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Winner Best Literary Fiction Blog - 2008
Shortlisted for Best Literary Fiction Blog - 2009, 2010
Longlisted for Best Literary Fiction Blog - 2011 Shortlisted Best Written Book Blog - 2010

Leftovers – Book Review

See, guys freak out. They hit critical mass and blast nuclear, white-hot anger out over the world like walking flame throwers. But girls freak in. They absorb the pain and bitterness and keep right on sponging it up until they drown. Maybe that’s why nobody’s real worried about girls going off and wreaking havoc. It’s not that the seething hatred and need for revenge isn’t there, hell no. It’s just that instead of erupting and annihilating our tormentors, we destroy ourselves instead. -From Leftovers, Blair’s voice-

Leftovers is the story of two teenage girls – Blair and Ardith – who are mostly social outcasts and have only each other to lean on.

Blair’s mother is a rising star defense attorney who has traded her family for the career she wants. Blair’s father is having a not so subtle affair with his secretary. Both parents have seemingly ripped up their parent cards to pursue their own needs while emotionally abandoning Blair – a soft-spoken 14 year old who loves animals.

Ardith’s family comes from a different social strata. Her parents are alcoholics who allow her brother to rule the house along with his sexually aggressive friends. Ardith’s father gropes the young girls and makes inappropriate jokes, while his wife stands by and blames the girls for dressing provocatively.  It’s no wonder we find Ardith bolting her bedroom door at night.

The novel opens by suggesting something horrible has happened. The girls are telling their stories, from the beginning, to an unnamed person in a hospital bed. They reveal their sadness, anger, fear and show the reader what brought them together as the story builds to its conclusion.

This book is written for young adults, and I can see how it would appeal to that age bracket. Weiss seems to understand teenage angst and emotion well, and both Blair and Ardith’s voices are real. Despite this, the novel is overwritten at times. The dysfunction in the story feels over-the-top and not always believable. And when the end finally comes, it underwhelmed me.

Credit should be given to Weiss for tackling issues relevant to young adults and exposing the double standards which effect young girls. The difficult topics of sex, underage drinking, smoking, and sexual identity are all explored in this slim novel. This is a book which would stimulate great discussion between parents and teens.

20 Comments

  1. August 2, 2008    

    Sounds like the perfect book for this friend of mine. Thanks for the review.

  2. August 3, 2008    

    CBJames: You’re welcome!

  3. August 3, 2008    

    Wow, that’s a really good quote you chose to share – definitely grabbed my interest. I’ve found that, unfortunately, it’s all too often true. Sounds like an interesting read – thanks for the review! =)

  4. August 3, 2008    

    Thanks, Megan 🙂 Hope you’ll enjoy it if you read it!

  5. August 7, 2008    

    this book sounds awesome! i’ve added it to my goodreads TO READ shelf! thanks for the great review. it seems right up my alley. can’t wait to do a “self indulgent” blog review about it 😉 I liked your previous post as well!

  6. August 8, 2008    

    Kristen: I hope you’ll enjoy the book! I’ll look forward to your review!!! 🙂

  7. Yasmin Yasmin
    August 13, 2008    

    hey i’ve actually read the book and it is a really good read i couldn’t put it down it only took me a couple of hours to read it thats how good it was x

  8. August 16, 2008    

    Yasmin: It is a slim little book and a quick read, isn’t it? Glad you enjoyed it!

  9. Azrael Azrael
    November 7, 2008    

    I picked this book up at a 1/2 price bookstore and i loved it. It made me cry at times and i reccommended it to my friend who also loved it

  10. November 8, 2008    

    Azrael: So glad you enjoyed the book!

  11. Karen Karen
    January 5, 2009    

    I read this book, and it reminded me so much of me and my best friend, and it showed me things I knew already. It made me cry at times because there where things that reminded me of my past,

    Amazing book,
    I recommend it 100 percent.

  12. January 6, 2009    

    Karen: It is really special when a book can touch you like that – I am so happy you enjoyed the book and were able to relate it to your own life. That is really the beauty of reading, isn’t it? Thanks for stopping by.

  13. melissa melissa
    March 14, 2009    

    wow this book sounds really interesting!
    would this be considered a book about child abuse ??
    just wondering

  14. March 21, 2009    

    Melissa: I’m not so sure I’d classify this book as one about child abuse – it would perhaps be better to describe it as conflicted parenting or inadequate parenting and emotional abandonment. It revolves around how two teenage girls choose to respond to issues within their home life and how it impacts there self esteem and development.

  15. sarah sarah
    May 1, 2009    

    Woah..that quote really kinda hit me with how some authors have the power or skill to realize things like “girls freakin IN,” cuz I’ve never thought of myself “freaking in,” never even used the term.
    Thanks for the quote. It’s a good pick.
    And after reading your review, I think I might just buy the book. 😀

  16. May 5, 2009    

    Sarah: Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment! Glad you liked the quote I chose – come back after you’ve read the book and let me know how you liked it!

  17. Lewis Lewis
    October 10, 2009    

    I actually just finished reading the book only moments ago.
    I read it in one whole day.
    It was amazing and clever.
    It brings up situations much of society avoids to discuss.
    I definately recommend to read this book.

  18. October 11, 2009    

    Lewis: Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I am so glad you enjoyed the book!

  19. cassandra cassandra
    January 20, 2010    

    what was the conflict

  20. January 27, 2010    

    Cassandra: I do not want to give away any spoilers…so you’ll have to read this one to find out 🙂

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