Today, we're doing a (seriously) advanced review of Kristen Tracy's Hung Up for YA Contemporary Thursday.
A lot of you put this book on your TBR list after we featured it for our Waiting on Wednesday awhile back, so we figured a review would only amp up the excitement even more!
Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by Simon Pulse
Synopsis via Goodreads:
It all started with a wrong number. The voicemails Lucy left on James’s phone were meant for someone else—someone who used to have James’s digits. But then when James finally answers and the two start to talk, a unique bond forms between the two teens.
Gradually Lucy and James begin to understand each other on a deeper level than anyone else in their lives. But when James wants to meet in person, Lucy is strangely resistant. And when her secret is revealed, he’ll understand why…
Things that worked:
Like any good leading couple in a meet-cute scenario, Lucy and James are ridiculously charming. They’re funny, smart and engaging, and will pull readers in immediately when reading. Even though the reader only gets sketches on their lives – more on this later – what the reader does know about them will have them cheering both of them on, from the beginning to the end. I was particularly enamored with James, who cheerfully proves that being a nerd and having a strong love of things is in fact, very cool.
* The writing
For a book that only offers us a limited view of James and Lucy’s world, Tracy’s writing is strong and engaging. Her dialogue is natural – I’ve had plenty of conversations similar to the two of them – and her plotting and pacing are exceptionally strong.
* The deeper issues
For a book that is so adorable that you want to hug it while reading it, Tracy actually brings up a lot of interesting questions about privacy, self-disclosure and family issues throughout the course of the book.
Of particular note: Tracy explores the challenges that teens might face when it comes to mental health. She deftly explains how one person’s mental health may have long-lasting ramifications on others, and does so in a way that doesn’t feel exploitative or abbreviated. Her underlying message that there will always be help, and it will be okay is an important one.
Though not completely related, I would encourage educators/parents to get this book for students/teens who are experiencing similar issues.
Things that didn't work:
I’ve read books before that utilize technology as the primary way of building a story – e.g. Rainbow Rowell’s Attachments; Meg Cabot’s adult books, and it’s always interesting to see how the story unfolds through this format.
However, this particular format didn’t necessarily work for Hung Up. This was largely because there’s only one method of communication between James and Lucy, and without giving any spoilers away, the communication didn’t necessarily allow for any character development. Outside of what James and Lucy told each other, the reader didn’t get the chance to know them as people. And while what the reader did get to know about them was well-developed and interesting, at the end of the day, it still felt lacking.
Also, from a strict stylistic perspective, the format was somewhat challenging to read at times. Again, without giving any spoilers away, I would have loved it if there were line breaks or even if conversations used quotes, instead.
Things to consider:
Because of the format, we genuinely don’t know what that character is like when they aren’t on the phone. Moreover, I think that Tracy actually brings up some good questions about the method of communication – do we confess more, because we feel like we’re talking to someone we never have to worry about meeting or seeing?
Yes, the format that I read can be a little disconcerting – it doesn’t necessarily allow for much of an examination of the lives of the two characters, outside of what they tell one another – so I would ask that readers keep this in mind before reading.
*** Disclaimer: I received an e-ARC of Hung Up from Simon and Schuster via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.
About the author:
In addition to writing books, and volunteering as a gardener on Alcatraz, I've spent a lot of my life teaching at places like Johnson State College, Western Michigan University, BYU, and Stanford University. I also taught aerobics, but that's a different story. Currently, I make my home in Rhode Island with my husband, Brian Evenson.