Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab

Prague, New York is not Manhattan. It’s not even close. Their idea of fun is to go swimming in a pond. Seriously. Matisse Osgood, though, is a Manhattan girl, recently transplanted to Prague because her father (who has Parkinson’s, though the family prefers not to talk about it) needs a quieter life. Matisse is not happy. She misses independent film, good clothing stores, schools without cheerleaders, and all the rest, and she’s going to let everyone know it. She makes one friend in Prague, Violet, who is as unimpressed with the town as Matisse, though Violet has been there her whole life. Together, the two of them turn up their noses at everything and everyone in Prague while Matisse studiously avoids discussing anything that might turn personal. As debilitating diseases, do, though, her father’s Parkinson’s doesn’t magically disappear, and the family tension gets worse and worse. The queen bee cheerleader finds out that Mr. Osgood is sick, but misinterprets it and starts a rumor that he’s an addict, and Matisse realizes that this fiction is even more painful than anyone finding out the truth. But what can she do? If she does nothing, she’ll keep getting the looks that they’re giving her for having an addict father. If she tells the truth, it could turn into a big pity party. On top of all of that, some of these Prague-ites just won’t leave her alone. How can she get super-sweet Hal to quit butting in? How can she get Marco to stop showing up at her lunch table? Does she even want them to? And what’s going to happen with her dad?

In the end, I mostly liked this one. It took me about half the book to figure Matisse out, though; for the whole first half I half wanted to smack her for being so snotty about city vs. country life, and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why she wouldn’t just tell people about her dad. I mean, it’s Parkinson’s! They’ve heard of it. They may not know the details, but it’s not like it’s something to be ashamed of. I finally started to get her, though, and recognize the giant walls she was building around herself. After that, it was easier to root for Matisse, and even like her. This was a quick read and will be fun for most (especially those with a bit of city-envy, I think), and will be comforting for any teen facing problems similar to Matisse’s.

No comments: