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Monday, August 23, 2010

Cop-Out Ending Leaves Me Wanting a Touch More

(Image from Barnes & Noble)

Maisie Willard's BFFs aren't into hunting for cute outfits at the mall, painting their toenails, or flipping through Seventeen magazine. Scarfing down pizza in front of Pimp My Ride is more their style. And that's okay with 14-year-old Maisie. Her besties are boys after all. Just because they don't dish about fashion doesn't mean she can't feel perfectly comfortable with Chris, Kevin and Shakes. They've been tight practically since they were born.

Then, Maisie decides to try living with her mom and stepdad in Milwaukee. After a year of dealing with Geoff, the uber whiner, she hightails it home, grateful to be back even if it means putting up with her stepmother who acts like she's "constantly auditioning for a TV series being filmed inside her own head" (12). Maisie doesn't feel any different than she did when she left, but she sure looks different. In the 12 months that have passed, she's filled out, developing curves that clearly say, "I'm not a kid anymore." It shouldn't be weird for the guys, right? They're still her best friends. Only it is weird, very weird.

Everything comes to a head one day in the back of the school bus. Betrayed by her truest buddies, Maisie is stunned and hurt. Before she can even process what has happened, the incident takes on a life of its own. Suddenly, there's a lawyer, therapist, and most of all, Maisie's drama queen stepmother involved. Joan insists on suing the school board, making sure the boys get severely punished for messing with her stepdaughter. But not everyone sees Maisie as a victim. Even Maisie's not sure that what happened really happened. She just wants to forget the whole mess and go back to the days when the world made sense.

As Maisie grapples with her memory, desperately trying to sift out the facts, she'll have to face the truth of what really occurred on that fateful day. Could her "friends" really have done what she thinks they did? Is she truly as innocent as she wants herself to be? Who's right? Who's wrong? How can she make it all go away?

Touch by Francine Prose provides a riveting look at the ways in which childhood innocence sometimes vanishes overnight. Throwing a cast of actualized characters into a blender full of truths, lies, and every shade of grey, makes the story both current and compelling. If it wasn't for the ending, which I felt was an unsatisfying mess of cop-out platitudes (realistic though it may be), I would have given it higher marks. As is, I don't think Prose did justice to her tough, feisty narrator and, darn it, I wanted some justice for Maisie. Without that, the story just isn't convincing enough for me. I guess you could say I needed a Touch more.

(Readalikes: Reminds me quite a bit of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson)

Grade: B-

If this were a movie, it would be rated: PG-13 for language (no F-bombs) and sexual content

To the FTC, with love: I received a finished copy of Touch from the generous folks at HarperTeen. Thank you!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like an interesting read, gripping and intrigue are def. up my lane - thanks for sharing!


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