Published by Random House Children's Books on March 8th 2016
Source: Puchase, Purchase
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Zentner had me hooked from the beginning of The Serpent King with Dill’s story of wanting something more and his strained relationship with his father, a fallen Pentecostal preacher serving time in prison. I loved the friendship Dill, Lydia, and Travis shared, and each one wanted something greater out of life. Lydia had the perfect life, Travis was from the abusive background, and Dill was expected to live in his father’s shadow. As much as I enjoyed each of the characters together and separately, there are a couple of issues in the story that I just didn’t like. I didn’t buy into Lydia’s many connections and clout through her fashion blog; it just wasn’t believable to me. There were also times when I felt the author compromised parts of the story for the sake of drama but when put in the context that the audience is geared toward the young adult, it works. With those two issues aside, I really enjoyed this story of three friends who are ready to embark on a whole new world and life apart from the known and each other. The author’s skill for writing is solid, but parts of the book felt rushed. The Serpent King is a moving story filled with emotion that centers on the strengths of three high school seniors who gain strength, confidence, and overcome legacies with a little support from each other.
If you’re going to live, you might as well do painful, brave, and beautiful things.
My Sunshine Away is another book that had me hooked from the first page with a horrific crime upon a teenage girl, Lindy, who was the fantasy of every teenage boy. The story is told by Lindy’s young neighbor, who remains nameless throughout the story, in reflection of the events surrounding Lindy’s rape and how it affected everyone around her. Walsh captivated the sweet innocence of youth in a time gone by while telling a gripping story of a young boy trying to make sense of what happened to his childhood crush. The only issue I have with this book is the excessive comparison of New Orleans and the setting of the story, Baton Rouge. I understand the author was describing in detail the differences in the cities to lead up to a metaphor about Lindy and the young narrator, but the geography was too long and drawn out for my taste. M.O. Walsh has written in beautiful fashion a poignant and moving coming of age story of stolen innocence, identity crisis, and days gone by when children were children. Sadly, I developed a bi-polar connection with the characters and main plot point, the mystery surrounding the identity of Lindy’s rapist. However, I loved the narrator’s reflections of his youth, attempts to understand the changes in his friend, and his gracious gallantry.
But for every adult person you look up to in life there is trailing behind them an invisible chain gang of ghosts, all of which, as a child, you are generously spared from meeting.