Author: Jenny Torres Sanchez
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: January 3, 2017
Dani Falls learned to tolerate her existence in suburban Florida with her brash and seemingly unloving mother by embracing the philosophy Why care? It will only hurt. So when her mother is killed in a sudden and violent manner, Dani goes into an even deeper protection mode, total numbness. It’s the only way she can go on.
But when Dani chooses The Stranger by Albert Camus as summer reading for school, it feels like fate. The main character’s alienation after his mother’s death mirrors her own.
Dani’s life is thrown into further turmoil when she is sent to New Mexico to live with an aunt she never knew she had. The awkwardness between them is palpable. To escape, Dani takes long walks in the merciless heat. One day, she meets Paulo, who understands how much Dani is hurting. Although she is hesitant at first, a mutual trust and affection develop between Dani and Paulo, and Dani begins to heal. And as she and her aunt begin to connect, Dani learns about her mother’s past. Forgiving isn’t easy, but maybe it’s the only way to move forward.
I wanted to like this. I sooooooo wanted to like this. Unfortunately, I just...
So the premise of this book really had me. First off, Dani lived in Florida, and hey! I live in Florida! So I thought, "Cool, this will hopefully be awesome." But there were so many problems with this book. This is going to be very ranty, and possibly spoilery. You have been warned.
It's not explained in the synopsis how Dani's mother dies. By the synopsis, I had figured she was murdered. But nope! She was mauled to death by a bear. Yeah. Now, this may not seem like something to bother me, except that things like this--people misunderstanding bears and always attributing them to attacking people--are why in 2015 in Florida almost 300 bears were killed in the bear hunt. Bears that did nothing aside from exist in Florida. My point is that bear attacks are extremely rare, even in Florida where we have a large bear population. Even in Canada and Alaska. And it's even rarer to die from a bear attack.
Living in an area that is known to have a large bear population, I'm also aware of the fact that the last bear attack that happened was because people were being dumb shits and feeding the bears. Because WHY?!
Anyway, it was obvious to me from the beginning of this book I would not enjoy it. But it was so short, I figured I would just finish it anyway. So the book is divided into three parts even though it should be four. The first part is just after Dani's mother is killed. And I can honestly say I don't understand this whole being numb thing. She was so disconnected that she missed days and weeks and didn't know what was going on anywhere. It didn't seem numb to me. It seemed like a poor portrayal of depression.
In the second part, Dani goes to live with her Aunt Shelly, and she walks in the sun without drinking water because -shrug- and she steals things from a gas station because -shrug-. She has no idea why she does things, she just knows that she has to.
What I would call the third part is the only part of the book I actually enjoyed. It's a large section from Shelly's pov about her past with Dani's mother and their parents, how abusive their father was, and how they were saved by neighbors. I liked this part because it didn't have Dani in it.
Then we're back to the last part (the actual third part), and we're back to Dani. Ugh. She understands things now but she still acts all weird and I can't figure out why. Dani isn't just numb. She's disconnected, and it made it impossible to feel anything for her. I couldn't connect with her at all, and I just kind of hated her.