Thursday, September 30, 2010

Lily Dale: Awakening.

Title /Author: Lily Dale Awakening by Wendy Corsi Staub.

Genre: YA/Paranormal.

Publisher: Walker & Company, August 31, 2007.

Source: Library.

Favorite character: none.

Favorite quote: none.

All in all: A fun, quick read with lots of spooky mysteries.

The main character Calla, 17, moves in with her grandmother, Odelia, in Lily Dale, a spiritualist community in upstate NY after her mother dies. Her grandmother is a medium and a bit of a free spirit and life with her is very different from her controlled, organized upbringing.

What I liked:  I liked how Calla is thrust into a new setting and tries to adapt.  She is faced with comparisons on how her life used to be and has to come to terms with the way things are now. In her old life she lived in a large house in Florida run by her successful, put together, organized mother. Now, she and her father feel lost and Calla decides to live with her grandmother in Lily Dale while her father tries to find an apartment in California. Her grandmother is gypsy like, free spirited & wears funky clothes. (I see Olympia Dukakis or Shirley McLaine portraying her). When she moves in she discovers that Lily Dale is a spiritualist community and most of the people there are psychic. At first she scoffs and fights her belief in the supernatural, but she is plagued by dreams and visions. Being in this spiritual environment her own psychic gifts start to come to the surface and mysteries about her mother’s past abound.

Calla is not the deepest character I’ve ever encountered, but I was okay with this, since to me, this book is more about the story. I wanted to find out what happened to the characters more than I wanted to find out about the characters themselves. However, I could, feel some of her pain regarding the loss of her mother, the way she misses her father. You see her growth when her best friend from Florida comes to visit and mocks her grandmother and it rankles Calla. Finally her own sense of responsibility and caring prompts her to accept the supernatural messages she is being shown to help someone else find peace. I like the moment when she realizes that she can and wants to help others.  It made me feel that even though she went through a tragedy, she still feels empathy for other people.

There are three love interests, done suprisingly well.  Teenage girls (heck even grown women) are often torn between a bevy of boys. Calla has an ex-boyfriend who recently broke up with her going to college just a few hours away and still shows concern for her, the Lily Dale heartthrob who she thinks is “beautiful” (Oh no! Not another beautiful boy!), but she seems to have him pegged as a player and another cute boy in town that is sweet, but her new neighbor has a crush on him. So that will be another dilemma sure to play out in future books.

I love ghost story mysteries and the supernatural questions that arose are my favorite part of this book.  However, I'm also a skeptic and I related to Calla’s own initial skepticism and how it was portrayed. Some of the questions she asks are the same ones I ask. The answers that some of the psychics give her are satisfactory, but they certainly don’t wipe away my doubt or Calla’s. She is frustrated because if she does have psychic gifts, why can’t she contact her mother? A very fair question.

I really think that teens would enjoy this book, I know I would have as a teen or a pre-teen.

What I didn’t like: Is it me or are the tenses odd? It’s probably me, since the author is a NY Times Bestselling author. Maybe I need a refresher writing course.

There are also things that are a bit over the top for me, like when she first meets one of the love interests and feels an electric jolt in her arm.

The biggest thing that bothered me was that the main mystery isn't wrapped up. I don’t mind a few cliffhangers, a few questions left unanswered to make the reader think.  But, it bugs me when major plot issues are not resolved in the book they are presented in. I don’t want to give anything away, but most of the questions that made up the plot throughout the book are not going to be solved until a future book. However, that being said, I really would like to read the sequel.

I give this book a 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.


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