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.

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20 comments

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

    • Wendy on August 3, 2008 at 08:35
      Author

    CBJames: You’re welcome!

    • Megan on August 3, 2008 at 10:50

    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! =)

    • Wendy on August 3, 2008 at 11:16
      Author

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

  2. 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!

    • Wendy on August 8, 2008 at 09:50
      Author

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

    • Yasmin on August 13, 2008 at 09:12

    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

    • Wendy on August 16, 2008 at 08:39
      Author

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

    • Azrael on November 7, 2008 at 07:10

    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

    • Wendy on November 8, 2008 at 14:39
      Author

    Azrael: So glad you enjoyed the book!

    • Karen on January 5, 2009 at 15:37

    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.

    • Wendy on January 6, 2009 at 08:50
      Author

    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.

    • melissa on March 14, 2009 at 20:51

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

    • Wendy on March 21, 2009 at 07:43
      Author

    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.

    • sarah on May 1, 2009 at 22:49

    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. 😀

    • Wendy on May 5, 2009 at 12:33
      Author

    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!

    • Lewis on October 10, 2009 at 14:09

    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.

    • Wendy on October 11, 2009 at 07:25
      Author

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

    • cassandra on January 20, 2010 at 17:53

    what was the conflict

    • Wendy on January 27, 2010 at 10:56
      Author

    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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