Author: Una LaMarche
Genre: YA, contemporary
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
Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share a book that we are eagerly anticipating!
Author: Una LaMarche
Release date: September 1, 2015
Synopsis from Goodreads:
From the author of Like No Other, the novel Entertainment Weekly calls “One of the most poignant and star-crossed love stories since The Fault in Our Stars“: What if the last hope to save your family is the person who broke it up to begin with?
Michelle and her little siblings Cass and Denny are African-American and living on the poverty line in urban Baltimore, struggling to keep it together with their mom in jail and only Michelle’s part-time job at the Taco Bell to sustain them.
Leah and her stepbrother Tim are white and middle class from suburban Maryland, with few worries beyond winning lacrosse games and getting college applications in on time.
Michelle and Leah only have one thing in common: Buck Devereaux, the biological father who abandoned them when they were little.
After news trickles back to them that Buck is dying, they make the uneasy decision to drive across country to his hospice in California. Leah hopes for closure; Michelle just wants to give him a piece of her mind.
Five people in a failing, old station wagon, living off free samples at food courts across America, and the most pressing question on Michelle’s mind is: Who will break down first–herself or the car? All the signs tell her they won’t make it. But Michelle has heard that her whole life, and it’s never stopped her before….
Una LaMarche triumphs once again with this rare and compassionate look at how racial and social privilege affects one family in crisis in both subtle and astonishing ways.
Why I’m excited: I am all about the diversity in this book. I’m also looking forward to what sounds like a big focus on family. I really enjoy books that focus on the what family can mean to a person, whether traditional or not. Honestly, I especially like books that focus on non-traditional and/or diverse families. I feel like this is going to be a super emotional and complex storyline, and I love that. Plus, ROADTRIP. Yes, I know it doesn’t sound like the most wonderful situation, but I can’t wait to read about Michelle and Leah and how they survive.