I mentioned in a blog post a couple weeks ago (about being a teenager in love) that I’ve been reading quite a bit of young adult fiction recently. I started initially because I was having a great deal of trouble getting into the heads of two of the characters in Insurgent. In the end, however, I’ve gotten somewhat hooked.
Stephanie Campbell came to my attention recently by way of Jessica Park (author of Flat Out Love). Stephanie has become embroiled in a bit of a controversy with some members of Goodreads, an online book community I enjoy. More on the controversy at the end of this post. For now, I want to talk about the book.
Grounding Quinn is the story of eighteen-year-old Quinn MacPherson, a pill popping product of an extremely dysfunctional family. Her mother is a bit crazy, her father is banging the girl the next door, and Quinn has learned that the only safe way to live is by keeping people at a very safe distance. Then she meets a guy, Ben, and falls for him. She doesn’t exactly handle it very well.
I enjoyed the book on a lot of levels. Witty, believable dialogue, characters with real problems, and some laugh out loud moments. Plot wise it is somewhat predictable, but there were some twists which took me by surprise and added real depth to the story.
There was one moment (you’ll know it when you get there) when Quinn almost managed to completely lose my sympathy. I wanted to throw my iPad across the room and scream. But the shame and guilt she felt as a result of what she did was so human, and so deftly written, that she won me over again within a few pages. It was frustrating to see her push away everyone who cared about her… but then again, it’s frustrating when you see real people do that.
If you enjoy contemporary young adult fiction, this one is worth reading. I’d caution that it’s not for kids. Drug use, language and sex (not explicit) push it higher age ranges. At the same time, however, I’m not a fan of fiction that glosses over this stuff. After all, when I was the age of these characters (and younger), drug use, foul language and sex were all on the table. They’re real issues that real people have to deal with. Campbell doesn’t moralize about them, but she also is realistic about the repercussions.
That takes me to the controversy. There’s an emerging class of young adult books which do deal with these issues in a much more direct way. Call them “new adult” or “slightly older young adult books” or whatever, but they focus in on the real issues that teenagers deal with. It seems that the genesis of the little controversy is that those books don’t really fall into YA, but they don’t really fall into general fiction either. But then a bunch of people got all fluffed up. If you are interested in that side of things, you can check out Stephanie Campbell’s blog post about it, as well as this thread on Goodreads where they go back and forth about this stuff. I found it interesting and I really enjoyed Stephanie’s blog post as well as her book.
You can pick it up Grounding Quinn on Amazon for 2.99 (kindle edition).