Tuesday, April 13, 2021

A Better Bad Idea by Laurie Devore

A Better Bad Idea by Laurie Devore
Release Date - March 16, 2021 
Publisher Website - Raincoast Books
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating - 4.5/5
**received for an honest review**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Laurie Devore's new YA novel is a searing look at a forgotten girl who has no good choices left, but one better bad idea . . .

Evelyn Peters is desperate. Desperate for a way out of McNair Falls, the dying southern town that’s held her captive since the day she was born. Desperate to protect her little sister from her mother’s terrifying and abusive boyfriend. And desperate to connect with anyone, even fallen golden boy Ashton Harper, longtime boyfriend of the girl Evelyn can never stop thinking about ― beautiful, volatile, tragically dead Reid Brewer.

Until a single night sends Evelyn and Ashton on a collision course that starts something neither of them can stop. With one struck match, their whole world goes up in flames. The only thing left to do is run―but leaving McNair Falls isn’t as easy as just putting distance between here and there and some secrets refuse to stay left behind.

A reckoning is coming . . . and not everyone is getting out alive.
A Better Bad Idea focuses on three complex, messy teenagers who get caught up in a destructive whirlwind. It focuses on two girls just trying to survive their small town by grabbing on to whatever seems like a lifeline. It looks at the different ways their story could end and it makes no apologies for who these girls are or the choices they make.

The prose in this book is fantastic. The writing is always strong in books by this author and fans of her previous work will undoubtedly love this one as well. Characterization is where the writing really shines with them becoming vivid, fully realized characters. It really is the strongest element of the story and why readers will connect with thr story.

Laurie Devore has become known for her female characters and how she allows them to be flawed and unapologetic. Evelyn is no exception to this. A girl who society let fall unnoticed and who reacts as a result. She is the type of character whose actions the reader may not agree with. They may not be able to see her choices as choices they would make. They will, however, be able to understand her and therefore her actions. It is easy to see things through her perspective because she is such a well constructed character. She is messy and makes mistakes but she still matters and the writing ensures the reader sees this and the character.

This book is told via dual narration with Evelyn and Reid's point of views being told in alternate chapters. We know how Reid's story ends pretty much immediately and it is not a happy ending. The book barrels towards Reid's demise and the reveal of Evelyn’s fate with both an increased tension and resignation. There is some catharsis wrapped in there but it is a harrowing path to get there. Reid has her own flaws and makes her own mistakes but I think her and Evelyn’s stories compliment and contrast each other in interesting ways that bring out the themes of the book and highlight the fact that these girls have fallen through the cracks and make desperate choices while trying to find what they think will be their salvation. 

This book deals with some hard topics like toxic relationships, domestic violence, alcoholism, and more. It goes without saying that it could be triggering for some readers so pick this one up with care. There is a lot of thought provoking questions this book is asking and so I definitely think it is worth the read for those who are able.

A story of two young girls. One already dead and the other trying to survive. It's another intensely readable novel from Laurie Devore that asks us to see girls like Evelyn and Reid. See them and understand them - flaws and all.

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