Tales from the Ledge: The Name of the Game is Regression

This has been a very weird summer, rife with uncertainty. More and more, I’ve turned to my chief coping mechanisms: writing and reading. I gravitate toward YA and romance when times get tough, and that’s definitely been true these past few months. After work, when I’m not at dance class or listening to a light rock DJ and her sappy love songs, I have my nose in my Nook.

I have plenty of dead tree tomes as well.

Here’s what’s been on my Nook of late.

Note: I received these books as e-review copies through NetGalley.

Every Day (David Levithan)

If you haven’t read Levithan yet, well, why not? His writing is poetic without being obnoxious: smart, funny and so relatable that numerous times I’ve caught myself nodding because he’s captured a previously-unarticulated emotion or experience exactly right. While Every Day requires a little suspension of disbelief, it’s completely worth it. One day, A meets a girl and falls in love. The only issue: since he was born, A has woken up each day as a different person. Boy/girl, LGBT/hetero, poor/rich/middle-class, healthy/sick. You name it, A has lived it. So what does A do with this love? And what happens when the world discovers A’s secret?

In the hands of a lesser author, this would be a messy, messy premise. In the hands of Levithan, it’s positively gorgeous. Trust me. Read it, then read everything else he’s ever written.

Girl Unmoored (Jennifer G0och Hummer)

It’s the late ’80s , and 14-year-old Apron (thanks to her mom’s deliberately illegible handwriting, that is, in fact, her real name) is dealing with a lot. Her mom died of cancer, her professor dad’s absentminded to the point of near-neglect and he’s just knocked up a nutty nurse’s aide who wants a green card. Oh, and Apron has a crush on Jesus: not God’s son, but the handsome man who is playing him in a local production of Jesus Christ Superstar. When he’s not singing and dancing, “Jesus” is running a flower shop and caring for his boyfriend Chad, who’s getting sicker by the day, in a town rife with anti-gay prejudice.

Girl Unmoored starts out a bit slowly and I do wish Hummer wouldn’t ramble so much. That said, it’s a sweet, compelling coming of age story that deals with heavy issues without getting overly preachy. Not an easy feat.

The Twisted Window (Lois Duncan)

I love Lois Duncan. I really do. She wrote great YA pulp novels when I was a kid, and she’s been through a lot (her daughter was murdered in 1989 and the case remains unsolved). That said, I’m not quite sure why The Twisted Window has been reprinted and “updated.” The updates don’t really work: it seems like some editor just threw in the phrase “cell phone” here and there, and the rest of the language feels antiquated. I don’t know if teenagers are going to actively seek this out. That said, if you’re an Old like me, it’s a fun blast from the past and a compelling mystery (remember in the’ 80s when kidnapping was every parent’s biggest fear?)

DO NOT READ: Beautiful Disaster (Jamie McGuire)

No, no and hell no. Abuse does not equal love. Not that 50 Shades of Grey originated this myth, but I hate that trilogy for perpetuating it (with terrible prose, to boot). I really wanted to like Beautiful Disaster: I’m a sucker for bad boy/smart girl romances, and the male protagonist is paying his way through college through underground prize fights. He’s also a class-A jerk who forces a lady to live in his bedroom for a month (she lost a bet. Okay…), and then gets drunk and has a threesome/destroys his apartment when she goes out with another guy. Memo to the “smart” girl: it’s only a matter of time before the destruction is directed toward you. Also, not that this excuses his terrible behavior, but seriously, quit leading him on – either date the bland rich guy or don’t, but it’s not fair to keep waffling between the two. And please, please stop whining and get a restraining order.

What are you reading these days? Leave a comment!

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The Unprofessional Critic

Lauren Whalen is a freelance writer living in Chicago. She reviews plays for Chicago Theater Beat (http://www.chicagotheaterbeat.com) and talks about movies on The Film Yap (http://www.thefilmyap.com). Lauren's young adult novel is represented by Chalberg & Sussman Literary Agency. Say hi to her at maybeimamazed02(at)gmail(dot)com. (Photo by Greg Inda)

13 thoughts on “Tales from the Ledge: The Name of the Game is Regression”

  1. Every Day sounds fantastic! I’ve never read David Levithan before, though I do have Will Grayson, Will Grayson sitting on my shelf. I’m working my way through the Outlander books right now. I’m enjoying them, but they’re loooong and I’m getting antsy to read other stuff. I also read The Wild Princess by Mary Hart Perry last week; it was really good. I need to get my butt in gear reviewing it.

  2. I’m going to have to ask Mr. Donovan if he’s read David Levithan. It sounds like just his kind of thing. Actually, I’m getting interested in YA (which is a brand new thing), and it sounds like just my kind of thing, too. It’s a hell of an ambitious premise, and so intriguing!

    Ugh, Beautiful Disaster. Thank you for warning people against stuff like this.

  3. I just finished The Ragwitch by Garth Nix. I picked it up because I adore his other works, but you can really tell that this was his first novel. It isn’t bad, but it isn’t particularly good either. The plot was a tiny bit heavy on the tropes, and It’s a kids get wisked off to a magic land for an adventure but make it home for dinner sort of book. The adventure’s fairly dark, so kudos for that I guess. Still, not sure I’d recommend it.

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