Sunday, November 20, 2011
Not As Alone As You Think You Are
A parent should be a constant in any child's life. Parents should care for and love their children above all else. When a parent fails to do so, the repercussions on the child are lifelong. In Helen Landalf's breakout YA novel Flyaway, she explores the difficult world of a parent who chooses drugs over their child.
Stevie makes do. Her mother isn't always home, there is never food in the fridge, and she is creeped out by her mother's boyfriend, but she loves her mother. Even though her mother's job as a stripper in a local bar has made high school a nightmare, she still waits anxiously for her to come home every night. When she doesn't come home for a long time, Stevie is worried something happened to her. When her Aunt Mindy, her mom's sister, whisks in, Stevie knows Mindy is about to ruin everything she has with her mother.
Mindy takes Stevie in, buys her new clothes, and even arranges for her to have a math tutor to catch up in school. All Stevie can think about is her mother. But Mindy is more concerned with acknowledging the fact that Stevie's mom is a meth addict. They send her to rehab, but Stevie is dealing with her own demons. She struggles with both wanting her mother to get better and wanting her mother back in her life. When her mother decides to leave rehab early, Stevie hopes everything can be different. What she doesn't realize is the first step to recovery is admitting the problem.
I wanted to love this book, and it was certainly interesting. It is an incredibly short book, so I was wondering how the author planned to tackle the tough subjects thoroughly in such a brief time. Therein lay the problem with this novel. It wasn't poorly written, it wasn't uninteresting, but its brevity kept the characters from fully developing throughout the story. There were parts of the background that were glossed over or mentioned, but not fully explained. For instance, there is the mother's boyfriend who Stevie won't even go near, but the reason why wasn't fully developed. Stevie's friend has done some bad things to her, but they aren't hashed out, so they felt like an unnecessary part of the story. I didn't dislike this book, I just wanted more of it.
This book is short, so it can be deceptive. I wouldn't give this book to an immature student as it deals with some serious behavior like drug abuse, sexual assault, etc. The writing level is fairly average for a young adult novel, so it might be best for an older, more mature student with a short attention span. The shortness could work in your favor if a student tends to lose interest in a book quickly. For instance, I have a student who I have taught for two years now. She has started about 30 books in that time and never finished a single one. She finds another that interests her and abandons the last about 1/4 of the way through. A book this size might actually be something she would finish!