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DNF Reviews: Six Feet Over It, The Winter People, and Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands

Tuesday, August 19, 2014
Six Feet Over It
Jennifer Longo

Genre: Contemporary   Hardback: 352 Pages
Publication: August 26, 2014 by Random House BFYR

Home is where the bodies are buried.

Leigh sells graves for her family-owned cemetery because her father is too lazy to look farther than the dinner table when searching for employees. Working the literal graveyard shift, she meets two kinds of customers:

Pre-Need: They know what’s up. They bought their graves a long time ago, before they needed them.

At Need: They are in shock, mourning a loved one’s unexpected death. Leigh avoids sponging their agony by focusing on things like guessing the headstone choice (mostly granite).

Sarcastic and smart, Leigh should be able to stand up to her family and quit. But her world’s been turned upside down by the sudden loss of her best friend and the appearance of Dario, the slightly-too-old-for-her grave digger. Surrounded by death, can Leigh move on, if moving on means it’s time to get a life?

From the beginning, I couldn't connect with Leigh. Her voice is loud and over the top. While sometimes this can work for me, I had a hard time just trying to follow her narration and figure out where she's going.

DNF 5% into the novel

A copy was provided by Random House for review

The Winter People
by Rebekah L. Purdy

Genre: YA Fantasy   Hardback: 544 Pages
Publication: September 2, 2014 by Entangled Teen

Salome Montgomery fears winter—the cold, the snow, the ice, but most of all, the frozen pond she fell through as a child. Haunted by the voices and images of the strange beings that pulled her to safety, she hasn't forgotten their warning to "stay away." For eleven years, she has avoided the winter woods, the pond, and the darkness that lurks nearby. But when failing health takes her grandparents to Arizona, she is left in charge of maintaining their estate. This includes the "special gifts" that must be left at the back of the property.

Salome discovers she’s a key player in a world she’s tried for years to avoid. At the center of this world is the strange and beautiful Nevin, who she finds trespassing on her family’s property. Cursed with dark secrets and knowledge of the creatures in the woods, his interactions with Salome take her life in a new direction. A direction where she'll have to decide between her longtime crush Colton, who could cure her fear of winter. Or Nevin who, along with an appointed bodyguard, Gareth, protects her from the darkness that swirls in the snowy backdrop. An evil that, given the chance, will kill her.

The Winter People felt like some clichéd paranormal romance novel. In fact, the premise reminds me of The Iron Fey. Like Meghan Chase, Salome has been growing up next to a world of magic, unaware of the magical circumstances surrounding her. Her mother and grandmother seem to know something about what's going on, but they're keeping secrets from her about the land she's grown up on. The premise is interesting and has a lot of potential. However, I couldn't connect with Salome.

The story does a poor job showing character motivation, and there isn't sufficient internal dialogue for me to understand what's going on in her mind—like, how is she drawn to three different guys? And—I thought she's been into this one guy since forever, so why all the doubts and why check out other guys? Most of all, why are you getting friendly with that guy who shows up randomly on your grandmother's property and claims to know your grandmother? Shouldn't you check with your grandmother first to make sure he's safe?

DNF 20% into the novel - by this point in a novel, I expect to be able to follow the main character and have some idea of where the plot is heading. However, I didn't feel like I got to know Salome even on a superficial level.

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands
by Chris Bohjalian

Genre: YA Science Fiction, Post Apocalyptic   Hardback: 288 Pages
Publication: July 8, 2014 by Doubleday

Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands is the story of Emily Shepard, a homeless girl living in an igloo made of garbage bags in Burlington. Nearly a year ago, a power plant in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont had a meltdown, and both of Emily's parents were killed. Devastatingly, her father was in charge of the plant, and the meltdown may have been his fault—was he drunk when it happened? Thousands of people are forced to leave their homes in the Kingdom; rivers and forests are destroyed; and Emily feels certain that as the daughter of the most hated man in America, she is in danger. So instead of following the social workers and her classmates after the meltdown, Emily takes off on her own for Burlington, where she survives by stealing, sleeping on the floor of a drug dealer's house, inventing a new identity for herself, and befriending a young homeless kid named Cameron. But Emily can't outrun her past, can't escape her grief, can't hide forever-and so she comes up with the only plan that she can.

When I received a request to review this, I just knew I had to pick it up. So many bloggers I love have been praising this book, and it sounded like just the read for me. Unfortunately, I couldn't connect with Emily. She does a lot of stupid, reckless things that made no sense to me whatever. I get that she's in an unusual situation and that there is a psychological explanation for what she does, but it doesn't make it any easier to relate to her. And it doesn't excuse what she does while she's on the streets. She always had another choice, and she consciously chooses to take another route. The pacing of the story also threw me off. While I understand that the rapid and seemingly random scene changes are supposed to reflect a natural train of thought, it made it hard to get into the story and find some stable grounding.

Overall, what I've read of Emily's story left a bad taste in my mouth. I couldn't read anymore of it.

* I do understand that Emily's story reflects the grittier aspects of teen homelessness and is important to consider. It is a story about survival, and it considers important issues. While it wasn't for me, it is certainly a book that I know some readers out there will for appreciate what it brings to the attention of the literary world.

DNF 27% into the novel

Content: cutting, drugs, homelessness, prostitution, PTSD, sex

** Content warnings are from the parts of the novel that I read and may not reflect the entirety of the novel **

2 comments on "DNF Reviews: Six Feet Over It, The Winter People, and Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands"
  1. So sorry these books failed for you, I have only read Bohajalian's book and of course you know I loved it, but I am a huge fan of his work and therefore biased. Great mini reviews, I appreciate that you stated why.

    1. It really was too bad that Bohajalian's book didn't work out for me. I was really looking forward to reading it after reading your review and others!


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