August 23, 2016

The Troubles of Teens • The Comeback Season + Fingerprints of You

The Comeback Season book cover
The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: October 13, 2015
Source: Paperback purchased on Amazon

On the fifth anniversary of her father’s death, Ryan Walsh knows there is no place in the world that she ought to be than at Wrigley Field. Allowing herself to enjoy baseball, their mutual passion, lets her escape the mundanity of her everyday life – including her lack of friends, her loneliness, and her grief. In what seems like a destined turn of events, at the field, she meets Nick, a new kid from her school, who appears to share her love of the Cubs and baseball. What begins as a chance encounter slowly develops into a fierce, fast friendship, until Ryan learns that Nick has a secret that could change everything they share.

Honestly, I’m kind of at a loss for words to explain how much I adored The Comeback Season. I’m not much of a baseball girl (as I grew up in a country where it wasn’t a popular sport), so I won’t be able to tell you much about that aspect of the story. But, I will say, even if you only know the basics of baseball, that’s okay. While there is plenty of detail paid to the sport, this story is about so much more than that. It’s about one girl’s journey through the changing landscape of life; about how she comes to terms with grief and loss and growing up; about how life can throw us curveballs when we least expect them, both good and bad. Like the many other Jennifer E. Smith novels I’ve read, it is a quieter story; and yet, that doesn’t diminish its emotional resonance with the reader. In fact, I found it all too easy to connect with Ryan, different though we are in personality; I found her experiences incredibly moving, and got quite emotional at certain points of the story. It was, as always, a well-constructed, beautifully written young adult novel, as I’ve come to expect from Smith, and I’m so glad I finally got around to reading it. I’d highly recommend checking it out if you’ve enjoyed Jen’s other work, or if you’re on the hunt for a good contemporary YA read.

Fingerprints of You book cover
Fingerprints of You by Kristen Paige-Madonia
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 6, 2013
Source: Paperback bought from Book Outlet

Lemon’s mother Stella has never been the maternal type, and you’re likely to find her with a drink in her hand, a new boyfriend every few months and a need to escape when things get to be too much for her. Their latest move, however, has an unforeseen complication: Lemon is pregnant, and by a guy her mother was flirting with. Lemon’s reaction is purely instinctual: she sets off on a big cross-country adventure to find the father she’s never met, and to come to terms with her new circumstances as a teen single mother.

I remember hearing about Fingerprints of You the year it came out. I remember being draw in by the beautifully illustrated cover. I remember hearing Estelle and Rachel rave about it. And yet, somehow, I still managed not to read it until now, and I sorely regret that because it was really, really good. It is a quieter YA novel, but it certainly packs an emotional punch. Or, at least it did for me! I loved, for instance, Madonia’s portrayal of relationships – family, friendship and romance – because it was so realistic about the good and the bad. I also enjoyed accompanying Lemon on this illuminating journey, one that helps her learn more about herself, where she’s come from and how her life has been shaped by her circumstances. The story– from our introduction to Lemon and her mother, to the cross-country trip she embarks on, to her time in San Francisco – is really well-done, and I definitely found it compelling.


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