Sunday, May 31, 2015

Solitaire by Alice Oseman

My name is Victoria Spring. I think you should know that I make up a lot of stuff in my head and then get sad about it. I like to sleep and I like to blog. I am going to die someday.

I absolutely adore Tori Spring. She's like the most likeable unlikeable protagonist I've ever encountered in a book. I say this because she tries really hard to be this misanthropic introvert, but you still can't help but love her. Right off the bat she puts you in mind of a female Holden Caulfield, which Oseman clearly foresaw readers making that comparison and even humorously addresses it at the end of the novel when Tori exasperatedly asks, "Can't any teenager be sad and, like, not be compared to that book?" 

But Oseman has written much more than the female, 21st century version of Holden Caulfield. There is a sense of plot here that, while subtle and meandering, is much more apparent in Solitaire than Catcher in the Rye. To the point where the combination of smart characters and teen-angst-filled plot make me picture this as the next big contemporary teen movie sensation. I hate to keep using John Green as the litmus test for YA literature because that is the first sign that someone doesn't know very much about YA, when they just talk about John Green all the time, but at the same time, I wouldn't hesitate to hand this book to a John Green fan. I would also recommend this book to fans of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, which has also been compared to Catcher in the Rye.

And now I'm suddenly depressed to discover Alice Oseman is only 20 years-old... That moment you realize the author of this book was born the year you started high school ...And suddenly you wonder what it is you've been doing with your life.

The realization of Oseman's age did not come to me until midway through listening to the audiobook (which has a fabulous narrator by the way -- I highly recommend it!) and I was completely blown away. She writes like someone with much more experience and maturity, as evidenced by this hypnotizing passage toward the end of the book:

The cold has dissolved into some kind of numb ache but it barely registers and I think the tears freeze on my cheeks and I don't really know what happens but through some kind of planetary force, I find myself holding him like I don't know what else to do and he's holding me like I'm sinking and I think he kisses the top of my head but it might just be a snowflake but he definitely whispers "Nobody cries alone" or it might've been "Nobody dies alone" and I feel that as long as I stay here then there might be some kind of tiny chance that there is something remotely good in this world and the last thing I remember thinking before I pass out from the cold is that if I were to die, I would rather be a ghost than go to heaven.

Furthermore, I can't wait to share this passage with my students as an example of an effective, intentional run-on sentence.

Make no mistake, I wholeheartedly believe that Solitaire is a genius work of young adult fiction. It is both literary and accessible. It's a book that I think hasn't been given enough marketing buzz, and so I will be personally recommending it to anyone who likes a good angsty teen drama with a whip-smart, self-deprecating protagonist.

Solitaire by Alice Oseman
Published: March 30, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pages: 368
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Audience: Young Adult
Disclosure: Audiobook provided by publisher, book purchased

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