Monday, 12 July 2010

Take Me There by Susane Colasanti

"The ups and downs of love and friendship.

Rhiannon is devastated after the break up with her boyfriend and wants him back. But love comes easy for Nicole. Her ex is still in the picture, but she has a new crush. Then there's James, hopelessly in love with Rhiannon, who doesn't see that their friendship can be more. Just when things couldn't get more complicated, the school's resident mean girl decides to ruin everyone's life. James, Nicole, and Rhiannon won't let this slide, but will taking down the mean girl bring these friends what they want?"

Set over the course of a week, this book tells the story of three friends, from each of their perspectives. We start off with Rhiannon, who is devastated at having been dumped by her boyfriend Steve, and desperate to have him back. We follow her story through til the middle of the week, then switch to her best friend Nicole and get those same three days from her POV. Then we get them from their other friend, James. Repeat for the second half of the week/book.

Now, that may make it sound repetitive or boring, or maybe just frustrating because you're going over the same things and obviously these three characters interact a lot. But it actually really works! I loved this book and really struggled to put it down. Yes, stepping back in time means the story stops before moving on, but it's so worth it. You get more of the story from each person, learning more about them, and the other characters. There are three main stories going on, one for Rhiannan, Nicole and James, but there are side stories going on as well. There are bits of information gained via each of the three narrators about other students in the school who also have a story to tell, even if it doesn't take center stage.

The set up works really well because each of the three main characters has a strong voice and something to show. It also means the book doesn't center on a single person, or a couple even. And the added side stories show that these three students are not the only ones in that high school with problems and issues, which I love. I wanted more of some of the side stories as much as I wanted more of Rhiannon, Nicole and James. There was a lot of emotion and feeling, with some surprises to go with the side stories.

Of the three narrators, I'd have to say my least favourite was Rhiannon. I liked her a lot, but for whatever reason I found James and Nicole a little easier to get on with and more likable. But even so, I very much enjoyed all of their sections. The story deepened with each new voice, each new perspective because is showed more of the narrators we'd already seen, but from an outside perspective. It showed a wider world consisting of more than any one person, it showed different aspects to side stories, side characters, and opened up a whole new host of possibilities.

This is not a simple love story, though yes romance has a strong hold in it. But it's as much a coming of age book, of the strength of friendships, of learning who you are and what you're capable of. And how the past changes you, even if you're trying not to let it. Running only gets you so far.

Overall, it was an excellent read. I loved learning more from each character, the new hints at things and how they all learnt over the course of this one week. It shows how little things, or big things, have an impact and how life can change really quickly. The whole story unfolds slowly and carefully, gathering pace towards the end. I found my emotions rising and falling along with Rhiannon, Nicole and James. There are some surprising moments through this book, and while you can see a lot of things coming, it's still done in a way that still left me feeling the impact of the events. This is another author who I've fallen for because she doesn't talk down to readers. Her characters are real and relateable, screwing up, making fools of themselves, learning, they have dreams and ambitions, strength, thoughts, feelings, and they could be any teen in any high school anywhere. Loved this book completely and I can't wait to read the rest of Susane's books. 9/10

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