There's just no other way to say that it's a completely addictive novel. It was a day and a half read for me but only because I started late in the day. I loved the writing style, the narration and the characters. I didn't say much about them. Leo is a man of words, a guy after my own heart, though after this novel, I'm not so sure. He writes poetry and he's really good. Again, his poems are spare, but to the point. They get right to the point. And he's the best friend a guy like Ed could ever ask for. And vice versa. Dylan is a bit stupid. I think he's smart, he just acts before he thinks, like egging his girlfriend. But he's a bit more of a secondary character than the others are. Jazz is a good friend to Lucy. After all, she's the one that gets her into this night and helps her see it through. And its a night she'll always remember. And Daisy, well she's a bit like Dylan in the role she plays, just a bit character. There are parents! It runs the gamut from crap to very well meaning and meddlesome. And there are other adults involved in the lives of the characters lives.
by Cath Crowley
Available February 14th, 2012
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Senior year is over, and Lucy has the perfect way to celebrate: tonight, she's going to find Shadow, the mysterious graffiti artist whose work appears all over the city. He's out there somewhere—spraying color, spraying birds and blue sky on the night—and Lucy knows a guy who paints like Shadow is someone she could fall for. Really fall for. Instead, Lucy's stuck at a party with Ed, the guy she's managed to avoid since the most awkward date of her life. But when Ed tells her he knows where to find Shadow, they're suddenly on an all-night search around the city. And what Lucy can't see is the one thing that's right before her eyes.
Once upon a time there was a girl who loved a mysterious guy she'd never met before. A guy that painted walls in the night with visions she could only imagine until she saw them and she thought she knew him from his paintings from his graffiti art and his name Shadow. Once upon a time there was a boy, who's father ran out on his pregnant sixteen year old mother and who quit school in the 10th year because he got caught cheating. But the words were his, just not the writing. So he quit and got a job and became a shadow, The Shadow, expressing himself through art saying what he couldn't say in words. And one girl could read what he said. This is their story.
I highlighted about three quarters of this book, the poetry used to describe the pictures Shadow paints it's just beautiful. I didn't know graffiti could be so beautiful, so detailed, have so much imagery in it. I'll admit I have a bias towards graffiti, I always see the gangs marking their territories, racial slurs and who loves who. I've never seen really beautiful graffiti. Or maybe I've never looked for it. But this story it's only about graffiti. It's a coming of age story that happens overnight---a long night---in Australia after everyone, all but one that is graduates from high school.
Everyone has their own issues they are dealing with, Jazz's parents have had her on lock down studying since midterms and they are away in Germany so she's out to have a good time. Daisy wants a new boyfriend after Dylan, her boyfriend of 3 yrs egged her Jazz and Lucy in the head after school today. And Lucy, she wants to find Shadow because she knows from his paintings they will have everything in common and she has stopped going out since that ill fated date with Ed in tenth year, shortly before he dropped out of school. It's obvious from the way Ed describes his problems in school that he has a learning disability but Leo has helped him get by until tenth year. Then he got caught pulling an essay out of his pocket and the substitute teacher went bat crazy on him. It was, I think in Leo's handwriting so rather than get him in trouble, even though it was Ed's words, he quit. He got a job at a paint store and worked for a man that was a pseudo father and bolstered his self esteem. But he died and Ed hasn't had a job since then and can't help his mom pay the rent.
So that's where things are when these six meet. It's hilarious at times like when the girls are all in the bathroom and Dylan asks, "What do you think they're talking about in there?" "I'll take a wild guess and say us," Leo tells him. Then they guys all go the the bathroom and it's been awhile and Lucy asks, "What do you think they're talking about?" "I'll take a lucky guess," Jazz says, "and say us." (p52 of the ARC).
There are other funny parts but other equally heartbreaking parts. Cath Crowley takes the reader on an exquisitely emotional roller coaster ride. We are almost at the top about to know it all, or at least Lucy is and then it's snatched away as we plummet down to the bottom of the hill. And every time it happens it makes it takes them that much further from the truth, from the beginning of something wonderful.
Even though the events happen over the course of a night, it seems like it is much longer. Not because the story lags or the pace is slow, but because Ed and Lucy get to know each other so well. The chapters are told alternating between Ed and Lucy and it works really well. Lucy's idea of love is romance and that's what she thinks Shadow represents, because he understands art and is sensitive according to what she sees. And for Ed, he sees himself through the eyes of others as a dropout with no future, going nowhere, painting on walls and he sees nothing. But he and Lucy share their thoughts on Shadow's paintings and art and life throughout the night ans some other adventures.
The writing is beautifully done and easy to read. It's not overly flowery. It's spare but poetic if that makes sense.
There is a very lit bit of swearing an some talk of doing it but that is it. Use you best judgement.
I was provided an ARC of the through NetGalley from the publisher Knopf Books for Young Readers and Random House. I was in no way compensated for my review.