Teen Review: How to Tend a Grave

How to Tend a Grave by Jocelyn Shipley
Release Date ~ March 31, 2012
Great Plains Teen Fiction
ISBN-13: 9781926531199
Review copy received from publisher for review

Goodreads Synopsis
When Liam’s mom is killed, he thinks life can’t get any worse. He’s wrong. He’s forced to live with a grandfather he’s never known, in a small town where kids called Youth and Crime lead the local gang. They’re posers, but they mean trouble, and their favourite hangout is the cemetery where Liam’s mom is buried. But the cemetery is also where Liam meets Harmony, a gorgeous but unusual girl who records the names of all the babies buried there long ago. Besides their grief, both Liam and Harmony have secrets.

The very different stories of these two fifteen-year-olds interweave brilliantly in this fast-paced, engaging and unforgettable novel about family, love and healing.

I think that the cover for this novel is weird; really, really weird.  I read the synopsis, and I thought that it was weird.  I read the book, and it surprised me because it actually was not weird.  While there are some problems that I had with it, it was overall a decent read.

  1. Harmony's mysterious journal entries:

    I am the kind of person that really enjoys reading books that contain a journal/diary entry element.  Harmony's story is told through her entries, which I found fascinating to read about.  I liked the fact that I got to learn all about her tragic story through her perspective, as opposed to Liam's, which is told in third person.  She writes her journals like she is writing letters to someone, which I thought added a bit of a twist to the standard journal entry.  I liked her writing style, and I liked the way her story was laid out.  There are a lot of hints as to what tragedy happened to her, but you don't actually find out what it is until about 3/4 of the way through the book.
  2. Tackles some really sad issues:

    Liam is a kind of whiny main character, which is annoying.  Once you actually find out why, though, I found it easy to understand why.  Liam was in a crazy, messed up situation.  Harmony was also put through a really tragic situation, but I admired her character because she didn't come across as whiny at all.  I was glad that these characters actually did have something to be sad about, as opposed to blowing a small problem out of proportion.
There are some good things about this book, but there are some things that just didn't make sense to me.  The romance felt really rushed, and I didn't see any chemistry between the two characters.  Although Liam is in this crazy situation, I found that as a character, I really didn't care for him.  He was very bland and forgettable, as opposed to Harmony, which I found to be a very unique and compelling character.  Despite these small issues, I did enjoy the novel.

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1 comment:

Andrea @ Cozy Up said...

I feel like I would have issues reading this book because of the journal entries... I am just not the biggest fan of stories told in that way. Then again at other times I am surprised.

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