Friday, March 1, 2013
Brianna on the Brink
Holiday House, 2013
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Description: Brianna’s live is pretty odd. She was taken under the wing of popular Jules freshman year and is now a popular cheerleader who rules the school. Unfortunately, that’s the highlight of her live. Her mother kicked her out of the house because she doesn’t have time for her so she lives with her older sister and her husband in a tiny laundry room converted into a bedroom. Her live changes one night when out partying at a club with Jules and her cheer buddies she is hit on my an older man (mid-20s) who Jules wants but isn’t interested in. He’s got his eye on Brianna, who has said she’s 21. When he offers her a ride home she accepts and she invites him in (her sister is out of town). What she doesn’t expect from their one night stand is for him to die of a heart attack. She’s also not equally ready for the reality that hits her later—that the reason why the man looked slightly familiar is because he is the husband of her English teacher she and Jules decided to torment this year all because her name is Jane Playne. She also isn’t prepared for Jules’ betrayal and she’s left utterly alone. When her sister’s boyfriend comes on to her and tells her sister that it was Brianna who came on to him, she kicks her out. With nowhere to go she ends up at a woman’s shelter where Jane Playne ends up finding her. It turns out that Jane is a very forgiving person. While she wants to hate her husband for what he did she knows that Brianna wasn’t the only person at fault and takes Brianna in to live with her and her father suffering from Alzheimer’s. When Jules purposefully doesn’t catch Brianna at a cheer practice (which ends her time on the squad) she hits her head really bad and goes to the free clinic where she learns she’s got more problems that a headache—she’s pregnant.
Opinion: This book opens with a bang—and a hilarious one at that. Brianna gives a list of the top things one shouldn’t do when the guy you just slept with has a heart attack. Brianna is an interesting character. She’s one of the bitchy popular crowd but at times, because of her home life, you feel sorry for her. Yes, she made a mistake (sleeping with an older man) but she admits to it and when Jane takes her in tries to let her know that (a) if she knew he was married she wouldn’t have slept with him and (b) he seemed to regret it the minute it was over right before he died. Brianna seems to kind of to one of those quick 180 character changes once she finds out she’s pregnant but it has to happen for the book to work. She tries to hide it for as long as possible and when she tells her mother she offers to pay for an abortion. Brianna decides to do the right thing and offer the baby up for adoption. Of course there is the poor family who has been overlooked so many times who get their hopes up and she reneges on her promise but in the end she realizes that she will love her baby but it’s not always about what she selfishly wants. Zoe will be better off with the adoptive parents. Jane is also a complex lady. One minute she seems young and naïve and at other times wise beyond her years. She helps Brianna when no one else will and makes Brianna see that she can go to college and can still have a life. In the end, Brianna has a nice living situation and has made a family out of people who care for her, is still allowed to hear about Zoe, and has gotten a job working with children at the women’s shelter.
*Thanks to Mariana Cruz-Muñoz at Holiday House for providing an ARC of this title for the YA Galley Group project!*