Monday, May 27, 2024

The Space You Left Behind by Ona Gritz

Today's read is a contemporary tale with diverse tones and is written in verse. I'm hoping it flows nicely and draws in without becoming too cliche. The cover did catch my attention...something different from the main stream and just wakes curiosity.

by Ona Gritz
West 44 Books
YA Contemporary  /  Poetry
190 pages

JUNE 4th!!!

Sixteen-year-old Cara has cerebral palsy. Self-conscious about her limp, Cara is convinced her disability is what causes boys to always place her in the friend zone. This summer, it seems to be happening again with her new crush, Josh. The two of them are huge fans of a popular mystery podcast and, as it happens, Cara has a real-life mystery of her own. She’s never been that curious about the donor who is her biological father, but now that Josh shows an interest in learning his identity, she’s all in. As Cara starts exploring, she stumbles upon a family secret that just might explain the feeling she’s always had that something important is missing from her life. But with this knowledge, her life may never be the same again.


Potent and meaningful, this is a mini-coming-of-age written in verse and draws in until the last page.

Cara has cerebral palsy and walks with a limp. As a sixteen-year-old wishing to simply be like everyone else, it makes her more than a little self-conscious. When two cute guys approach her and her best friend at the beach, she fears that a sudden connection to one of them, Josh, will end up, once again, with her being stuffed into the 'friend zone'. But Josh surprises her and still approaches her even after he notices her disability. When he learns that she doesn't know who her real father is, he agrees to help her figure out the mystery and, maybe, help her fill the hole she constantly seems to have inside.

This is a beautifully written book. Each verse brings across the moment with emotion and clarity, while drawing in to an engaging tale. These are very short and, yet, make sure every word sits. Cara's feelings as well as each situation come across vividly and hold the right amount of tension and heart. It creates a seamless read, which draws in and allows the reader to get lost in Cara's world.

Not only does Cara's disability cause her problems in several ways, but she's battling self-doubt in the area of her home life. While her mother and grandmother offer amazing and caring support, they harbor a secret surrounding her birth and aren't eager to let Cara know the details. The friction is understandable and comes across realistically. While Cara spends most of the tale trying to learn the secret surrounding her father's identity, this takes a surprising twist and does bend the end in a completely different direction, which works very well, for the most part.

The romance is unsure and holds an important role while not overtaking the main story line. It's sweet and not over-bearing, and does carry an unexpected twist toward the end as well. But everything works out better and smoother than is often seen in YA romances. So, this was a nice surprise, too. 

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