Sunday, January 20, 2008

Country Girl, City Girl, by Lisa Jahn-Clough

Phoebe has managed on her farm in Maine just fine, taking pictures and telling fairy tales to the animals. It's true that she's had to manage without a mother and that she does not have a lot of friends, but things have generally been fine. But when sophisticated Melita arrives from the Big Apple, that world gets turned upside down. It isn't just that Melita is pretty and wears fancy clothes, but Melita pushes Phoebe to break out of her shell. And as Phoebe does break out, she realizes that her feelings for Melita are becoming more than just friendship.

The surprise find of 2007 for me was Jahn-Clough's unconventional novel Me, Penelope so I was definitely looking forward to reading this earlier work. Country Girl, City Girl is a more predictable story, but does not disappoint. The characters are nuanced and real, the plot is hardly formula (but still satisfying), and there is a nice dramatic arc to the story. Phoebe's jealousy is hard to relate to (but jealousy is always a challenging emotion to make sympathetic to an outsider). I give Jahn-Clough very high marks for breaking free of traditional YA tropes. You will enjoy these characters and they will seem familiar, but they will not necessary fit the stereotypes.

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