Sunday, November 22, 2009

BR: Leftovers


by Laura Wiess

I have previously read her first novel, Such a Pretty Girl, and liked (but not loved) it. I've heard her this book would be just as edgy, and just as good, if not better than her first. Also, the cover is simple but pretty, dontcha think? So I put it on hold at the library, then I read it all in one sitting.

Leftovers is a book about two girls, Ardith and Blair, who need to navigate their troubled lives, both supporting one another and just trying to survive by themselves. They commit an 'unforgivable act', and through this novel, you find out what drove them to such extreme measures from them, firsthand. QUOTED FROM BACK: "You'll have to listen as they describe parents who are alternately absent and smothering, classmates who mock and shun anyone different, and young men who are allowed to hurt and dominate without consequence. You will have to learn what it's like to be a teenage girl who locks her bedroom door at night, who has been written off by adults around her as damaged goods. A girls who has no one to trust except the one person she's forbidden to see. You'll have to understand what it's really like to be forgotten and abandoned in America today.

Are you ready?"

I had to reread that summary when I first got the book, it's incredibly gripping, entrancing, and powerful, not to mention it invokes so many different emotions, making me think about it even before beginning the novel.

I really really liked this book. It was so raw and emotional, and some may disagree, but I am mostly on the girls' side for their actions. Some say it may be pushing it, but what can you do when practically everyone is pushing you more and more into a corner but push back? And push back hard enough to actually make a difference? I won't spoil what they did though.

I thought having the girls come from completely different families was utilized excellently by Weiss, whose writing I'll comment on later. Instead of girls sharing the same horrible experiences, they share different horrible experiences, as they seek 'respect' from school, and respect from the people around them. They are sick and tired of either being pushed aside or being pushed around. Blair's parents are constantly absent workaholics who forced her to move into a huge empty house. Ardith's house is the party house where her brother and parents don't know how to grow up. Horny and perverted boys are constantly at her 'home', and even her father feels up anything with breasts. The lock on the door and the screwdriver under the pillow is a must for her.

Blair is eventually prohibited to talk to Ardith after a negative first impression that Blair's mother thinks will be negative to her up-and-rising reputation as a lawyer. Needless to say, the girls' lives at home is unbearable. I don't want to spoil too much of the book so I won't include too many plot points.

The writing, however, I can comment on and I can say it is so strong and in your face you almost want to take a step back. There is no ignorance, no sugar coating, it is a direct and powerful perspective of two girls who are 'sick of it'. I am impressed by how Wiess could make the two voices to distinct yet equally enticing (weird word to use in this case). Here's a quote that I really really liked:

See, guys freak out. They hit critical mass and blast nuclear, white-hot anger out over the world like walking flame throwers.
But girls freak in. They absorb the pain and bitterness and keep right on sponging it up until they drown.
Maybe that’s why nobody’s real worried about girls going off and wreaking havoc. It’s not that the seething hatred and need for revenge isn’t there, hell no. It’s just that instead of erupting and annihilating our tormentors, we destroy ourselves instead.
-Leftovers pg.3

See what I mean?

There wasn't much I didn't about the book, but readers beware: there are mentions of drinking, drugs, and rape. More than 'mentions' in some cases. It deals with dark issues and difficult circumstances, just so you're aware.

8.9/10 - because of how well written and powerful this book is. It makes you think of the way people can be treated, yet still try to maintain hope. No, this isn't a particularly hopeful book, but it's emotionally gut-wrenching and gives devastating insight to what we consider leftovers of society. I would recommend this to someone more mature because of the mature themes. I could compare this to Ballads of Suburbia, but not really, if you know what I mean. Yes, I realized I overused the word 'powerful' in this review, sue me.

-AyC

2 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness. I've been reading about this book recently, and now I'm dying to read it!

    Oh, gosh, someone give it to me! ;D

    Thanks for such an in-depth and utterly awesome review (again)!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh Madeleine, you are so amazing :) Thank you!! I really hope you enjoy it (but I will warn you, there may be some semi-mature themes)

    ReplyDelete

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