Rose By Any Other Name by Maureen McCarthy.
Roaring Brook Press/Holtzbrinck Publishing: NY, 2006.

This book is on the edge of what I would normally read and maybe on the edge for what is appropriate for YA (depending on what you believe). The strength is that it attempts to lend some guidance and understanding in manipulative (possibly abusive) situations that are happening with teens. What bothers me is that it also may encourage sexual encounters to be handled lightly. I don't think that is positive, for teens especially, but also in general.

The main character is going through a major family crisis, causing and paralleling her teenage angst. She is writing as an outlet, but mostly working through it alone, by choice. Prompted by her grandmother's fatal illness, Rose takes a road trip to see her grandmother and make peace with herself regarding her actions of the previous summer. Her mother catches a ride with her, giving her space, making a pain of herself, providing information that might have helped Rose if she had known sooner, and causing situations that promote Rose's change of perspective (though seriously annoying to deal with).

The story is written well. Despite not wanting to read teen angst regularly (I don't need to be caught up in that pain), I was totally engaged and didn't want to put it down. I love Rose and her mother and the way they play off each other. Her sisters may be too much, and her father isn't very developed. The story is complex with several problems leading to Rose's melt down. She is jumping between the present and the events of the past year, not in chronological order at all. Her current thoughts take her back to whatever memory is relevant as she self-analyzes.

Another factor that is interesting is that the book is written by an Australian and takes place in Australia. The place and culture are apparent through reading the story. Though I've read books by Australian authors, this is the first time I noticed while reading.

related-family life, family problems, interpersonal relations, self-actualization, self-analysis, psychology, Australia, road trips, travel, surfing, best friends, illness
RL=YA-adult, mature content

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