Most people have heard of Lisa Moore. She’s an extremely well-known Canadian writer because she’s been on almost every book prize list at least once AND won Canada Reads a few years ago. She’s one of those literary stars we love to boast as our own, so it’s not surprising she’s taken the plunge into writing young adult fiction. I imagine this kind of jump would take a lot of confidence in a writer, but she’s Lisa freaking Moore, so of course she nailed it.
Flannery is a cute novel. It follows a teenager named Flannery who’s struggling with a few different things in her life; the gradual distancing of her best friend, unrequited love with her crush Tyrone, an eccentric mother who has forced the family into welfare because she makes no money on her ‘art’, and the knowledge that she will most likely never meet her father. So nothing extraordinary about her by any means, there are many kids that have much more on their plate than this, but Moore throws an interesting side story into the mix: by accident, Flannery has created a love potion for a school project that actually works. The love potion doesn’t take up a large part of the story (we don’t enter into Harry Potter territory at any time), in fact things get downright real in the last few chapters, but I found this a really unique addition to the overall plot.
As I read this book, I realized that I was constantly asking myself “what makes this book YA?”. I supposed as a reviewer, I should be making some sort of commentary about whether or not the author succeeded in writing a book that appeals to a younger audience. But then I realized I wasn’t a younger audience anymore, I’m 31, so what the hell would I know about what kids read these days?
I can tell you I enjoyed the book as an adult. The dialogue isn’t annoying as you would expect it to be if you had to read about teenagers talking to each other-either Moore took a few liberties with the way kids talk these days, or the internet has greatly improved everyone’s vocabulary under 16. And there was one phrase that has been drilled into my brain since I read it, mainly because it is a stark reminder of my age:
“I could tell he must be in his fifties because he kept texting big long paragraphs” (p. 156 of the advanced reader copy).
My horror at realizing I text older than my age is something I’m sure many of you can relate to, but I digress.
The best part about this book are the characters. Miranda, the eccentric mother is probably one of my favourites, especially because she makes me look like a stellar mother even when I’m feeding my kid cheerios off the floor. So really, there’s something here for everyone, every age and life stage alike. Plus Moore is coming to Wordfest in October, so you can see her read from this book in person if you really want to.