Sometimes when life hands you lemons you make lemonade. Other times, you end up with lemon juice in the eye. This is one of those stories where both happen.
Perdition by Lindsey Ouimet is one of those stories that aren’t usually my cup of tea, but occasionally I get a hankering for. I’m far enough removed from my teen years that the main characters could be my children without it being creepy. And that distance adds some perspective that younger readers wouldn’t necessarily see.
So when reading things like YA, I have to remember that the core audience isn’t people like me, but those to whom the teen years are a clear and present reality.
The story starts off with a new girl moving to a small, Southern town from Miami after the death of her stepfather. The girl, Michaela, has baggage. The whole family has baggage, and that baggage forms the central core to the conflicts in the story.
As you might expect, there are also the rural vs. urban sensibilities conflicts as well as outsider vs. insider conflicts. And that’s before we get into the romantic conflicts…
When it comes to the romance, I appreciated that Ouimet didn’t fall into the trap of the love triangle which is almost omnipresent in YA fiction today. There is one love interest. And the story doesn’t need the added problems a second love interest for either of them would create. They’ve got enough obstacles in their path.
And oh boy are there obstacles…
Off the top of my head we have her family (specifically her mother), his family (specifically his mother), the town, the girls at school, Michaela’s former friend, and of course life itself. And as in life, sometimes the obstacles get the better of the main characters.
That’s actually the one place I felt disappointed in the book. The ending. And it’s why I couldn’t give the story five stars. I walked away saddened. Dejected. Sure there’s a hopeful ending for Levi and Michaela, but the other things that Michaela dealt with defeated her. And she ended up giving in to them.
Without going into spoiler territory, one of the ongoing motifs of the story was how Michaela was different… wore more revealing clothing… owned her sexuality. It was a refreshing take and one I loved and appreciated. I love seeing women who are comfortable in their skin, who go – I am who I am and I’ll wear what makes me happy. That goes away. There’s a reason for it, a logical reason. But it still saddened me.
There are two places where the author shined – the characters and the setting. Each character was distinct and realistic. I never felt like I was reading about cardboard cutouts or blank slates. They had personality, motivation, and goals. Even the characters I disliked had depth. Which is often a rarity. The setting was so beautifully illustrated I could almost taste the sweet tea and barbecue. From the dirt roads to the backwoods party spots, the reader was immersed in life in rural Georgia.
So I can honestly say I enjoyed Perdition, I even understood the ending. But because I walked away sad and not satisfied I can only give this Four Stars.
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