Thursday, September 15, 2016

Book Sketch: Pasadena by Sherri L. Smith

By: Sherri L. Smith
Published By: G. P. Putnam's Soons Books for Young Readers
Release Date: Sept. 13, 2016
Series: None
Pages: 240
Genre: Contemporary
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Bad things happen everywhere. Even in the land of sun and roses.

When Jude's best friend is found dead in a swimming pool, her family calls it an accident. Her friends call it suicide. But Jude calls it what it is: murder. And someone has to pay.

Now everyone is a suspect--family and friends alike. And Jude is digging up the past like bones from a shallow grave. Anything to get closer to the truth. But that's the thing about secrets. Once they start turning up, nothing is sacred. And Jude's got a few skeletons of her own.

First Thought After Finishing: This story might be short, but it packs a lot into its pages!

I’m always fascinated by YA stories where the teenage experience is so different from my own. I lived on the east coast in a relatively conservative town, and my summers were filled with camps and activities. I was very lucky. Moreover, life with my friends was quite uneventful. Jude’s life is completely the opposite, and it paints an all-too-vivid picture of what reality can be like.

Jude plans to spend her summer back on the east coast getting to know her father again while escaping from her mom’s new boyfriend. However, a phone call saying that her best friend committed suicide has Jude on the first plane back to Pasadena. Suicide wasn’t possible, not for Maggie Kim. Jude is determined to find out who killed her best friend and bring him or her to justice. In the process, she learns hard truths about her friend group, especially the boy that she cannot let herself be with. As Jude discovers, secrets cannot stay secrets forever…

Although the story is from Jude’s perspective, Maggie is just as important of a character. I think we’ve all known a Maggie, someone who seems to draw so many others into their orbit and make things better. However, Maggie is not without her flaws, and Jude is forced to admit that as she relives memories and starts to piece together the story of Maggie’s last days. Even so, one of my favorite things about Jude is her dedication to her friend. She isn’t willing to let Maggie go without having all of the answers about her death.

Jude’s journey to the truth about Maggie’s death is just as much a journey of Jude trying to understand herself and her place in her friend group and family. Maggie’s friendship had been a form of escape, and now Jude has to confront her past, her choices, and her feelings for Joey. And there were so many times I just wanted to say, “Poor Joey.” He is loyal to a fault, definitely “best friend and more” material, and yet their relationship is not the easy trope it could have been. We meet their other friends as well, and each one has their own story and their own things to hide. There are layers of emotions and histories to sort through, yet I still wanted more so that I could fully understand the characters’ journeys. But even with limited words, the character dynamics and the story itself are not things I am likely to forget.

Most Memorable Aspect: This book focuses on darker issues and makes you think about the kind of person and friend you want to be.


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