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Original and insightful, quirky and crushing, Joy's story is told in surprising and artfully shifting flashbacks between her life then and now. Exquisite craft and wry, relatable humor signal the arrival of Emily Wing Smith as a breakout talent.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2011-04-18
- Reviewer: Staff
Joy can't accept that her boyfriend, Zan, has gone to California (where she is from originally) and left her to fend for herself in boring Haven, Utah. She blames her goody-two-shoes Mormon peers for driving him away, even though both she and Zan are Mormon, too. Lurking beneath Joy's sadness and anger at everyone around her (especially Noah, Zan's "Golden Boy" best friend who won't leave her alone) Joy suspects that maybe it wasn't everybody else that drove Zan away—maybe it was her. Joy's story unfolds in short, essaylike vignettes that fill in her personal history, while leaving certain aspects of her life (like her relationship with her parents and the circumstances of their move to Haven) largely unexamined. But Smith (The Way He Lived) effectively reconstructs Zan and Joy's relationship, building tension toward the moment when Joy ultimately faces him again. Despite her vulnerability, Joy's voice is sturdy, and her articulations about loss and belief are thoughtful and often moving. Self-acceptance and both the comforts and restrictions of the Mormon religion and identity are central themes in this sweet story. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)