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Thu, May. 15th, 2008, 07:25 am
sedeara: Young Adult Break-Up Books

14. Two Way Street by Lauren Barnholdt

This was one of those books where it felt like the author was trying too hard to sound like a teenager. She used the double-narrator tactic to tell the story of a boyfriend and girlfriend who have broken up, but still go on the roadtrip to college they'd planned back when they were together. Unfortunately, both her narrators sounded the same, except that the girl had the annoying habit of saying, "La la la," from time to time. Where I'd expected something bittersweet about letting go, all I got was another flat plot that relies on misunderstandings rather than real conflict. The author did a good job of conveying the chemistry between her leads, but overall this was a disappointing read.

**.5

15. I Know It's Over by C.K. Kelly Martin

Now that I've read this book, it feels a little absurd to review it in comparison to Two Way Street. Because although they both deal with the subject matter of teen break-ups, Two Way Street is a walk in the park compared to this. This is one of the heaviest YA novels I've ever read -- don't pick it up if you're not prepared to be totally heartbroken.

The crux of the story is the relationship between the protagonist, Nick, and his ex-girlfriend, Sasha. Nick still has feelings for Sasha after the breakup, so when he finds out that she's pregnant -- but still doesn't want to get back together -- his whole world is totally shaken. The first half of the book takes you through Nick and Sasha's relationship pre-pregnancy, and it's probably the most real-feeling account of teen love I've ever read. The second half of the book deals with Sasha's pregnancy, and the feeling of realness only gets more intense, until this book becomes as uncomfortable to read as it is for the characters to live. C.K. Kelly Martin's understanding of emotional detail is right on.

This book isn't without its flaws; while all the characters are believable, some of the subplots feel extraneous and lack depth compared to the central Nick/Sasha story. But at the same time, I think the subplots serve as an accurate foil to Nick's and Sasha's dilemma, to show how life goes on in spite of their personal worlds completely changing. The ending doesn't feel like it offers any real resolution, which may be the most realistic part of all. Definitely worth the read if you feel you can take it.

****.5