Monday, March 7, 2016

Review: Where You'll Find Me by Natasha Friend

The first month of school, thirteen-year-old Anna Collette finds herself...
DUMPED by her best friend Dani, who suddenly wants to spend eighth grade "hanging out with different people." 
DESERTED by her mom, who's in the hospital recovering from a suicide attempt. 
TRAPPED in a house with her dad, a new baby sister, and a stepmother young enough to wear her Delta Delta Delta sweatshirt with pride.
STUCK at a lunch table with Shawna the Eyebrow Plucker and Sarabeth the Irish Stepper because she has no one else to sit with.
But what if all isn't lost? What if Anna's mom didn't exactly mean to leave her? What if Anna's stepmother is cooler than she thought? What if the misfit lunch table isn't such a bad fit after all? With help from some unlikely sources, including a crazy girl-band talent show act, Anna just may find herself on the road to okay.

Rating: 3 Stars

I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a honest review.

I liked this book for it's realism. From what I remember, middle school is actually as bad as you see it through Anna's eyes. Depression, especially when you're seeing a parent go through it, is some kind of traumatic.

The writing style was very easy to get into. I liked the friends that Anna ends up with, even if she was somewhat repulsed by them at first because they were the "freaks" at school. She gave them a chance and found some really great friends. Some aspects of their character were unique, such as the Irish step dancing and the plucking problem (trichotillomania).

There is one character about whom I'm not sure how I feel. Dani, the girl who dumped Anna for new friends at the beginning, can be seen as both good and bad. Her very person, the girl who wants to be popular and gets rid of anything that might make her otherwise, is a terrible person, but it happens a lot more than you'd think. However, she felt very one dimensional and cliche on the page. I didn't really see anything special about her; she was there to fill a role and she did, but that was it.

What I didn't like was some of the character development. Anna seemed like a relatively weak character in the first half of the book. I suppose this is meant to be due to some of the things she is going through, but as she'd been strong enough to care for her mother up until now, I can't see her spiraling so quickly into just going with the flow of being moved to her dad's house. I would've expected some rebellion.

I also felt like the step-mother character, while cool, was a bit cliche. In a lot of books where the step parent is at first seen as an intruder, they end up becoming cool and so much fun. I don't think it's realistic and at the very least it's been done dozens of times before.

All of these things considered, I still find it a book that would be good to read. It's a good choice for the middle grade/younger YA crowd as a introductory book to what it's like to deal with mental health issues, whether it's them, their parent(s), or their friends.

Music Recommendation

I had to choose this song. Not only do the girls do a girl band performance at the school talent show, but Shawna is a big fan of Joan Jett. I can just see the girls rocking out to this song in Sarabeth's basement.

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