Here it is, the first book review (and the first book read) of 2012. I am congratulating myself for picking this wintery book for a wintery weekend read. Further thoughts:
Winter Town by Stephen Emond is the past, present, and future story of Evan and Lucy. The teens have been best friends since childhood, despite the fact that Lucy has lived in Georgia for the past five years and only returns to Connecticut for winter break. The winter of their senior year everything changes. Lucy has a new look and a new attitude that Evan does not understand. Something is wrong, but Lucy won’t talk about it. Putting his misgivings aside Evan struggles to find the “Old Lucy” and rekindle their friendship. The result is a heartbreaking romance and doubts about everything Evan believed he wanted.
I have mixed feelings about this book, but in the end I was able to overlook the things that bothered me and enjoy the story. I really liked the comic strip and illustrations throughout the book. Evan’s comic strip does an excellent job of filling in some of the story that I feel is missing from the narrative. Evan and Lucy are both likeable characters, despite being underdeveloped. It’s difficult to put my finger on the exact problem, I just wanted more from and about them. The secondary characters, however, really shine. Evan’s friends seem to bring out the best in him and make him more likeable in my eyes. I did not particularly like Evan’s parents, which is unusual because I love a story with a stable family, but Gram is a gem. She is smart, wise, and unconditionally accepting of both Evan and Lucy. It is refreshing to get a male point of view, especially on relationship issues and I appreciated Evan’s initial willingness to follow the path that he thinks has been decided for him. He is a good kid who gets good grades, and is eager to please his family, but he doesn’t seem to realize the price he pays in order to please others. Lucy wants to be a good kid, but can’t get over the injustices she has suffered and lashes out. Both teens feel trapped in roles that they did not choose for themselves, but together they may just figure things out. Overall, this is a touching look at childhood friends struggling to stay connected and figure out what they want out of life. I found the ending and the extra material satisfying and I love the cover. It fits the story beautifully. I will recommend this to fans of contemporary fiction and non-sappy romances.
Things to be aware of: smoking, drinking, and a mention of sex. Nothing graphic.
Readalikes: Paper Town by John Green, Please Ignore Vera Dietz by A.S. King, and Every You, Every Me by David Levithan