Friday, April 1, 2011

Book Review: Love Ya Like A Sister

If you want something done right, then do it yourself. At least, that's what people say. But does that include having three girlfriends at the same time--and stealing a car?

Life is simple for Randy: 1) he loves his girlfriend and 2) he likes his motorcycle. And even if he really likes his motorcycle and only thinks he's pretty sure he loves his girlfriend, it's still the same difference. Easy to know, easy to think about.

Then Randy's life gets complicated. In one week he makes friends with a senior girl and her five-year-old sister, his girlfriend dumps him, and his ex's older sister helps him with his math--although, it turns out, she's better at biology.

While trying to uncomplicate their lives, Randy and his friends learn what to do when your parents are too busy, too divorced, too drunk, or too dead to help.

--From Goodreads

Intended Reading Group:
Upper Young Adult

Content Screening:
Sexual references (mainly innuendos) and mild cussing.

***

Cover Inspection:
I like the color of the cover, but I'd love to see something with Randy on it! He's definitely my favorite part of the book.

First Thoughts:
These poor kids.

***

My Review:

Love Ya Like A Sister was one of the first books I've read in a while that really cut to the heart of realistic fiction. Reading about these characters is like watching a young soap opera unfold in front of you. Except of course that you know that everything mentioned can, and really does, happen. These characters are so true to life that it kind of tore my heart out.

We meet Randy, a teenager who has lost his mother and has a father that is always gone. Essentially raising himself, Randy is learning to navigate the trials of adulthood before he is really ready for it. Also in the story, we meet Gwen and Hope. Gwen's mother is drunk constantly, and it has become Gwen's job to mother her four-year old sister. Finally we meet Beth and Susie. These sisters are about as different as night and day. Susie of course being the lithe, graceful and flirtatious one, while Beth hovers in the background.

I think what really struck me about Tom Kepler's writing is how expertly he navigates all these very different teenage feelings. Each one of these characters could be someone you've met, or someone that you've known for years. There is a lot of grittiness to this story, hidden underneath the jokes and snide comments the characters make towards one another. There is a raw nerve that shows what happens when young people are left to fend for themselves. These characters become more a family to one another than their individual families ever were.

There are moments of hilarity in this book as well! The psuedo parents that these kids have are funny and colorful. Randy especially has quite the sense of humor when it comes to dealing with all the girls. I wouldn't want you going into this book thinking that you are in for a dark and somber read. Quite the opposite actually! Although these characters deal with a lot, their friendship with one another keeps them strong and as optimistic as they can be under the circumstances. I liked the balance between those two sides of the story.

Final thoughts? I believe that if you go into Love Ya Like A Sister with an open mind and an open heart, you'll find something to love. Randy is a character who knows how to sweet talk you one moment, and tear your heart out with his angst the next. The plot is solid and interesting, and the way these characters interact is as real as you can get. I really enjoyed this book, and I hope that you give it a chance as well.


Book Details
Title: Love Ya Like A Sister
Author: Tom Kepler
Publisher: Wise Moon Books
Pages: Paperback; 216
Source: Received for promotional review.
FTC Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.


Final Rating: 4 Keys to My Heart

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