Friday, January 10, 2014

by Sara LaFleur

I discovered this author when she randomly started following on Twitter a few weeks ago through a fellow writer. My first thought was, "Cool! Another writer I can network with. Maybe I can read he stuff some day." But truthfully, with a busy teaching schedule and a new baby I figured that some day would be maybe this summer if at all. That was until this afternoon when I met my writing buddy for coffee and he raved about this "Who is Evelyn Dae?" novella. Seeing it was free on iBooks, I figured since I haven't read any light YA in a while I would have a little look-see at the Evelyn Dae book. Imagine my chagrin when the clock read 1:02 AM when I finished Volume 1 of this series.

Who is Evelyn Dae? follows some standard conventions of the YA format, as some other reviewers have mentioned, such as teenage angst, first kisses and puppy love awkwardness. Some would say they're cliche, but I argue that these are legitimate issues that form the foundation of the teenage experience. Lafleur does an incredible job through first-person POV to ground Evelyn in that experience in an organic and very human way. The reader cares about the main character. One characteristic Evelyn displays is a bit of a timidity if not wariness with regard to her actual identity. She is reluctant to reveal it to her friends and certainly not to any boys. Similarly, she keeps her cards close to the chest with the reader as well. At the end of Volume 1, we still don't know the answer to the title question of who is Evelyn Dae? I certainly have my guesses but have no idea. I respect the author for her patience in revealing things in her own time.

The story's format deserves comment and I'll touch on it before wrapping up my review. The plot is disjointed. The reader digests the story in 1-2 page increments that bounce between 2008 (Evelyn's freshman year) and 2011 (her junior year). As an aside, I thought the recent dates helped add to Evelyn's character as a modern millennial teen. Anyway, one would think the bouncing forward and backward in time to narrate this story would be difficult to follow, but it isn't an issue. In fact, reconstructing the timeline in your head is part of the fun. Perhaps with a longer, more involved novel this approach would be Ill advised but the simplicity of this story combined with the author's firm grasp of the internal timeline as well as the order in which events are given to the reader make this a non issue. I would even go so far as to say Lafleur had just written a traditionally linear story arc, Who is Evelyn Dae? would be less compelling.

In summary, this is a great read and I'm very glad Volume 2 came out this month. I think Lafleur has a knack for YA and if there is any justice in the world I'll see some of her work in my local bookstore.

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