Dear Ms. Fine:
During my Christmas holiday, I sped through a number of young adult stories either self published or published by smaller houses. This is one of the better ones I picked up. It’s novella length. According to my handy dandy Calibre word count plugin, the Kindle file clocks in at a little under 20,000 words.
The story is told in alternating first person and my biggest complaint is that there is no real differentiation in voice between Sophie and Carter. While the subject matter made it easy to distinguish who was the narrator, the actual tone did not differ. They were the same person to some extent which diminished the storytelling. I also felt that the story was almost too short and that there was room for much more narrative and interaction of the characters.
Sophie and Carter live next door to each other. Both have a difficult home life. Sophie’s mother is a prostitute who frequently forgets the obligations she has at home to her four children. Sophie is trying to balance parenting her three younger siblings and going to school and running down her mother from time to time to get cash to pay bills and feed the family. She has no time for dating or school activities. She cannot see farther than the next moment.
Carter’s father beat him and his mother. The beatings for Carter’s mother were so severe that she became mentally disabled. She is often hallucinating or cowering in the corner. Carter has become the parent with his mother, the child.
Sophie and Carter look at each other through their home’s windows, Sophie sometimes seeing Carter help feed his mother and Carter seeing Sophie get the kids dinner and their homework. They help each other out, with Carter coming over every morning to help get the crew off to school. And each night they take a moment for themselves and sit on the porch to gain just enough courage to make it through the next day.
Even though the storyline seems morose, there is actually quite a bit of hope in the story. Seeing the two kids constantly helping each other out, supporting each other, hurting for the other’s situation was touching and uplifting. There is a tender sweetness that emanates as the two come to realize that the feelings that they have for each other are stronger than friendship and that slow awakening is joyful for the two and the reader. I know that some adults have a hard time believing that teens can have a forever after but in this case it is completely believable. Sophie and Carter are bound together by their shared experiences. They’re weathering storms more difficult than many adults will face and their troubles are manageable because they can lean on each other. Short but priced at $2.99, I felt like this was worth my money and would recommend it to others. B