Stacia Tolman: The Spaces Between Us

Iler trash families in town can t do anything but fail and be left behind That gold Corvette represent s Grimshaw s conviction of her best chance to leave Colchis and she does but not before both girls begin to grow up fast Serena begins to understand that she has Privilege with a capital P while Grimshaw plans to head West with her creepy older boyfriend possible to become a stripper Serena may have privilege but Melody wants to borrow it just for a little Neither can figure out how to stave off the darkness that is coming with adulthood even as they long to grow up and away from their roots Women s reliance on each other and their emotional bonds are the core of the story even as the social importance of finding any man good bad or just plain weak pulls both girls into different orbits Tolman sometimes overplays the Class Doom with Grimshaw asking Do you ever havethis feeling Like you have this feeling you re going to die young To which Serena can only reply I think there are other options than Colchis or death Tolman has produced a serious look at the stresses facing working class women in today s America with all the sadness and ambivalence that may mean for her characters Received free copy via GoodreadsThis one s a bit hard for me to review I liked the passages about social mobility but I felt there was too little analysis along that line and too much focus on other pieces of the story I also felt that the ending was unexpected and in general I had a hard time connecting with the characters which makes sense because their lives are very different from mine It wasn t badly written though I guess it s just not my ind of book The road trip felt weird Like totally disconnected from the beginning of the book And the summer spent in Maine What was the point It felt like everything I thought the book was leading to just disappeared exchanged for a different story with a different point And yeah Bo is great but I don t really believe in him He doesn t feel realMelody sees how Serena lives her life with confidence and Melody chooses to live like that and look where it gets her Dead Murdered by a creep who wants her to come back and work in his LA stripper club That confidence that Serena exudes out of her pores It comes from her rich white family privilege So why did Grimshaw have to die Why did Grimshaw have to die Why does Serena always call her Grimshaw Her name was Melody Her whole character was supposed to be fighting to be free from the curse of her white trash family name Instead her whole character is just a damn tragedy Why To prove a point that upward mobility is just a lie that what really drives this country is privilege If that really is the purpose of this book then I find absolutely no hope in it Especially since Bo is supposed to be the trigger for Serena and the reader s hope and I don t really buy Bo s characterWhy don t I believe in Bo He just didn t feel real I understand that young adult books are supposed to be pushing beyond the hopeful safety of childhood allowing readers to grapple with the uncertainties and complexities of the real world I get that But if a book is going to be classified as young adult by the last page I still want to see some sort of realistic hope Not gonna lie this book has left me in a bit of a bad brain space I don t like it when a book exacerbates my own very real concerns for our country and then refuses to give me a satisfactory piece of uplift While I think the point of the book is a very valid point I still want some hope for the future I didn t hate the book and I definitely raced to finish the last third of the book all in one sitting And Serena and Melody s story is going to live with me for a long time So it s definitely not a bad book I just think it s missing something very sappy and yet very very necessary in this broken world hopeI now I used the word hope a lot in just a few short paragraphs but it really does matter to me that I read and recommend books that do something good for the soul So many cliches Dull plot unlikable narrator and nothing imaginative Grimshaw and I are a pair of pariahs like a virus in a lipid envelope She s poor and I m smart so between the two of us we re practically an un American activity 5Hmm Not entirely sure what to make of this one I enjoyed the book just fine but am left with the feeling that there was something of a bait and switch going on however unintentionallySerena lives in a struggling factory town and she wants out She s not doing anything to facilitate that mind she s an overachiever only when it comes to underachieving She has a passive interest in communism which is what drew me to the book in the first place I wondered whether the book was contemporary or whether I hoped it was set during the Cold War It s contemporary as it happens though that s not always obvious Rare mentions of cell phones laptops and going viral make the era clear but I m sort of sorry for it I suppose that putting this during McCarthyism would make it socially dangerous for Serena to be overtly interested in communism but I just wanted communism I guess That is not communism exactly I wanted of what the description suggested which is to say a close look at class and upward mobility and what those mean in the contexts of communism and democracy I find that adults are very jaded these days No combination of hair color clothes body piercing or tattoos can shock them About the only thing that can still guarantee a reaction in this factory town is communism So I wear a Red Army cap each day with the red star I probably overdo it with the communist thing but otherwise I m not sure anyone would now I exist 15Insteadthere s a bit of lip service to communism which it s almost immediately clear that Serena is only interested in as something to annoy the adults around her and then the book takes a left turn to cheerleading and a much standard YA high school story Fortunately it veers off onto an access road that takes Serena and Grimshaw on a hitchhiking road trip across the States butthen there s a metaphoric metaphoric I m seeing how far I can stretch this car accident and things get somehow darker but less complicated I d have preferred just you now complicatedSo it has its moments but gosh this has made me want a complicated gritty Cold War setting in a book exploring why yes class and politic. Mantle her family’s hopeless reputation But sometimes the biggest obstacles are the ones you don’t see coming; Grimshaw’s uest for success becomes a fight for survival and Serena’s independent study gets a little too real With the future of their friendship and their lives on the line the stakes have never been so hi.

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Ok I d be the first to admit I m not really the demographic for this novel but I do remember being in my last year of high school and desperate to graduate and leave home and do something with my life When I started reading this book I identified with Serena younger than her classmates fairly bright but not pulling the marks to show it full of sarcastic humour and rebelling at just about everything that moved Very uickly though I started feeling empathy towards Melody Grimshaw and got uite attached to her and was ultimately shattered by what happened I made some really dumb choices as a teen but nothing THAT dumb and it was hard to believe that Melody didn t seem to now what she was getting into What an ending And I didn t believe Bo for one single second The whole book seems to be a cautionary tale but I m not sure an age appropriate reader would get thatI do want to add that this is a well written novel with great realistic dialogue and what appears to be good editing Good editing is always conspicuous by its invisibility Here are some great sharable lines that illuminate the characters who say them We Shameful know younow everything already but what we don t now is if that s an asset or a liabilityI try to look into my future but there s always a manhole cover in the waySo I just sit there in the boat on the beach and feel deserving of my own pity than anyone has ever felt That last one perfectly encapsulates every teen who ever lived While I liked parts of this book immensely the author seems to have lost her way somewhere along the middle I d hoped that there would be development of the theme of social class and upward mobility the independent study project assigned by Mr C The few references to that were intriguing and offered possible insights into how our economic and social systems function and made me long for After all how many of us now and back in high school have pondered whether our destinies are shaped primarily by our social class and the family to whom we are born But despite the intriguing nature of this line of thinking it isn t developed as much as I might have wished Instead readers are treated to a road trip in which Serena Velasco heads to LA to save her friend Melody Grimshaw from herself and the man with whom she s become entangled I agree that her heart is in the right place but it is dangerous and judgmental to try to save someone when we don t now the whole story Readers are expected to think that Serena nows about Mike and the relationship and how to handle him than Melody does Given that Melody has been portrayed as a heart breaker with abundant experiences with men while Serena has little to none I just couldn t buy that the mercurial changes that Serena seemed to experience almost came out of nowhere and I d have liked her uncle to have been included since that summer in Maine was most likely part of what started her change I did like the idea of two outcasts shunned by their classmates for different reasons becoming friends but I don t now how likely that would have been given their very different upbringings and family backgrounds As it turns out Melody wants to fit in as seen in her interactions with the cheerleading suad But no matter what she does she will never be able to escape the stigma that surrounds her family and their reputation It s often those who have little against which to rebel such as Serena who end up doing the rebelling As I finished the book troubled by the ending I Angel Without Mercy (Agnes Carmichael, kept asking myself how hard it is to escape one s past or the expectations placed on one by those around us Can we ever fill in those spaces between us There were some interesting characters such as Prof that might have warranted development while the point of some others such as Nanci Lee left something to be desired I ended up enjoying many parts of this book and thinking about some of the issues it raised while wishing those had been examined even I ll be thinking about these two girls and wondering how Melody could have pulled off her escape in any other way than the path she chose I m also wondering about how many Melodys there are out there This book just didn t do it for me I m not sure why but I couldn teep the characters straight especially all the teachers and random friends For some reason I Gold Rush kept thinking the story would focus from the poor girl Mel s point of view It was actuallyind of refreshing though that it wasn t It was different to come at high school from the view of the well to do girl and her own identity struggles Instead of rooting for the underdog though I did definitely root for Mel I liked that someone who had things handed to her and who s mom ran the school was still struggling But sadly I didn t like either of them enough to really like the book And I didn t really like the writing The book seemed choppy dramatic at points then incredibly boring Big build ups with uick conclusions Philosophy and imagery galore but the locations and timeframe were hard to figure out not necessarily a bad thing but a bit irritating I didn t Girl Reporter know if it was modern or the 80 s I tried to decider the cars being driven etc but it wasn t till the mention of cellphones that Inew it was modern which actually ind of turned me offI m sure lots of people would like this book An interesting high school coming of age with A LOT going on I d recommend it to others but it wasn t really for me There was some great themes and a well rounded nuanced supporting character but the middle of the novel left me yawningMy IssuesThe Middle of the Novel The novel started off really strong with Serena and Mel but after Serena comes back from Maine the novel takes a weird tone The whole cheerleaderNanci Lee thing seemed like a totally different novel The two cheerleaders did not have a uniue voice and they didn t do anything to advance to plot This book is full of amazing themes but the middle didn t seem to support any of them The middle is the reason why I dropped this a whole star Dropped PlotsPacing to uick Serena s time in Maine with her uncle was too uick especially considering he comes back at the end Serena also does a complete 180 after her summer and the explanation wasn t strong enough The upward mobility assignment seemed like it was going to be pivotal but Serena asks randos about it and her teacher doesn t discuss it with her I understand that the. Two outcast best friends are desperate to survive senior year and break away from their rural factory townSerena Velasco and her best friend Melody Grimshaw are dying to get out of their shrinking factory town Until now they’ve been coasting eluding the bleakness of home and the banality of high school In a rebellious turn.

Author isn t holding our hands with the themes but the upward mobility discussion seemed to be an after thought which is a shame considering this book is has some povertyclass undertones Cars were an obvious theme that usually means freedom Once again I now the author didn t want to hold our hands but I felt like cars could have been a larger character in the narrative Nit Picks Serena was in Maine all summer and Mel didn t call her At first I thought this was set in a dateless time because the author didn t mention cell phones until page 75ish Then I figured they were too poor for phones but a land line is still a thing HELLO The confrontation with Mike was a bit unrealistic I doubt she would have thought that uicklyWhat I LikedThe Introduction to Serena I really liked Serena throughout most of the novel Irony Man was a great intro to her character and you new exactly who this girl is by page 5 She had several people tell her about herself EARLY in the novel and she made efforts to change I hate when characters are beat over the head with their shortcoming by several people and then grow in the last 50 pages Serena didn t dwell on the fact that people didn t like her She also didn t have much of an inner monologue about that which seems unrealistic I think many of us want to be liked even if we don t want to admit it Serena sort of fell apart characterwise at the endMelody Melody was a great character I don t think she necessarily had a new voice but she was very insightful about her own life and she made huge efforts to change it I appreciate reading about a teen character who doesn t bitch and moan about how shitty their life is but actually makes movesMelody and Serena s Friendship I liked how the author showed their co dependence I thought it was believable and I think teens would gain a lot of insight into their own friendshipsThemes I love a good themey metaphorical novel and this one had plenty The aforementioned cars was a bit on the nose with the meaning freedom But I liked the different ways the author featured cars throughout the narrative There s a good overall metaphor on page 56 which I thought summed up the girl s relationship Other themes included the savior complex and the measurement of successOverall I REALLY wanted to love this book and it was so close to being great but that middle dragged ass and I just can t forgive that If you are looking for a good discussion book I do believe this would be a good choice Serena and her best friend Grimshaw are just trying to make it through high school and out of their poor rundown town There is no future for either of them there They both come from less than perfect family situations Both have fathers who died when they were young Serena is little well off Her mom is the principal and she has a step dad and siblings Grimshaw s family is considered the trash of the town Both girls feel stuck Grimshaw the most She aspires to be a dancer and she uses her beauty to use guys to her advantage When she starts dating an older guy named Mike Serena can tell only bad things are coming As Grimshaw decides to leave town with Mike and start her career Serena tries to do everything in the power to save her friendThere is no easy way to explain The Spaces Between Us A lot happens in this story It encompasses about a year in the life of Serena starting with her failing a class at the end of her junior year going to Maine for the summer and then coming home to find Grimshaw has made new friends This is only maybe the first few chapters From there the story jumps around at times with no warning There are several times when we are in one scene and the next line will suddenly take place weeks later Serena is definitely a different ind of YA narrator She is whip smart and mature She deserves than what she is dealt and that includes a friend like Grimshaw We see Serena do literally everything to help Grimshaw but we never get a sense of Grimshaw being worthy of Serena s loyalty She isn t a good friend to Serena and is often times trying to ditch her I liked Serena a lot and her story is interesting with a realistic setting But there are a lot of parts of the story that didn t fit together or left uestions than answers to what is going onI still appreciate the originality of the story and the setting I received an e ARC from Netgalley A DRC was provided by Edelweiss in exhange for a fair and honest reviewToo often older readers dismiss teen realistic fiction preferring to indulge in YA dystopia or fantasy Any novel that tackles class in America deserves attention from a wide readership especially if the author is not afraid to have her characters face the the burdens that come fro recognizing the spaces between us Serena Velasco and Melody Grimshaw are best friends and a pair of pariahs The former is too smart and the latter too poor to fit in anywhere in Colchis the dying mill town in upstate New York the burned over cinder of the American Dream The town is a hotbed of class anxiety with young women and men feeling all the disdain distrust and envy that their parents do Grimshaw is a charismatic man magnet set on escaping Colchis using herself as currency as she nows It takes money to get a car and it takes a car to get money Everyone nows Serena is too smart for Colchis but as one of her teachers asks is that an asset or a liability Serena s preoccupation with communism a tribute to her deceased father who believed in giving away wealth and her repugnance at the snobbery and hypocrisy of Colchis give her motivation to aim low in order to avoid the inevitable separation from Grimshaw Serena avoids her middle class status even as her PhD educator mother becomes principal at the high school her entrepreneurial stepfather has moved the family to Versailles a fancy new housing development and her sister off to college however unhappily She spends her summers in Maine in an old house with her grandmother sailing reading and pushing away thoughts of leaving Colchis and Grimshaw for good Doom stalks them from the moment Serena spots the gold Corvette following their school bus The girls struggle through their senior year of high school becoming friends with the vicious cheerleaders going to wild parties contending with both the expectations that Serena excel academically and that Grimshaw coming fromm one of the most notorious tra. Serena begins to fixate on communism hoping to get a rise out of her blue collar factory town Her Western Civ teacher catches on and gives her an independent study of class and upward mobility what creates the spaces between us Meanwhile Grimshaw sets goals of her own to make it onto the cheerleading suad find a job and dis.