Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: May 1st 2018
Sadie Carter’s life is a mess, as wavy and tangled as her unruly hair. At 15, she is barely surviving the chaos of her large Catholic family. When one sister becomes pregnant and another is thrown out, her unemployed dad hides his depression, and her mom hides a secret. Sadie, the peacekeeper and rule-follower, has had enough. The empty refrigerator, years of hand-me-downs, and all the secrets have to stop. She longs for something more and plans her escape.
However, getting arrested was not her plan. Falling in love was not her plan. With the help of three mysterious strangers—a cop, a teacher, and a cute boy—maybe Sadie will find the strength to defy the rules and do the unexpected.
Told in verse, Sarah J. Donovan’s debut Alone Together has secrets, romance, struggle, sin, and redemption, all before Sadie blows out her 16 candles. It’s a courageously honest look at growing up in a big family.
When I started reading this and saw that it was in verse, I was actually surprised. I was so interested in the blurb of the book that I totally skipped the end and automatically signed up for the tour. As a person who typically dislikes poetry or things told in an even remotely poetic style, I was worried that I would completely dislike this book. But I was completely wrong! The poetic style actually improved this story as the readers get to see into Sadie’s mind more and figure out what is going on inside her crazy family.
Sadie is a girl who has been living in a family of judges. Her father and mother judge her sisters, all 11 of them, based on what they do. One of them is pregnant at 15, the other is gay and has been kicked out of the house, one is living with her boyfriend before marriage, and the list goes on. Sadie has found solace in the church, but she is constantly fighting what she thinks of her sisters and what her parents think about her sisters. She wants to be able to go away to college and be free, not having to steal for her sisters or take care of them anymore. However, when her mother continues to check out, and her younger sister is about to have a child, Sadie feels guilty about leaving her sisters in such a toxic household to fend for themselves.
This book really shows how children grow and have to think about their years with their family. Sadie looks on both the good and the bad, and she decides how she wants to live the rest of her life. Does she want to follow in her sister’s footsteps, giving up happiness just to be excommunicated from the family anyway? Or does she want to change this pattern and become her own person? This is a true coming of age novel, without any bells and whistles. The reader is just able to look into the mind of a fifteen-year-old, and see her grow from a timid girl into a woman.
The fact that this book was told in verse gave it a unique feel, as the stanzas almost felt like thoughts. The book would have not had the same effect had it been told any other way. I applaud Mrs. Donovan for this style! It surprised me in a very good way, and makes me recommend this book even more than I normally would. It kept the pace steady, and it allowed for the world to be built through the eyes of our main character: Sadie. For a few hours, allow yourself to be transported into her world, and see how her life changes before her eyes.
I would recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of novels written in verse, or anyone who is a fan of YA contemporary novels.
Overall Rating: 6/5
About the Author
Sarah J. Donovan is the author of Alone Together and Genocide Literature in Middle and Secondary Classrooms. A junior high English teacher by day and college education professor by night, she spends every other moment reading young adult novels and writing. She lives with her husband in Downers Grove, Illinois in a condo so she can write instead of mowing the lawn or shoveling snow. When she is not teaching, reading, or writing, she can be found playing sand volleyball with amazing Chicagoland women. (Yes, even in the winters.)You can see all her “shelfies”on Instagram @donovan_sd or tweet @MrsSJDonovan.
Click on the link to enter a giveaway for 30 copies of Alone Together for a class or colleagues!