Inconvenient by Margie Gelbwasser
Flux, November 8, 2010
Summary from Goodreads:
In fifteen-year-old Alyssa Bondar's Russian-Jewish culture, having a few drinks is as traditional as blinchiki and piroshki. So when her mom's midday cocktails turn into an all-day happy hour, it seems like Alyssa's the only one who notices—or cares. Her dad is steeped in the nightly news—and denial—and her best friend Lana is too busy trashing their shared Russian heritage so she can be popular.This was a deceptively powerful debut novel. Alyssa is an extraordinary narrator--we are immediately drawn into her world and eager to learn more about it. At the same time we're growing increasingly horrified for Alyssa as her family starts to crumble, but she seems to be the only one to notice. Wanting to keep your family life private is one thing, but reaching out and asking for help when it's desperately needed is quite another.
Alyssa would rather focus on cross-country meets and her first kiss with her running partner, Keith, but someone has to clean up her mom's mess. But who will be there to catch Alyssa when her mom's next fall off the wagon threatens to drag her down, too?
Of course, I was originally drawn to this story because it's about teens in New Jersey, and, as a NJ native, those stories are always near and dear to my heart. This side of New Jersey, however, I haven't ever experienced. Perhaps my life was little more sheltered than most, or perhaps my childhood town was a little more accepting, but I've never felt the need to hide who I was, culturally, from my peers. It's not that Alyssa is ashamed of who she is, and where her parents have come from, it's just that those components are so vastly different from the cultural backgrounds of her friends. I think we can all recognize the dangers of being too different as a 15-year-old girl. I think that the majority of characters in this story are just absolutely small-minded and ignorant, but unfortunately I can also recognize that many people in this world who unfortunately still harbor those prejudices.
There are so many intriguing components to this story--of course there is Alyssa's mom, who is drinking more heavily than ever before. That, in and of itself, would lend itself to a great story. But! We also have best friends Alyssa and Lana, who are beginning to recognize that they want different things in life. AND of course there's a potential first love component, as well. My heart broke for Alyssa during several points during this novel. This is not a happily ever after story, but it is a hopeful story and one that deserves to be read. Margie has done a wonderful job with her 2010 debut, and I can't wait to read more from her!
Tomorrow author Margie Gelbwasser stops by for an interview!
Borrowed book from the library.
Enjoy your reading!