Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Something Wicked by Lesley Anne Cowan

Title: Something Wicked
Author: Lesley Anne Cowan
Publisher: Puffin Canada
Release Date: June 1, 2010
Date Read: June 19 - 22, 2011
Rating: 3/5 stars 


Melissa’s most recent troubles stem from a secret: her 28-year-old boyfriend, Michael, has just broken up with her. Melissa clings to the memories, riding a relentless wave of hope and disappointment. Meaningless sexual escapades, drunken nights, and drug-induced blackouts help her cope with heartbreak, but her pain goes much deeper than unrequited teenage love. Her insight, sense of humour, optimism, and sheer determination prove to be saving graces, as is her ability to find solace in the Greek myths she’s learned about in grade ten English class. And in the end, it is Melissa’s mother who proves to be the real victim, and Melissa who must save her.
I found Something Wicked at my local library and was intrigued by the awesome cover and the Canadian author sticker. I love Canadian authors, especially forgotten ones like Lesley Anne Cowan. I had no idea what to expect out of the book and was caught completely off guard by it's dark plot and characters. 

Melissa was such an interesting character to read about. While I sympathized with her plight to define herself separate from her negative home environment and previous history I was also frustrated with the choices she made about her education, sexual experience, friends, and substance abuse habits. I loved how the novel wasn't about one central "thing" that happened to her but rather a conglomeration of her ADD, poverty, breakup, and home life. Rather than focusing on one issue Lesley Anne Cowan made Melissa as real as possible because we each face multiple problems and roadblocks in our every day life that shape the person we become. 

As I struggled to empathize with Melissa I was shocked by her comparison to Greek mythological characters. She identified as both Echo and Sisyphus, doomed forever to repeat both her actions and words. Her beautiful descriptions of her thoughts and experiences turned her from a trashy lost teenager to a scared young woman in my mind. 

As someone who has never tried drugs before I am very uncomfortable reading stories where characters are obsessive or regular users. Seeing how it controls their lives and changes them is a "birth control" on drug usage for me. However I'm glad that substance abuse novels are written because they can be awesome tools and resources for youth trying to overcome their own vices. In the recent #yasaves/WSJ incident it was mentioned that teens need literature that mirror their own lives to give them hope. I'm really glad that all of Melissa's actions had serious and realistic repercussions to show other teenagers that you can't get a "free ride" in life, that there are consequences for poor or illegal behaviour. 

Favourite Quote: "I'm somewhere between being in love and having my heart destroyed. I'm trapped in a waiting room, not permitted to feel bliss or misery. It's like knowing you won the lottery but not having the ticket in your hand. Or being given a death sentence by a doctor but forgetting to ask just how long you have left."

Recommended: Crank (Ellen Hopkins), Not Like You (Deborah Davis), Get Well Soon (Julie Halpern), The Freak Observer (Blythe Woolston)


  1. Thanks for this review, Laura! This does sound like an interesting read. I agree, I'm so glad these types of books are out there to help kids in similar situations. :)

  2. This one sounds really good, actually, and I just love that cover. Awesome review :)

  3. I've never heard of this one before, but I love that cover. As for the dark story, I agree with you about it helping teens. When I was younger, I read my fair share of darker stories with drugs, sex, ect. and I'm no worse for wear. In fact, I'm pretty sure the messed up adult books I read (I read primarily adult fiction when I was in high school) with drugs and such, scared me away from drugs and such a bit. Something Wicked sounds interesting and like something I'd enjoy. Thanks for the thoughtful review, Laura!

  4. I agree with what you said in your review.
    Awesome review as always.


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