Synopses & Reviews
Doomed loves, failed families, nixed dreamssomeone else's leftovers are heaped on our plates the day we come into this world.
Big Macs and pop tunes mask the emptiness as Madeline watches her mom drink away their welfare checks. Until the day Tad, a quirky McDonald's counter boy, asks Madeline out for a date, and she gets her first taste of normal. But with a life thats anything but, how long can normal really last?
Hanging with Jeremy, avoiding Mam, sticking Do Not Disturb Post-its on her heart, Desiree's mission is simple: party hard, graduate (well, maybe), get out of town. But after Desiree accepts half a meatball grinder, a cold drink, and a ride from her mother's boyfriend one rainy afternoon, nothing is ever simple again.
Too many AP classes. Workaholic mom. Dad in prison. Still, Ariel's sultry new boyfriend, Shane, manages to make even the worst days delicious. But when an unexpected phone call forces a trip to visit a sick grandmother she's never met, revealing her family's dark past, Ariel struggles to find the courage to make the right choice for her own future.
As three girls from three different decades lives converge, they discover they are connected ways they could never imagine. Each of them finds strength that brings her closer to healing a painful past, and faith that there is a happier future.
"Kwasney's evocative story shifts between the lives of three struggling 15-year-old girls being raised by single mothers in small New York cities. Madeline, living in 1977 Elmira, N.Y., is overweight, depressed and overburdened: 'I will always be stuck here. In this spot. In this body. I will never be a spirit. Or anything other than what I am,' she thinks. Her life consists of babysitting her alcoholic mother, until she meets sensitive Tad and begins to hope for a life with a stable family. In 1993, Desiree, whose story is told in free verse, is raped by her mother's boyfriend, Larry, becomes pregnant and flees with her boyfriend, Jeremy, who believes he is the father. And in present-day Poughkeepsie, overachieving Ariel's ambitions and friendships are stifled by her controlling boyfriend. Ultimately the girls' stories converge as they cope with the hands they've been dealt ('We all inherit someone else's leftovers,' Ariel muses) and attempt to build better lives. Kwasney's (Itch) protagonists are distinctive and empathetic, her narratives meticulously structured and realistic, exposing the unpredictability and sometimes unfairness that life can bring. Ages 14 up." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Kwasney's protagonists are distinctive and empathetic, her narratives meticulously structured and realistic, exposing the unpredictability--and sometimes unfairness--that life can bring."
LIBRARY MEDIA CONNECTION, STARRED REVIEW
This book is impossible to put down and would be especially appreciated by older teen girls. It would also make a great discussion book for a mother and daughter to share.
"...Kwasney effectively develops her characters into multidimensional personalities, convincing in their strengths and weakness..."
The overall picture is of hope and affirmation, and readers will applaud these flawed but resilient women.
"the kind of novel that mothers should give to their daughters or, even better, read and discuss together.
SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL
"Short, alternating chapters among the teens and authentic voices make this a good choice for reluctant readers."
"...[A] moving novel narrated in alternating voices....a larger tale of love, abuse, understanding, and forgiveness. The women aren't all likable, but they are authentic, and each story explores single motherhood, body obsession, and the search for meaningful love. Each woman's hard-fought journey towards self-respect makes for difficult yet compelling reading."
At 15, every girl believes her mother has always been middle-aged and clueless. But this compelling novel tells the other side of the story through the alternating voices of Madeline, Desiree, and Ariel. Living in three different decades, each young woman comes face to face with harsh realities.
About the Author
Michelle D. Kwasney has written two middle grade novels: Baby Blue, named a Booksense Pick and New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age, and Itch, released in 2007. Michelle lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where she writes and teaches art. Visit her at www.michelledkwasney.com to learn more.