Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Review: Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney

Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney
Publication Date/Version: September 2009/Hardcover
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Age Group: Young Adult
Received From: Publisher

Big Macs and pop tunes mask the emptiness as Madeline watches her mom drink away their welfare checks. Until the day Tad, a quirky McDonald's counter boy, asks Madeline out for a date, and she gets her first taste of normal. But with a life that's anything but, how long can normal really last?

Hanging with Jeremy, avoiding Mam, sticking Do Not Disturb Post-its on her heart, Desiree's mission is simple: party hard, graduate (well, maybe), get out of town. But after Desiree accepts half a meatball grinder, a cold drink, and a ride from her mother's boyfriend on rainy afternoon, nothing is ever simple again.

Too many AP classes. Workaholic mom. Dad in prison. Still, Ariel's sultry new boyfriend, Shane, manages to make even the worst days delicious. But when a trip to visit the sick grandmother she's never met reveals her family's dark past, Ariel struggles to find the courage to make the right choice for her own future.

Blue Plate Special is one of those stories that really gets to you. It starts as just another teenagers with problems book, but Michelle weaves together intrigue, wit, and awkwardness into a classic coming of age story that defies preset standards.

Madeline, Desiree, and Ariel. All young girls with their whole lives ahead of them, stuck in problem situations. All are connected, but none know it just quite yet. As time flashes from one point of view to the next, each young woman offers a glimpse into hard times and just what it means to be a fighter. Their situations are heart-wrenching at worst, manageable at best, but their connections are undeniable.

Kwasney has created a compelling storyline that can stand completely on its own. It flows between characters with ease, each offering up a different attitude and time period. Michelle manages to show how love and hurt transcends all boundaries, as well as just how connected we all really are. The plot kept me moving at a steady pace as I simply had to find out what happened to each girl, to see whether they had enough fight to get out of their situation.

The great storyline left me so blinded that in the final chapters, when everything was coming together and connections were revealed, I was in shock. How had I missed all of the key moments and clues? It should have been so obvious, but it wasn't. Those last few chapters delivered gut-wrenching punch after punch, leaving you to piece it all together and contemplate what you've just realized. A second read-through is required for me; I hope to find the connections that I missed the first time.

Overall: Innovative. A must read. One of my favorites of 2010.

My Advice: Buy a copy, that simple.

Cover: The simple design and over scheme are inviting. The broken pieces of one whole represent the book's major theme. Well done.

*This was read as a part of the 100+ Reading Challenge


  1. Wow, a must-read? High praise. I will look for a copy of this then. Thanks!

  2. Oh, great review, and I adore the simplistic cover :) I'll definitely add this to my TBR pile!

  3. Steph: I encourage you to do so if you like books that make you think!

    Melissa: Glad to hear it. :] I think everyone will find something to love about Blue Plate Special

  4. That's exactly what I felt when I finished the book. I want to read it again and look closer for all the signs that will take you to the climatic ending. Beautifully written and even though it is a Young Adult novel, it will definately reach into the heart of any adult.

  5. Great review - glad this book is seeing some recognition. I was in the library last winter and the cover caught my attention. I brought it home, sat down to read a few chapters and ended up reading the whole book.


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