Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Favorite Reads: Family Secrets by Norma Klein

In My Favorite Reads each week I feature one of my favorite reads from the past. This is Banned Books Week, and so I'm featuring a book by my favorite author of all time.

Family Secrets by Norma Klein

Summary (from Goodreads):
Peter and Leslie's families have had beach houses near each other for years, so it seemed only natural when their friendship turned to romance. Their perfect summer romance is shattered when Leslie finds her mother's diary and discovers that her mother and Peter's father are having an affair and want to get married. Suddenly the two teens find themselves stepbrother and sister, and must learn to cope with their new lives and old friendship.

Why I chose this book:

(I reread this book in Dec. 2009, before I started my blog. Here is the review I wrote at the time:)
This is the first Norma Klein book I reread since high school/college, and it holds up well. This is not one of her deeper novels, which is actually why I started with it. One thing she's truly great at is characterization. The main characters are so different from one book to the next, so real and 3-dimensional, and the peripheral characters are pretty fleshed-out too. I loved Peter's uncle even though he isn't in the book much, and his mother and Leslie's father. Her mother and his father aren't quite as well-rounded, but I feel that's accurate to who they are: self-centered and superficial. They truly aren't well-rounded people. At times with misunderstandings and misinterpretations that could be easily cleared up, I did get a tad exasperated, but again that's true to the characters: Leslie the drama queen, and Peter the shy, socially inept scientist. They aren't good with feelings or relationships, either of them. So their constant volatility and hot and cold does ring true even if it is frustrating.

And one thing I've always liked about Ms. Klein's books is how she doesn't just go for the pat happy ending. Even though probably both Leslie and Peter think they're headed to a happy ending, think they've worked things out and will have a great summer, I think they will spend the whole summer fighting and will not stay together into college. And I think that's pretty obvious to most readers. Ms. Klein totally gets teenagers, and that's what made her books so important to me at that age. And of course, that's the best reason why they shouldn't be banned, and of course it's also why people want to ban them. Because of some misguided belief that teenagers will stay innocent angels if not for the corrupting influence of smut-peddlers like Ms. Klein. Hah. Teens will have sex, and it's a good idea for them to be prepared for the emotional impact and outcome of relationships.

1 comment:

Alyce said...

I haven't heard of this book, but it does look like one I probably would have loved in high school.