Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: 'Love & Leftovers' by Sarah Tregay

Do you hate the person
who tapped the first domino down?
Or do you hate the domino
for not standing up for itself?
And if you are the second domino,
and you get toppled, do you hate yourself?

When Marcie’s Dad leaves the family for another man, her Mom drags her across the country to the family's summer home in New Hampshire. Marcie isn’t thrilled about the enforced vacation from her best friends, the Leftovers, and her emo-rocker boyfriend, Linus, but she makes do until school starts and she realizes that this "vacation" might not be as temporary as she thought. With her mother too depressed to leave her bed and everyone else she loves 3,000 miles away, Marcie finds herself falling for the cute boy who slowly romances her with breakfast. But when her concerned Dad comes to take her back home to Idaho, Marcie quickly realizes that picking up the pieces of her old life might not be as painless as she hoped.

Sarah Tregay’s debut novel is an emotional roller coaster in verse. I am a huge fan of novels in verse and thought this one worked exceptionally well. There is a lyrical quality to the text, but it somehow remains down to earth and packs an emotional punch. Each poem is penned by Marcie in her poetry journal, a well-worn notebook that, at some points, serves as her only confidant. This was an excellent decision on Tregay’s part because Marcie isn’t always a likeable character. In fact, she makes some pretty stupid decisions that hurt a lot of people. Marcie’s poetry journal allows us to peek inside her brain and watch her try to sort out the motive behind her actions. She knows what she’s doing isn’t right and rationalizes it, but she also beats herself up over it after the fact. There is real remorse and that is what turns Marcie into a sympathetic character the reader wants to see happy.

Tregay also does an excellent job drawing secondary characters. The Leftovers are an eclectic group: not popular but, as long as they have each other, not social outcasts. Linus is a sweetheart, the kind of emo-rocker every angsty teenage girl wants to kiss. Despite that, there is something about J.D. (the New Hampshire love interest) that is so boy-next-door he seems irresistable. Even knowing the situation, there was a still a tiny part of me that was rooting for J.D. to get the girl. But by far, my favorite characters were Marcie’s Dad and his boyfriend, Danny. Marcie and her Dad have honest discussions about relationships, family, love and sexuality, and Danny makes a real effort to get to know her.

Love & Leftovers is a beautifully written, poignant story about broken families, worn out friendships, and the relationship between emotional love and physical passion. Marcie’s struggles with loneliness and longing for real human contact are universal.

Book Source: My local library

Review by: Kimberly

Recommended Ages: 16+ do to mild swearing and frank discussion of sexual orientation, teen sexuality, teen pregnancy, and birth control.

Recommended for Readers of:
Sarah Dessen
Ellen Hopkins
Jennifer E. Smith
Daniel Handler