Survivor Story

I've had my eye on this one for a while. Daphne Grab is one of the Longstockings, a group of YA writers whose blog I read faithfully in order to live vicariously through them. Alive and Well in Prague, New York has a title to die for and a pretty cover. That package is what drew me into the book, and I'm so glad it did.

Matisse Osgood is one of those kids who grows up in Manhattan and can't imagine life outside the city. But when her father's Parkinson's Disease gets to be too much, the family moves away from all that hustle and bustle (and the site of dad's now-stagnant art career) to the upstate town of Prague. It's the kind of place where people wear overalls and go on hayrides. Not so cool to Matisse.

"What Girls Want" (incidentally cited by Librarilly Blonde as "the dumbest article ever written about YA literature"), Atlantic writer Caitlin Flanagan notes the significance of The Big Move in teen fiction:
The only thing as difficult for a girl as a divorce—if we are to judge from stories aimed at the teen market—is a move. Relocating is what led to the drug addiction, prostitution, and death that freaked out a generation of readers in Go Ask Alice, and to the teenybopper dipsomania of Sarah T.: Portrait of a Teenage Alcoholic. In the most perfectly constructed young-adult novel of the past few decades, Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, Judy Blume heightened the anxiety in her tale of a girl awaiting her first period by beginning the story with Margaret’s move to the suburbs.
I would add Tiger Eyes to that list, too; I had the story of Davey Wexler—who moves from Atlantic City to New Mexico after her father's death—in the back of my mind all through Alive and Well. They're both about girls who need to figure things out in their own way, in their own time. Both have the help of a wise boy on their way through that journey. (Anyone else remember Wolf? He was only one of the hottest YA love interests ever.)

Alive and Well in Prague, New York
conveys complicated feelings through simple words. It's a little book with a lot of heart, and I really like the way the "country" kids are portrayed as human beings, too.


Steph said...

I actually have this on my TBR! Very nice to see you liked it :D