Happy Thursday, Reading Nook!
As a part of our blog tour for The Wrong Side of Right, we're also reviewing Jenn's fabulous, fabulous book.
Both Tom and I work in politics, and we're fairly picky about fictionalized accounts of our world. (Because let's face it: sometimes, fact is actually weirder than fiction.)
However, I instantly fell in love with The Wrong Side of Right. Through Kate Quinn, Jenn shows that she perfectly gets what it's like to live in a fishbowl - especially when you find out your dad is running for president.
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published March 17th 2015 by Dial Books
A well-written and brilliantly crafted story focusing on self-discovery and the innerworkings of the political world, debut author Jenn Marie Thorne proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she's absolutely one to watch.
Kate Quinn’s mom died last year, leaving Kate parentless and reeling. So when the unexpected shows up in her living room, Kate must confront another reality she never thought possible—or thought of at all. Kate does have a father. He’s a powerful politician. And he’s running for U.S. President. Suddenly, Kate’s moving in with a family she never knew she had, joining a campaign in support of a man she hardly knows, and falling for a rebellious boy who may not have the purest motives. This is Kate’s new life. But who is Kate? When what she truly believes flies in the face of the campaign’s talking points, she must decide. Does she turn to the family she barely knows, the boy she knows but doesn’t necessarily trust, or face a third, even scarier option?
Set against a backdrop of politics, family, and first love, this is a story of personal responsibility, complicated romance, and trying to discover who you are even as everyone tells you who you should be.
Which is why, I am beyond thrilled to say that The Wrong Side of Right is everything I thought it would be, and more. (Because seriously, if Leila Sales is blurbing you, my expectations are pretty sky-high to begin with!)
Debut author Jenn Marie Throne introduces us to sixteen-year-old Kate Quinn, who is still mourning the death of her mom. She's never known anything about her father's identity, but things soon change when she learns that her father is actually a powerful US senator who is now running for President.
As Kate is swept up into the political spin involved with an ongoing presidential campaign, while dually navigating the obstacles of trying to get to know a new family and the beginning of an unlikely romance, she's left to question just who she wants to be, and whether she wants to be defined by her father's legacy.
Though the premise of The Wrong Side of Right is one that has been done in YA before - ordinary girl finds out that she has an extraordinary family - it's Jenn Marie Throne's writing that sets her book apart from its predecessors. From the start, it's clear that Kate Quinn is a complex, nuisanced character who isn't going to let the events of her life dictate her choices.
While she does initially agree to go along with her father's presidential campaign in an effort to get to know him and his family, Thorne is careful to show Kate gradually learning that she may not necessarily be suited for life in the public eye. We see her frequently being asked to mold herself into something that's acceptable to Senator Cooper's base, which doesn't necessarily jive with her core beliefs. Throne smartly asks Kate and the reader to consider just how much a person should be willing to let go of themselves, in the name of preserving the greater good.
When Kate does eventually put her foot down, it's over her father's stance on immigration reform. But rather than have Kate simply argue with her father as most teenagers would do, Throne makes the creative decision of having Kate show her father the human face of the debate, by introducing him to some of Kate's long-time friends. The decision is a complex and touching one, serving to both emphasize Kate's loyalty to her friends, but also the realization that some divides just aren't bridged as easily.
Outside of Throne's introspective look at Kate's relationship with both her father, Throne does a nice job of including a romantic interest for Kate in the form of First Son Andy Lawrence.
While the relationship is a bit of a meet-cute at first, Throne evolves the relationship with subtle acknowledgements that Kate and Andy are some of the only people who understand what it is to be in the fishbowl of politics. There's a nice moment where politics essentially trumps their relationship, and it's a reminder that this is a world where there are very dfferent rules when it comes to social contracts. It's up to Kate to decide how she wants to navigate and respond, especially as the book creeps closer to election day.
And the politics. Oh, the politics.
Very few people understand the sheer insanity and simultenous rush that comes with working on a political campaign of any kind, unless you've worked one yourself. But through some masterful writing and exquisite plotting, Jenn manages to show the reader the insanity of the campaign, and get down and dirty to the heart of any campaign: the staffers.
She shows the passion, determination driving many of them, but also the fact that tthis IS a way of life for many, and sometimes the residuals - e.g. family - simply doesn't matter in the pursuit of power. This brings up a LOT of fantastic question for both readers and Kate on whether they're willing to make the sacrifices to justify this sort of life, and should provoke some great discussion between readers.
Bottom line: this is one of those books where it's hard to review, for fear of spoilers. But believe me when I say, this book is the real deal. It's smart, funny and has heart, but also challenges public and private perceptions, and asks readers to think how they would feel, if they were in Kate's position.
It's infinitely harder to write a book about a political scandal, and infuse it with the warmth, intelligence and well-matched moments of self-discovery that Jenn Marie Throne does in The Wrong Side of Right. But Jenn pulls it off flawlessly, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that she's a voice to watch in young adult fiction.
Kate Quinn is a heroine that everyone will root for because she understands what it means to struggle to figure out what you wants in life without agenda, and because she shows both young and older readers alike that you don't have to be defined by what your family wants for you, or who your family happens to be. Your destiny is of your own making.
I highly recommend Jenn's book for all fans of contemporary fiction, particularly for readers of Huntley Fitzpatrick and Kasie West, and also for readers who enjoy books with strong female characters. This is the book for you.
About the author:
Jenn Marie Thorne graduated from NYU-Tisch with a BFA in drama and quickly realized she was having more fun writing plays, short films, and superhero webisodes than actually performing in them. Then, when a flurry of political scandals hit the news, Jenn wondered what the kids at the center of the media’s attention must be going through, and so began The Wrong Side of Right, her debut novel. Jen lives and writes in beautiful Gulfport, Florida, alongside her husband, two sons, and hound dog Molly.