Scrappymags 3-word Review: Well-written, but underwhelming
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Shortest Summary Ever: Thirteen-year-old JoJo has been cared for his whole life by his grandparents Mam and Pop while his mostly absent mother (whom he calls Leonie) battles drug addiction and his father Michael is in prison. JoJo in turn cares for his baby sister Kayla as a make-shift father figure. Now Michael is released from prison and Leonie decides they are all driving to retrieve him, thus a family “road trip” develops.
What’s good under the hood:
- JoJo, the 13 yr old protagonist, was a joy to behold. At an age between boy and man, forced to stand up as the latter despite feeling like the former. His characterization was powerful and his journey epic.
- Pop, the grandfather was a complex character with secrets to spare.
What’s bad or made me mad: The one glaring anger-maker was the fact that Pop would allow a knowingly negligent, drug-addicted, sometimes-mom to even take the children anywhere further than the local McDonald’s. For the love I felt Pop had for JoJo I couldn’t fathom this permissiveness in what amounted to essentially endangering both JoJo and Kayla.
I also struggle with personal feelings about drug addicts and feeling sympathy due to personal experiences I’ve witnessed in my extended family. I find it hard when children are neglected or others are harmed directly by addiction and I struggle to feel pity. I will own that bias whole-heartedly.
By biggest issue though was that the story didn’t advance as much as I wished. I read all the hype and have seen all the wonderful reviews and just didn’t feel that type of affinity for the book. Truthfully I was a tad bored at times.
Recommend to: Book clubs will find the topic and moments from the book interesting and based on other reviews I am in the minority in my ho-hum opinion.
Thanks to NetGalley and Scribner and the author for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.