Publishers Weekly Review
Downham (You Against Me) examines the family battles and internal conflicts of three generations of women in this novel about a household in crisis. Seventeen-year-old Katie's life takes an unexpected turn when her estranged grandmother Mary, diagnosed with Alzheimer's, moves into their small apartment. While Katie's mother tries to find another place for Mary to stay, Katie is drawn to the elderly stranger, a woman tormented by a past she can't reliably remember. Even though Katie already has her share of responsibilities, trying to meet her mother's high standards and looking after her disabled brother, she offers to become Mary's caretaker. She is determined to unlock secrets about Mary's history but doesn't realize how her own past is intertwined with her grandmother's. Alternating between Katie's and Mary's point of view, Downham shows extraordinary skill in expressing the complex psychologies of two very different women while exploring how people are shaped by events, unrealized dreams, and restrictions. The more answers Katie finds, the more she realizes that she will have to become someone new in order to be true to herself. Ages 14-up. Agent: Catherine Clarke, Felicity Bryan Associates. (Feb.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
Library Journal Review
Gr 9 Up-What kind of pain can love survive? How late is too late to learn the truth? When 17-year-old Katie's estranged grandmother shows up on their doorstep, alone and suffering from dementia, Katie's tightly wound mother is enraged. Instantly drawn to the confused but fascinating old woman, who seems to embody a spirit of personal freedom and love that the teen has been longing for, Katie starts recording pieces of her grandmother's story, both to help her remember and to get to the bottom of what really happened between her mother and grandmother. It turns out all three women are harboring some pretty heavy secrets. Unveiling the narrative in bits and pieces and hopping through time periods, Downham paints a moving picture of three generations of women who haven't felt listened to or understood, who have felt confined by their choices, and who have suffered the consequences of trying to forge a new path. Katie's plotline (she is coming to terms with her growing attraction to girls) is wrapped up a little too nicely, but the two older women's stories, both past and present, are subtle and heartbreaking. The grandmother, whose slipping hold on her memories is portrayed with compassion and gentle humor, is especially well drawn. This would be a great title for teens and adults to read and discuss together. VERDICT A strong choice for thoughtful readers.-Beth McIntyre, Madison Public Library, WI © Copyright 2015. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.