Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Review: Double Negative by Susan Marshall

Today's review hits on a young adult contemporary read, which I spotlighted toward the end of last year. I do have a difficult relationship with the contemporary genre and tend to steer clear as much as I dare. Don't get me wrong—there are reads I love in this direction, but many just don't hold my interest for various reasons. However, the blurb on this one did catch my attention. Not because of the romance.... Not because of the disability... Not because of the drama which is promised to ensue...

I decided to take a peek at this one because it hits the realm of sports. Especially in the YA contemporary/romance arena, sports often fall by the wayside. So, I wanted to give this one a try, hoping it won't disappoint.

Let's see if it can spark my interest, shall we? 

by Susan Marshall
Evernight Teen
YA Contemporary
245 pages

Injured competitive swimmer, Reece never wanted to be Vice Prez of West Hill High. It was her brother Jamie’s idea and just something to do until she could get back into the pool.

She knew that Jamie—who led off his campaign with a strip-tease “election speech”—would be a complete “President Dumbass.” But what Reece didn’t foresee was that she’d fall, and hard, for Jamie’s student council rival, Zain. And that big drama would follow.

Zain is hot and intense, plus an amputee and a basketball star. Between Zain’s disability and Reece’s surgery, they have their challenges but that makes their connection deeper.

That is until Zain drops a bombshell about his accident. And suddenly everything that is important to Reece starts to implode.

Struggling with issues of family loyalty, secrets and scars, Reece must decide if real relationships are worth the heartache.

Kirkus Reviews: “The strong characterizations make the main players’ behavior realistic… The action and exposition come at a fast clip... In the end, the protagonist comes to an important realization—that, in life, “Perfection was overrated.” An often humorous and insightful story of teens becoming self-aware young adults.”




While hitting high school emotions and familiar issues teens can face, this is a quick-paced, easy read with something always going on.

Thanks to an injury, Reece has to sit out from swimming for more than a few months and is placed, temporarily, into the same high school where her brother is a senior. He's running for class president to make his college application shine, but thanks to the rules, his running mate is disqualified and Reece steps up to fill the spot...but not happily. Her brother refuses to take anything seriously, and she's caught pulling in the extra slack, especially since Zain, president of the athletic student board group, is breathing down her neck. But while she wishes Zain would lay off, she finds herself drawn to him and soon, she's caught in an odd spot.

This book is high school drama pure with a very large dose of sports, and that works great. Reece comes across very believable as every fiber in her wants to get back to swimming, and she tries her best to cope with the situation until she heals enough to return. She's in an awkward place of waiting, and yet, is supposed to deal with things as if she wasn't for the sake of her brother. Her frustration, occasional lack of enthusiasm, and uncertainty is completely understandable as she deals with all sorts of expectations from various directions...most of which won't have the same impact in her short term future even, but are still meaningful to those around her. So, the author hits her well.

There are a lot of themes in this book from sport injuries to family issues to disabilities to drugs to alcohol to relationship problems and on and on. While the author does spend the beginning chapters with sometime in Reece's head, letting the reader get to know her pretty well, the tale shifts into very heavy dialogue by the end. This is a character driven read through and through, which doesn't bog down with much world building or thoughts. So, it is quick paced on that end. 

The relationships are interestingly woven, especially on the family end. And I did find the sports connections and attitudes very well done. The romance works all right. I didn't get some of the lack of understanding from others toward Reece's ex problems. Her romance with Zain grows and holds more of a friendship direction, which I appreciate, but misses a bit of pizzazz. The longer the tale went on, the more the issues grew until there were all sorts of things hitting from all directions. The dialogue keeps it well paced, but I still noticed that I was skipping over more and more paragraphs the further I went into the read. Still, I was curious enough to know what happens to keep reading until the end, and I did find the characters well done.

Fans of high school drama, sports and romance are sure to enjoy this one quite a bit.

And here she is...

A lover of libraries, Susan obtained a Master’s Degree in Library Science but found that she was too disorganized for that field. Instead, Susan worked at The Globe and Mail newspaper and then Seneca College. Four kids later, she decided to stay-at-home, spending her quiet moments indulging her love of writing.

The old adage is to "write what you know." In Double Negative, Susan channels her experience as a parent of a teen amputee and her misguided belief that she was once an athlete. The inspiration for NemeSIS was the complicated sister dynamic in Susan's estrogen fuelled household in Hamilton, Ontario. An avid reader, she loves e-books and falls asleep nightly to the soft glow, oblivious to what happened on the last page.

Susan lives in Toronto with her husband, three sons, a daughter, rescue dog Bean and Indy the cat.

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