Sunday, October 30, 2011

Hooked by Catherine Greenman

Hooked by Catherine Greenman
Reviewed by: Baby Sister Brittany
Review copy received from: Tandem Literary
The Sisters say: Heart-warming, Hopeful, and Honest

Thea Galehouse has always known how to take care of herself. With a flighty club-owner mom and a standoffish, recovering-alcoholic dad, Thea has made her own way in her hometown of New York, attending the prestigious and competitive Stuyvesant High School. But one chat with Will, a handsome and witty senior, and she's a goner—completely hooked on him and unable to concentrate on anything else.
Always worried that she loves Will more than he loves her, Thea is pleasantly surprised when their romance weathers his move to college and Will goes out of his way to involve her in his life. But then, Thea misses a period. And that starts Thea and Will on a wild ride that neither of them could have possibly prepared for. When they decide to keep the baby, their concerned parents chip in what they can to keep Will in school and give both teenagers a comfortable place to raise their child. But when a freak accident leaves Thea shaken and threatens to upend their little family altogether, Thea is forced to turn to the last place she would have chosen for comfort: her stiff, uncompromising father.
This smart, touching first novel brims with realistic, beautifully drawn characters, and reminds us that love is never as easy or predictable as we might like it to be.

This book was so different than any contemporary YA book I’ve ever read. There are certain character archetypes that we see repeated again and again in literature (especially YA lit), but Thea and Will both felt like very fresh, unique characters. They were different enough to be interesting, but not so different that I gave up on figuring them out. They were realistic teenagers who were fueled and driven by their fears, their passions, their insecurities, their parents, and their feelings for each other.

I worried that when the pregnancy hit, all these flaws and character quirks would be lost, and the story would become a lifetime special about two teenagers beating the odds and making it work. I am so very glad that I was wrong!

Perhaps I’m too cynical, but as soon as I saw it wasn’t going to go the lifetime special route, I worried it would go the complete opposite,  and everything would fall to pieces, and I would be left a mangled and devastated reader at the end.

Once again—I WAS WRONG. (It’s very rare that I admit to this, let alone, am glad about it. Feel free to ask my sisters).

The thing that I applaud the most in this book is its balance.

Hooked had just the right balance of hope and despair. Strength and weakness. Love and hate. Humor and grief.

Greenman shows us all the extreme difficulties that teenage parents face, but she doesn’t neglect to show the small moments of happiness and hope that new life can bring. There is a feeling buried somewhere between the sleepless nights and that first smile, the emotional exhaustion and those tiny fingers curled around your own; it is a feeling that is hard to describe, but if there is a definition for Parenthood—it is that feeling.

I know that some parents (be they teenagers or adults) are either less or more successful than Thea and Will. But—I feel like the way Thea’s story unfolded is probably exactly how I would have handled myself if something similar had happened to me when I was a teenager. This makes me think (and hope) that teenagers will identify with Thea and her struggles. Her story will comfort and strengthen girls with similar struggles, and it will educate those without them.

However—this book was not without it’s issues. Some of the language choice was off-putting. Though I bought that Will and Thea weren’t your average teenagers, there were moments when the voice didn’t feel completely authentic. This made it a little hard to get into the book, but I stuck with it, and once I hit the end of part one I was hooked. (Bah-dum-ching!)

I also had some trouble with the timeline. The book was written in first person past tense. There were a few moments  when the author jumped around instead of moving chronologically, but because the book was already in past tense, I often missed the jump, and had to go back and re-read to figure out what had happened.

And last, even though I praised the balance in this book (and I stand by that praise), I think at a few choice moments the book could have used some imbalance.  It stayed in the middle the entire book, never straying too far to any extreme, so that it felt a little too safe.

All in all, this wasn’t the easiest read, but if you stick with it, I think you’ll find it well worth your time. I think teens as well as adults will enjoy it! Just like Thea and Will—this book has it’s faults,  but there is just so much heart in it as well, that I can't help but love it.

And last, but definitely not least… Crocheting, FTW!

Warning: I would recommend this book for the Upper-YA age range, partly because of content, but also just because I think the subject matter will appeal more to older teens