Hmmm,…. Where to even begin? Ok, let’s start with the basic premise, before I go into detail why I did not like this book. The reader is introduced to 13 year old Joe (the narrator) and his mother, Adele. Living on their own in rural New Hampshire, we are told that Adele is not exactly all there. On one of their rare trips out of the house to get Joe some school supplies, they get held hostage and told to drive back home with Frank, a newly escaped prisoner.
This is where it goes to pieces.
I’m going to split this up into three sections: plot, writing and general absurdities.
Plot: without giving too much away, let’s just say that the way this plot fleshes out is extremely trite and unrealistic. I get that we need to suspend disbelief in a fiction novel, but really, don’t insult me by trying to pass off something that is utter shite. Maybe it is because I’m only in my late twenties, but really, I feel like I’ve had enough experience in life to know the basics of a relationship!
Now, the writing isn’t terrible , but it isn’t exactly good either. The narrator is that of a hormonal, wet behind the ears, 13 year old. Not exactly reliable. For a book that’s not even 250 pages, Maynard spends way too long on Joe and his experiences throughout this time.
I’ve got no problem with coming of age novels, but in this instance, there were two strong elements to this story and not enough pages to fully explore one, let alone two. We’ve seen many plots explore young teenagers dealing with their sexual awakening, learning new things about the world and themselves, etc… However, Adele’s story is very different and had real potential to be fleshed out and had it been expanded further, it might have made me give it more credence.
General absurdities: this is going to be short as I don’t want to give too much away. Some of the tropes used in this novel were so cliche and old that throughout, I found myself audibly saying “really?”. I also didn’t like how the author coupled a certain act with punishment.
As you can probably tell, I really didn’t think much of this novel. It had real potential, and a few parts were good, but it just didn’t connect with me. However, the great thing about fiction is that it appeals to different people in different ways, so give it a go, and you might well love it.
Anyway, must dash, I have to stay in the air as a certain muse has threatened to remove my hooves!