Monday, September 19, 2011

Review: The Day Before

Lisa Schroeder
Simon Pulse
With her life completely out of her control, Amber disappears to the beach for a day. Away from her family, away from her friends, and away from her problems. One perfect day. She doesn't expect to meet Cade, an interesting boy who seems to be escaping something just like she is. Together they agree to have the perfect day: no regrets, no problems, no questions. But of course, the more Amber gets to know Cade the more she cares about him and the more she wants to ask: what is he running from?

Told in verse (which I love), this book had unlimited potential. A perfect day, no regrets, like the angsty book version of Ferris Beuller's Day Off. And while in some ways the book more than lived up to this potential, in other ways it didn't. For starters, I love novels in verse and this one was written spectacularly. The beauty and simplicity of Lisa Schroeder's poems is so much more than I was expecting. However, because the subject of the book - the thing Amber's trying to escape - isn't revealed until over 75 pages in, the start of her story is confusing. It's clear that she loves her family and that she has amazing friends and without knowing what was going on in her life that was so horrible, it was difficult to connect with her. And the subject matter, once it's revealed, is one that I had many questions about and novels in verse make it difficult to answer a lot of these non-emotional questions, so I was left wanting more explanation for some things.

However, my biggest problem with the book, the main reason I didn't absolutely 100% love it, was because of the relationship between Amber and Cade. Her attraction to Cade is incredibly fast, especially considering how little they knew about each other. In her mind she connected with him on a deep and very real level, and though I saw this connection between them to a certain extent, it didn't come across as powerfully as Amber felt it and the character of Cade on his own was, while not unappealing, definitely more boring than I would have expected for the majority of the book. I wanted more focus on Amber's story and the book's huge focus on the romance between Amber and Cade never captivated me. Much of my ambivalence about Cade was redeemed in the book's ending, but I'd rather not say any more about that because I really, definitely don't want to spoil anything that happens.

That all said, can we please go back to the writing of this book? Because the straight-to-the-heart simplicity of the poems is the exact reason I love verse novels so much. They're emotionally charged without sidelining into wordiness and purple prose. At its best, a novel written in verse is relatable and heart-tugging even if, as in the case of this book, the characters and their problems are very different from your own. And The Day Before achieved that level of relatability. Amber's love for her mother, her confusion at the crazy way her life was spinning out of control, was written so well, as were the many little moments captured during her day with Cade. So while the romance may not have captivated me, the story and especially the writing definitely did.

1 comment:

  1. I had a lot of the same problems with this one that you did. While I agree that some of the writing was really well done (I loved it when Schroeder played with the formatting on the page), I didn't think it was all good. Too much of it felt rushed, and the fact that the story was half-baked didn't help, either.