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Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

Big Macs and pop tunes mask the emptiness as Madeline watches her mom drink away their welfare checks. Until the day Tad, a quirky McDonald’s counter boy, asks Madeline out for a date, and she gets her first taste of normal. But with a life that’s anything but, how long can normal really last?

Hanging with Jeremy, avoiding Mam, sticking Do Not Disturb Post-its on her heart, Desiree’s mission is simple: party hard, graduate (well, maybe), get out of town. But after Desiree accepts half a meatball grinder, a cold drink, and a ride from her mother’s boyfriend one rainy afternoon, nothing is ever simple again.

Too many AP classes. Workaholic mom. Dad in prison. Still, Ariel’s sultry new boyfriend, Shane, manages to make even the worst days delicious. But when an unexpected phone call forces a trip to visit a sick grandmother she’s never met, revealing her family’s dark past, Ariel struggles to find the courage to make the right choice for her own future.  – Publisher summary

Three girls, three decades. Michelle D. Kwasney’s Blue Plate Special had me immediately. From the opening to the ending, I was completely drawn in.  Each girl’s narrative had its own distinct voice and style.  I loved how Ariel’s was verse, the choice seemed to echo the disconnected relationship she had with her mother and even the world sometimes.

The girls’ narratives eventually blend into one, as we learn they’re three generations of the same family.  The author places clues throughout the book, and when the realization occurs for the characters, it’s just as heartfelt for them as it is for us.  I didn’t mind that I knew where the narrative was headed, because with this’s not the destination that matters, it’s the journey, as it travels down adolescent roads of heartbreak, healing, and loss.

The historical elements, music, cultural elements weren’t just a gimmick, they functioned so well within the book, the situations the girls’ encountered influenced by the context in which they took place.

Blue Plate Special has some complex characters, and Kwasney wrote them so convincingly.  Even when I knew I should be disgusted with a particular person, she’d give them an attribute that would endear them to me.

Bottom line? I loved, loved, this book.  It hit me in a way that few books do with its theme of mothers, daughters, and the many shades of love.   This is Chronicle Books’ first YA novel published, and if this title is any indication, it will be a great line.  Now I have to seek out Michelle D. Kwasney’s other books.

Copy for review provided by the publisher.

Title: Blue Plate Special
Author: Michelle D. Kwasney
Date:  September 2009
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Pages: 304
Format: Hardback

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