Saturday, February 02, 2008

Leap, by Jane Breskin Zalben

Krista has liked Bobby since third grade (when he gave her a box of chocolates), but she's always been closer friends with Daniel. Now that they are all older, Krista finds her friendship with Daniel inconvenient as she tries to attract Bobby's attention. When an accident handicaps Daniel, Krista finds that he needs her help and that changes everything. Many subplots ensue, including Daniel's mother abandoning her family, a science project, and a trip to the city to get a tattoo. Told from the perspective of Krista and Daniel in alternating chapters.

I really wanted to like this book (it came with strong recommendations) but there are so many problems with it. For an award-winning author, it was surprising how poorly written the work was. The dialogue is clunky, important background is excluded, and the plot veers dangerously all round. Zalben seems to understand what people do, but she has little-no interest in describing how they feel. At first, I thought she was simply more interested in her adult characters than the kids, but I grew to realize that she simply had no interest in any of them. There's a lot going on in this story, but I felt distanced and shut out by the lack of depth in the characters. A disappointment.

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