ALTHEA AND OLIVER by Cristina Moracho
Kirkus Star

ALTHEA AND OLIVER

Age Range: 14 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

This ain’t no fairy tale: This raw coming-of-age novel captures the listless wanderings of teens at loose ends.

Althea is always waiting for Oliver to wake up. Plagued by a mysterious affliction that renders him nearly comatose for weeks at a time, Oliver’s increasingly unpredictable absences test his lifelong friendship with Althea at precisely the moment that the mounting sexual tension between them reaches the limits of plausible deniability. After a particularly intense bout causes him to sleep through the summer before their senior year, he wakes to find that life has gone on both with and without him, with startling consequences. At turns gritty and gooey, Oliver and Althea’s evolving relationship unfolds in a warts-and-all narration that alternates between the two, deftly capturing the purgatorial crossroads between youth and adulthood. Moracho’s descriptions are vivid and arresting—a potent cocktail of speed and Southern Comfort “unbutton[s] [Althea’s] diffidence like a blouse and cast[s] it aside” at a punk-rock concert—which both grounds the story in familiar details and filigrees it with poetic flourishes. There is rich potential for crossover appeal here; while Althea and Oliver’s fumbling progress toward maturity will resonate with teens currently in the angst-filled trenches, the characters’ worldly-wise perspectives on their own histrionics will give adult readers reason to nod and sigh in appreciative recognition: Growing up is a messy business.

Mesmerizing. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Oct. 9th, 2014
ISBN: 978-0-670-78539-1
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Viking
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1st, 2014




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