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REVIEW: Sophie and Carter by Chelsea Fine

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.

Sophie and Carter by Chelsea FineThe 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

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

8 Comments

  1. KT Grant
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 10:21:28

    You should try Heart on a Chain by Cindy Bennett. Another self-published YA priced under $4. The heroine, Kate goes through horrible abuse at the hands of her drug addicted mother. A boy who used to like Kate comes back into town and becomes her savior. The abuse Kate suffers is a bit over the top but Henry and Kate’s relationship is what made this book a winner for me.

  2. John
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 12:14:16

    I’ll put this on my list. I think self-published YA is getting better, and I enjoy how light it can feel as a read. Regular YA is more often on the angsty/heavy side, especially when it comes to emotional reads. I’m glad you liked it. :)

  3. Jane
    Feb 18, 2012 @ 19:43:53

    @KT Grant Thanks. I will buy it right now.

  4. Estara
    Feb 19, 2012 @ 16:03:54

    @John: John, if you haven’t read Andrea K. Höst’s Touchstone Trilogy yet, you might enjoy it as a fun science fiction opera with psychic space ninjas ^^ – and a quiet, bookish girl who turns out to be the catalyst for a whole world. It reminds me of nothing so much as reading Arrows of the Queen by Mercedes Lackey the first time – and this is still one of my comfort rereads now.

    If you try her, do read the excerpt – because it is first person, read in diary entries and if you don’t enjoy Cassandra at all, you won’t make it to the part where she meets other people and builds connections with them. There is a lot of action but because it is reported after the fact and we don’t get other viewpoints a lot of it feels removed somewhat – I heart it for making a bookish, quiet girl be a bookish quiet heroine and being appreciated and eventually loved for it.

    There is will fulfilment but Cass does not come across as a Mary Sue – she makes mistakes, others make mistake, there are people she never wins over. The villains are villains of selfishness. The story also has one of the most realised ideas of what would happen if we had virtual reality as part of our daily life that I have ever read. But at heart it is all about the people and coping with losing your place and finding a new one.

  5. Dabney
    Feb 21, 2012 @ 10:58:39

    I am looking for a well written YA book written in the past year for an ad hoc bookclub I’m running. We just read Divergent which was a great bookclub book because it generated lots of conversation and no one hated it.

    Any suggestions? This group is all women, ages 40-55, most have teen age or older kids.

  6. Estara
    Feb 21, 2012 @ 11:14:33

    @Dabney: I’m not all that current with YA, and if you mean 2011 this recommendation won’t work either, but I’d like to break a lance for Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, which was just released in the UK and is coming to the US in May of this year. Full Disclosure: I was a beta-reader for the book.

  7. Dabney
    Feb 21, 2012 @ 11:36:39

    @Estara: I need one out now, but I’ll put that on my list! Thanks!

  8. Estara
    Feb 21, 2012 @ 13:04:46

    @Dabney: It is available for import via Bookdepository.com, but I can totally see that this would not be a great thing for a whole book club ^^;.

    I thought it might fit your other criteria, because it is historical YA set during World War II in the UK and occupied France and the girls who are the protagonists are around 20 (in the original manuscript they were in their early 20s and apart from the fact that the UK publisher wanted the book for a new YA imprint they are launching, the story hasn’t really changed).

    The UK book is paperback, the US and Canadian launch will be hardcover.

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