Whoever made the decision to put that cover on this book should be reprimanded. I was reading this out on the porch of the cabin, and my friend asked me, "So what is that, a Catholic school sex comedy?" No! I cried, it's a heartfelt book about adolescence that isn't just about adolescence
, but about the gummier, stickier subject of life! She waved her Kindle at me. "Another good reason to use this."
One morning Francesca's mother does not get out of bed. Francesca is in the first co-ed class at St. Sebastian's, one of thirty odd girls in a sea of three hundred boys. The girls are all oddballs and individuals, cut out from their middle school herds and left bleating ineffectually in a smelly locker room of a school. Francesca's mother doesn't get out of bed for a week, then a month, then a term, and everything slowly, shatteringly, falls apart. And then, strangely, imperceptibly, it comes back together. Not whole, but complete.
I don't read much realistic, contemporary fiction, because I, well, I just don't. When it comes to YA, this may be more true, because I don't give a shit about teens and their problems. Get off my lawn, et al. Throw in some zombies or an apocalypse, and I might consider it, but life is much too life like to seek it out in fiction, thank you, and adolescence is nothing I want to return to. None of this bellyaching applies here.
I do not want to bear down on this too hard, which I think I said about the other Marchetta I read. Simply, she is a gifted writer, perceptive. Even her minor characters breathe, and her dialouge is better than just about anything. She's got this knife at your ribs, and she slides it in and out, slow, so it is pleasure and pain, and the only thing you leak is tears.