Sarah Dessen delivers again! I have only read a few of her novels but have not been disappointed. I did not think I’d have time to read it while on the job hunt, however, I flew through this in spite of its length. I was first intrigued by the mysteriously beautiful carousel on the cover. Once I began reading, I realized that this was unlike the other staple Dessen novels I’ve read. Sydney is dealing with the aftermath of her brother’s DUI in such a deep, psychological way I had not yet seen in contemporary YA. From the get-go, the reader is privy to Sydney’s complicated and self-criticizing psyche. I caught myself, more than once, yelling at her parents’ ignorance when she wouldn’t, in my head of course. Dessen excels with Sydney’s development and, thought I am not a parent, I could imagine that the relief and pride I felt as she was coming out of her shell is something all parents experience at their children’s’ accomplishments. Layla and Mac came into Sydney’s life at the perfect time. Though their characterization fell a little flat for me, I could feel the positive impact they had on Sydney, especially with the Ames situation. The second he was introduced I was wary, and my hunch was proven correct. Sydney is not, however, the damsel in distress type and I cheered her on as she handled Ames. Everything after that came together a little too quickly. I finished the book wanting more from the ending. But seeing as I loved the symbolism of the title and cover art, it’s forgiven.
Rating: **** (4/5 STARS)