Tuesday, February 23, 2010

The Snowball Effect by Holly Nicole Hoxter

Published: March 23rd 2010 by HarperTeen
Hardcover, 368 pages
ISBN: 0061755710
ISBN13: 9780061755712

18-year-old Lainey Pike can tell you everything you need to know about the people in her family just by telling you how they died. Her reckless stepfather drove his motorcycle off the highway and caused the biggest traffic jam in years. Her long-suffering grandmother lived through cancer and a heart attack before finally succumbing to a stroke. And Lainey's mother, still devastated over her husband's death, hung herself in the basement just days after Lainey's high school graduation. Now Lainey's five-year-old brother is an orphan and her estranged older sister moves back home to act as his guardian. Dealing with her brother has always been a struggle, but sharing the responsibility with her sister is proving to be just as challenging.

Lainey knows that this is all her mother's fault, but she also knows that she eventually has to move out of the "anger" phase of the grieving process. What she can't figure out, though, is how to make peace with a dead woman.


As if working at a perfume kiosk weren't bad enough, getting a call from her next door neighbor, Mabel, asking to meet her at her church is like the icing on Lainey's dreadful day. The news that Mabel has to deliver at said church is like the cherry. Finding out that her mother hang herself just days after Lainey's graduation from high school comes as no surprise; just a matter of time. Ever since Carl drove his Kawasaki off the beltway, Lainey's mom has been non-existent, mentally. Then Vallery comes along, Collin's--Lainey's younger brother's--guardian. Not really knowing what to think when her mother practically gave the kid to a half-sister she knew for all of a summer, Lainey's stuck with joint custody because Vallery did not prepare for what she got. Collin seems to have some behavioral problems.

However, Riley's a different story. He's caring with Collin, and has always been the perfect guy. Perfect boyfriend. Perfect everything.After one stop at the 7-Eleven, meeting the soon-to-be-known as Slurpee Guy, Lainey rethinks her settling-down future decisions that revolve around Riley. When a mysterious male visitor comes to their house, Vallery suddenly decides it's time to tuck-tail and have a Fun Family Vacatioin; from Baltimore to Orlando, Florida. Disney World. When fun time starts coming to an end, Lainey realizes the unfinished business that she left behind, and the apologies she is now dreading to make. Will anyone give her a second chance, trying not to take past events for granted?

First off, I have to say that I'm a bit disappointed because the small summary written for this novel is very misleading for the actual happenings inside the book; giving readers false hopes. However, at different points in the plot I can relate myself to Lainey, but yet there are some parts where she just cannot stop complaining about her self and her situation. (Build a bridge...you know the saying.) I do have to give her the benefit of the doubt, though, even if I don't completely believe the way she deals with the loss of her mother and the non-existence of her father. It just seems as if the ramblings and incoherent thoughts are not aimed at what you'd typically think of, if you were in that specific situation. Mostly, what I disliked was the hyping up of certain events in the summary that in the end--in the book--leave you grasping at something that wasn't even there. For example, the summary entails some deep revelations between Lainey and Slurpee Guy, when in reality their relationship seemed breif and not very meaningful at all. All in all, it was indeed a page-turner but not for the reasons one might imagine.

Recommended to the patient YAs out there that can wade out to find the true meanings of this said novel. The Snowball Effect was anything if not surprising. I can feel that Hoxter tried to get her message across, but I can also feel that it wasn't very successful.

Grade: C+


This ARC of The Snowball Effect was provided by the publishers at HarperTeen.