My youngest sister (who will be old enough to drive in a couple of weeks, heaven help us all) loaned this book to me and said she loved it. Considering she also loved Twilight, it should come as no surprise to you that I was wary.
That being said, I was determined to give anything that could get my sister to read a shot, and I really liked the premise of this one.
Ultimate verdict? Not as good as I had hoped, but better than I feared.
Lucy is seventeen and enjoying her life: school’s going well, she’s going to prom, and she’s even got a guy she likes. The only wrinkle is her mother, Miranda, who went crazy shortly after Lucy was born. Now Miranda lives on the streets, hauling around a shopping cart and singing her own version of the song “Scarborough Fair.”
At first, Lucy’s just embarrassed, but she soon learns Miranda’s been trying to give her a warning. All the women in their family are cursed, and the song is the key. To break the curse, Lucy will have to complete three impossible tasks. Otherwise, she’ll face her mother’s fate.
Story-wise, the book was great. I loved how Werlin brought in a traditional fairy-tale curse into the modern day, so you’re dealing with the inherent skepticism of anything having to do with magic. I also liked how it tied into “Scarborough Fair.” The idea of a song passed down in your family, as your only clue about the curse—that was really, really cool.
Plus, I liked Lucy. She’s practical, but she’s still the kind of girl who will wear red high-top sneakers and a homemade candy necklace to prom. I bet she’d have been the type to do one of those duct-tape prom dress challenges, too. (Side note: Have you seen some of those clothes? Holy cow, I wish I were that talented.)
And it was nice to read about friends and family being so supportive of her during her pregnancy and as she’s trying to break the curse. Soledad and Leo are fantastic, as is Zach, her best friend. Together, they made a great team, particularly Lucy and Zach. I liked seeing that, and particularly Zach’s actions at the climax of the book.
However, the best parts were with Miranda. She’s a crazy bag lady that Lucy has feared and felt ashamed of for most of her life. When Lucy sees Miranda near the beginning of the book and someone asks if she knows her, Lucy says “no.” She doesn’t really think of Miranda as her mother, because she’s had such an awesome adoptive family.
It’s not until Lucy finds out about the curse, and more specifically, starts reading Miranda’s diary, that she comes to understand just what her mother went through. Miranda didn’t have the support system that Lucy does, so when she started trying to figure out the curse, she had to (mostly) go it alone. It’s moving to see Lucy reexamine her mother’s life with this new information, and how she goes from being ashamed of her mother to being much more sympathetic.
But if you’ll notice, I’m using a lot of “like” and “nice” and not a whole lot of “love” and “awesome.” Because while I enjoyed those aspects of the story, they don’t mean nearly as much if the characters don’t have to struggle to attain them.
Everything seemed very easy for Lucy. After the first part of the book, it was relatively smooth sailing. While I was very glad that Zach and her parents were understanding and eager to help, I got the impression that the curse problems were the only one she faced. There seemed to be a lot of “Yes, they knew this would be hard” and not a whole lot of showing it.
We never saw Lucy fail in her efforts to complete the tasks. We never saw anybody shun her or treat her differently because she’d gotten pregnant. We never saw it if her pregnancy was hard on her body. We never saw her deal with the emotional fallout from getting raped. Any time she needed it, somebody was there to help her: either her parents or Zach.
Not to mention the romance itself crossed into the realm of the absurd for me. This was my reaction at one point:
Yes, it was just as ridiculous as it sounds. They hadn’t even kissed at this point, and Lucy had not said “I love you.” In fact, she’d been thinking about how to gently break it to him that she didn’t love him in return. But suddenly he’s dropping to one knee and pledging his life to her? In what universe does that make any kind of sense? It was like a boner = let’s get married.
(My roommate didn’t agree with me, so this could be a personal thing.)
I also wish we’d gotten a little more from Lucy, emotionally, after she’d been raped. I know she was trying to hold it together for everybody, but it seems like she would have reacted a little more at least internally, if not outwardly.
There were times it just seemed a little too perfect, and I just wish we’d seen a little more anger or something from Lucy. Her entire future has been upended, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to mourn that. But she never does. She’s just all “BABY!”
It also doesn’t help that there are times the bad guy is influencing the way people think or feel. This is not bad in and of itself, but those situations are written so similarly to the regular emotional scenes that I got confused. Was a character actually thinking/feeling that? Or were they being influenced to do so?
Overall, this book ranks squarely in the middle for me. There were parts I really liked, but that just made the parts I didn’t stand out all the more. I probably wouldn’t read another from this author.