Two Girls Staring at the Ceiling
By Lucy Frank
Expected publication August 5, 2014 by Schwartz & Wade
Chess finds herself in the hospital after an unspeakable incident that occurred when she was finally getting somewhere with the boy she likes. Now, she's been told she's sick, but with what, she's not exactly sure. What she is sure of is that she's sharing a room with incredibly rude Shannon, who may or may not be sick with the same thing Chess has. Will the girls find common ground?
I downloaded the e-galley of this on a complete whim. I've never read Frank before and I can usually take or leave issue books. Mostly, I was compelled by the fact that it's written in verse, which I love. I'm not so sure I loved it in this case.
Usually, I don't feel like a book has to justify its reasons for being in written in verse. With this book, however, it didn't make a lot of sense to me. There is no indication that either girl cares a fig about poetry and the prose here really isn't anything special. I suppose there isn't necessarily a justification for why Ellen Hopkins' novels are written in verse either, but it has never mattered to me before. With this book, it just didn't seem to fit.
Additionally, I felt a bit like the author tried too hard to create an air of mystery about the incident that sent Chess into the hospital and her illness itself. For a long time, readers don't know what exactly happened that prompted Chess's hospital stay, but Frank makes it sound very dramatic. Similarly, the mystery of Chess's illness is only hinted at for the first part of the book. In my opinion, it seemed like Chess might have an eating disorder, so when this turned out not to be the case, it felt like her illness had maybe been a bit overdramatized at first. I'm not trying to say that the illness that Chess does have isn't serious, though I don't know much about it, but the whole thing felt a bit overdramatic. Additionally, I had a hard time sympathizing with either of the main characters, so despite this novel's short length, I had to push myself to keep reading. Not a book for me, I suppose.
Thanks to the publisher for a digital advance reader's copy, provided via Edelweiss.