f you’re from Boise, Idaho, you have to read this book.
Love and Leftovers is not quite like anything I’ve ever read before: a novel written in verse. No, no! Don’t go away! I promise it’s not as weird/boring/intimidating as it sounds. More on that in a minute.
Not at all a book of poetry, instead, Love and Leftovers is a coming-of-age story about Marcie: a Boise girl who’s ripped from her home when Mom decides it’s time to go on “vacation” in New Hampshire…and stay there. Marcie’s mom is falling apart, her parent’s marriage is clearly ending, and she misses her friends. She’s about to start a new school year without having met anyone, really, and her home life is kind of a wreck. The fun is in watching Marcie come into her own in New Hampshire, and find her way with her family and friends.
I’d not yet come across anything like Love and Leftovers, style-wise. The majority of the book is written in free verse, which means the poems don’t really rhyme or stick to a particular meter. This helps things along immensely–the idea of reading a book in rigid poetry form was really off-putting for me. Instead, L&L flows along without a lot of self-consciousness about itself. The story is told from Marcie’s point of view, and each page or two is a separate poem from her journal about what’s going on in her life. It’s really clever actually. But I found that the writing style didn’t really draw attention to itself, once I got going–I just found myself reading a story, like any other book. The brilliance of it, though, is that the verse style cuts right to the heart of each plot point and emotion. There’s just simply no room to say anything that’s not pivotal when you’re only writing 80 words per page. (Trust me, as a writer, that’s much more difficult than it sounds.)
There were a couple of things in this book that weren’t dead-on for me: I would have liked more J.D., frankly, and I wasn’t really sure what I thought of Linus and the way things wrapped with him. I understood Marcie’s choices, but I’m not so 100% behind Linus’ explanations for some of his behavior. There’s a good deal of sexuality in this book, too. Lots of frank discussion about the consequences, as well, and the mixed-up emotions that can be involved in it, but it’s not pulling very many punches. It’s not explicit, but the details it does share are extremely realistic. In some ways, it was cringe-worthy because the writing took me back so completely to some of my own experiences.
Speaking of which OMGOSH A BOOK SET IN BOISE! Author Sarah Tregay lives in the Boise area, and it’s so strange/awesome/mind-blowingly weird to see places I go all the time set in a novel. I know east-coasters have this experience constantly, and no big deal, but seriously–nothing is set in Boise, so it’s kind of amazing. The setting alone made this a really fun read for me.
All in all, the book was well-done, but I had a couple of reservations. I would definitely read another book by Sarah Tregay, though, and I’m so excited to have a real, live YA author here by me!
3.5 stars. Some language, some teen sexuality. I enjoyed it!