Originally posted at my blog Chasing Empty Pavements
This book was one of those books where I enjoyed it half the time and hated it the other half. There were some parts that I thought were done so well and then there were some things that I thought were kind of off base.
The Good: I think Gurtler has a talent in nailing the language, thoughts and actions of older teenagers. I felt that the characters in this novel were so familiar, so easy to relate to and that is because they so closely resemble teenagers in real life. I always appreciate that authenticity in YA novels, especially contemporary novels. Also the fact that I've been reading a lot of YA Paranomral/Fantasy/Dystopian books lately made the change to contemporary really refreshing. I also thought the issues Gurtler tackles are some that are so important to YA audiences and some of the moral questions brought up were great for what I call "after-reading-thinking." The race issue was obviously one of the biggest issues Gurtler tackles in this novel but it's not always the most important. I thought it was interesting to see Jaz's transformation of her way of thinking and her self-esteem and trust were more interesting and important to focus on! I really thought the big issues that Jaz faces with the *secret* she keeps from her mother is fascinating. I can't help but wonder what I would do if I was in the same situation and I think that was Gurtler's goal....to get her readers thinking about the question themselves.
The Bad: While I did enjoy this book, Jaz really irritating me. It was like... every 5 minutes she was bitching and complaining about being a mixed race and how everyone else was judging her and making her feel like crap. There are a few instances where she has justified reactions but 90% of the time she is being ridiculous. It seemed to me that she was more concerned with her skin color than any of the other characters in the book and that was a huge turn-off for me because it's not exactly tackling a REAL issue it's more skimming the surface on a personal problem. Also, one thing that bugged me is that everyone in the book seemed to come from a broken background. Missing dad, abusive parents, drug-dealing pasts, cheating step fathers. It was like...does anything GOOD ever happen to someone?!
Overall, it's very hard for me to give this book a rating because there were parts that I really appreciated and liked and other parts where I wanted to throw the book across the room because I was so annoyed. So...I'll be generous and give the book a C-. If you are a fan of contemporary novels with issues of race than this might be something you'd enjoy.
**I received this book free from the publisher through www.netgalley.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.