Why This Book
Someone suggested the book to me after I completed reading something else, noting the two had similar tone and style. I really enjoyed the first novel, which made me keen to read Lovesick by Jacqueline Levering Sullivan. It was one of the remaining books I have in my queue that I committed to read in early 2018 (I’m on a role — this was the seventeenth book I read in January), so I dove right in; I’m glad, too. It gets a very high 4+ star rating from me… probably a 5 on Amazon given the definition there and a 4 on Goodreads.
Plot, Characters & Setting
The YA novel takes place in 1950s in a small US town focusing on Jeanmarie Dowd, a 16-year-old girl trying to get through high school without falling apart or getting in trouble. She’s had a crush on her best friend’s boyfriend, Chuck, for years. Jeanmarie’s older sister, Iris, has somehow gotten herself involved with a few people suspected of being Communists. Her mother and step-father are at a loss over what to do with both girls. Throw in a few crazy friends, escalating health issues and a situation with the police, Jeanmarie is caught between every possible teenage issue in a time when forgiveness wasn’t very easy.
Approach & Style
I read this 170 page young adult novel on my iPad through Kindle Reader in about 90 minutes — it’s short and easy to digest, but very full of emotion and complexity. It is broken into 29 chapters, each relatively short between 4 and 8 pages, focusing on specific scenes or events that happen to the main character, her family and friends. It is told in first person POV with a perspective focus on the main character, Jeanmarie Dowd.
If there were ever a book to transport you into the feel of the 1950s, this was it. I may not have been been born until a few decades afterward, but I still know what it was like… and Sullivan found a perfect balance of fear, loyalty, rigidity, change and intimacy. Between the words and the setting, you are transported to a different world and understand why things happen the way they do for each of the characters.
Jeanmarie is a beautifully written character. Although she does something wrong/bad, you know she never intended to hurt anyone, and you easily recognize she probably should have had it all along. That said, the punishment she (and others) suffer, is quite a tearjerker. I love the balance of rivalry and connection with her sister. I adore the relationship she has with her parents. It’s amazing to see how she and Chuck remain friends, including her connection to his parents. The end will hurt a bit, but in a way, you almost know from the very first page, it’s gonna happen.
There’s a fine balance of detail regarding the Communist plot, the health scares and the way life actually happened in the 1950s. It’s never too little or too much, just the right amount. You want more, and maybe the book could have had another 40 to 50 pages to draw out even more emotion, but it’s quite good as it stands. The pages turn themselves as you excitedly fall into their magic.
Sullivan creates strong characters within a charismatic setting. She excels at defining relationships not only in words and dialog, but also in distance and what is never actually said between people who should have had a conversation. Less is more sometimes, and this might be a perfect example of that old adage.
I recommend this book highly, especially to those who can handle a few tears and a couple of punches to the gut. It won’t make you cry the whole time, but in just the right places, you’ll get a tad weepy… then find your happiness. It evokes a 1950s ambiance which isn’t always easy to do. I look forward to reading more from this author.
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My debut novel, Watching Glass Shatter, can be purchased on Amazon. I write A LOT. I read A LOT. And now I blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge – words and humor. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators.