Its not often that I read a book in which I find it almost impossible to put down, but such was the case with Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab. I received and advanced reading copy (ARC) of this book in the mail yesterday from a promotion on Harper Collins. The letter that was included with the book had a deadline on it so I thought that I should put aside the book I was reading and focus on it….for who knows what would happen to it if I let it fall into the abyss that is my TBR pile!
Alive and Well in Prague, New York is told from the point of view of Matisse Osgood, a sophomore in high school who is struggling to come to terms with her father’s diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease while also adjusting to life in a small town after having grown up in New York City. As Matisse soon learns, life in a small town isn’t easy….everyone knows everything about everybody – regardless of if its true or not. To cope with all the changes in her life Matisse tries to hide away. She throws herself into adjusting to the trials and tribulations of her new school and new friend Violet while ignoring the issue that is troubling her most, her father.
This book is a wonderful journey about learning to survive when the world around you is crumbling. Matisse’s father had always been her rock and to see the disease overtake him wasn’t easy. Through the help of her friends (both old and new) and her family she comes to terms with what is happening and learns to enjoy the moments that make life worth living. I found the plot of this book to be both emotional and believable. I also thought that Grab did a wonderful job in breathing life into her characters. They all seemed like real people, there was nothing forced in her teens or adults (in either mannerisms or dialog) and I grew attached to them all.
My one complaint with the book was that it wasn’t longer. Parts of the ending seemed a little rushed and just in general the story ended before I was ready to let it go. All the story lines were wrapped up nicely and the reader is left with that happy fuzzy feeling that comes when reading a good book. I wasn’t thirsting for more, but that isn’t a bad thing in the case of Alive and Well. I enjoyed the quiet simplicity of the ending and when I turned the last page I found that I was quite satisfied with it. (While at the same time peeking over my shoulder and listening for footsteps as I was doing some illicit reading on work time.) I am very thankful to Harper Collins for giving me the opportunity to read this book and I look forward to the future writings of Daphne Grab….I think that she is an up an coming author that is definitely worth watching.
In Short: An amazing story about one teen’s emotional journey from denial to acceptance when the solid ground she has always known starts to crumble and change. Alive and Well in Prague, New York is a gripping fast-paced story with both a believable plot and characters. It is often hard for adults to write believable teenagers and Daphne Grab does a wonderful job in bringing all of hers to life. This is a book that I highly recommend and won’t be surprised when it hits the bestseller list.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Next Up: The Splendor of Silence by Indu Sundaresan