First Lines: Sunlight dances over the little girl’s dark curls as she toddles clumsily through the dry grass. Her rosy cheeks dimple as she grins, her green eyes sparkling as she lunges sticky fingers toward the camera. Suddenly she trips.
Alright, so this isn’t a current book. It came out in 2012 and it’s been on my bookshelf for probably 3 years. I bought it at a Half-Price Books sale the summer after I finished college and it’s been sitting around ever since. Well, after reading a few weirder books, I wanted something a little more grounded in reality.
When Rosie’s mother, Trudie, dies of Huntington’s Disease, Rosie knows that life will forever be changed. Not only is Rosie now alone in the world, she also has a 50% chance of inheriting the disease that killed her mother. But when Rosie tells her mother’s best friend, Sarah, that she’s going to get tested to see if she has the disease, Sarah tells her Trudie wasn’t her biological mother after all. Devastated, Rosie sets out to find her real mother, even joining up with her ex-boyfriend for his gap year trip to Los Angeles. But things don’t go according to plan, and Rosie will discover secrets, lies, and decisions that can change more lives than her own.
First of all, let’s just say that this book is British in origin (published by Simon & Schuster UK), which means the punctuation and some spelling choices are different than in America. This never hindered my understanding, but it threw me for a loop a few times when I’d see “kerb” instead of “curb” or “hoody” instead of “hoodie”.
Ok, so basically this book is a complete and total soap opera. So many twists and turns, so many secrets, so many loves-gone-wrong. I mean, it’s totally and completely melodramatic. But it was entertaining as all get-out. I mean, I was still reading after midnight because they teased a new twist and I had to know what was going on now.
This book has a plethora of characters, but only a few were done really well. And that was basically ok because there was so much going on in the plot. Rosie, obviously, was fleshed-out and real. You could understand why she makes the choices she does, even though there are tons of consequences. And there’s another character, Holly, who stood out to me a lot too. (Gee, I wonder why? Could it be her name?) Same thing goes for her as for Rosie. You get her.
The narration was done a little differently than I’m used to, but it worked really well. For the first quarter or so of the book, Rosie is the only narrator, for chapters at a time. But after that, it begins to switch between Rosie and another character. Sometimes the chapters would be 8-10 pages in that point of view, sometimes it was 1-3. I’m usually not a fan of that, but it actually worked really well. It felt like that soap opera I mentioned, where the camera (or the narration) keeps flipping between the two stars. It was pretty seamless, I have to say. It kept the action fast-paced.
I also really liked that this chose to focus so much of the story on Huntington’s Disease. I’d never heard of it before, but I was interested. I mean, we have books on cancer and depression and other mental illnesses. Why not have one about a genetic disease that affects over 30,000 people in the US each year and is just as devastating as those aforementioned illnesses? It was really interesting to read about the disease and how it impacts those around it, the ones who have to care for people with it.
Really, a great drama. Just expect lots of angst.