Rummanah Aasi
  Author Sarah Ockler might ring a bell for a few of you. Her 2009 debut, Twenty Boy Summer, was unfortunately and, I think,  randomly targeted in a book challenge along with Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson just this year by a professor in St. Louis. You can read more about the challenge and my reaction on this by reading this post. Note: the article is no longer available online. Like her debut novel, Fixing Delilah is also about loss, grief, but also about love and hope.

Description: Delilah is falling apart. She is losing friends, disinterested in school, and spending way too much time with her non-boyfriend. A phone call announcing the death of her estranged grandmother, however, changes everything. When she visits her family's house in Vermont, she begins to unravel tightly held secrets that her tore family apart. Delilah is desperate to find out the truth, but is she willing to deal with the truth?

Review: Fixing Delilah is a delightful read. As the book opens, Delilah and her mother are on their way to Vermont to arrange a funeral for Delilah's now deceased grandmother and to take care of her estate. Delilah will spend her summer in Vermont instead of the usual partying and hanging out in her hometown in Pennsylvania. During her stay, she tries to get her emotionally distant and workaholic mother to open up about her family. Delilah doesn't remember much of her grandmother and even much less about Aunt Stephanie, whose name is never mentioned by her mother or Aunt Rachel.
  The more Delilah pushes her mother, the more resistant her mother becomes. Delilah can't help but feel that her grandmother's and aunt's death are some how connected to the strained relationship she has with her once close mother. She is terrified that the same cycle will continue to carry on in the present and future. As you can see, there is a mystery element that drives the story of Fixing Delilah. We are given bits and pieces of the past. One question leads to another and essentially where are given three questions to solve: What happened to Stephanie? What was the fight that tore apart Delilah's family 8 years ago? Can this once broken family be connected again? Although these are interesting questions, I thought they fell flat in the story and they didn't hold my interest. For one thing, we are told too much information right away and then large hints are given throughout the book, which is why I was able to solve the mystery before Delilah. The mystery aspect of this book, in my opinion, is the book's weakness.
  What I really liked about Fixing Delilah is the sweet romance between Delilah and Patrick, a childhood friend whom she instantly reconnects with during her stay at Vermont. Their relationship is based on friendship and slowly becomes more. They actually do talk and share their opinions on their lives, which is nice after the numerous "love at first sight" and "my heart aches when I'm not with him" stories that I have been reading lately. Their romance is sweet, realistic, and lyrically portrayed in Fixing Delilah. It's the chapters that develop Delilah and Patrick's relationship that made me continue to read the book.
  I also enjoyed the cast of characters in the book too. I had a hard time at first in liking Delilah, but I warmed up to her as she starts to break down the walls she builds around her. Like Delilah, her mother also goes through a transformation from being cold, robot-like to being warm and vulnerable. Aunt Rachel has a new age vibe that contrasts the coldness of Delilah's mother and me smile on numerous times in the book. My favorite character, however, is Patrick. I instantly knew I would love him when he is first seen reading his annotated copy of  The Cather in the Rye and then more so with his music. The family secrets, sweet romance, and the homey feel of a small town make Fixing Delilah a good read. Fans of Deb Caletti's and Sarah Dessen's novels will feel right at home with Ockler's latest book.

Rating: 3.5 stars

Words of Caution: There is some language in the book and some allusions to sex.

If you like this book try: Guyaholic by Carolyn Mackler, Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen, The Queen of Everything by Deb Caletti
2 Responses
  1. Jenny Says:

    Really wonderful and balanced review Rummanah, you always do a fabulous job of pointing out strengths and weaknesses. Too bad on the mystery element in this one, but I'm so glad to read that relationship is overly full of pining and instant love:)

  2. Thanks, Jenny. I think if the mystery was built into the relationships, it might have been better. However, by itself, it just seems superfluous.

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