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Wild Awake
Hilary T. Smith
Understanding Exposure: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera
Bryan Peterson
Fixing Delilah - Sarah Ockler The hardest thing for me to say about a book is that I felt indifferent to it. Well, scrap that. It’s easy to say. “I feel indifferent about this book.” There, done. What’s difficult is articulating why. When a book hasn’t evoked any particularly strong feeling, positive or negative, I find myself staring at my keyboard with nothing much to say. Except things like “nice”, “okay”, “fine” – which make for an extremely dull review. And Fixing Delilah was those things: nice, okay, fine. I don’t harbour negative feelings towards it. I didn’t want to fling it down mid-read in irritation. There was simply no emotional investment for me in the book, and therefore no real payoff upon finishing it. Ockler’s writing is excellent. Slightly lyrical, but with a crisp, witty edge, and she injects some wry humour into her teenage-girl-and-family-secrets story. However the sharp one-liners feel weighed down by the ponderous pacing, and Delilah’s voice is blunted by a plot so stretched out, it loses much of its tension. Despite this, I enjoyed the characterisation of Delilah, and felt that Ockler had created a believable (if somewhat predictable) arc to her story. Delilah’s response to strained family relationships, and the gradual unearthing of long-hidden secrets, were authentic. Possibly the strongest element of the story was Delilah’s resultant anger and attempts to push people away when she perceives them to have let her down. In that sense, I found her emotional reactions realistic and well portrayed.On the other hand, the greatest weakness for me lay in the plot itself and the cast of characters, which seemed formulaic. The organised, business-like sister and the free-spirit sister. The boy meets girl, girl loses boy angst. I found this rang a little hollow, the tropes a little too familiar for me to muster much engagement in them. As a lover of contemporary YA, this just lacked the rawness I look for, the strong, compelling thread of tension. Ultimately, I felt disappointed with Fixing Delilah. Not because it’s a bad book, because it isn’t. It’s well written and the premise is interesting. But because it failed to leave a strong impression. Because I found myself having to resist the urge to skim. Because I probably won’t think about it again now that I’ve closed it. And it’s this lack of impact, either good or bad, that is difficult to express. Fingers crossed that this won’t be the case for Twenty Boy Summer.