Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Funny How Things Change Review


I've really fallen off the wagon here. Ouch. Well, I'm back now and I certainly missed my blog! I have about four books in the queue with my TBR pile still mounting and that silly novel... oh my. Luckily, this book is easy to gush about.

Funny How Things Change

by Melissa Wyatt


I saw Melissa Wyatt making the blog rounds doing many interviews about her new book and I knew I had to check it out. When I finally saw it at my local library I was so excited.

Remy isn't a dumb guy nor is he unambitious. He just knows that college is not the right path for him and mostly everyone in his life understands that. However, his girlfriend Lisa is right for him and she's moving away from the small town of Dwyer, West Virginia to attend college in Pennsylvania. Dwyer has always been Remy's home but when Lisa asks him to move with her one more time he finds himself saying yes. Now Remy has to figure out how to tell his dad and his old life goodbye while he and Lisa face the realities of living on their own in another state. Along the way he meets Dana, a college student who is doing a summer project in Dwyer and as they help each other navigate new territory Remy realizes that he might have to make some very difficult decisions.

Funny How Things Change is a slim book compared to most YA novels nowadays, just under 200 pages, but it is a rich, deep, concentrated read. The story lingered in my mind long after I closed the book for the final time. The prose throughout the novel is simple but rich with imagery and feeling. The reader really gets a complete view of Dwyer. Not only do we see the mountains and the dirt roads that exist there but we also get to know the history of the town and the people and most important we get to discover Dwyer's place in the world. I was impressed by how this town became a character just like Remy, Lisa and Dana.

Remy's personal emotional journal was well-crafted. I liked how the outside events and people in his life served as the catalyst for his self-growth but he did not come to any conclusions or decisions solely because of other people. Remy is a character that you can instantly love. He is not perfect but his self-awareness and his struggle make him someone you can really root for. Remy, as a character, is richly layered and completes a series of changes throughout the novel that make his final decision something personal that the reader can really accept from him. Third-person is not a common narrative in YA novels but this POV really complements the novel and there is no unnecessary distance between Remy and the reader. One of the problems with third person is that sometimes the reader comes to conclusions about the character before the character gets there. With this novel I felt connected with Remy the whole time. The reader will definitely take his journey right along with him, every step of the way. The secondary characters were also enjoyable, interesting and carefully nuanced. I loved the dialogue, a source of much of the humor in the novel as well as many important explanations.

The setting is portrayed masterfully throughout the novel. The mountains, the roads, the buildings and the people that comprise Dwyer as always present but not in an overshadowing way. Wyatt has a gift for description that is simple yet hearty enough for the reader to imagine everything that is happening in the scene. From the auto shop to Remy's trailer to Lisa's house to the creek running on Walker Mountain and the water tower that Dana paints so carefully I felt completely at ease with the setting even though Dwyer is unlike any place I've ever lived before. The setting breathes life into the story and is very important to Remy's life. I was very impressed by how everything was written.

Even though the book is relatively short it is a novel you read slowly so you can linger with the language and really see and hear everything in your head. There is a lot to digest but I enjoyed every moment of it. This is a sophisticated novel, one that might create a love story in your own life starring you and this book. Highly recommended. Go ahead and pick this one up today.