I read the most bizarre book lately - seemed almost worth its own post.
I wanted to like Molly Campbell's Keep the Ends Loose. I really did. It was a quick read, but honestly, I kept reading partly because the ridiculous and far-fetched plot sucked me in and partially because I just wanted it to be over. There were times when I found myself gritting my teeth because of the rather annoying diction and narration. You sort of became lulled into it the more you read, but it really was painful.
The novel follows 15-year-old Miranda (Mandy), who thinks she has a rather boring life and family, until her mother reveals a shocking secret that turns the family upside down. It involves Mandy's aunt, Iris, whom she adores, and encompasses the entire family - her father, Roy; her 17-year-old brother Adam; her best friend, Barley (seriously, Barley); and a whole cast of other characters.
I'll hand it to Campbell - she creates a cast of rich characters and it's a plot worthy of a soap opera. The problem is that everything just seems a little off. Mandy is so adamant about her life previously being so boring and her startling "realizations" that adults, too, have depth and problems, that you feel like you're being hit over the head with it. The author bashes you over and over with Mandy's coming of age thoughts, rather than simply letting them unfold naturally from the plot.
Further, while Mandy is supposed to be a naive 15-year-old, at times she sounds like a kid. Other times, she's drinking beer and ruminating on sex. It's really disconcerting. Her narration is jumbled, and I was left wondering if the author actually knew any teens at all. Both Mandy and Adam exhibit a host of age-inappropriate behaviors and diction -- no matter what happens to them!
Finally, the storyline is so inane that I found myself wondering what sort of parents would actually do this to their children? If Mandy's parents were so supposedly boring and placid, the behavior seemed awfully odd. It was all just a little unbelievable and again, left you a tad jarred.
Overall, about 2.5 (out of 5) stars. A lot of promise, really, but just didn't get fulfilled.
(Note: I received an advance ebook copy of this novel from Netgally in return for a honest review.)