Tuesday, March 18, 2014

The Making of Nebraska Brown, by Louise Caiola (A Book Review)

The book begins with the protagonist Ann Leigh running through Nebraskan cornfields to escape Shane, a boy she doesn’t want to marry. The next thing she recalls is opening her eyes in a botanical garden in Campania, Italy, strangely able to understand the Italian language, living in an apartment with an attractive young man named Tommy who calls her Ana Lisa instead of Ann Leigh.
 Stuck in Italy with people she has only fractured memories of, Ann Leigh plays the part she’s assigned, the girlfriend of a rich businessman—one she is not entirely sure she can trust. All the while she drifts back and forth from a life in Nebraska with parents, siblings and a relationship with Shane, who loves her dearly. Is Nebraska just a dream? Another life? Or some kind of alternate reality? Ann Leigh must piece together the parts of her fractured mind to discover the truth of who she is, where she came from, and what she’s lost along the way.

Confession time: This is my very first time reading a NA (New Adult) novel. I am a live-and- breathe-YA-for-life kind of girl so I wasn’t sure what to expect from the relatively new world of college-aged characters. But Ms. Caiola’s complex characterization and rich narrative quickly and thoroughly subdued my trepidation. I became invested in the mystery surrounding Ann Leigh/Ana Lisa. The author successfully weaves enough clues throughout the story as to keep the reader hooked, enough hints to keep the reader from becoming frustrated (a flaw I find too often in YA novels, ones which keep the main character oblivious for far too long).
Thank you, Ms. Caiola for making my first time treading the waters of NA to be an enjoyable one. I just may have to take a swim again. J