Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Interlude by Chantele Sedgwick

Interlude is a classic story of a boy and a girl thrown together unexpectedly, each struggling with their own problems but who fall in love. The novel opens with eighteen-year-old Mia Cox in her doctor's office. She's there to get tested to determine if she's a compatible match so she can donate a kidney to her younger sister Madison (Maddy). Dr. Mason discusses the risks of donating a kidney and tells Mia that she will know in two weeks.

Weeks later, Mia takes Maddy to her dialysis treatment which undergoes three times per week. Mia is very worried about her sister who is tired and withdrawn. She is in the final stages of kidney disease which is renal failure. At dinner that night Mia gets a call from the doctor's office informing her that she is not a match and therefore not suitable to donate a kidney to Maddy. Mia retreats to her bedroom, completely distraught but also determined. She pulls out an old birthday card sent by her birth mother Carmen Santalina from fifteen years earlier. Mia and Maddy's mother Carmen, abandoned them when they were three years old. Her father moved to from New York to California where he remarried.

With a plan formulating in her head, Mia questions her father as to whether Carmen still lives in New York City. However,he will only tell her that Carmen won't care, even when Mia begs him to at least call her and tell her about Maddy's illness. Furious at her father's refusal, Mia googles Carmen's name to locate her in New York. She is interrupted by Maddy who come to her bedroom and then collapses. Mia screams for her father, the paramedics are called and Maddy is rushed to hospital.

At the hospital Maddy is stabilized but weak and she confides to Mia that she knows she's going to die, that a donor will not be found in time. Mia tries to encourage Maddy who believes it is too late for her. Determined to save her sister Mia goes home, packs a backpack, writes her father a note, and drives to the airport where she books herself onto a flight to New York City. Her hope is to find their birth mother and convince her to donate a kidney to Maddy.

On the flight, a guy about Mia's age, with dark hair and an eyebrow piercing, is seated next to her. He is slouched down in the seat, not talkative, his earbuds in listening to music. Part way through the flight Mia notices the distinctive tattoo on his arm. When he picks up an entertainment magazine, Mai mutters about not liking the band Blue Fire and the lead singer Jaxton Scott who are featured on the cover. Mia's remark is heard by this guy who questions her as to why she doesn't like them. Mia tells him she believes they have no talent, their image is creepy with the makeup and black nail polish and piercings and that they are fakers. The conversation makes Mia curious about the article on Blue Fire. As she's reading it, a closer look at the picture of Jaxton Scott leads Mia to recognize the tattoo on his arm is the same as the one on the guy sitting next to her. To her horror Mia realizes she's sitting next to Jaxton Scott.

Mia tries to apologize but Jaxton insists he's not offended and appreciates her honesty.  Jaxton tells Mia that he is "taking a spontaneous vacation to New York. Indefinitely."  He has no gig to be at and no girlfriend, no bodyguards or groupies. When Jaxton questions Mia about her trip at first she is reluctant to tell him her reason for flying to the city, only that she is sightseeing. However Jaxton can sense that Mia is not telling him the truth and that she's running from something. He reassures her that everything she reads about him is fake, that it is all show.

Mia tells Jaxton about her sister's terminal illness and that her trip to New York is to locate their birth mother who is the only other person likely to be a match. Jaxton tells Mia he is "The screw-up who's running away from  his life." He tells her that his band formed in high school and by their junior year, they had a record contract. On tour he managed to finish his senior year of high school but there were also parties, tours and playing huge venues. Jaxton insists all he wants to do is write music. When Mia questions him as to why he's doing this if it's not what he wants, he tells her it is difficult to get out of contracts, so this trip is a break to try to figure things out by returning home to his family on Long Island.

After a lay over in Denver, Mia and Jaxton board their flight to New York. Jaxton arranges for Mia to sit next to him, and invites her to really listen to his music. When it becomes apparent that Mia has no where to stay and that she has no idea how to locate her birth mother, Jaxton insists on helping her. But Mia is reluctant to accept Jaxton's help because she really doesn't know him, so to remedy this, he spends some time telling Mia more about himself in the hopes she will feel safer. As their flight nears its destination, Jaxton offers to put Mia up in a hotel overlooking Central Park. Mia balks at this because she cannot afford it but Jaxton insists. As they spend time together, Mia knows she has to stay focused on finding her birth mother and helping save Maddy, even as her attachment to Jaxton grows.


Although Sedgwick's novel, Interlude is a predictable YA romance, it is both enjoyable and sweet, with the added bonus of a happy ending. Mia and Jaxton, from very different worlds, each dealing with very serious life problems, are inadvertently thrown together and fall in love. Jaxton has the image of a bad boy rocker in contrast to Mia's clean girl image. While Mia seems to have her life together and knows what she wants, Jaxton is struggling to deal with his rock star lifestyle.  Their time together is seen as an "interlude" in their lives.

The story is told from the point of view of Mia who astutely identifies the situation both she and Jaxton are in. "We're two people running from different things in our lives. One of us is running to save another, the other is running to save himself." Both Jaxton and Mia love music; Jaxton is a song writer and lead singer in a rock band, while Mia is an accomplished pianist. While talking on the plane about music, Jaxton mentions that he loves preludes which he describes as "...the most important part of the song, I think. It has to be distinct. Different  than everything else out there. It's like the hook. Or the tease before the masterpiece, if you will."  But Mia loves the interlude which she sees as the solo in the middle of a song, that gives a break from the lyrics. Their time spent on the plane is the interlude for both Jax and Mia, a time away from the stresses of their lives, where they can just be themselves and not deal with their worries. It is the break for Jax from his rock star life and for Mia it is a break from the worry about finding a donor for Maddy and her illness.

The themes of sisterhood and family can be found throughout the novel. Mia is devoted to her sister as evidenced by her willingness to take her sister Maddy to her dialysis treatments and to stay with her for the three hours it takes to clean her blood. Mia is determined to save her. She is willing to donate a kidney to her sister however when that becomes impossible Mia impulsively and in desperation decides to travel across the continent to find their estranged biological mother. Although this isn't successful in the way Mia planned, it does work out in the end.

Sedgwick's story stresses the importance of family. Jax tells Mia, "I talk to my mom at least once a week. My sister Jeigh, usually every day. We've always been really close. I have another sister, but she's a bit younger, so I don't hear from her as much. I love hanging out with her when I go home, though."  For Mia, despite being abandoned by her birth mother at age three, she is very close to her father and her stepmother, Trista. "I can't imagine living my life without Trista. She's been a wonderful mother to me."  Because Mia has such a strong sense of family with her father, Trista and Maddy, she is stung by her birth mother Carmen's complete rejection of herself and Maddy being "family". Carmen tells Mia that Maddy is not her daughter. "I might have been a mother to you once, and I'm sorry for all the pain I caused you, but I was never a mother to Madison. I held her once...She's a stranger to me and she has no recollection of me either. I don't owe her anything." Fortunately for Maddy, Carmen's sister Ana does not feel this way and decides to undergo testing to see if she is a possible donor.

Sedgwick admits she had to do considerable research into kidney disease and organ donation. Live donor organ donation is somewhat controversial because of the risks to the donor. However, live donor kidney donation is the most common and the most successful of all transplants.

Interlude is a light, enjoyable read, with well developed and interesting characters. Suitable for ages 13 to 18.

Book Details:

Interlude by Chantele Sedgwick
New York: Sky Pony Press    2018
275 pp.

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