Friday, 8 April 2011

review: So Much Closer

by Susane Colasanti
Viking Children's, May 3, 2011
contemporary young adult
received from publisher (thank you!)

Brooke and Scott Abrams are meant to be together--he just doesn't know it yet. So Brooke follows him to New York City the summer before their senior year. Not in a creepy, stalker-ish way, of course; after all, she's always wanted to live in NYC. She'll have to put up with her estranged father and get used to another cruddy school system, but it'll be worth it. When new friend Sadie drags her into tutoring, Brooke meets John, a tutoree with a learning disability who widens her New York horizons. So when Scott jumps abruptly back into her life, Brooke must decide what--or whom--she values more.
The cover:

I actually like this cover, though I usually detest no-face models. In this one, they don't look like they've been deliberately hidden--they look like they could be in an actual, you know, conversation (instead of making out behind a tree or whatever); the girl's hand flicking away adds to that feel. The boy could be either of the two main male characters, which is an intriguing possibility. Having an actual setting in the background sets the mood right as well.

The book:

I totally didn't expect to like the novel (no matter how much the cover appealed), but Susane Colasanti ops for a, well, balanced balance: Brooke's worries encompass school and romance (lighter subjects) as well as the problem of her parents' divorce. Her attitude towards making the best of New York City even when her relationship with Scott seems to be crawling is what makes her so likeable. Brooke never focuses solely on Scott (despite what her actions state), which would've been a deal-breaker.

The character of John is the true sunshine here. He's got the disability dysgraphia, which makes his personality and perspective ever so unique; he shows Brooke the best NYC sights, and he wholeheartedly captured my heart before he got Brooke's. The discussions between Brooke and Sadie over "boy confidence" endear them both to the reader; Brooke's concern for Sadie's love interest ensures Brooke isn't wrapped up in her own problems. There are one or two people who could almost be defined as random, expect for how Colasanti uses them to develop her protagonist.

Brooke's oblivion to how John feels (especially after his reaction to her being with Scott) is a little hard to believe; the end Brooke and Scott's relationship meets is also a little predictable. The issues with her parents and old friends add some needed weight to the light mood, but the issues Brooke has with school and her campaign of failing it (even though she's supposedly a genius in IQ) just seem petulant. I'm not sure what the title's relevance is (it seems to be one of those obscure phrase titles with hinted-at double meanings), but overall So Much Closer is a warm, sweet read.

Rating: 4 out of 5