Melissa Fox's Reviews > The Year Without Michael

The Year Without Michael by Susan Beth Pfeffer
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's review
Aug 21, 2009

did not like it
bookshelves: borrowed, 2009-challenge
Read in August, 2009

** spoiler alert ** Unbelievable and formulaic. The story was meant to be a character-driven account of the lives of a missing boy's family in the year following his disappearance, but the characters were cardboard cut-outs at best (Jody), totally detestable at worst (the mother), and all-around inconsistent. The majority of the tragedies of the book fell flat because I couldn't bring myself to care for any of them.

The relationship between Kay and her mother was particularly ridiculous. Kay is twelve years old. Mother decides to take out all of her free-floating rage on Kay, whose worst crime - wait for it - is that she's a sort-of prickly pre-teen who doesn't know how to express her feelings about her brother. Mother constantly says that she hates Kay and wishes that Kay had been abducted in Michael's place. Mother starts fights with Kay over nothing and blames Kay for provoking her. And finally, when Kay pawns most of her own belongings and saves up enough money to put an ad in the paper (a tiny little ad asking for Michael to call home because his family misses him), Mother flounces, makes a huge speech about what a detestable human being Kay is, and carts her off to boarding school.

...I remember putting the book down at this point with no intention of picking it back up again, but I trudged through the rest for the sake of completion. It only gets worse - Mother is portrayed as the sympathetic party; Father and Jody agree that the only way to deal with Kay's mood-swings is by making her into the scapegoat; everyone makes nice in the end for no reason, and Kay returns, instead of telling her family to jump off a cliff. Whatever. There was very little the book could have done to salvage my opinion by that point.

Not recommended. Pfeffer's later stuff is (fortunately) leagues better, but The Year Without Michael was painfully bad.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Amy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy The writing was awful too.

message 2: by Amy (new) - rated it 2 stars

Amy The writing was awful too.

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