M's Reviews > Hand Me Down

Hand Me Down by Melanie Thorne
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Aug 03, 12

Read from August 02 to 03, 2012

2.5
This is a complicated book to review - it had four star potential, dipped down to three where it remained steadily, then took a really bad turn and ends with a 2. Which is to say I don't want to ignore that which the author did well, but those very strengths also highlight where she could have done better.
This is a somewhat original story of a girl whose parents have completely failed her - her father is a lying alcoholic who is abusive and manipulative, her mother was decent, it seems, until she met up with yet another whopping loser, Terrence, this time with a rap sheet and a proclivity for exposing himself and seducing women and girls. Lovely. Living at Dad's is not an option, but living with Terrence and Mom once Terrence is out of prison is even less ok, seeing as how Terrence is a molestor. So ninth grade Liz is bounced around from home to home ala White Oleander, where it seems that absolutely everybody is toxic and steps up to help only so they can disappoint. In the meantime Liz is concerned about younger sister Jaime who wants to believe in Dad and is also looking like Terrence's next meal.
The strengths of this book were: at times, the writing, though not nearly enough. The bond of the sisters is compelling if not always believable (there was a lot of 'I miss Jaime I worry about jaime' to convince me rather than actual actions), the struggle of a teen to be an adult while not really being one is, while overdone, always compelling and certainly made me feel bad for Liz (except when she was mouthing off and being repetitive and annoying). Ok I guess I am not having the easiest time cataloguing the book's strengths so let's jump to what I do better, the things I hated.
Mom has a sister, Tammy, who is the white hope of the book - she rescues Liz time and again - but Tammy, similar to Mom, has a boyfriend who is the opposite of Terrence in that he is educated and smart but is still plenty jerky - not only is it odd to me that both of these women are drawn to losers and seem to not care how those losers treat their daughters/niece, but what annoyed me more was the characterization. We need to know that Sam is REALLY smart phD guy so he will use every SAT word known to man in a given sentence. Guess what, grown ups who are smart don't actually talk that way. In general this book seemed like it needed to really, really spell things out so that we GOT it. And while I recognize that this is YA, I really resent the attitude that teens need to be talked down to in order to get a point across. Good YA doesn't do that, just the sub par ones do (and in truth I had hoped this one would make that cut, in the beginning it looked like it might but it's as if the author felt she couldn't trust her audience about forty pages in).
I also found the cast of nasty characters confusing and not very believable. I couldn't keep track of all the of bad adults or where they fit or why they were the way they were or how it was that no one ever called anyone out for their behavior.
The worst part though was when we had a 'I watch too much bad TV and get my writing ideas from there' show down between Terrence, Mom, Tammy, Liz, Jaime and the foster home du jour. Dear God that is some of the worst, cheesiest writing I have had the misfortune to skim through in a long, long time.
There was very little redemption in this work, and very few likable characters. Actually none because they mostly felt like well placed puppets. Ok it looks like I hated this book after all.
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