May 2, 2016

Book Review: "Juventud" by Vanessa Blakeslee

(CCLaP is dedicated to reviewing as many contemporary books as possible, including self-published volumes; click here to learn how to submit your own book for possible review, although be warned that it needs to have been published within the last 18 months to be considered. For the complete list of all books reviewed here, as well as the next books scheduled to be read, click here.)

Juventud, by Vanessa Blakeslee

Juventud
By Vanessa Blakeslee
Curbside Splendor
Reviewed by Jason Pettus

Yes, yes, I know, an author has every right in the world to write about characters and situations that are vastly different than their personal life, and it's unfair to disparage a book just because the person who penned it doesn't seem "authentic enough" to get away with it; but that said, it's hard not to read Vanessa Blakeslee's Juventud without constantly thinking about the disparity of the subject in this case, of a white New England academe who's written a hefty novel all from the viewpoint of a teenage Latina girl in Central America, whose life takes a series of dramatic turns because of her father's role in a local drug cartel. I mean, I don't want to give the wrong impression; the book is well-written, and hits all the notes you would want from a solidly constructed three-act novel (and is also, by the way, one of the most beautifully designed books in the history of Curbside Splendor, and Curbside has put out a whole bunch of beautifully designed books over the years). But it's also an overly precious novel in that way you often see from full-time academic writers, a big turnoff for me and a lot of others; and it's also pushing a rather overt political agenda, and I'm not a fan of novels that primarily exist to make a political point. Definitely worth picking up if these things don't bother you, it can also be easily skipped if like me they do.

Out of 10: 7.4, or 8.4 for fans of MFA novels

Read even more about Juventud: Official site | Amazon | GoodReads | LibraryThing

Filed by Jason Pettus at 7:40 AM, May 2, 2016. Filed under: Literature | Literature:Fiction | Reviews |