Rummanah Aasi

  I am participating in the Teen Book Scene blog tour for Maggie Gelbwasser's debut novel titled Inconvenient. Much thanks to Teen Book Scene for including me on this tour. Please stay tuned tomorrow when I interview Maggie about her book!

Description: Alyssa is the daughter of Russian Jews who came to America when she was four. She lives in an uneventful suburb of New Jersey, trying to survive high school where she can't seem to fit in. While everything on the surface seems to be smooth, behind closed doors Alyssa's mother is drinking and can't seem to stop. Alyssa tries to cover up for her mother and though her father is aware of the situation, he just believes it's just a mere inconvenience to their lives. Will Alyssa's mother finally admit she has a problem and will she seek help with her addiction?
Review: Identifying and exploring the Russian-Jewish-American culture and alcoholism are key elements in Gelbwasser's first young adult novel. Alyssa is forced to deal with her mother's alcoholism alone. At first she believes her mother is unwinding from a stressful project for her job, but soon witnesses that her mother's drinking has become uncontrollable. Instead of speaking about the white elephant in her house, Alyssa's father absorbs himself in the evening news, hoping that the problem will magically go away. Alyssa can't and won't talk to anyone about her problems at home because she's afraid of the shame that will be brought on to her family. Like her father, Alyssa focuses on her own social life where she is trying to make sense of the mixed signals she is receiving from her potential boyfriend Keith and see her best friend, Lana, is trying desperately to fit in with a popular clique. 
  The two subplots involving Keith and Lana are unnecessary to the book and don't really add anything to the story. What I loved most about this book is how the main story line featuring Alyssa's mother and alcoholism is dealt with in the book. Like many contemporary problem novels, Inconvenient does not solve all the characters' problems neatly by the end of the book. Alyssa confronts her dad and mother about the problem. She finally garners the support of her father, and together they help her mother face her illness. We watch as her mother go through the cycles of recovery, but it remains to be seen if her mother is able to remain sober.     
   Gelbwasser's characters are very well done. Alyssa is well-developed and likable. She is aware of her surroundings. She has a strong sense of self. Lana's desperation to be noticed by the popular crowd and slowly losing her own identity is sad to see but it does seem real. Alyssa's parents' desire to pretend everything is fine was also realistic albeit frustrating. Gelbwasser's depiction of Russian immigrant culture is interesting, particularly the aspects of how much drinking is involved in the culture, since I didn't know much about it before reading this book. Though the subplots slowed down the pacing of the book, I would recommend it to readers looking for a realistic depiction of how the issue of alcoholism is addressed in the book.

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: Since the book is about alcoholism, there are many scenes where alcohol is involved. There is also some language as well as a few intense make-out scenes. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Recovery Road by Blake Nelson or Love You, Hate You, Miss You by Elizabeth Scott 



2 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Too bad on the unnecessary subplots, it's always a little frustrating when you get pulled out of a storyline you're interested in to go off somewhere that doesn't add anything to the overall story. Other than that, I'm really liking the sound of this one!


  2. Jenny: The subplots are only a minor flaw. I really liked how the issues are realistically portrayed. Nothing wasn't magically solved.


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