Thursday, September 9, 2010

Review: The View from the Top by Hillary Frank

I picked this up for one reason: the Publisher's Weekly review said it was an "intimate exploration of postgraduate ennui," which I'll admit kind of made me giggle, but also interested me because I love YA that explores the upper age limit of the genre. There are lots of stories about 15 and 16 year olds falling in and out of love, but fewer that explore that precarious time when one really begins to transition from "kid" to "adult."

The View from the TopIt's Annabelle's last summer in her small coastal hometown before she heads off to Oberlin to study music in the fall, and it's a season of questions and change. She breaks up with her longtime boyfriend, but doesn't choose to pursue his best friend, even though she's had a huge crush on him. Instead she starts hanging out with a tourist girl, in town just for the summer. Other players in Annabelle's story include her boyfriend's little sister, who has long had a crush on the beautiful older girl, and another musician, who is also in love with Annabelle and doesn't know how to show it. The story of their summer is told from their various points of view.

Annabelle is the center of this story. Which is all well and good...if I found her to be at all likable. Ennui is one thing, but I never found Annabelle to be at all sympathetic, as she was rather self-absorbed, and I couldn't understand why she was at the center of so many people's lives. The story has a strong premise, examining how one person's actions or inaction can affect the lives around her like ripples in a lake, and the end of high school is the perfect setting for such a story, but Annabelle was far too shaky of a foundation to build such a story on.
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