Reviews provided by Syndetics
Publishers Weekly Review
Australian author McCarthy crafts a juicy family melodrama in her American debut. Set in her native country, McCarthy's novel unfolds from the point of view of Rose, a no-nonsense 19-year-old whose happy, orderly life is destroyed when her father leaves her mother for another woman. Coping with their own grief, Rose and her three older sisters struggle to keep their mom from falling apart. Alternating between a present-day road trip taken by Rose and her mom and flashbacks from a year earlier detailing the shocking events that precipitate their trip, the book hurtles its audience onto an emotional roller coaster. Right after Rose kisses a cute new boy and is about to fall in love, she comes home to find her mother in a ball on the floor, crying; this is how Rose learns of her father's plans. The changes in tone are jarring but also gripping, and readers won't know what's going to happen next. Occasionally all the flashbacks to varying times can be confusing, and Rose's older sisters seem like stereotypes. But there is an authenticity to the flawed and conflicted Rose that will draw readers into her world. Ages 14-up. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
School Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-Rose's grandmother is dying, prompting the high school grad and current waitress to hit the road in her beat-up old van, with Mum in the passenger seat. Rose is less than thrilled, having successfully avoided her family for the past year. A stellar student, she was set to study law and follow in her father's footsteps, but when he left her mother, everything fell apart. McCarthy alternates chapters of the trip, during which they pick up a hitchhiker, with flashbacks to the previous year: Rose's parents' divorce, the teen's crush on Nat, and her friend Zoe's fling with him. The book steadily builds up to the revelation that Rose was seduced by Zoe's father, and thus the collapse of the young women's friendship. Still, this is a story about redemption. While readers glimpse Zoe through the flashbacks, they finally meet her when Rose visits her in the hospital; the cancer she fought as a child has returned. Their reconciliation is mirrored elsewhere; Rose's parents learn to be civil around one another, and the hitchhiker they pick up returns to his young son, whom he hasn't seen in two years. While readers may be baffled by some of the Aussie terms and the fact that Christmas takes place in the summer, these are hurdles they can easily overcome, all the while rooting for likable and complicated Rose. There is some raw language and mature content, but this novel should be an easy sell to fans of authors like Deb Caletti.-Jennifer Barnes, Homewood Library, IL (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* Writing as her alter ego, Ms. Angst, in her column for Sauce magazine, Rose discusses her sloppy roommates, her annoying older sisters, and life's other aggravations. She anticipates that her upcoming trip along the Australian coast to visit her dying grandmother should provide more fodder for her writing, especially after her mother volunteers to tag along. McCarthy, a popular author for both teens and adults in her native Australia, has written a complicated soap opera of a book, one full of fresh, authentic characters and a setting that readers will enjoy visiting. Rose and her family bring to mind a wild, contemporary update of the Marches in Little Women, and even the peripheral characters are lovingly and intricately drawn. Rose's previous affair with a much-older man is also handled, through flashbacks, with sensitivity and acute understanding of the relationship dynamics at play. This complex coming-of-age novel, which explores both universal self-destructive tendencies and resilience, will resonate with teen readers as well as many adults.--Bradburn, Frances Copyright 2008 Booklist
Horn Book Review
(High School) Taking a road trip to visit her dying grandmother, nineteen-year-old Rose finds she can't keep running from the devastating events of the previous year -- her dad's shameful fall from grace, her parents' painful divorce, her own disastrous and forbidden love affair, and the complete disintegration of a close friendship. Phenomenal loss of trust is what links these events together, and Rose is forced to revisit all the pain (as both the betrayed and the betrayer) as she hits the road. And who's riding shotgun, provoking all the deep thought? Not her former lover, nor her former BFF, and certainly not her former idol, Dad; no, it's Mum who's hitching a ride with Rose, making this YA road novel a bit different from the rest. For teens willing to stretch, Australian author McCarthy provides a long but engrossing mother-daughter tale: with a protagonist/narrator who's barely still a teenager and a cast that is virtually all adult, this coming-of-age novel will appeal to older readers venturing out into the adult world. From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Kirkus Book Review
Rose's road trip up the Australian coast invokes flashbacks from the previous year, when her parents' marriage, plans for college and best friendship all fell apart. Rose grits her teeth as she and her mother bounce alongside the ocean, evading untouchable topics. Readers find themselves in the back seat, completely caught up in the tense, exhausted love that's up front and the chapters that trace Rose's memories. McCarthy offers beautiful and brutal depictions of a tightly knit family fraying at the edges. As Rose spits venom at her set of sisters and mother, teen readers will understand her frustration, fury and turns of remorse. Just when Rose's sour attitude grows tiresome, McCarthy begins to reveal what happened to change her from a levelheaded, college-bound girl to an erratic, drifting loner. Crisp writing perfectly captures this novel's fascinating internal and external landscapes. Older teens just stepping into adulthood will recognize and appreciate Rose's authentic transformative experiences. (Fiction. YA) Copyright ©Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.