18 year old Lainey Pike is reeling from three recent deaths in her family including her mother’s suicide. Unsure about what to do with her future, Lainey pushes away her long-term boyfriend and high school friends, immersing herself in the care of her troubled 5 year old brother with her estranged older sister and hanging out with "slurpee guy".
I think Lainey’s voice is done extraordinarily well. As someone who experienced a similar spate of deaths in the family when I was 19, I can vouch for the authenticity of Lainey’s prickliness. The bitchy way she dealt with her boyfriend, poor, understanding Riley, was a lot like they way I treated my college roommate freshman year (poor, understanding Lua – thank you for putting up with me!). I really loved Lainey’s realization that certain people come into your life for a particular reason, and not all relationships need to endure for you to grow and to get something out of them. The novel also ended on a perfect note, which definitely warmed up my feelings towards it.
What I wasn’t so crazy about was the lack of a strong narrative arc. Instead we get a series of episodes, which realistic as they were, started to get boring after a while. Also, Lainey went off on far too many tangents for my taste – most where she related past events in far more detail than I really thought necessary (such as listing what she had done for each of her 18 birthdays!!).
It’s definitely not flashy, but if you like deep explorations of character and don’t mind an absence of urgent, driving plot, then you’ll probably find THE SNOWBALL EFFECT to be as ultimately rewarding as I did.
THE SNOWBALL EFFECT was released recently in hardcover. Find out more about it on the author’s website.