A book is shaped as much by its reader as its author. There are books that I read while younger and loved, but picked up later and could not stand. There are also books that I struggled with and put down, only to revisit years later and completely fall in love. I wish Straightjacket had been released when I was in high school, because I know I would have obsessed over it.
Meredith Towbin is a prolific blogger who I’ve been reading for a while (can’t remember how I came across her blog, but probably through Rainbowmaker Emily Levenson). A few months back she announced on her blog that her book was picked up and would be published. Then publication day finally arrived. I didn’t have much in the way of expectations, because it seems like everyone with a blog has a book nowadays. The price was low and I was looking for an easy read, though, so I decided to give her YA novel a try.
Straightjacket follows the tortured romance of star-crossed lovers Anna and Caleb. Caleb is, or claims to be, an angel. Anna is plagued by crippling panic attacks. They meet in an inpatient mental health facility and tumble into love, and decide to check themselves out and run away together. Each Anna and Caleb have parent issues and demons and all kinds of struggles, but they are determined to be together.
The characters are fairly one-dimensional, and the book is driven by the plotline of Anna and Caleb’s love and struggle. As a grown up old lady, I’m more interested in character, but I know that as a teenager, the lack of complicated characters wouldn’t have bothered me a tick. I would have connected deeply with the struggle, and passion and parent conflicts of each of the characters.
Towbin is spot on with the YA genre. This is a perfect book for brooding teenagers. I’m too old to fully connect with it now, but can appreciate how much it would have impacted me, had I read it when I was younger and moodier. Nice work, nice work.