Leftovers by Laura Wiess
Blair and Ardith are best friends who have committed an unforgivable act in the name of love and justice. But in order to understand what could drive two young women to such extreme measures, first you’ll have to understand why. You’ll have to listen as they describe parents who are alternately absent and smothering, classmates who mock and shun anyone different, and young men who are allowed to hurt and dominate without consequence. You will have to learn what it’s like to be a teenage girl who locks her bedroom door at night, who has been written off by the adults around her as damaged goods. A girl who has no one to trust except the one person she’s forbidden to see. You’ll have to understand what it’s really like to be forgotten and abandoned in America today.
This book is gutsy. It takes risks. It breaks rules. It does not hesitate.
The story switches from Blair and Ardith’s point of view, two girls who live completely different lives–and yet find friendship with each other because of how those different lifestyles affect them in similar ways. Leftovers is written in a second person, narrative, which I’ve heard of but do not believe I’ve ever read before. For those unfamiliar with the term, second person narrative is when the word “you” is used. So instead of “I opened the box.” It would read “You open the box.” The second person narrative had an unusual affect on how the story was presented that I wouldn’t mind trying to replicate in one of my own books. This may very well be the topic of my critical review on this piece.
Throughout the book we know the girls are confessing to a crime–but we don’t know what they did until the very end of the book or what made them do whatever horrible crime it was. And as they say in the book, , technically, they did everything right so they, though not blameless, did nothing wrong. The cop in question, seems to ask questions, make comments, but he does not speak within the narrative portions of the interview–only in the actual story where he appears. Ardith and Blair answer and respond in a way that lets readers know what the officer said or asked.
Perhaps the best description of the book though, is said by Blair in the first chapter. “See, guys freak out. They hit critical mass and blast nuclear, white-hot anger out over the world like walking flamethrowers. But girls freak in. They absorb the pain and bitterness and keep right on sponging it up until they drown.” You see both girls drown in this book and the after affects of them hitting that breaking point.
This was a good book.I felt for the characters, no matter what circumstances they found themselves in. I found the build up to what they did interesting, though a little anti-climatic. I was hoping for something with a little more bang, but considering how Blair and Ardith set everything up it makes since that it didn’t have a louder ending. Their were issues within the book, of course, no book ever escapes without them, and they’re minor in my mind.
Also, although this is a YA novel, parents may want to be wary of the subject matter. It all stays true to life, it’s all within the realm of possibility. The girls are bullied at school. They find themselves in a lot of situations teenagers today find themselves in all the time. And they learn, the hard way, how to deal with it. I would have no problem recommending it to teenagers or adults, but some parents may not want their teenagers reading it. It’s a true coming of age tale in it’s own way. So the girls explore sex, experiment with each other and boys. They drink. They smoke. Their are consequences and not just the parent-found-out type. It explores the different kinds of abuse teenagers may endure.