Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Book Review- 183 Times a Year by Eva Jordan

I am back with another book review through NetGalley. I received the e-book for free, and all opinions are my own.

183 Times a Year by Eva Jordan tells the story of a tumultuous mother/daughter relationship between Lizzie and Cassie. It is another duo-narrated story that accurately represents the major differences between mother and daughter. Lizzie is the mom putting too much pressure on herself within all aspects of her life. She does whatever she can as a mother, which often goes unappreciated.  She has brilliant moments of sass that makes one smile. Overall, Lizzie is a positive character, and we feel for her when she realizes her mother/daughter bond dreams are dashed. I felt so connected to Lizzie when she was seeking moments of clarity and laughed when the truth about her younger years came out. Eventually, Lizzie starts to break under the tensions in her life and the appearance of a “black dog” in her mind becomes troubling. Cassie is the typical teenage girl. She is self-centered, glued to her phone, worried about appearance, and curious about boys. Her need to impress her fake friends is disheartening, and her ignorance to popular sayings is frustrating to a reader. Her life eventually starts to fall into place when she moves on to college. By the end, Cassie is forced to grow up and is all the better for it.
The duo-perspective adds the best narration to expose the full tension between Lizzie and Cassie. Throughout the novel, we see the stress that generation gaps have on relationships. The issues the two ladies deal with are widely different, and it is interesting to see how they each deal with their problems. In these situations, we also see how similar they can be (which is everyone’s worst nightmare right?). Lizzie and Cassie are dealing with past emotional turmoil and it is clear that, although sometimes destructive, their actions and thoughts are a result of pain and resentment left from the past. Lizzie is clearly trying as hard as she can to be to be the best mother but tends only to come face to face with the wrath of her teenage daughter. Ultimately, this relationships is tested in an unimaginable way.
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When it comes to the breakdown of the novel, I love that the chapters are titled. The titles are usually clever and connect the Cassie storyline and the Lizzie storyline in some way. The duo-narration doesn’t always work for me in general, but this added the perfect touch for the nature of the novel. The narrations separately are wonderful as well. Jordan skillfully changes her style in order to create voices for her characters. This works well and creates a bond between reader and character. The narrations are accurate representations of the way people talk and think, and it is natural to read. The only issue I had is that it took a while for the two storylines to come together in the inevitable crash. During that major moment, other narrations are added in which creates an intensity that would otherwise be lost.
The issue I’m having with the media age is that authors must identify social media by changing the font, and I do not like that at all. The double narration sometimes switched too quickly within a chapter, and the way Jordan mimics the way Lizzie slurs when she’s drunk isn’t as effective as relying on the reader’s imagination. As I said before, it took a while for the inciting moment to happen, and I felt the novel starting to become tedious. Since being in the UK, I fully appreciate the mention of accents and slang, but I think it would be difficult for someone outside of the UK to understand. The twist in the end is emotional, and I fully did not expect it to happen. It was absolutely incredible to reach the end, and I had actual tears running down my face. Jordan is extremely skillful at I felt the novel starting to become  she't at all. The ending in cliff-hangers and leading us to make assumptions. The last chapter is absolute perfection, and I actually had to re-read to let it fully sink in.
This novel took me on an amazing journey that led to self-reflection about my own relationship with my mother. I’ve also ordered a hard copy to send to my mom. I didn’t expect to like this book as much as I did, and I’m giving it a 4/5. It doesn’t quite make it onto my favourite books list for a 5/5, but it is pretty close.
-Daniella