Published On: March 6, 2018
Published By: Hot Key Books
Genre: YA, Contemporary
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Marilyn is in search of freedom. She grew up as a child actor, her mother's meal ticket out of mediocrity. But it's been a long time since she booked a job, and she and her mother have no choice but to move in with her volatile uncle. Marilyn is counting down the days until she can escape to college, and the promise of her own future. That is, until she falls in love with James, the boy downstairs, who shows her that her life is worth living in the present. At 17, Marilyn is about to learn that everything can change in an instant.
Angie is in search of answers. She is mixed race and has never met her father, but she knows she looks and thinks a lot like him. Though Angie grew up with her devoted mother, Marilyn, she's always felt the absence of the man she never knew. But after discovering that her mother has been lying to her, Angie sets off on a road trip to Los Angeles, in search of an unknown uncle - and maybe even her dad. At 17, she hopes to finally find out the truth about where she came from so she can discover who she truly is.
*A copy of this book was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.*
In Search Of Us is unlike anything I have read before. It is a multigenerational story following both 17-year-old Angie in the present day and her mother, Marilyn, as a 17-year old. Angie is searching for the father she has never known, Marilyn is unexpected falling in love with the boy that lives downstairs. Both stories are very different but both were enjoyable to read and kept my attention.
This was also unlike anything I have read before in terms of the way it dealt with important issues. Where many of the recent popular YA books make it clear that the book deals with issues such as race, this book did things differently. The topic of racial prejudice is introduced subtly, in throwaway comments about not liking a family due to their skin colour, before becoming shockingly important within the story. Angie also highlights many occasions in which she had been treated differently for not looking like her white mother, which becomes a more integral part of her story as the book continues. These topics are dealt with in a way that introduces these issues as almost 'normal', before emphasising the true impact of seemingly insignificant comments. To me, this was incredibly clever as it made for a greater impact.
While there are things I really enjoyed about this book, there were some things I had issues with. Firstly, for a book in which mother-daughter relationships are important, the mother-daughter relationship was lacking. Marilyn's mother is far from perfect and this is made very clear throughout the book. Marilyn is determined to give Angie a better life than she had and be a better mother than her own. However, the two felt so distant from each other. I struggled to accept them as having this tight, loving mother-daughter relationship as I couldn't feel any kind of connection between them. Perhaps this is due to the circumstances surrounding Angie's story.
I also had a hard time with the relationships, another quite important aspect of the story. Marilyn and James' relationship was one I was rooting for. They had a connection and I loved reading about them but it felt very rushed. I don't know if this is because there was so much to try and fit in with two different stories being told in one book. Angie and Sam's relationship I just didn't understand. It felt completely unnecessary as Angie's story was already interesting enough without adding in some boy drama. The only thing it added to the story was making Angie look bad as neither of them treated the other all that well.
My only other issue with this book is purely down to personal preference; the chapters were so long! I'm the kind of person who needs shorter chapters to keep my attention so I did struggle quite a bit with this book. I don't know if this is different in the finished copy of the book as I read it as an eARC so this may not be the case now. Like I said, this is purely personal preference as I know many people prefer longer chapters but sadly I am not one of those people.
Overall, I did enjoy In Search Of Us and this has definitely encouraged me to pick up more of Ava Dellaira's work in the future. I really enjoyed the story and the way it was written, particularly the way important topics were dealt with. I also thought the ending was completely unexpected and shocking, but very important and impactful. Though it wasn't a new favourite, I would definitely recommend giving this book a try.