When Love Is Complicated: A Review of The Convincing Hour
This is the second of three YA book reviews I'm posting here. Each is a 5-star read that explores interesting, original and complex themes with memorable characters from diverse backgrounds.
Why I Loved This Book
Author Ann Roberts has an impressive back list of books in two genres--romance and mystery. This is her first Young Adult novel told from the point of view of her main character, teenage Story Black. But Roberts' experience with other genres is put to good use here. The Convincing Hour is a well plotted novel with an important twist toward the end and with all the heart and soul you'd expect from a solid romance.
If that isn't enough, the book tackles so many important issues--poverty, addiction, homophobia, economic inequality, education, and privilege--without being heavy-handed about any of them.
What The Book Is About
Story Black lives in a trailer park with her meth-addicted mother, a genius who hasn't been able to use her impressive brain to benefit either her or her daughter. When Story learns that Char Barnaby, a local billionaire, has created a special high school called Tabula Rasa for intellectually-gifted teens caught up in the juvenile justice system, Story holds up a store in order to get thrown into juvenile detention and get a chance to leave her middling public high school for something better.
When Story eventually comes to the attention of Char, who invites her to the school, it's Story's mother who becomes an obstacle, objecting to Char's insistence that Story (and all other students at Tabula Rasa) live apart from their parents permanently until they graduate. Thus begins an ongoing struggle between Patty (Story's mother), Char, and Story herself.