Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney
Published: September 2009 by Chronicle Books
Genre: Contemporary YA
Page Count: 366 in my copy
Part of a series? I believe it is a standalone novel.
Summary (from the inside of the dust jacket because the goodreads one confuses me a little): Big Macs and pop tunes mask the emptiness as Madeline watches her mom drink away their welfare checks. Until the day Tad, a quirky McDonald's counter boy, asks Madeline out for a date, and she gets her first taste of normal. But with a life that’s anything but, how long can normal really last?
Hanging with Jeremy, avoiding Mam, sticking Do Not Disturb Post-its on her heart, Desiree's mission is simple: party hard, graduate (well, maybe), get out of town. But after Desiree accepts half a meatball grinder, a cold drink, and a ride from her mother's boyfriend one rainy afternoon, nothing is ever simple again.
Too many AP classes. Workaholic mom. Dad in prison. Still, Ariel's sultry new boyfriend, Shane, manages to make even the worst days delicious. But when an unexpected phone call forces a trip to visit a sick grandmother she's never met, revealing her family's dark past, Ariel struggles to find the courage to make the right choice for her own future.
As three girls from three different decades lives converge, they discover they are connected ways they could never imagine. Each of them finds strength that brings her closer to healing a painful past, and faith that there is a happier future.
Review: I really, really, really, really liked Blue Plate Special. It's sweet and sometimes heartbreaking, full of hope and just really, really good. I seriously have no words to describe how good this one was. I got so involved and attached to the characters that I got a little weepy eyed over the end (my mother kept looking at me like I was nuts).
Plot (in my words): I'm going to skip straight to the character part. You'll see why.
Characters: Madeline (1977) is overweight. She's an emotional eater dealing with an alcoholic, neglectful mother. Then she meets Tad, who doesn't seem to see her weight. (I really, really like him.) Madeline's parts are told in first person present tense and are heart-wrenchingly honest. I kept having high school flashbacks myself... shudder.
Desiree (1993) is sarcastic and rebellious. Her mother is abusive and blind to what's going on in their house. Her parts, told in verse, are at times heartbreaking, and also inspiring.
Ariel (2009) is smart and a bit naive. Her new boyfriend Shane... let's just say I don't like him very much, and you know how much I like people named Shane (see: Morganville vampires series reviews). She makes excuse after excuse for him until the trip to see her sick grandmother gives her some space and time to think.
The girls are all linked in a way, but I won't tell you what.
Cons, complaints, bad stuff, etc.: I think without the chapters telling who's narrating on the chapter title page, Madeline and Ariel's voices might occasionally be confusing, but not too terribly so, since their situations are so different.
PG-13 stuff: There's... a lot. Cursing, drinking, smoking and more... it's all done very, very well, but this is definitely a book for mature readers as there are some moments that are pretty graphic.
Cover comments: I really like the lettering and the little designs on the black, but something about the blankness of the plate doesn't click so well for me... but I still like it.
Conclusion: This might just be one of my favourite books this year. I highly, highly recommend it, and I'd be interested to read Michelle Kwasney's other and future books. Four and a half roses.
- I discovered that pens that go into pools still work.
Peace and cookies,