Publisher: Acacia Publishing, Inc (June 20, 2011)
Format: Kindle Edition
It’s about to get real here, folks, because the feelings that I have for this book go above and beyond what can be considered healthy. I’m sorry, Chelsea Fine, I really am. I bought this wanting to like it but I did not except for at the end when it stopped.
Sophie Hartman and Carter Jax are neighbors but not friends. By day, at school, they make a big show of not knowing each other and hardly acknowledge one another unless hard pressed. They have no interactions except on the neutral ground of their houses at night because each harbors a dark secret. Sophie’s mother is a prostitute who leaves all child raising of her three younger siblings to Sophie. Carter’s mother is mentally unstable and vacillates between lucidity and utter craziness and his father was a child abuser of the worst sort before he finally ran off. Both of them have scars, visible and invisible, that they are working to eradicate. While they can’t do it with friends at school who have no point of reference for the sort of horrors they’ve seen, each of them can rely on the other and they do every night as they discuss their respective days on the porch. Sophie and Carter eventually realize that the closeness and safety they feel when together means that they care about one another far more than they thought. Through loving and learning to trust, they both are given the chance to heal and to finally begin living.
Watch out. I’m about to get up on my high horse and I might not ever come down. One of my biggest pet peeves in any book, be it classical literature, current YA fiction, romance, biography, what have you, is incorrect spellings of words and/or using a spelling of a word that is correct but doesn’t mean at all what the author thinks it does. In the 3rd sentence of Sophie and Carter, (the third sentence!!!), Chelsea Fine makes a rookie mistake like this and it completely soured my opinion of her book. Let me just put it out there now: Doddle is brit slang that means something easily accomplished. Dawdle means to waste time. The word she uses is doddle and the word she wants is dawdle. It might not seem like such a big deal but I feel like any published author should a) know how to use words if he/she is a writer and b) have a good editor who picks up on mistakes like this. Obviously neither a) nor b) is true of this book and mistakes like this cropped up all over the place driving me nuts. It’s hard to believe that so many mistakes can happen since the book itself is very sparse. There’s not much detail, not much depth, and really not much story. It reads like the lite version of a much longer, in depth novel. There’s practically no character development and really no meat in what we learn about the characters. What also drove me crazy as I read was the fact that two teenagers have severely f’ed up home lives yet they don’t tell anyone and no one ever seems to notice. How is this possible?! I would hope that the public school system is a bit more watchful than this because if I were a teacher and had students come to school with bruising and knife wounds, I would say something. Sophie and Carter’s teachers are oblivious in a way that smacks of poorly developed plot and an author who is too lazy to explain important details. The fact that the story is told in alternating view points is refreshing but what makes it a chore to get through is that while each chapter is labelled with the respective point of view (either Sophie or Carter), Sophie’s POV is italicized. Each and every time. It feels like I’m reading someone’s internal monologue or hastily written diary entry, not a girl’s voice about incidents happening in her life. All in all, the writing, characterizations, and plot felt really juvenile and everything would have benefited from an editor of any kind. I couldn’t figure out where the story was going as it seemed to be more the telling of two weeks of two people’s lives than an actual plot involving these little necessities called a climax and denouement. Okay I’m starting to feel bad about the constant ragging on Sophie and Carter so without further ado…
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 2. Sophie really didn’t have a personality beyond moping about like a downtrodden girl prematurely aged by the fact that she is forced to care for her siblings while her prostitute mom lives the good life of sex and drugs. She just felt like a stereotype of a kid who has seen too much and none of her sentiments offer anything novel.
How much did I like the love interest: 3. I’m giving Carter a bonus point because he seems hot, stood up to an abusive father, and constantly is trying to keep Sophie out of harm’s way. He wants so badly to protect her from the ugliness of life that you can’t really dislike him as a character. Now the fact that he reads like an after school special bad boy with a heart of gold does begin to wear on the nerves pretty darn quick however.
How believable is the plot: 5. I can see two teens leaning on one another in tough times and eventually falling in love due to the trauma they’ve been exposed to. But there really isn’t a plot here, just a vignette detailing roughly two weeks out of their lives and that’s it.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 1. This was already discussed and I don’t want to harp on it but…this book could totally have used a good editor! And some details! And maybe a fleshed out plot! And some descriptors of some kind! And…
How much did I want to keep reading: 1. I didn’t, let’s keep it at that.
Final Score: 2.4 / 10. Sophie and Carter came highly recommended (so highly that I can’t help wondering if those people were paid to write good reviews or maybe are reviewing the wrong book?) so maybe you’ll like it if you give it a chance. It lost its chance with me after sentence 3 and unfortunately never really got it back. Enjoy.