Picture
Steplings
by C.W. Smith
272 pages
2011
general fiction

Nineteen-year-old Jason has certainly experienced his share of difficult circumstances in his young life, but upon receiving a farewell letter from his college-bound girlfriend, Lisa, he completely unravels. He decides to embark on a journey (hitchhikes) to see her and convince her that they should be together; however, it gets a little sticky when his preteen stepsister, Emily, joins him on the road in her own quest to see her father.

I was so excited to read this book when I first read the summary - I love a good road trip combined with a tale of self-discovery. Unfortunately, the problems with the book's plot and its characters quickly turned me off. As a young high school teacher, in the past five years I have read a decent amount of YA lit and books about teenagers; as I read I couldn't determine if the book was geared for adults or for teens but ultimately decided that neither group would particularly care for it. It doesn't have enough heart to be beloved by adults who venture into YA territory, and the characters are not real enough to interest teenagers. The dialogue would nauseate both groups.

A couple of issues I have with the book...
I felt like I was supposed to sympathize with Jason in his bereavement of his relationship with Lisa, but because I couldn't buy into them as a couple there was nothing for me to mourn. She is a college-bound, pre-med student with goals and dreams. Jason is kind of a loser with no plans, a pack of smokes, and some alcohol in his system. You can completely understand why Lisa dumps him, so you can't root for him throughout his road trip to see her. If you can't root for the protagonist at all, it sure makes it hard to keep turning pages. A bad plot can be overcome by interesting characters (especially for someone like me who prefers character-driven novels), but this book presents both a bad plot and bad characters. An apathetic reader is much worse than an angry reader.

Emily's dialogue and behavior flounders between childlike and wise-beyond-her-years, which doesn't make her more loveable and dynamic, it just adds further awkwardness to the story. I am certain I was supposed to be charmed in her exchanges with Jason (and have some "Awww... moments") but I was just annoyed.

The two biggest issues I had with the book were the dialogue (so horrible I actually highlighted passages in my nook to quote but am too lazy to do so now) and the fact that the author doesn't know how to write teenagers. I am no author, but I know teens, and Jason doesn't reflect anything I know about this age group.

I wish I would have loved this book - the author and camp couldn't have been nicer, but I just cannot recommend this as a fall read. I dreaded reading it, and I dreaded writing a review.

 


Comments

lisa taylor

Tue, 20 Sep 2011 16:28:03

Sorry to hear you don't like it. But sure value your time and appreciate your honesty.

 



Leave a Reply