Thursday, March 06, 2008


Wiess, Laura. 2008. Leftovers.

Prepare to be wowed. Here is how it begins, "Well." It goes on, "This is harder than I thought it would be. I wish we could have come over and hung out with you before all this, even once, for like a picnic or something. We would have really liked that. I'm not saying it to make you feel bad, I swear. I'm just saying. You have a nice yard. It looks lived-in. This is a good patio, too. I like how the bricks are so worn down, like they've been here a really long time. I know. I have to start, I do, but..."

It's not your typical start. And Blair and Ardith--our two narrators--are definitely not your typical heroines either. Leftovers is the story of broken people living broken lives. I said broken not broke. (Though there are definite socioeconomic differences in our two heroines.) If you loved Wiess' first novel, Such A Pretty Girl, chances are you'll love Leftovers too. (If you haven't read Such A Pretty Girl, you should definitely consider it. I'm not saying everyone will love it. Some don't do brutal honesty and harsh realities well. But if you love brilliant but gritty writing, you'll love Wiess. What do I mean by gritty? She's not afraid to go there. To go to the ugly side of reality. To show readers what it's like on the other side. The dark side of life where happily ever after endings are a joke.)

Leftovers is a tale of friendship and family. Of boundaries and rules. Almost all being broken examples of the above. The friendship is real. Two girls in desperate need of one another. Two girls who can only trust the other. This is a very compelling, very authentic story. It's not "pretty" but it's good.

By the time you hit fifteen, there are certain survival lessons you'd better have learned.
Like that breasts are power. Sad to say, but it all comes down to a matter of supply and demand. Girls have them, guys want them. Even a skank is a hot commodity if she can offer up anything more than a couple of mosquito bites. Not saying she should offer them up, just saying she should recognize her advantage and not put out every time some guy manages to string together a couple of compliments.
Too bad that's all it takes sometimes.
Being user-friendly doesn't mean you're going to be loved. Getting attention is not the same thing. Sometimes it's the exact opposite.
And while we're talking about being used and abused, you should know that there are some things you tell and some things you handle by yourself, the best you can. You can't always rat and still hope to be saved when somebody does you wrong. The backlash will dog you till you die.
Or till you wish you were dead.
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 pain and bitterness and keep right on sponging it up until they drown.
Maybe that's why nobody's real worried about girls going off and wreaking havoc. It's not that the seething hatred and need for revenge isn't there, hell no. It's just that instead of erupting and annihilating our tormentors, we destroy ourselves instead.
Usually. (2-3)
232 pages


Debi said...

To the wish list it goes. Thanks, Becky!

Sherry said...

Guys freak out; girls freak in. I'm going to remember that even if I never get around to reading the book.

alisonwonderland said...

i saw your link on the A~Z challenge, and the title intrigued me so i had to come see your review. i've now got both this one and Such a Pretty Girl on my to-read list. thanks!

Lenore Appelhans said...

Been hearing great things about this one!