Title: Lucy Unstrung
Author: Carole Lazar
Publication Year: 2010
Genre: Fiction, Young Adult
Source: Review copy from the publisher
From the cover:
Teens who get pregnant and raise their babies are often in the news. But what about those children who are growing up with parents scarcely half a generation older than themselves?
In this wise and funny first novel by Carole Lazar, Lucy is a sensible, perhaps even rigid, thirteen year old who is convinced that Grandma, God, and the Catholic Church are on her side. She tries hard to make her twenty-eight-year-old mother see the error of her ways. It’s not that her mother is wild – in their household even a fancy coffee causes a scene – but she has had to put off her own teenage years and she’s chaffing at the restraints on her life. Lucy is faced with the loss of her family, her home, her school, and even her best friend. As she struggles to preserve what she can from her past life, she finds that while Grandma, God, and her church are still there for her, there are problems she has to solve for herself.
There are an awful lot of books kicking around about teen pregnancy, and that’s a great thing. The thing is, though, that there aren’t a lot of books about the children of these teens who have babies. Especially in (young adult) fiction.
This is where Lucy Unstrung comes in. Even though I usually try to avoid reading anything that might be marketed as “Christian YA”, the premise of this book sounded really appealing to me.
Lucy, the main character, is a precocious thirteen year old who challenges her mother a lot, but in passive aggressive ways: usually, by calling and talking to her grandmother. While I found this a bit annoying right at the beginning of the novel, later I began to see it as an important part of her character, being a young girl who spent the first half of her life living with her grandparents and still spends a lot of time in her grandmother’s care.
Other than that, though, I thought that the events of the novel were fairly realistic, if a little contrived at times. There was the typical “mean girl” who picked on Lucy from the moment she started at her new school, and the typical “nice girl” who took Lucy under her wing. Even with these minor problems, though, Lucy Unstrung was a good read, particularly in terms of detailing the life of a teenager dealing with parents who are separating, as well as dealing with a parent who is younger than the average mom.
I also really liked that Lucy Unstrung had a Canadian angle but, at the same time, wasn’t a “typical Canadian novel”. The setting is in British Columbia, but it’s never really given as an integral part of the plot: it just happens to be where the story takes place. This is good for ensuring that the novel has a wider reach beyond the Canadian market; Lucy Unstrung could very well be an interesting YA read for a variety of adolescents.
- 14/13+ for the Canadian Book Challenge 4