Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Our Song by Jordanna Fraiberg

Our Song is an interesting account of a young girl who struggles to find her true self after a serious accident and a broken relationship.

High school senior, Olive Bell, has just returned home from the hospital after a two week recovery from a car accident in which she died. Her heart stopped for almost 3 minutes but she was brought back to life by paramedics. Olive had the accident after fleeing his house during a disagreement. Although Olive hasn't heard from her boyfriend, Derek  O'Brien, captain of the Vista Valley Pioneers Debate Club, she still believes that things will be fine between them.
"Love like ours couldn't just vanish into thin air, no matter what happened. And when he saw me at school again tomorrow, I knew he would realize it, too."
But Derek ignores her and soon replaces her with the most popular girl in the school,  Becky Brill, who is a cheerleader. Her best friend Annie tries to offer Olive comfort and encouragement. Annie believes Derek is arrogant and selfish, telling Olive that she can find someone better.

However, Olive is completely distraught and confused. Almost everything in her life both at school and at home brings back memories of her two-year relationship with Derek. As she reflects back on their relationship we learn that Derek never publicly acknowledged their relationship online and that he often went days without contacting her. But Olive believed that their "love" was a permanent thing. What hurts Olive even more is Derek's very public relationship with Becky

As Olive's grades slip and it becomes evident she is struggling in school, she is sent to meet with the school guidance counselor, Dr. Green, who suggests to Olive that she needs to talk to someone about why her accident happened. To get her parents and the school off her back, Olive decides to attend a support group, The Near Death Society, thirty miles away in Los Angeles.

When Olive goes to her first meeting, she meets handsome Nick Wilkins, a British boy she saw previously at her parent's golf and country club.  Although she rebuffs Nick's first attempt to leave the meeting, eventually the two begin a sort of strange friendship where Nick takes her to different places in Los Angeles. He never really reveals what the circumstances were that led him to the near death support group, but he treats Olive with kindness and allows her to be herself.

As Olive continues to crash and burn in school, she gradually begins to confront who she is, what she wants from life, and comes to the realization of who Derek really is. But can she save herself and forge a new beginning?

Our Song focuses on the relationships between a girl and two boys. Olive is a young girl whose entire existence has been defined by her relationship with one boy - Derek. Derek is a manipulative, self-centered boy who uses Olive and who causes a traumatic situation that almost cost Olive her life. Our Song is about Olive's journey to finally discover who she is and to learn to define herself on her own terms.

Throughout this journey, she is aided by a young man, the handsome, gentle Nick, who has also suffered a trauma that he feels defines him. As their friendship grows and they support one another, they gradually come to terms with what has happened in their lives and to begin to heal. In each others company they find the freedom to be who they truly are.

Although Olive's parents seem lost, her mother somewhat disinterested and her father mostly absent, we later learn that both parents had their coming of age moments too and that they do in fact understand what Olive is going through. Olive's father tells her near the end of the novel, that he and her mother recognize that she's "growing up". They allow her the freedom to choose her own path.

Jordanna Fraiberg uses the mystery of what led to Olive's accident as the hook for her readers, as well as the mystery surrounding Nick,  but most will find the middle section of the book somewhat slow. However, those who persevere will be rewarded in the last eight chapters of the novel, where both Nick and Olive's mysteries are revealed and Olive's revelation about her relationship with Derek is related. 

This debut novel will interest fans of contemporary romance. It is a sweet coming of age story that readers of young adult fiction will truly enjoy, with its satisfying ending.

Book Details:
Our Song by Jordanna Fraiberg
Toronto: Razorbill    2013
352 pp.

No comments: