Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Sweet Dead Life

Author: Joy Preble
Goodreads Rating: 4.06
Pages: 244
Format: ARC from BEA12

“I found out two things today. One, I think I’m dying. And two, my brother is a perv.”

So begins the diary of 14-year-old Jenna Samuels, who is having a very bad eighth-grade year. Her single mother spends all day in bed. Dad vanished when she was eight. Her 16-year-old brother, Casey, tries to hold together what’s left of the family by working two after-school jobs— difficult, as he’s stoned all the time. To make matters worse, Jenna is sick. When she collapses one day, Casey tries to race her to the hospital in their beat-up Prius and crashes instead.

Jenna wakes up in the ER to find Casey beside her. Beatified. Literally. The flab and zits? Gone. Before long, Jenna figures out that Casey didn’t survive the accident at all. He’s an “A-word.” (She can’t bring herself to utter the truth.) Soon they discover that Jenna isn’t just dying: she’s being poisoned. And Casey has been sent back to help solve the mystery that not only holds the key to her survival, but also to their mother’s mysterious depression and father’s disappearance.

This book was really adorable. It wasn't even on my radar until Joy met my mom while waiting on line for the Justin Cronin signing of The Twelve. When I went to join my mom on line, she made me promise to stop by her signing of this book even though I had never heard of her before. (Not I own the first in her Anastasia series.) I'm so glad that I didn't skip out on it, and I instead chose to go and get this book.

It was really cute. I ordinarily wouldn't go for something about a 14 year old because usually reading MG books, while adorable, seem too young for me the way the narrator talks. In this case, while she seemed young, she was incredibly funny and witty. I found myself wanting to hug Jenna as she faced the though of being poisoned with such a cavalier attitude. It was this horrible thing that her family was going through. Not only was she sick, but her mom was also sick, and her father was missing and then all the sudden her brother is an angel.

I loved how she puzzled out his angel behavior. The way that he would touch her and then all the sudden she would feel calm, and how he went from this stoner to this attractive young man. I loved the interaction between Mags and Casey as she suddenly recognized him in his new and improved state. I felt bad for Casey as she had to abandon everything that mattered to him so that he could take care of his little sister and his mom by getting another job.

Jenna was adorable. Her commentary on what was happening around her was funny. Between her judging Dr. Renfroe's chest hair to not trusting Amber and to her thoughts on Nurse Ed and his Crocs. She had me laughing out loud as I read thorough this book. The writing style carried me though the story with ease. Even though this book took me a while to get through (I blame my boyfriend being home for Christmas break) it was so easy to read and enjoy.

I think that this book would for sure fall more into the Young Adult category over the Middle Grade categorization because some of the content is a little stronger. There is a scene where Jenna decides her brother is a perv and she uses some strong language as she discovers that her brother is an angel. I can't wait for the next book to find out what Preble has planned for Jenna and Casey and Amber. I loved how Casey cared so much for Jenna and how he wanted so badly to take care of her and make her life better. This is definitely one to check out.
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