Author: Cat Clarke
Release Date: January 6, 2011
Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc (UK)
17-year-old Grace wakes up in a white room. It has paper, pens, and a table. She has no idea how she got there. As she pours her life onto the page, she's forced to remember everything she's tried to forget: falling in love with Nat and unraveling her relationship with best friend Sal. But something's missing. Is there something she just can't see?
Why is she here?
The book begins like a shot, like a slap in the face, and we're instantly tossed into a white room, trapped alongside Grace as she struggles to figure out what is going on. I was left hanging by my fingernails on the edge, trying desperately to find out why Grace was put in that room, who Ethan is, what the flashbacks to her life before the room mean.
Grace's voice is such a teenage girl's voice, which is what you want to find in a YA novel. She complains and she cries and she mopes around and she talks about how cute Ethan is. The way Cat Clarke writes Grace's annoyance of a fellow bus rider's hair was perfect. Saying reading Grace's voice felt familiar is the best compliment I can make. The way a teenage girl goes on and on about certain topics, drifts in and out, huge run-on thoughts. Drinking (drinking way more that I thought teens drank but this book is set in the UK (not that teens in the UK drink a lot, I'm not making that generalization, I'm just saying I don't remember alcohol playing that big a part in my social life when I was a teenager)). Self-centered. Teenagers often think about themselves, how people upset them/bother them/make them happy, but they can't always see everything that's smack in front of their faces. Grace just felt like such an imperfect, angsty, confused and clueless teenager to me.
I wonder if the names of the characters mean anything. Sal. Nat. Quick and to the point, short, harsh sounds. Grace. Ethan. A bit drawn out, a little more fluid on the tongue.
Now, with a book like this, I'm at a loss to discuss it any further. I could talk about subject A and B, but that might give it all away and ruin the book for any future readers. I will say that I had no idea where the book was going, that I was along for the ride (or kidnapping) just as Grace was, and that I didn't mind not knowing. A book that pulls you along blindly but drops hints. If you figure them out and discover where Grace is, then hopefully you enjoyed the ride and your heart goes out to Grace. If you didn't figure it out, that's ok, perhaps you still liked the book.
Be warned, there may be some words or phrases readers from North America might not understand. I don't think every teenager in the US or Canada knows what a chemist is to teens in the UK (the pharmacist). Don't let it bother you, keep reading.
Captivating from the start, Cat Clarke's debut novel takes readers on a journey with Grace as a sort of blind guide, dragging us through days spent in a white room with paper and pens, pushing us back into her past to show us hints and clues as to her present situation. The ending might surprise you, it might not, but in either case, maybe your heart will still go out to Grace.