Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles. She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books. She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben
Author: Tom Leveen
I’m always extremely pleased when a YA is written that makes you think. I’ve been fortunate enough to be the recipient of a debut novel that is a cross between the heartfelt, personal character interactions that our generation only saw in The Breakfast Club (which is still one of the top selling YA movies in history), and Six Degrees of Separation. The author has done an absolutely outstanding job of putting together characters that all have a “connection” with the others, and whose back-stories intrigue the reader so much that you simply can’t put the book down.
This story centers on an end of the
year party – the first “hurrah” of summer. We begin by
meeting Beckett Montgomery (my personal favorite). Beckett
refers to herself as “That Girl Who…”. You know?
The one in class who commits suicide and only then do the other
students recognize she was even alive in the first place. She
isn’t trying to be a hermit. In fact, Beckett is a friendly
sort who was best friends with Ashley for a long time.
She was outgoing and fun until her mother contracted cancer and Beckett’s life was turned upside down. Keeping the secret, as her mother asked her to do, Beckett has had to struggle to attend school and keep up appearances, while taking care of her bedridden mother, and taking on the responsibilities of a fifty-year-old woman. Dad has already disappeared from her life, and when mom passes away, Beckett has to live a very stark and frightening reality – trying like heck to support herself while hiding from the police who could send her away to a foster home in the blink of an eye. This is an amazing young girl who, more than anything, would just like to come out of her cocoon of stress and responsibility in order to be “seen” by the world.
Morrigan is a young woman who has both parents. Unfortunately, she’s just as invisible as Beckett Montgomery to them. Her father sits in front of the TV and never turns down the volume of his numerous sports programs. Her mother nods a lot and says “uh, huh,” to all Morrigan’s requests without ever actually noticing what her daughter requested in the first place. The night of the party they finally notice they have a daughter and all heck breaks loose, leading Morrigan to climb out her window and proceed with a night of booze and debauchery that she’ll be lucky to come home from alive. Ashley is her friend and the responsible one of the group. She takes care of Morrigan when the girl literally goes seven bubbles off plumb, and tries to avoid the wrong thing being said at the wrong time. Not only does she earn the job of babysitter, she also wishes that she could catch up with her old BFF, Beckett.
A mixture of other young adults join the fray as we meet, one by one, with Josh (the young man who loved Morrigan so much, yet she dumped him because he wouldn’t treat her as less than the “lady” he believes her to be; Max (who has stared at the silent Beckett Montgomery through three years of high school wishing he was brave enough to talk to her); Daniel (he likes Ashley but can’t get a word in edgewise because Morrigan won’t stop yapping at the top of her lungs); Ryan (the Romeo who turns gentleman at just the right time); and Brent, Matt, and Tommy who all have something to say as they interact with their group.
The biggest story that flows throughout each individual character’s evening is the young man who sits on the couch at the party house drinking Jack Daniels, and stares at the television screen that offers solemn pictures of soldiers and war. No one knows that this “star football player’s” brain is working overtime. The pain and anguish he’s feeling is buried deep inside his soul just waiting to explode. Azize is a Middle Eastern kid who works his behind off chasing the American dream. He’s truly in love with his country and has no idea that a mix of ignorance, pain, and booze could perhaps end his allegiance to his new home.
What transpires over these pages is a
true work of art. The author explores the depth of every
character and shows us all that no matter what we think, or where we
come from, we can all be a team if we would only take the time to sit
down and find out more about each other as human beings.
Parents who read this could learn a great deal, as well.
Perhaps even learn how to be better at “seeing” their own
children go through the toughest years of their lives. John
Hughes was a man who knew the inner-workings of a teenager’s mind.
He explored and had fun with the ups and downs of high school life,
drilling the truth into the minds and hearts of kids and parents
everywhere. This author has picked up that torch, and should be
extremely proud that on his very first try he hit it out of the
ballpark. I hope to see this one on the bestseller list,
because that is EXACTLY where it deserves to be.
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