Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Over You, by Amy Reed

After a big screw up at home in Seattle, Sadie gets shipped out by her father to live with her mom on a commune in the middle of Nebraska.  Her best friend Max tags along because that's what Max always does.  Since they were little, Max takes care of Sadie and keeps her out of trouble.  But in this summer on the farm, Max begins to realize that she has choices of her own to make and that her future may involve breaking free of her best friend.

A deceptively simple book full of big literary experiments.  Some of these are quite successful (Reed skillfully explores the logistics of a dependent friendship), others are less so (frequent interludes riffing on Greek mythology stick out like a pretentious sore thumb and only in a few cases add value to the plot).  The most striking literary device though is Reed's decision to write the first half of the book in second person. This, as any writer can tell you, is one of the most challenging voices to master.  It's very immediate and even a bit exhausting as the text risks becoming accusatory.  In this case, it works very well and pulls us into the story from the start.  It also very nicely conveys the obsessive nature of the two girls' friendship.  That said, her decision to switch later on to first person narration is a welcome relief.  The storyline is modest, but the writing is truly stand out.

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