely and relvant --rape, molestation, the trustworthy neighbor who isn't, the attitudes of teen guys, the superficiality of so many h.s. relationships. I bought this book new (not as a free download, not even a $3 e-book, but a paper copy from amazon.com), and was hoping I wouldn't have to cringe and get ride of another wasted purchase from a small press. A publisher with a P.O. box in Colorado Springs? Wouldn't bother with it normally, but the subject matter is near and dear to my heart, so I gave it a chance. What a pleasure to find a writer with simple command of English, AND who can construct a plausible plot with a satisfying ending AND keep me turning pages. I put in 70 minutes at a time reading this while sweating away on the elliptical, and I wanted to keep reading it long after my knees said "enough."

I started reading lots of YA novels in my late 40s, and this one is as good as the best of them, and it's far better than most of them. The prose isn't startlingly beautiful the way Rod Usher's is, but Rod doesn't write YA. Joyce Carol Oates wrote a few YA novels dealing with gritty social issue like those Maggie faces in this novel. Again, the prose style here may not be as hard-hitting as JCO's, but the story is so engaging, and the "whodunnit" was not obvious to me (I considered at least three contenders for who committed the crimes). Whoever said the ending was predictable must not have factored in a certain neighbor woman who'd kept a few secrets over the years.

Webb. Omigosh, I love that guy. Full of pleasant surprises, especially the night of the party. And his reply, later on, to a very personal question from Maggie -- well written, and "good call," Michelle!

Tony and Billy, Maggie's younger brothers, are very well drawn. The way Maggie is forced to play mother (more so than sister) to them is convincing and poignant. My mom's mother died and left her with two brothers, so Mom grew up as competent and independent as Maggie, and I saw nothing unbelievable about any of Maggie's extraordinary character.

Maggie's relationship to her father is also complex and well written.

I'll say no more for fear of plot spoilers, but the lime-green surprise was one of my favorite chapters. Again: well done!

Certain details did annoy me: throwing away a brand new set of sheets? Arrghh!! I don't care if it makes a statement. I recently knocked another novel down to 3 vs 4 stars because of the teen heroine's willingness to sacrifice an expensive violin as a way to express her frustration about being pressured to win a competition.

But this time, the novel overall was so satisfying, I didn't lower the score for the wasteful attitude toward material possessions.

I'd recommend this to my own daughters, but they don't like to read YA, and they're 18 and 16. Why do I still love the genre so much? Because writers like Michelle Buckman can pull me into that world and remind me of those fragile years, the hope and promise, the novelty and energy. Chic lit about pudgy, middle aged housewives, I won't buy it, but novels like this one are worth the money I paid.

As for complaints about this being an overtly Christian novel, I disagree. Not once did it came across as didactic or too strongly delivering a moral. I've read too many YA novels where teen sex is normal, even welcomed, or even initiated, by the protagonist, without any consequences.
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