ARC Review: Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche

Don't Fail Me Now by Una LaMarcheAuthor:  Una LaMarche
Genre: YA, contemporary
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: September 1, 2015
288 pages, hardcover (273 ARC)

Check out the full synopsis on Goodreads.

NOTE: I was provided with an ARC of this book through the Decatur Book Festival as Una was on one of the panels I moderated. This does not influence my review.

Don’t Fail Me Now is a unique, diverse, moving road-trip novel chock full of interesting characters and all the feels. Forced into a terrible situation by their absentee mother, Michelle, Cass, and Denny (three African American children surviving on Michelle’s part time job at Taco Bell) join forces with their newly found half-sister Leah and her stepbrother Tim (white, middle-class, and taken care of) on a cross-country road trip to meet Buck, their dying father who left them years ago. Nothing goes as planned and the hardships the group faces both brings them closer together and pushes them farther apart. Michelle is a strong character who takes care of her family; she’s been through a lot in her short life and doesn’t let it get to her. I think this shows what an incredible, hardworking character she is, but I also appreciated the scenes where it is very obvious that she is only human.

I think my main issue was that, while race and white-privilege are brought up, they aren’t as well-addressed as I would have liked. I think the story could have gone a little deeper into these issues. My other complaint was the middle part of the book, which dragged a bit to me, especially considering the strong beginning.

The bottom line: Diversity; road-trip; strong main character; hardships and persistence. If any of those things sound like something you’d like, pick this one up.

Rating: 6.5 – between good, but not great and pretty good

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4 thoughts on “ARC Review: Don’t Fail Me Now by Una LaMarche

  1. Thanks for this review. I decided to avoid this one because I don’t think it would work for me on a very basic personal level but I’m glad to hear that for the most part it’s a solid read I can recommend. Isn’t it sad, though, when books have the potential to start meaty discussions and then fall short of addressing those topics within the text?

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