2/07/2013

Book Review: In the Middle of Nowhere by Julie Ann Knudsen

Title: In the Middle of Nowhere
Author: Julie Ann Knudsen
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format: ebook, 217 pages
Published: April 4th 2012 by Julie Ann Knudsen

A TEENAGE GIRL. A BROKEN HEART. AND A BOY WHO TRIES TO MEND IT.

Butterflies. Little, fluttering butterflies. That’s what fifteen-year-old Willow Flynn feels in the pit of her stomach every time the mysterious boy is near. But Willow has other things to contend with as she deals with the tragic loss of her father, as well as her emotionally preoccupied mother, while being uprooted to a new house, a new school, a new life, far away, on an island, in the middle of nowhere.

At the beginning of the school year, the sickly, but cute Michael sends Willow the first of many cryptic notes during homeroom. He stares at Willow and gives her the creeps. Michael never returns to school after that, but Willow ends up connecting with the poetic boy on-line where they strike up an unusual friendship.

As Willow attempts to fit in and find her niche in the ever-cliquey high school world, she is further confused by Michael who strives to win her over and mend her broken heart. But will he be able to, especially when his own existence remains so uncertain?


In the Middle of Nowhere was a relatively quick and light read. It had good qualities but at the end of the day, there were certain things about it that didn't quite make sense to me so it lost its appeal.

I liked how this book tackled real issues or things experienced by teens, like sneaking out to go to keggers, taking your first hit, or high school politics. It was refreshing how realistic it all was - the author didn't sugarcoat anything. In addition to that, the characters felt real as well. They talked and reacted like regular people and I think that's a nice touch because readers would want to read about characters they could actually relate to, right?

Inasmuch as the characters and the scenarios were realistic, I wasn't able to connect to any of them at all. Sure, I liked them on the surface, but in the end I wasn't hooked. For me to be able to really get into a story, I must feel some sort of connection to the characters, especially the protagonist. Unfortunately, In the Middle of Nowhere fell short in that department for me. I think it has something to do with the emphasis given on each character. I feel like the time spent introducing and building particular characters weren't proportional to their supposed importance in the plot.

Another thing issue I had with the book was the transition of events. A great deal of the story involved Willow and Tessa's hangout sessions at different points of the book, with minor events inserted in between like her fighting with her mom, getting to know Michael, yada yada yada. I just felt like particular events in the book were overemphasized and the more important ones weren't and I think that really affected the transitions. I honestly liked the book in parts but as a whole? Not so much.

But let's move on to my biggest issue with the book: Where the heck was Michael in all this? The synopsis was kind of misleading, including so much of Michael in it when he wasn't even a major part of this book. Maybe he was a big part of the story/Willow's life but it didn't really manifest. He was gone most of the time (why, I won't spoil it for you) and it wasn't like there was much magic going on when he was present. It also annoyed me to some extent when they both started getting mega cheesy about their feelings for each other (Michael was more vocal about it though) when there wasn't much grounding for their relationship (if you can call it that) to begin with. At one point when Willow said she was falling hard for the boy I was thinking, "Well that escalated quickly." It wasn't even the case of the insta love because supposedly they spent time talking and/or chatting on the web so maybe their feelings grew over time. Or something. I don't know. I believe they did have a connection, it just wasn't fleshed out early on. Things that happened around 80% of the book should've happened around 30%. I would've really loved knowing more about Michael and Willow, if only they were given ample time (or pages, whatever) to fully develop and progress.

Even if I had issues with the book, I'd still encourage you to try it out. The many questions and mysteries in the book were answered in the end and I guess that's one other thing to like about it. In addition to that, I just checked out the author's blog and saw that she's working on a sequel because she saw that a lot of readers wanted Michael and Willow's relationship to develop further and she's going to be doing that. Awesome!

In The Middle of Nowhere wasn't my cup of tea, but maybe it's yours. It's light, fun and I assure you there is a happy ending.

My Rating:

(Refer to rating system)

About the author
Julie Ann Knudsen

Julie Ann Knudsen received her B.S. degree in Technical Writing from Clarkson University, but found that she preferred writing creatively, especially after penning the play for her children’s drama club for many years. She lives with her husband and three children in Connecticut.


CONTACT INFORMATION
Website | Goodreads
***I received an e-copy of this book for review.***
 This review is based solely on my opinion.