This is not the sort of book I usually go for. YA contemporary is not my jam. Usually, if I decide to read a contemporary novel, it would be an adult novel. But I’m glad that Page Street Publishing reached out and sent an advanced copy of Home and Away for me to review. (Thanks y’all!) I was surprised I enjoyed it.
October 16, 2018
Tasia Quirk is young, Black, and fabulous. She’s a senior, she’s got great friends, and a supportive and wealthy family. She even plays football as the only girl on her private high school’s team.
But when she catches her mamma trying to stuff a mysterious box in the closet, her identity is suddenly called into question. Now Tasia’s determined to unravel the lies that have overtaken her life. Along the way, she discovers what family and forgiveness really mean, and that her answers don’t come without a fee. An artsy bisexual boy from the Valley could help her find them—but only if she stops fighting who she is, beyond the color of her skin. (Goodreads)
As I said, I didn’t expect to enjoy this book as much as I did partly because of its genre and partly because of what the story is about. I immediately assumed it would focus a lot on football, which sort of turned me off, but I’m glad the mention of the mysterious box caught and held me and made me give the story a chance.
It’s the mystery that kept me reading. The more I learned, the more I wondered who sent the box, which contains much information about Tasia throughout her life, and what the sender’s motive is. My guesses swung from crazy stalker person, someone intent on damaging Tasia’s family out of malice and jealousy because the Quirks are wealthy, or a long-lost family member. I wasn’t able to dwell on these guesses for too long. Propelled by the mystery, the story quickly progresses from Tasia astonished that the box exists and her mom tried to hide it from her to Tasia taking steps to learn more about the box and who might have sent, which leads Tasia to learning more about herself.
The story is told in first-person from Tasia’s perspective and since we’re in her head, we get all the teenage angst and confusion and hurt she feels about having her world disrupted by the box and being deceived by her parents. This can be annoying for some readers and usually I get annoyed by teenage angst in YA stories, but in Home and Away I didn’t mind it because I could understand what Tasia was feeling and struggling with. I admire her for her courage to stand up to her parents, say what she needs and intends to do, and do it. I also commend her parents — her mom, really — for respecting her needs and allowing her to sort things out in her own way, though they didn’t agree with her method for doing so. (I’m being mad vague here so as not to spoil any part of the story.) I also like how much development Tasia’s character receives. She’s constantly learning more about herself and her family and making note of what she values or should value and what can change.
I like Tasia. She’s smart and spunky and I like her voice. She’s very relatable. Though I wasn’t looking forward to the football parts prior to starting the story, those parts became some of my favorites in the book. There aren’t many football scenes in the story, but the ones included stood out. My favorite is when Tasia enrolls at a new high school and devised a way to prove to the coach that she can play football and should be on the team. I was rooting for her that whole scene.
I also like how supportive her family is and the strength of her friendship with her bestie, Slim, and how her friendship with Victory develops, though I also wish it wasn’t so rocky at first. But most of all, I love all the bits about Black culture and how it’s worked into the story, like Tasia observing that in most Black families emotions aren’t considered when someone does something, her mom doing the Black Woman Head Swivel when Tasia says something outrageous, this sentence to describe the tingly feeling you get with goosebumps:
“This feeling is a hot comb too close to the scalp.”
(I know, it’s a ARC and I shouldn’t quote directly from it, but I really like that sentence.) I also liked Kai and how Tasia’s attraction to him and relationship with him develops. There’s much more I could say because I really enjoyed the book, but I’d just end up giving away too much of the story, so I’ll stop here.
It’s a good read and I recommend it, but I fear that the teenage angst and confusion might turn off some folks.
Buy | Borrow | Bypass
But the cover is so beautiful that I’d say Buy too.