*COURTESY OF NETGALLEY*
“I, Elaine O’Dea, am going to tell two definite, absolute, indisputable truths.
- Alice Franklin slept with two guys in the very same night.
- Two weeks ago, one of those guys died in a car accident. And it was all Alice’s fault.”
This constitutes the storyline of the novel set in Healy – a town where even Wal-Mart isn’t 24 hours open. The truth about Alice is being narrated by everyone in turns except Alice herself. This novel is a pretty short one, and wisely so. We needn’t cover the truth in countless wrappings, and take it outslowly, should we? Rip it off, like a band-aid.
The writing is average, but I think it was done on purpose, so that it comes out like the characters are actually talking to us, not through some fancy writers who have attended literary classes. The plot isn’t a huge secret – it’s not as if a killer climax is being held hostage to the readers. It’s a non-hypocritical novel. Straightforward.And to the point.
The setting is Healy High. That should have been my first clue to the fact that I won’t be able to identify with what’s going on in the story. Me, a someone who’s been brought up in an honest-to-god Christian family, in an honest-to-god Indian society, in an honest-to-god girls only school, in an honest-to-god life, where boyfriends and watching kissing scenes in Hollywood movies can make honest-to-god people start tsk-ing and shaking heads. What do I know about American high school and teen pregnancies other than what’s shown in books and movies? Zilch.Nada.Nothing.
So am I the best person to judge what’s happening in the book? No.
Do I find Alice a character invoking my sympathy? No.
Did this book dredge up any strong feelings of … anything? No.
Could I find anything that could have been improved in this book? No.
Would I walk up and down recommending this book to become a fundamentally better person? No.
This is just a meh sort of book. The characters are meh. The plot is meh.
But there is this one line that is universally applicable – something I don’t doubt everybody can relate to.
“I think people needed something that made them feel, I don’t know … like we were all still in it together.
So we picked on Alice Franklin. A nobody, a slut, a killer.”