Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book #32: Notes from the Blender

Notes from the Blender is rather interesting in its construction: it is written by two authors, Trish Cook and Brendan Halpin. I'm sure that co-authorship can be a risky thing. What if things don't flow? What if the authors' visions for the book don't align perfectly? What if they don't use the same voices? Lots can go wrong with a single book penned by more than one author. With Notes from the Blender, though, everything with the co-authorship goes quite right.

The realistic novel is the story of Declan and Neilly and their families, which suddenly combine much to both teenagers' surprise. You see, Declan's dad, widowed after Dec's mother died in his youth, is going to marry Neilly's mom, who is divorced from Neilly's now openly gay father. In true YA novel style, Declan is very not cool, yet Neilly is. The sudden throwing together of their modern blended family, complete with new sibling on the way, is a setting that can really explore a lot of the themes of being a teen in high school: friendship, relationships, parental tension, rebellion, sticking up for oneself, questioning one's beliefs, sexuality... you name it, it's here somehow. And because Cook pens Neilly's sections and Halpin writes Declan's, the voices and tone of the book are so extremely genuine. Dec has real high school boy thoughts, and Neilly has real high school girl thoughts. What could have been just another realistic YA novel trying to capture some faux aspect of growing up suddenly becomes a funny, heart-warming story about real people.

I loved the characters and tone in Notes from the Blender--I'll definitely be keeping this title in mind when discussions of multi-author books come up. And while the cover makes the story seem extremely lighthearted and run-of-the-mill high-school-issues, the story really is a genuinely good and interesting one. I'd suggest it to readers who enjoy YA realistic fiction, subtle explorations of teenage spirituality, and stories about quirky families.

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