For a long time, I avoided many contemporary YA reads because I often found that they couldn’t nail an even or realistic tone when it comes to real life issues and drama. But lately, I ventured back in contemporary YA, finding some truly wonderful reads and able to look at them from a more mature standpoint, now that I’m older. The latest book I read is Jordanna Fraiberg’s Our Song.
Our Song follows Olive, a teenager who just survived a near fatal car accident. Despite her protests, everyone thinks her car crash was a suicide attempt, seeing that it supposedly happen right after her relationship with her boyfriend, Derek, had ended. The events of that night remain murky in Olive’s mind, as she tries to recuperate from the accident and a broken heart.
Things aren’t going well for Olive until she meets the mysterious but interesting Nick, who whisks her away, showing her parts of LA she’s never seen before. But like her, Nick is haunted by love and herself.
Our Song has a great message. It’s a story about feeling self-empowered and learning to love one’s self in order to love others. It’s hard to fault the story at hand with its shortcomings. Those shortcoming being its pacing and predictability. The book is slow; it takes a while for it get going and become interesting. It didn’t grab me right away; it wasn’t until Nick was formally introduced that I began to really settle into the narrative. Along with the pacing, its predictability doesn’t help. If anything, it made it boring at times.
I expected the tone of the novel to be mostly dark, especially since death and suicide are topics at play. I wish Fraiberg explored those themes a little farther. The first reaction I get from this book is to call it a “light” read, which is I think the opposite of what it should be. I wish there was more heaviness, and I don’t mean for it be overly dreary. Life is a mixture of happy and sad, light and dark. The tone in Our Song just needed a bit more balancing.
I’m glad I finished Our Song because while it was mostly predictable, the ending was a lot more satisfying than expected. Another thing this book gets right is that Olive is likable and relatable to a degree. You want to see her overcome her low self-esteem. Along with her best friend, Annie, you’re encouraging and rooting for her to finally stand up to that asshole Derek. Then, the string that connects the whole narrative together, the mystery song that plays in Olive’s head ends up getting an explanation that was actually quite nice and cool. At first, I thought the whole “song” thing would be mostly treated with ambiguity. I’m glad it got a sort of literal explanation and emotional one at that.
Despite its misses, Our Song manages to be an enjoyable read with a great ending. The ending and book’s message pay off for the uneven tone and slow pacing. I recommend it for those looking for a summer read that is a little deeper than the usual fare.
Our Song by Jordanna Fraiberg is now available wherever books are sold. Support The Young Folks and purchase the book at our TYF Store, powered by Amazon.
Publisher: Razorbill (May 2, 2013)
Length: 352 pages (Hardcover)
Source: ARC (Provided by publisher)
Genre: Young Adult, Death, Teen Issues, Romance
Completed: May 2013