Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Love You, Hate You, Miss You

Elizabeth Scott continues to impress me as a writer. I firstAdd Video read her work when I got my hands on an advanced reading copy of the amazing though emotionally devastating Living Dead Girl. (I doubt anything can compare to the emotional punch of that novel.) Love You, Hate You, Miss You will be a much more palatable read for a general audience although it too deals with Big Issues—teenage drinking, drug use, and death. Amy survived the car accident that took her best friend, Julia’s, life. Amy blames herself for reasons the reader understands only as the plot develops. The reader can see what Amy cannot, mainly that she isn’t really to blame for the accident though she did play a role in the events leading up to it. Amy, who usually functions through life by drinking booze, goes dry in order to feel all of the bad things the alcohol usually deadens. Amy thinks this should be the least of her punishment—to experience the pain. As she returns to home and school from a teen treatment center, Amy’s work is only just beginning. Socially, she’s isolated. Julia was her closest friend and now she’s gone. Her parents have always seemed like a couple who didn’t need a child and Amy feels like the third wheel. At school, she hears the whispered rumors about her and she’s also stuck in a group project with Patrick, a guy she almost slept with at a party and now can’t face, for reasons that are more sophisticated and complex than shame. This is the strength of Elizabeth Scott’s books—she really gets into the psychology of her characters. There are no easy fixes. Characters’ motivations are complicated, the way human motivations often are.

I liked this one a lot and have very few criticisms of it, the general criticism being that lots of information was repeated, particularly Amy’s notion of her parents not really wanting her. I often felt I was reading the same sentence about the parents, stuck into different parts of the book. Other than that--and my wish for a better title-- there was little to quibble over. It’s a read that captures your attention from the start. Both Amy’s voice and her situation are authentic. This is no morality tale “issues” novel but one that goes deeper than the surface in portraying Amy’s pain and guilt.

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