Monday, May 9, 2011

Not Like You by Deborah Davis

Title: Not Like You
Author: Deborah Davis
Publisher: Clarion Books
Release Date: September 11, 2007
Date Read: April 26 - 29, 2011
Rating: 2.5/5 stars

How do you learn to love the person who scares you the most?

Kayla’s mom calls their moves as, “Starting a new chapter.” Five in the past two years. Each time it’s the same: Marilyn promises to stop drinking, breaks her promise, and they’re off again.

This time it’s New Mexico. But something feels different. Kayla is putting down roots, starting her own dog-walking business, and spending time with Remy, a twenty-four-year-old musician. He’s her refuge from Marilyn’s daily struggle with sobriety. But Kayla is only fifteen. Does an older man really offer Kayla the refuge she needs? Or is the safety she craves actually with the person who scares her most?

Hmm. I always find it harder to write reviews for novels I didn't absolutely love, especially when I had such high hopes for them. I loved the cover for Not Like You and assumed it would be such a heartfelt and sentimental novel. 

My main complaint about Not Like You is it's lack of originality. I found many of the characters to be cookie-cutter "complex" without any new angles or plots that I hadn't already read before. It reminded me of an un-profound Deb Caletti or an Ellen Hopkins without the poetry and angst. I also felt as though there were many untouched plot points, such as why Kayla was so hesitant to trust others, the fact she missed an entire month of school, whether or not Sherrie and Shirley were gay, etc. 

Despite this, Deborah Davis' writing made the novel come alive for me. The "trailer-trash" feel to the novel made me incredibly uncomfortable, especially with Deborah's descriptions of Kayla's living conditions and their financial situation. Her portrayal of Marilyn's alcoholism and how it dictated how Marilyn and Kayla's lives turn out was heartbreaking. I was torn over whether to pity her state, detest her addiction, or hope for her recovery. I also liked Luz, as there are few YA novels who depict teen pregnancy but not in first-person. 

One of the only points I liked about Not Like You was how there wasn't a fairy-tale/happy ending, as realistically Kayla's life would have continued to be dictated by her mother's alcoholism. I appreciated the recurring theme of music but felt the last two pages were incredibly cliched. Overall I wish there had been another major plot point or a stronger main character to either balance out Marilyn or bring a stronger voice to the narrative.

Favourite Quote: "This is so romantic, I thought, but part of me had flown up to the top of the nearby telephone pole and watched from above like some voyeuristic bird."

Recommended: To Take a Dare (Paul Zindel), Lock and Key (Sarah Dessen), Push (Sapphire), Rosie and Skate (Beth Ann Bauman)

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