10 November 2011

The Year it Snowed in April by Eva Bottier

The Year it Snowed in April by Eva Bottier

Published: 30 March 2010 by St Martin's Press

Pages: 320 (paperback)

Genre/s: YA, Contemporary

Source: Own library

Synopsis (Goodreads)

Avery Benjamin Clarke is a shy and demure boy, raised in the upper middle classed home of his maternal grandparents from the day he was born. He’s a straight “A” student and a model child who has never given his family an ounce of trouble. Then one Easter Sunday, his wayward mother, Carla, returns to his grandparents’ brownstone. When an unexpected tragedy strikes, Avery is forced to live with Carla permanently. Soon after, his life begins a swift downward spiral as she introduces him to a world of dysfunction and darkness.

As Avery grows into a young man, he is determined to hide the secrets he’s accumulated from the world. He struggles to suppress his psychosis and obtain some sense of normalcy in his life. But when the tables are turned yet again, Avery is given crosses no young person should ever have to bear. Will he ultimately delve within himself for the strength and sanity that was stolen from him or will he awaken the monster that has been lurking beneath the surface created by years of suffering and abuse?

My Thoughts

The Year it Snowed in April is story of Avery, abandoned by his teenage mother as a toddler and brought up by his respectable, safe grandparents in Harlem. Avery is a clever, thoughtful and shy teenager, unsure of girls and the world around him, adores his grandparents and has big plans for his future.

Unexepectedly, Avery’s mother comes back into his life and he is thrown into a world that he never even knew existed outside the safe life his grandparents have created for him, with a mother who isn’t ready to be his mother, nor act like one.

As Avery becomes more and more entwined in his mother’s lifestyle he spirals downwards into depression, alcoholism and violence.

I picked this book up quite randomly, looking for a book with the word April in the title for a reading challenge. It began quite slowly, not really picking up speed until nearly half-way through. I had some trouble relating to Avery, his grandparents and his mother to begin with, but as the book progressed I became more involved with the characters, particularly Avery.

This is not a light read. There are confronting scenes of violence, abuse and disturbing sexual scenes, which definitely may not be to some readers’ tastes. It is the story of a boy taken from a safe, secure life and thrust into an adult world and his ability to deal with this new reality is tested to the limits.

I’m still undecided on this book – it has many great qualities, but in parts I felt quite rushed through the story and although the affect on Avery’s life was well drawn, the affect on the lives of those around him could have been expanded further. It’s good, but it could have been so much better.

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