Friday, July 01, 2011

LIFE ON HOLD by Karen McQuestion

LIFE ON HOLD - Karen McQuestion
ISBN: 9781935597278
April 2011
Young Adult Fiction

Wisconsin - Present Day

Rae Maddox hates being the new kid in class. That is because she has moved a lot—way too much for a fifteen-year-old. Her mother, Gina, is a free spirit who doesn’t want to stay in one place long. After arriving in Wisconsin, Rae makes her promise no more moves. She is now a sophomore and wants to graduate from Whitman High School. Rae has shied away from making friends, but now she opens up and immediately finds two best friends, Kylie and Mason.

Because she has moved so much, Rae is mortified when she is asked by the vice principle to help a new student feel welcome. Why me, she wonders?

Rae finds Allison very quiet and odd. The more she tries to be a friend, the more Allison pulls away. She discovers that Allison’s house burnt down and both parents died. She is now living with her aunt and uncle. Her Cousin Blake is a bully who taunts Allison and makes her life at home and school a living hell.

Gina steps in, and Rae finds her mother and Allison becoming very close. This puts Rae out, especially when her mother says she understands Allison’s pain.

One weekend Rae invites her friends for a sleep over. Gina steps in and invites Allison. How rude! Allison opens up about her life; everything goes wrong and she runs away. Rae is afraid for her. She finds her in time and helps get her to the hospital, but things are no better. Allison can’t cope with her parent’s death, or the cruel taunting from her cousin and school mates. Her depression has sunk to the point of not carrying if she will live or die.

Karen McQuestion has pulled the theme from headline news for this story. The main character, Rae, is a teenager who is likeable and just wants to be part of the crowd. She has also figured out how to blend in. Secondary character, Gina, is a dysfunctional mother who has spent years running from any type of responsibility and the skeletons in her closet. Rae recognizes Allison’s pain and feelings of isolation. Can she stand up to the cruel comments made about Allison?

I highly recommend this story, especially to young adults who will recognize what the story is about and what it means. LIFE ON HOLD is well written and thought provoking.

Deborah C Jackson

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