(Coming of Age)
By Cait Jarrod
A tragic event as kids ties Matt and Trina together, and through the years they never admit to each other how they feel. As time goes by, their feelings strengthen but their resolve to be truthful to one another does not until one day…
I really wanted to like this book. Even though I tend to read more dynamic or literary based novels, I’m not opposed to a good romance, and yet, the flaws in this book seemed overwhelming.
First of all, the writing was simple, filled with mistakes, and lacked substance. Immediately, the story jumps into the tragedy of Matt losing his mom, and the way his emotions are portrayed and presented to us seem flimsy, being filled with what the author thinks he should feel and not what he most likely felt. Now—true—every person grieves differently. But as I lost my father at roughly the same age as Matt lost his mom, to me, his actions rang false.
On top of that, the author used many words in an inconsistent or wrong manner. For one, she misused words, such as danced, sireness, and the author’s favorite: fisted.
Her mother fisted her hands…
To Fist means to hit with your fists, but the author repeatedly tries to use it to mean make a fist. Then we encounter many wishy-washy or weak descriptions. One of which was regarding Matt’s character where, from Trina’s POV, she says she liked him because he always went with the flow of life. But then, just a page later, Trina admires his no-nonsense attitude. He was her rock. It made no sense. Even when it came to basic metaphors, certain aspects were missing, like below.
A lasso sensation tightened his chest…
When it came to the characters, things didn’t get much better. Most were flat, self-involved caricatures that reeked of something from bad morning soap operas. The good guys were overly good, and the bad; overly bad—or at least, they weren’t fleshed out.
Take Trina’s horrible parents. They were the stereotypical rich, do-what-I-say, poor-people-are-trash parents. At one point even, the dad scoffs at Matt for not taking his money, by saying, “Wow! Who in this world doesn’t want money?” Over the top—yes—but if the author had spent more time justifying this viewpoint, it could’ve enriched the story.
Added to this, both of the selfish, stuck-up parents’ children—Trina and Bradley—are nothing like their parents. They value morals and humanity, yet nowhere in the story is it explained how the direct genetic offspring of such pricks could turn out so different. Speaking from experience as a teacher, many of my students ring true to either one or both of their parents. I have yet to see a single child that bucks the entire system, and yet this family has two!!! Now if the author were to explain somewhere that they were raised by a wholesome nanny or two distant relatives, then it might make sense, but as is, well, it comes off flat and lifeless.
When it comes to structure, the biggest flaw was the formatting. This could just be the mobi file the author sent me, and usually I’m not too nit-picky about this kind of thing, but here, it was ridiculous. Half the time, the dialogue would stop and start as if a new paragraph, or was completely misplaced, leaving the reader with the belief that someone new was talking. Check out below.
“Hang back,” Gunny said and jutted his chin toward a wooden table outside the mess hall.
“I’ll get us a few cold ones.”
Then there were the poor POV shifts. As every paragraph had a large space between it and the next, when a POV shift did happen, it looked like nothing more than a new paragraph to the same old POV. Instead, we get a new situation and characters with little or no warning. When the characters weren’t together, it was a little more tolerable, but sometimes it switches mid-scene, which is fine, if it is done right.
Lastly, the author tosses in strange images of mountains mid-story, causing the reader to believe a POV shift is about to occur…and yet it doesn’t. Everywhere I went in the story, I ran into something that jerked me around and frustrated me—two things an author doesn’t want to do to their reader.
In the end, it could’ve been better. I think one major flaw is the author decided to put her book in the subcategory of ‘coming of age’ which is maybe not appropriate for this material. The events in this story are so gut-wrenchingly normal and predictable for the age set she writes about that many times I felt I was watching an MTV reality show. I don’t consider Real World ‘coming of age.’ If best, this book should’ve been tossed somewhere in the romance grouping because clearly that’s what it was. A coming of age book ends with an epiphany that leads to a new outlook if not a new philosophy on life. At the end of this book, they had sex—and cheesy sex at that. Not quite the note a coming of age tale ends on.
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