Full disclosure: Back in 2010 I published a short story written by Shari based on the two main characters from this book. It’s an excellent story to read. This book however, takes place years before that story occurs and is quite different.
Because of my familiarity with the two characters in this story I went into this book with expectations. I knew it would be well written because Shari is a fantastic scribbler. Perhaps that’s what caused me a bit of trouble the first two chapters. I feared telling Shari that I didn’t enjoy her book but Matt, Ben and the Rutger girls had already hooked me.
The main characters are young adults but the story itself seems to be intended for an adult audience. Brothers Matt and Ben are moved from Alberta town to Alberta town by their alcoholic father Jack. Their upbringing is at best troubled and even though Matt is only 16 he has been the self appointed guardian of 11 year old Ben since his birth. I’ll avoid as many spoilers as I can but I want to say that their mother did not abandon them.
Matt and Ben are the new neighbours to the Rutger girls who have their own stories to tell. While Ben and Becca become fast friends, the rest of the relationships are complicated. This novel is no Valley Ridge High young adult romance. This novel is full on hits you in the face with reality. There are underlying themes which are disturbing and there is a lot of swearing. It was this facet of the novel that initially made me uncomfortable. I don’t swear a great deal in my life; some days more than others but nothing like what is written. I was going to send Shari and email suggesting that someone else review this book because I wasn’t really enjoying it. And then I remembered. I remembered that reading is about obtaining knowledge, growing, being entertained and moving outside your comfort zone to gain a new perspective. I’ve no idea if youth swear as much as is written, but I realized that I ought not to put my own perspective on someone else’s writing because my world isn’t their world.
It didn’t matter in the end because one of the great things about Shari’s writing is that those characters become as familiar to you as your own friends and family. I found myself caring about Matt and Ben, and Lyne and Glory and Becca and all the parents. I wanted happy resolutions to their life. I wanted to see them lift themselves up and out of their situations. But when reading a book, it’s not what you the reader wants; it’s how the story evolves and in this case there are no tidy solutions. Everything is left as open as when it started. But having read the short story that occurs some years later in their lives, I know that a solution is possible.
And the crazy thing is that Shari draws you into their lives. She makes you care so you always want to know what’s happening next. Well done Shari and thank you for making me move out of my comfort zone.
I strongly recommend that both teens and parents of teens read this book. There are adult situations that occur that should be discussed within a family unit. And if not, if ever you are in a situation like Lyne experienced or Matt or Ben – get help. Know that you don’t have to put up with it and remember that these are fictional characters while you are not. Go to police, go to teachers – find someone that can get you the next level of help that you need.
You can find her book at: http://www.pagesofstories.com/_p/prd15/4629439501/product/oil-change-at-rath's-garage or look for it on Amazon.
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