Saturday, January 8, 2011

Teen Angst and Suspense Combine Well in 'Life on Hold'

Review: LIFE ON HOLD (Kindle Edition 2009)
Author: Karen McQuestion

Rae Maddox is just a typical high school girl, except that her mother, Gina, can't seem to stay in one place for more than a year or two (at most). This makes for a very frustrating existence. So she's waiting it out until she turns 18 and can strike out on her own. Live life as she wants to, where she wants to. However for now, she's simply existing. Not getting terribly close to anyone, for fear of just losing them after yet another move. Living a life on hold as it were. (Hmm ... guess where the title came from. :))

From the moment I met Rae, standing outside the fence of a children's mental health facility where she's rushed by a pack of crazies despite the warnings of an inmate she's come to think of as Paranoid Girl, I knew I liked her.

Rae does have two friends she comes to rely upon. She has to have someone, right? Her best friends, Kylie and Mason. To quote Rae: "Two people. That's really all I need. At some of my schools I didn't even have that." Do those words not perfectly sum up the pain and defensiveness of teen alienation?

The three of them stand in marked contrast to the so-called "cool" kids, so full of themselves. Rae has kind of a thing for one of the guys in that group, but that's not to be -- or is it?

Anyhow, Rae is enlisted to escort Allison, an even newer student, around the school. A girl who sticks out like a sore thumb. Dresses like a middle-aged frump. And seems to look down her nose at Rae. How weird is that?

This all being part of the, ahem, Rae Maddox Integration Program? Yeah, right.

Well, the truth about it comes out. And I actually didn't see it coming. And I'm usually GOOD at spotting that sort of thing.

The story puts Rae in the position of figuring out what to believe or not about Allison. As well as how far to go for her.

There's also a budding romantic interest between Rae and a boy. Uh oh, another thing Rae could lose if her mom decides to move yet again. A distinct possibility that gets mentioned.

Plus there are all these family issues. Like who exactly her dad is and being separated from her grandparents. Dysfunctional family stuff.

As I got closer to the end, I found it harder and harder to set the book aside. I simply had to find out what happened.

The story works well as a coming of age tale, that combines romance and suspense, with teen angst. It also features Karen McQuestion's trademark sense of humor and spot on depiction of youth culture.

An awesome book. I totally recommend it.

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