SNEAK PEEK PREVIEW: Winter Town

Winter Town by Stephen Emond; published by Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2011; 336 pages.

NOTE: This review is based on an ARC (advance reading copy) provided for free by the publisher.  The publication information is subject to change.  Expected publication date is December 5, 2011.

Evan and Lucy have been best friends since childhood.  The past few years have meant that they only see each other over winter break because Lucy’s parents have divorced.  Now they’re on the brink of graduating high school.  Maybe they’re the proof that opposites attract; everything about them, from family to future plans, diverge.  Evan’s bound for an Ivy League school while Lucy has become “New Lucy” who scowls and cuts school.  Evan misses “Old Lucy” but will he be able to find her under the choppy black hair and nose stud?  Lucy wants Evan to pursue his artistic side rather than follow the path his father has cut for him.  After this final high school Christmas break, they may not see each other again.  In their own ways, they work hard to make the most of the time they have.

Emond has created a dual-diary style story using comic strips, sketches and narration from both main characters.  It works so well because we first feel Evan’s frustration then ache with Lucy’s losses.  This realistic, coming-of-age story will find it’s audience relating to one or both of the characters as they find themselves on the brink of making decisions that will affect their adult lives.

The use of comic strips adds a unique insight into the characters.  When Evan and Lucy alternate drawing panels in their comic strip game, we get glimpses into Lucy’s internal struggles as Evan narrates.  Through the Aelysthia comic strip, we see Evan’s struggles and vision (or lack of one) of the future.  Even the chapter titles, often quoting Beatles lyrics (Evan’s favorite band) let’s us in on what’s to come.  Everything in the books is well thought out and works together to tell the whole story of Evan and Lucy.

By the way, Emond includes a bonus section at the back of the book.  Sketches of the characters as he tried different looks for them is included, as is his thoughts on the creative processes for writing and art.  It was an interesting look at the author, the characters and how the story developed.

4P     4Q     Grade Level: 9-12

Cover Art: The ARC I received has a great, artistic cover featuring a dark blue wintery sky with snow falling; the snow lands in drifts of paper-punch rounds as a white silhouette plows through the storm, head down and a little battle-worn.  I read this book in a variety of locations, including a waiting room and high school student center.  Well, I shouldn’t say “read” because I was interrupted so often I finally put it away to read in private.  Almost every teen that passed (and some young adults) asked me what the book was.  Catchy cover, to be sure.

From Reading List: Keepin’ It Real (Realistic Fiction)

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