Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Not Like You by Deborah Davis

Kayla is 15 and has moved around a lot. Her mother is an alcoholic and tries to sober up by moving her and Kayla to a new place for a new beginning. The new beginnings usually don’t take for very long. Soon enough her mom starts drinking and Kayla seeks out comfort in the form of a boy who’s never treats her like he should.

When the family moves to New Mexico, Kayla isn’t expecting much. She starts up her dog walking business to earn money for bills. Her mother looks to finding a new job and tries to keep sober. And things chug along like they might turn out ok for once. The thing is Kayla’s angry. She’s angry at her mom for being a drunk, she’s angry that she never has enough money, and she’s lonely enough to turn to an older boy for consolation. When things turn sour at home, she decides that what she really needs to do is take off and create a new beginning of her own.

I liked this book, but there were things about it that bothered me. I understood the anger that Kayla felt about her mom. Her mom was never able to stay sober for long, she couldn’t keep jobs, she depended on Kayla to pay bills after she spent the money on booze. But for all that, she wasn’t as horrible as she could have been. She didn’t beat Kayla, she didn’t sexually abuse her, she didn’t rent her out by the hour, she obviously loved her – she was just unable to get control of her addictions. So although I understood the anger, I felt like it was also a whole lot of “poor lil’ol me” going on. I kept thinking, things are not ideal, but they could be so so so much worse. Something I think (maybe?) Kayla realized by the end of the book. In the end, the self-pity worked for me. I believed Kayla, even if I didn’t like her as much as I wanted to. One thing I would have liked to have seen was a bit more character development, a bit more internal growth. I think that Kayla took a journey in this book, but it wasn’t reflected enough with increased maturity.

Now Kayla’s relationship with Remy was spot on. Remy is 24 year old singer with a band. He’s gorgeous and talented. He’s also interested in Kayla who he thinks is 17 turning 18. I wasn’t sure what the author wanted me to think about Remy. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to think he was a user and a bad guy. I didn’t. I actually kind of liked him. I’ll admit he was a bit of a user, he was somewhat selfish, he cared more about himself than others. But he had a goal and he wanted to achieve it, he also acted on information provided by Kayla, even if he should have seen through it at times. I also think he genuinely liked her, but that her insecurities about her self-worth created situations where it was easy to just go with it and take advantage.

The other characters were enjoyable. There was Luz, a teen mother who become’s Kayla’s first friend in a long time. Sherrie and Shirley the lovely ladies who own a used clothing store who befriend Kayla as well. Redbud, the landlord who isn’t quite who you think he’s going to turn out to be. And how could I not mention Rebel, Cocoa, or Elvis, the animals who are so central to Kayla’s life. As a dog owner, the situation with Rebel just broke my heart. But no worries, it isn’t a dead dog book.

1 comment:

michfig said...

Dear Deborah Davis,

Your books inspire me in so many way's.I just fall right in the book.I feel like I'm the 15 year old Kayla.She's a very strong girl just like me.I just can't wait to read more of your books.
Your my favourite auther Deborah.

From Michelle :)