This timely, emotionally-resonant story about a teen girl dealing with the aftermath of a tragic shooting is a must-read from an exciting new YA talent.
Johanna has had more than enough trauma in her life. She lost her mom in a car accident, and her father went AWOL when Johanna was just a baby. At sixteen, life is steady, boring . . . maybe even stifling, since she's being raised by her grandparents who never talk about their daughter, her mother Mandy.
Then he comes back: Robert Newsome, Johanna's father, bringing memories and pictures of Mandy. But that's not all he shares. A tragic car accident didn't kill Mandy--it was Johanna, who at two years old, accidentally shot her own mother with an unsecured gun.
Now Johanna has to sort through it all--the return of her absentee father, her grandparents' lies, her part in her mother's death. But no one, neither her loyal best friends nor her sweet new boyfriend, can help her forgive them. Most of all, can she ever find a way to forgive herself?
In a searing, ultimately uplifting story, debut author Alex Richards tackles a different side of the important issue that has galvanized teens across our country.
Alex Richards has been writing young adult fiction since the age of ten, with stacks of spiral notebooks to prove it. Also a freelance magazine contributor, Alex enjoys making no-budget horror movies, taking photographs, and crafting. Raised in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Alex lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two very silly kids.
Sixteen year old Joanna Carlson is a typical teenager. She likes music, fashion, and spending time with her best friends Gabby and Leah whom she's known since they went to the kindergarten. Joanna was adopted by her grandparents thirteen years ago when her mother was killed in a car accident. Her grandparents never speak about her mom, which is a bit unusual, and Jo can't remember anything from the time. Out of blue her estranged father Robert Newton contacts Joanna and would like to see her for the first time after all these years of being completely absent from her life. Here is Jo's chance to find out what her mother was really like. Robert isn't particularly happy when he hears that Jo's grandparents never told her any details about how exactly her mother died, because he knows that behind this there is a tragic story which he has to share himself. When Joanna was two and a half years old, she woke up from her nap, played a little on her own and found a loaded gun, which her father carelessly left under the bed, and shot her mother Mandy. While Robert was in custody and later in jail, Mandy's parents took care of the little girl. They even adopted her and moved to a different state to give her a new start in life without devastating memories. Now that Joanna knows about what really happened, her whole world has been turned upside down.
The topic of guns and related gun violence is something people feel very strongly about. It doesn't often get covered in YA literature. Alex Richards is very careful to provide both sides of the argument. On one hand, we have tragic statistics of unintentional shootings involving very young children. On the other hand, she chooses another schoolgirl Annette Martinez to give arguments why people support safe gun ownership. Joanna's grandfather himself used to own a hunting rifle which he was very careful to keep locked. What we see in this book is a psychological drama of a child/adolescent who finds out she took away a life and needs to make sense of it and forgive herself. Luckily, Joanna has great friends Gabby and Leah and her boyfriend Milo who accept what happened and see it for it really was - a tragic accident. Joanna herself has to go through a difficult emotional journey in this book. She is angry with her grandparents who chose to lie to her for all this time and have difficulty communicating with her now. She is pushing away her friends, trying to give them 'a card out' of their friendship, but at the same time she wants them to love her the way she is. It doesn't help that she is also going through a lot of bullying at school. Joanna begins to have panic attacks (brilliantly described by the author). Loss, grief, guilt, anger, confusion, self-acceptance - Joanna's character goes through a lot of development. The secondary characters are also well-drawn. Sometimes a small detail can speak volumes: Joanna's grandfather makes her a jewelry box identical to the one he gave to her mother; Joanna's grandmother looks for new recipes because Joanna wants to be a vegetarian like her mother was. Milo... in Joanna's own words: 'Milo doesn't judge me or withhold information or smother me in sympathy'.
An emotional and moving book that deals with difficult topics, full of well-rounded, interesting characters and authentic emotions, Accidental is a great debut novel and I will definitely be looking forward to reading more from this author.
Thank you to Edelweiss and Bloomsbury for the ARC provided in exchange for an honest opinion.
I'm giving away a copy of this book HERE and its OPEN INTERNATIONALLY!
[trigger warning: gun violence]
"Not anymore, though. Hell, no. This is about me. It is my story. Because of my past, I will make sure my future is different."
Accidental is such a refreshing read, a book that I can confidently say we don't encounter much. Don't you just admire authors that are brave enough to weave a story that includes heavy and tough subjects about today’s society? I think we should stop shying away from books that are considered "political".
In Accidental, Johanna, our main character, is dealing with a secret that her absentee father brought with him when he showed up after missing from her life for so many years. We get to see why the huge secret was kept hidden in the first place, how it affected Johanna’s relationships, and most importantly, we get to witness how Johanna will handle all of it. I didn't like our main character at first and it took a chapter or two before I warmed up to her. Johanna is authentic with a real voice of a teen who got her life turned upside down. You can feel how betrayed she was as it was written in a very effective way by the author. Johanna as a person isn't perfect, she's angsty, she can be self-involved and mean to her friends and even to her own family but what's great about Johanna is that Richards took us with her on her journey to emotional maturity. She became self-aware and owned up to her mistakes and everything was penned in a very realistic and interesting way. (and side note: I LOVE ALL THE STAR WARS reference) l commend how the relationships are written especially the one with Johanna and her grandparents. It was moving and one of the main drives of this story.
I enjoyed the plot and the pacing of Accidental which makes it difficult to put down. I was fooled by the first two to three chapters thinking it will just be another YA realistic fiction, but I was so wrong. Every chapter is striking and written in a gorgeous way which makes it very readable. The story is executed in a very brave and yet delicate manner. And what I find great is how everyone got their character development and that everyone’s underlying subplot was addressed. Each subplot has a purpose as well that makes the story as a whole. There was a light touch of romance that I like!! I fell for our love interest, Milo. He's an amazing and realistic teenage boy. The romance isn't that heavy but necessary as it showed how Johanna managed to use this relationship for her betterment. Truly admiring!
If you think Accidental is just another YA Realistic Fiction, think again. Accidental has something new to offer at the YA table and it's something that every reader should read at least once. Accidental is brave and necessary, a story with a punch!
Johanna has been raised by her grandparents for most of her life, due to her father bailing and her mother dying in a car accident when she was almost three. But at sixteen, Johanna feels like she’s beginning to forget her mother entirely and it doesn’t help that her grandparents refuse to talk about her. But life for Johanna isn’t so bad. She has two amazing best friends who are more like sisters, and the new kid at school seems to have his eye on her. But when Jo gets a letter in the mail from her father who is wishing to reconnect, her seemingly ordinary life implodes. With her father’s sudden reappearance in her life comes the truth of her childhood and the real cause of death of her mother. Because it wasn’t a car accident that killed Johanna’s mother…
The gun control topic is a controversial one, and with this being a book that centers around gun violence, be prepared for moments that may differ from your personal opinions. But for those of you who are weary that this will be a “preachy” YA Contemporary, rest assured that both sides to this debate are represented and it’s dealt with in a delicate manner that doesn’t take away from what this story really is – a coming-of-age tale about trauma, forgiveness, growth and self-love.
Accidental is an emotional and surreal story that centers on how common it is for children to come across easily accessible guns in their homes. At two and a half, while her father was out of town, Johanna and her mother were taking a nap when Johanna awakens and begins to wander. She finds her father’s gun under her parent’s bed, and ends up pulling the trigger and shooting her mother in the chest – killing her.
But upon the reader meeting Johanna, we learn that she has no idea of what took place when she was a toddler. At sixteen, Jo is a typical teenager living in Santa Fe and going to a prestigious high school. She has two quirky, spirited and vivacious best friends and she spends her time sewing her own clothes and slinging sassy comebacks at idiotic guys in her class. She’s a lively and charismatic character from the start, describing the pains of living with her very religious grandparents, but also expressing a deep love for them both.
But the ease in Jo’s life quickly changes with the reemergence of her estranged father, and his confession of Jo and Amanda’s truth.
“𝑻𝒘𝒐 𝒄𝒚𝒎𝒃𝒂𝒍𝒔, 𝒄𝒓𝒂𝒔𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒐𝒏 𝒓𝒆𝒑𝒆𝒂𝒕 –
The reason this story packs such a punch, is because the situation could have happened to any of us. It was incredibly easy to slide into Jo’s shoes and understand the confusion, sadness, regret, hurt, horror and anger she felt when the truth of her mother was revealed. How devastating it is when something so horrible can become your reality, and the hurt that comes with it when you don’t have a support system at home to guide you through it.
When Jo reveals to her grandparents that she knows the truth about her mother, they still refuse to speak about it. They brush it under the rug, preferring silence and forced indifference. And though it is shocking that they lied to her about how her mother died…I don’t blame them for the decision they made in protecting her.
But the way they handle Jo’s trauma and their own is…suffocating.
There are no pictures on the walls or in photo albums of Jo’s mother. None of her mementos are displayed and she is never brought up or talked about. So Jo is left feeling as if she cannot speak about this woman she has so much love for, but is starting to forget. This woman she so desperately craves was in her life and guiding her through her teenage years.
These girls are the rocks that keep Jo from slipping down a river of depression and deep self-loathing. They are fiercely loyal and understanding, go out of their way to ensure that their friend is cared for and heard, and refuse to leave her side. Their love for one another had me hardcore tearing up and cooing throughout the story. These two girls make this story.
Another big character in this story is Milo – the new boy in school and Jo’s new boyfriend. Their romance is sweet and their chemistry is sizzling, but more importantly, Milo is another person in Jo’s life that she can lean on for support. Though he doesn’t have as big a role as Leah and Gabby, and his personality doesn’t shine through as much as the girls, his own troubles with his father gives a level of understanding to Milo and Jo that can’t be emulated. And no matter how dark Jo’s life gets, Milo is always there to help her see the light.
“𝑰𝒕 𝒘𝒂𝒔 𝒇𝒖𝒏, 𝒃𝒖𝒕 𝑰’𝒎 𝒌𝒊𝒏𝒅 𝒐𝒇 𝒅𝒂𝒎𝒂𝒈𝒆𝒅 𝒈𝒐𝒐𝒅𝒔.”
“𝑵𝒐𝒕 𝒅𝒂𝒎𝒂𝒈𝒆𝒅,” 𝒉𝒆 𝒘𝒉𝒊𝒔𝒑𝒆𝒓𝒔. “𝑱𝒖𝒔𝒕 𝒈𝒐𝒐𝒅.”
For the first half of this book, the reader watches Jo slowly spiral into anger and a sort of manic state as she tries to cope with her past. And at sixteen, it’s not exactly easy to have control over your emotions. But the person Jo turns into in the second half of the book was irritating. She was aggressive and constantly throwing tantrums, stomping her foot and having explosive reactions to the littlest things. Of course, this does feel authentic to a young teenager going through some serious trauma – but it was still exhausting and a turn-off.
And how Johanna works towards getting a mural painted at her school to shed light on gun violence was also…cringey. By this point Jo is full-blown immature and slightly ridiculous, so it was a bit harder to get through. And though this was a gut-flipping story, I was really wanting more emotion from Jo because I didn’t feel like I got a true sense of the chaos that was brewing inside her. She had huge reactions and panic attacks, but I wanted more description into how hurt and lost she felt inside.
But the real driving force in this story is obviously gun safety, but also self-acceptance and the need to work through trauma.
When Jo’s father renters her life, he brings a few secrets with him that he slowly reveals along the way, and they’re tragic. It broke my heart how Jo was constantly let down by these really big parental figures in her life. But, imagine it. Not only are you the cause for your mother dying, but you are also the spitting image of a daughter and lover that has been lost. Nothing about this situation is easier or less horrible for anyone involved.
Accidental is a powerful and heartbreaking story, but a necessary one.
No matter what stance you take on this topic, trust me when I say, you need to read this.
Every once in a while, a few times a year if you read as many books as me, a book comes along that takes my breath away. Book lovers know what I’m talking about. Some stories grab you by the heart and pull you inside the words as if you’re feeling the emotions of the narrator.
ACCIDENTAL was one of my most anticipated books of 2020 and it surpassed my hopeful expectations.
I’ve made no secret that I hate guns and have since I was a kid. My high school had a gun club, and my classmates stored their firearms in their lockers, because I’m pre school-shooting old. If I had my choice, guns would be banned is how much I hate guns.
Whenever I hear stories of little kids finding their parents guns and shooting, I want those parents charged as murderers. I was predisposed to hating Jo’s father Robert, whose gun she used to accidentally kill her mother at age two-and-a-half. Instead, I saw his humanity. The grave mistake made out of failure to imagine consequences was only part of who he was, not all of him.
Jo carried the burden of her mother’s death, her the weight of grandparents’ lies of omission and the challenge of learning the truth from a father who stayed away. I felt that heaviness and wished I could take it away from her. Her best friends were messy and complex, wonderful and at times infuriating. Jo wasn’t perfect or the perfect victim. She could be demanding, unforgiving, hotheaded and not always the best girlfriend.
Alex Richards hardly writes like ACCIDENTAL is her first published novel. All the major and minor characters had the dimensions and complexities of real people, from the annoying class president to the privileged bully to her friend’s mom to the younger kid who lived down the street. Milo, the boyfriend added a light romance and additional avenue of support and reality checking for Jo.
I wish ACCIDENTAL had an epilogue to let readers have a glimpse into Jo’s future relationships.
ACCIDENTAL is a must read for contemporary young adult fiction lovers.
Thank you Netgalley and Bloomsbury USA Childrens Book for providing an ARC of Accidental in exchange for an honest review.
Accidental by Alex Richard's is about Johanna who has grown up living with her grandparents because her mother died in a car accident when she was young. Johanna father has decided not to be in her life until now day he gets in contact with her and breaks some devastating news she did not see coming.
Accidental deals with issues such as father daughter issues, school issues and friend issues.
Many thanks to EdelweissPlus and the publisher for providing me with a DRC of this title for review. All opinions are my own.
Actual rating rounded up to a 3.5.
OK-this had the premise to be an amazing and gut-wrenching read (most of my recent reads have fallen into the category of "I'm for sure going to be crying at the end and I don't even feel bad about it" types of stories) and this was along the same vein. Johanna is a junior at a small private school, trying to figure out getting into Parsons School of Design, how to live with her slightly conservative and overprotective grandparents, and if the new kid Milo could possibly be as amazing as he seems. Sure she misses the mother she's never really known, a woman who died in a car accident when she was young, and her father is absentee to the max, but she's doing OK. Until her father contacts her via letter and lays a huge bombshell on her: her mother died from a gunshot wound, one that Johanna caused. As a toddler she found a loaded gun in the house and shot her mother. Her mother's parents have had custody of her ever since. They lied to her about the car accident, hoping it would make it easier.
But now Johanna knows the truth, and soon everyone else does too. Kids at school are unsure how to act around her, and her normal "alt-rock" persona and heavy makeup now take on a threatening tone. Teachers ask to search her bags. Her personal photos become viral trash. She is bullied and berated and alone. As her friendships start to suffer and the guilt is overwhelming her, she tries to find some way to make meaning out of this event. A way to atone and ask her mother for forgiveness.
All of this is great in the story. Moving, heart-wrenching, impeccably nuanced. The downfall? The overly political tone that the author takes towards the second half of the book. Instead of letting the story show the points Richards wanted to make, the author was far too overt and heavy-handed, in my opinion.
Overall, this is a strong second purchase for large library collections serving young adult readers who enjoy realistic fiction/contemporary dramas. Due to language and sexual content, I would recommend this for grades 9 and up.
Johanna has a pretty good life living with her grandparents, hanging out with her best friends, and now she even has a boyfriend! Until one day when her father shows up & turns her world upside down! . When Johanna finds out her mother didn’t die in a car accident but that she accidentally shot her with an unsecured firearm she is left reeling. How could her grandparents lie to her? . Will she ever be able to forgive herself for what she did? This book will take you on a journey through the emotions Johanna feels as she tries to come to terms with what happened. It doesn’t help when everyone at school finds out & when she wants to put up a mural to bring to light the importance of gun control she finds she’ll have to defend her motives behind it. . This heart wrenching YA Contemporary is well written & elicits emotions that are relevant in the world we live in today. . I would definitely recommend it!
After going through the GR reviews, I’m probably going to be in the minority on this one.
This was well written in traditional terms, but the Johanna really blew it for me. Before she even knew anything about her past, she did not seem like a nice kid.
I didn’t like Jo’s voice, from page 1. It gave me icky vibes how she makes fun of her grandparents behind their back.
I do really like how open she is with everyone from the beginning. The added tension of keeping it secret would have made the book way too much to read.
I like the romance - steady, not overpowering, more about Jo’s story than Milo. And a STRONG point is Milo. He’s caring and warm and open with Jo about how she can talk to him and treat him and not put up with any bullshit. This relationship is actually the highlight of the book.
Even at the end, Jo judges her mom and is disappointed in her mainstream musical cd’s. The only moment I felt was real and heartfelt from Jonwas when she is crying at her mother’s grave and talking to her straight from her heart, but I don’t know if it’s enough to make up for the rest of the book.
“Accidental” by Alex Richards is a young adult contemporary that tells the story of Johanna who’s dealing with the death of her mother, her father abandoning her, and living with her grandparents. Johanna believes that the death of her mother was due to a car accident, but that all changes when her father comes back in her life with the truth. Johanna life changes forever as she realizes that all her life she’s been living a lie. Her mother was not killed in a car accident but instead by Johanna at the age of the two, who shot and killed her mother accidentally.
I thought going into this book that the plot was about a school shooting (because I’m an idiot who doesn’t read full synopses), so I was very surprised when 100 pages in I realized the actual plot. I thought the concept was very new and exciting. I felt it was a fresh idea in discussing the importance of gun regulation in this country without centering around a school shooting. I felt that the author could’ve gone deeper with this issue unfortunately. I feel as if the author knew the point she wanted to get across to her readers, but did not execute it well.
The main character was very insufferable at times. She was going through a lot with finding out that she was the one who caused the death of her mom, but even though I did sympathize with her I never was rooting for her. She didn’t have qualities that I liked or even related to. She was a very “I’m not like other girls” girl. Throughout the book the author was so obvious in the way in which she tried to make her main character so different than other girls. Look I wear very dark eyeliner, look I listen to classic rock music, look my clothes are so edgy, it was just very played out and made me not like the character even more.
For some reason there was a very insta love, underdeveloped romance thrown into the mix. I felt as if the relationship between Johanna and Milo held no purpose within the book. The relationship felt very rushed and very unnecessary to the story. After one day of them knowing each other, Johanna is telling this man her whole life story and sobbing her eyes and it just felt so unnatural. I didn’t understand why the two felt so close to one other and so attached at the hip day two of their relationship. I never felt as if the author fleshed out the romance, it was just there and I just had to deal with it. I felt as if Johanna and Milo were each other’s emotional crutches and I thought the author would delve into that topic, but I guess their relationship was suppose to seem normal to us as readers.
The story in itself was the only redeeming quality of this book. I felt that the concept was very interesting with how much guilt the main character felt about killing her mom even though she shouldn’t be to blame because she was a literal child. I enjoyed reading about the conflicting nature of the main character and her regret even though she can’t even remember exactly what happened because she was so young. This book could spark so much conversation with a issue in this country that needs to be talked about. This book could’ve been so much better if it had a character that readers found likable and a romance that felt natural.
-This book was sent to me for review through netgalley-
One of my most anticipated debuts of the year! Johanna is a fantastic protagonist, and I was drawn into her world from page 1. Accidental is an important, necessary story told with humor and a spot-on voice.
Richards tackles issues of gun violence with a deft hand, weaving an important message into a heartbreaking, powerful story about loss and hope.
”An uncluttered mind is a peaceful mind. You’ll hurt yourself, keeping it all pent up."
The statistics for gun violence is staggering. Over 25,000 people this year alone have died from gun violence. The scary part is that the number doesn’t include people injured by a gunshot and the year isn’t over quite yet. It’s heartbreaking that this is the world we’re living in.
Imagine hearing a devastating story about your Moms death and then finding out it was all a lie. Come to find out, you had some part in it but you were a toddler. How would you feel? And how do you think it would affect your life? These are the questions and cold facts that Johanna has to face once she learns the truth.
Johanna always believed that her Mom was killed in a tragic car crash. Ever since she was three, she’s lived with her Grandparents, not knowing where her biological Dad was. So far, her life has been decent. She gets good grades, has the best friends, and comes home to such love and warmth. Everything changes when she receives a mysterious letter from someone claiming to be her Dad.
She keeps the letter secret and decides not to tell her Grandparents. What they don’t know won’t hurt them. They meet up and her Dad drops a bombshell on her. That her Mom didn’t die from a car accident but by Johannas very own hands. Her Mom was asleep and Johanna found an unlocked and loaded gun. It went off, killing her Mom. She is devastated and doesn’t believe this story. Until she asks her Grandparents. What she thought was her Dad making an ass of himself and upsetting her, it was all facts.
Now Johanna doesn’t quite know how to live with this news. It throws a wrench into her life. Her Grandparents lies to her for all of her life and the only one honest with her is someone who hasn’t been in her life for thirteen years. Her world turns upside down.
Will Johanna be able to grow and learn from the news? Or will she let herself fall into the black hole of despair?
This was a super emotional and powerful read. Johanna is such a strong and beautiful character. It was fascinating to read her story and watch her grow from page to page. No one could stop her. She was level-headed and strong-willed and no one was going to get in her way.
Johanna has the best support system. Her friends and boyfriend were such caring souls but what stood out the most was her Grandparents. Yes, they kept that awful secret from her but they let her figure out her life without demanding how she should go about it. They let her learn and breathe as an independent woman. It was beautiful.
Accidental was a great book. It deals with a subject that should be talked about and the earlier you discuss it the better. This is definitely a step in the right direction. This is geared towards teens but I think adults should read this important book too. It was powerful and I loved every second of it.
They said it was an accident that killed her mother - a car accident, but after 13 years, Johanna learns the truth. Though she doesn't remember it, she was responsible for her mother's death. Reeling from this bombshell, she must work through her emotions regarding her role in her mother's death, the lies her grandparents told her, and the return of the father she never knew.
When I first read the synopsis for this book, I thought about how tragic the situation was and then tried to imagine what it would feel like to learn that I was responsible for the death of another person. I found I couldn't fathom the depth of the pain, the guilt, and the self hatred, and with that, I must commend Richards for capturing these emotions so well. When Johanna ached, I ached. When she cried, I cried.
But, as always, I appreciate that the author tempered this pain with some of the most average teen joys. Look, I like romance and will forever welcome it. I was quite pleased with the bit of romance in this story. Not just because it gave me a bit of a break from the rather weighty issues, but because I needed Johanna to have someone on her side, to prop her up. She did have her two best friends, and it was beautiful the way many people reached out to her in a show of support, but I think him being new to her world and also dealing with daddy issues, brought her a perspective she needed.
I also appreciated the way the author handled the central issue of gun violence. Her focus was on gun safety and accidental deaths. So, this was not a commentary on the second amendment or gun owners, but about being responsible, and highlighting the frequency of deaths like this. She allowed characters on both sides of the the gun issue to volley a bit, but the spotlight was always on safety.
The theme of forgiveness permeated the story, as well. Johanna had to dig deep and find a way to forgive so many people in her life. Her father abandoned her and only came looking for her many, many years later. Her grandparents lied to her, and though it may have been to protect her, it was still a major deception from those she trusted. And then she was left with herself. How do you make peace with the fact that you, essentially, killed your own mother? The struggle came across as very difficult, but honest.
This was quite an emotional journey, and I thought Richards did a wonderful job taking me on it.
Disclaimer: An eARC was provided via Publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. The Thoughts, opinions & feelings expressed in the review are therefore, my own.
When I read the blurb of the book; I couldn’t hit request hard enough – the blurb made Accidental sound like a book that will break your heart and yet leave you with hope at the end of reading the book!
In Accidental; Johanna is living the typical teenage life with her conservative grandparents – she has her tribe, two best friends, Lea and Gabby who stand by her through thick and thin; she has her passion for sewing fashionable clothes and now, she has a cute new boy in her class; Milo – so there’s a possibility of something in the romance front as well. All is hunky dory in her life.
The fact that she receives a letter from her father; whom she hasn’t seen in thirteen years is something to look forward to – rather than something to dread. Until he starts spewing some story about how her mother didn’t die in a car accident; but it was Johanna who accidentally shot and killed her mother when she was 2 years old. An accident for which her father went to prison and she has absolutely no recollection of.
When she finds out that her father has been telling the truth; it totally upends her life in a way she did not expect and add on to the fact that she becomes a victim of cyber bullying, harassment and bullying at her own school – it destroys her in a way that she doesn’t know if she will ever recover from.
I loved the way the author has handled the sensitive issues within the book; I could see the effort that she put in to be sensitive of an issue that not many would focus/hopefully experience in their lifetime.
What didn’t support her was the way the MC; Johanna behaved – I could honestly not see any character growth within her; for the most part, I couldn’t connect with her whining or rather her woe be me attitude that didn’t work in favour at all. And can I just say, I also couldn’t understand the need for Milo and the progress of his relationship with Johanna – Trust me, I get that he was her support system; her unconditional support system to be honest; but the way Jo treated him for the most part, especially when he had even a single opinion that went against hers –let’s just say there’s a reason why I didn’t actually empathize with Johanna throughout the book.
Pick up this contemporary YA novel, if you want to have a unique plotline and the way it is handled!
I received a galley of this book through Netgalley in exchange of an honest review. This book has content warnings for drug addiction, panick attacks and gun violence.
Oof, I don't like giving out 1 stars but I had to zone out from this book to keep myself from getting blood boiling angry. I just don't have anything good to say. I absolutely hated the main character. She didn't listen to anyone and just heard whatever she wanted and then flipped out on the people around her even though they didn't say that at all. Her thoughts just seemed very black or white. You're either completely on my side or completely against me. She also just made SO MANY assumptions and her friends kept saying they weren't true but SHE WOULDN'T LISTEN and then get mad at them because she thinks they think badly about her even though they made obvious they don't. For most of this book she is absolutely furious at her grandparents, which I understood for the most part but then she started getting mad at them for not talking to her anymore while she is the one constantly pushing them away and when they try to talk to her she just completely flips out on them. Of course these people are going to leave you alone for a bit because you need to cope with this shit and you've shown them you don't want their help. Don't fucking be mad at them for giving up. The inner monologue was so fucking repetive as well. I honestly think I read the same line on like ever other page. It was mind numbing. The main character also didn't go through any developement she just flipped a switch from one page onto another and it was super jarring. The romance was absolute shit as well. It just happened really quickly and I felt 0 chemistry between the two characters. A lot of the romantic scenes also felt a bit innapropiate. There's literally a scene were the main character had a panic attack, the love interest calmed her down and then they had sex. That felt so innapropiate to me. I mean, timing is everything and that wasn't the time to fuck. The plot was super boring as well. The main thing that starts of this book seems so unrealistic to me. I get that it actually happens and that it happens a lot but I would have loved a bit more explenation about that because it was so hard to wrap my head around. Some characters also did a full 180 about half way through this book and it just felt like the author forgot that these characters were apart of the first half and their switch was never explained. Well, one was but I thought that explenation was so poorly done. This book also just dragged out too long. This book definetly could have been cut off a bit earlier than it was because those last couple of chapters just weren't nececary and even more boring than the rest.
What would happen if you discovered you were the reason your mother was dead? That’s exactly what Josephine learns in Accidental. It’s a heartbreaking novel about family, death, grief, uncontrollable emotions, huge letdowns, and broken relationships, yet it is also about learning to breath again, hanging onto those friendships, mending relationships and letting go of others, about making a difference, fall in love and even making out.
Jo has always missed her mother, but respected the boundaries her grandparents have put in place - no talking about her, no photos, no memories. They put their life on hold to raise a granddaughter. But when Jo’s father suddenly appears in her life and tells her that she accidentally shot her own mother, Jo’s life is upended. Not sure what to do, not sure what to believe, Jo relies on her friendship and growing relationship with new student, Milo, to navigated the complex emotions she is feeling.
Gut punch comes to mind from the emotions in this book that feel so big and real. The roller coaster Jo rides from before she knew to the absolute devastation she feels after discovering the truth of her mother’s death is compelling. It’s messy and complicated. There are also so happy times. I loved the friendship she has with Leah and Gabby. Those two friends are there for her and even when they hit hard times, they stick together. Jo, despite everything she’s going through is a decent friend. All three girls must learn how to cope and support each other.
I loved Jo’s romance with Milo. He’s new to town and he and Jo connect pretty quickly. They have a dorky vibe as they verbally tease and gently spar through their awkward, I like you phase. And then Jo’s life implodes. Milo is such a solid support for Jo. He never bulks, is always kind and listens. Super impressive! But he doesn’t let her walk all over him and there is some reciprocity as he deals with his parents’ separation. Things also heat up between them, so prepare for some very swoony make-out sessions and fade to black scenes.
I would be remiss in my review if I didn’t talk about Jo’s grandparents. For so much of the book she is fighting with them due to the secrets she kept from her. It’s an awesome mix of love, hate, guilt, and support. I think they all handle it as best they can, and while Jo wishes they would do things differently and they wish she would react in other ways, I think it presents such a great, but realistically messy, look at family.
Gun control becomes a message of change and power for Jo, but this message is conveyed most strongly in the book without any preaching or calls for change. Instead it is Jo’s devastation and the guilt she feels that leaves the reader with the biggest sense for the need for something to change.
Raising some big and important themes alongside a powerful story of love, family and grief, Accidental is perfect for older teens looking for a book with a punch, or upper grade teachers looking for a class read with important messages.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Find more reviews, reading age guides, content advisory, and recommendations on my blog Madison's Library
I won this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Such a sad story to read about, but it really makes you think about all the gun violence in the world and how many accidents happen because of gun. My family always had so many guns because they're hunters. My dad always made sure they were locked up tight and they weren't loaded for fear of anything happening to me and my siblings or even my mother pr himself. I couldn't fathom being a child that accidentally shot their own mother or family member or friend. This book really makes you want to tell everyone to keep their guns properly locked away so nothing bad could ever happen.
ACCIDENTAL is both a rallying cry and a challenge; it demands to be read, and refuses to be put down. By spotlighting the violence and attitudes that surround gun control in America, ACCIDENTAL explores the everyday fear that has become part of the American high school curriculum. This book is haunting, but it is also hopeful. As Johanna explores the ramifications of gun violence on her life, she also steps into the realm of first boyfriends, first loves, forever friends, and most importantly, finding her own voice and using it to help others. She is a ferocious protagonist, and her painfully human navigation of the modern high school experience (that is to say, the realization that schools are not safe, and the people who can do something about it refuse to do so) is both relatable and inspiring. With heartfelt, brutal honesty searing every page, this is the kind of book that reminds readers that they have voices, and they can make changes.
The speed at which I read ACCIDENTAL is a testament to how riveting and gorgeously written it was.
There are all the ingredients necessary to a satisfying teen book: passionate friendships, sweet romance (Milo was the cutest), love/hate relationship with one's family, bullying, school drama. But what makes this book exceptional is the subject matter it deals with—GUNS—and the delicate manner Richards has of showing a true societal problem.
ACCIDENTAL isn't a call-to-arms; it's a reminder not to be negligent. Firearms are lethal, intentionally or not.
I can't thank Richards enough for having written this important and necessary coming of age that should be read by adults and teens alike.
*This book was sent to me by the publisher to give an honest review in return*
This is a powerful and emotional book and the author nailed it with the story. This book was just wonderful and the author did an amazing job tackling the talk about gun violence, losing family, friends, and yourself, plus talking about emotional problems. I was hooked with this book from page 1 because the way the author describes the plot and scenes were very descriptive so it wasn't at all hard for the reader to think hard or imagine it in their heads. I loved how powerful and emotional this book was. It's something most people don't talk about. This book was out of my comfort zone meaning not a fantasy or romance book but I'm glad that the publisher sent me this book. The characters were the main part of why this book was great.
When Johanna finds out that she killed her mom when she was two she pretty much loses her true self and wants to stay away from her love ones. Her boyfriend, best friends, and grandparents help her get through it when she was attacking herself. Usually, in most books I have read, the friends would just leave someone who is in a lot of pain and I love how the author included support characters giving the theme of family love/connections. My favorite part of this book was the supportive characters because they would always be there for Jo even though she was pushing them away. I also love how the author wrote the characters making it an emotional read.
This book was emotional with the talk about gun violence and losing your loved ones. I felt bad about the lie that Jo had to go through and how she got bullied with all the pressure she had. *SPOILER ALERT* The author did end this off with a good note. *END OF SPOILER* This book is one of my favorite contemporary books of this year and I totally recommend this to readers.
Thank you NetGalley and Bloomsbury YA for the digital ARC of Accidental by Alex Richards!
Accidental follows Johanna, a teenager raised by her grandparents after her mother was tragically killed in a car accident - or so she thinks. The truth is revealed when Johanna's absentee father barrels back into her life and lays it on her: Johanna accidentally killed her mother as a toddler when she found her father's gun.
This book takes a hard look at gun violence in the US, and how in addition to street crime, the deaths of children who have found unsecure guns or of other people they shoot accidentally is much higher than it should be. Johanna is understandably distraught when she finds out. She suffers from panic attacks, and while she has supportive friends, those friendships also suffer in the face of her devastation.
I mostly enjoyed this book. I will say I didn't really feel a connection with Johanna. She spends most of the book having various tantrums and yelling at anyone who looks at her. Like I said, her despair is totally warranted. I can't imagine finding this information out over a decade later. But unfortunately, I just felt like instead of feeling empathetic toward her, I find myself skimming a bit in the second half of the book.
Those issues aside, I think this book was really well written. The dialogue was done well and was believable for teenagers, and the plot moved along at a nice pace so that the story didn't feel like it lagged.
Overall I would say if you're interested, give it a read! I would definitely read more from this author in the future.
Prepare for feelings, readers. If you've read the description, you know this book dives into tough topics. One of my favorite aspects of the book is the relationship between the main character and her boyfriend. He is a totally decent guy and one of the most stable relationships in the book. He doesn't ever try to take advantage of their relationship, guilt her into feeling certain ways, or pressure her. This is really refreshing. Young women need to know that there are young men like this out there, and they should not settle for less. Richards also does a great job with character development. the banter between the MC and her two best friends is realistic and well written. overall, a very well done book and great discussion starter for conversations around gun violence and gun control.
Overall a nuanced story with characters you can empathise with even when they all have different view points. I would've loved the political side of it to be less "hit the reader over the head with it" and simply let how the events impact the various characters speak for itself.
Also editing this review - This book is about a girl who grows up basically her whole life with her grandparents and now she is a teenager at high school. Her mother died in a car accident and her dad was never in the picture. That’s what she thought. Until one day her father reaches out! He tells her about her mother and that’s when her life gets crazy.
Thank you to Bloomsbury YA for providing the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Johanna is someone you can easily relate to, even in this dark revelation. She struggles to accept it and quickly blames herself. The curiosity is one that causes her to get to know her dad (and see a new side of her grandparents). She runs the gamut of feelings during these events and brings you with her.
I was honored to get an early copy of Accidental by Alex Richards. Overall, I'm giving it a solid 4/5 stars. The story was well written and entertaining. My attention was held for most of the story. There were some parts that I got lost, but I still highly enjoyed the novel.
Crisp writing and full-characters, Accidental explore an unexplored area of gun violence--a teenager learning she found a gun and is responsible for her mother's death--certainly about the issue of gun violence but also coming to terms with a history you can't control, learning to understand the choices that adults in your life have made for you, and figuring out how to live with the cracks we all have. A stunning debut.
ACCIDENTAL is a page turning and incredibly moving debut, with a strong, authentic voice. The story focuses on 16-year-old Johanna, whose reconnection with the father she hasn’t seen since she was a toddler results in her learning the truth about her mother’s tragic accidental death – a truth that her grandparents, who have raised her, have kept from her for more than 13 years. The news sends Johanna spinning, as she struggles to come to terms with what happened to her mom, and to her, and the ripple effects on everyone in her family. This book tackles some tough subjects – trauma, grief, loss and gun safety – with a sensitive hand, while also exploring relatable high school rites of passage: first love, friendships and figuring out just what the heck you want to do with your life and who you want to be. I connected with Johanna from the very first page – she’s relatable, funny, artsy and as mixed up and flawed as any of us. The book is also populated with a compelling cast of supporting players: Johanna’s grandparents, whose misguided attempts to protect her are still rooted in love; her friends and boyfriend, who are all trying (and sometimes failing) to have her back; and her father, whose motives are clouded by his own feelings of guilt. Definitely pick this one up if you are a fan of voice-y, character-driven YA that’s both thought provoking and emotionally resonant.