I always like to know the age of the protagonist. Especially if you are talking about a book featuring young adults, a year can make a huge amount of difference. Imagine my perplexity then, when reading reviews of this book (as I often do after reading a book), to see them uniformly refer to Lacey, the main character, as thirteen. Not just blogs do this. Amazon, Booklist, and Bookmarks also make this error. But the book jacket itself identifies Lacey as fourteen, and right on page five Lacey says, “Here I was, all of fourteen years old, and I was crawling into bed with my momma.” What’s the problem? Doesn’t anybody do his or her own fact-checking? Does anyone actually read and remember?
But I digress. On to the review.
Lacey, age 14 (ahem), lives with her paranoid schizophrenic mother, who refuses to take any medication. Lacey tries her best to care of her momma, but it’s a huge burden, and she would like to have a friend, just once. In fact, just once she did have a friend, but that friend never came back over after one frightening episode with Lacey’s mother, and moreover, told everyone at school what happened. Lacey’s mom’s sister, Aunt Linda, used to live with them and help take care of Lacey’s mom Angela, but Angela kicked her out and got a restraining order taken out on Linda lest she try to take Lacey away.
This is a circadian, or one-day novel, in which all the action takes place within a single 24-hour period. In this story, it begins with Lacey trying to get her mom to start a normal job as a checker at a Winn-Dixie, since they are out of money. While her mom is there, Lacey plans to volunteer at the library, where her Aunt Linda used to work. On the bus to their jobs, Lacey sees a neighbor boy, Aaron, who is very cute. He tries talking to her, but she is defensive at first, because no one talks to her without making fun of her. But Aaron is different. Maybe this day will actually work, and maybe everything will turn out okay. But maybe not….
Evaluation: I hated this book. That is not to say it isn’t good, but the circumstances of the story were frightening and all too common. I hate the horror that ensues when a sick person gets a bit better from medication and then decides that he or she can therefore stop the medication. It is no one’s fault. It just happens. A lot. It’s a very dangerous situation. I hated “experiencing” vicariously the abusiveness of a very sick mother influencing the mental integrity of her young offspring and no one being able to intervene. I hated what almost happened at the end of the day, and I hated thinking about the long-term effects of her upbringing on that poor little girl. In other words, yes, it’s another one of those books that I wish some other blogger had read so I could say in the comments, “Wow, I’m so glad you read this so I don’t have to!”
Published by St. Martin’s Griffin, 2011