Thursday, October 17, 2013

Review: THE PARTS I REMEMBER by A.K. Mills


Author's: Website   GoodReads

Pub Date: Available now

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review. 

Dannie says: A decent read, though perhaps not for the intended audience. 

Act first. Think never. Remember nothing.

Welcome to Kelly Rockport’s existence at Haysville University, where responsibility is just an elective. After all, fake IDs, alter egos, and one-night stands are all part of the college experience, right? So what if she blacks out from time to time? Memory is overrated.

When freshman year lasts about as long as a one-night stand and is quickly followed by the Year of the Blackout, Kelly projects junior year to be nothing shy of amazing. But as shots, beer, cocaine and men mesh together in an intoxicating haze, Kelly’s reckless ways get her into serious trouble. The only problem is, she can't remember what happened.

As she hovers along the edge of consciousness, Kelly forces herself to think past her pain to piece together the shards of her life. This is her story, told in her words: The Parts I Remember.


With both YA and NA it's a fine line between reminiscing about our youth and talking down to the reader. I think NA readers want to be talked down to even less than YA because they ARE adults. So while *I* liked the handling of addiction as presented in the text, I'm not sure it will resonate with the author's intended audience. You can't reach teens and older adolescents by talking at them. For me this screamed "this book is here to teach you a lesson" which is about as effective as a "when I was your age" story. At least with the teens I counsel, there tends to be a lot of eye-rolling involved in such tales. I think it would be effective to an older audience, though. So it's a like for grownup me, because, well, I'm...older

The ending. I'm going to do my best to avoid spoilers and keep this vague. It was a like not a love because I think we missed watching a huge chunk of the latter half of the story arc play out on the page. I liked the ending. As a writer, I wasn't crazy about how the narration got us there.  

Authentic portrayal of the pathway to addiction. The author obviously did her research where the drug-related themes are concerned. As a clinician I could nitpick at parts of it, but for the intended purpose of fiction, she did a great job of presenting the MC's journey in a realistic way. 


Let's start with the most superficial aspect--I *love* the cover of this book. I've seen a lot of self-pubbed and indie books with craptastic covers. This, for me, was perfect. It's pretty. It's provocative. And it actually makes sense for the story. Loved it. 

The pace during scenes/dialogue. When we were in the moment with the MC and a scene was playing out on the page, the pace and dialogue were fantastic. I really, really wanted more scenes throughout the book, because they were far and away my favorite part. 

The topic. Obviously, alcohol, tobacco, and other drugs are sort of my thing. Not in that way. You know what I mean, people. So when the author contacted me regarding reviewing her book, I couldn't want to start the read. I think substance abuse and risk behaviors in general are an obvious choice for new adult content. This is the sort of thing 18-25 year olds are dealing with on a day-to-day basis. So is this story relatable to the target audience in terms of theme? Absolutely. 

The first chapter. Really and truly, it was the strongest part of the read for me. I read it before agreeing to review the title and I was instantly hooked. Good example of a strong first chapter in this genre. 


More factually responsible handling of risk behaviors. Oh Em gee--holy spreading of false information, Batman. Of course you can get an STI/D from swallowing! Like with YA, I think that NA writers have a social responsibility to their readers in that their readers are young and tend to interpret some parts of fiction as fact. There are some great blog posts on this subject, so I won't spend a lot of time on it, but even if you're presenting a first-person narrative where the narrator may be a couple fries short of a happy meal, it's important that the reader understand that if the narrator is thinking something that is wrong, that the writer doesn't believe the character is right. 

More diplomatic (and factually accurate) handling of faith themes. Even though I gave up Catholicism for Lent about twenty years ago, I found myself bristling at some of the anti-Catholic rhetoric. I sincerely think maybe the author had Catholicism confused with another branch of Christianity. I know very few Catholics who don't enjoy a nice adult beverage or ten, and growing up I was never encouraged to witness to people. My family's church had a Halloween costume party every year when I was growing up, complete with a haunted house. I'm pretty sure my parents have pictures of me and one of our priests dressed up like a vampire. Not only was the author's presentation of the MC's dorm roommate stereotypical, she got the stereotype wrong. Seriously, I'm not even Catholic anymore and I was offended. 
Scenes played out "on screen." For me there was a ton of backstory following the prologue. In particular, I would have loved to see some of the scenes with the roomie play out on screen. Instead, we're just told these things as narrative, which is not the exciting part of a novel for me. As a reader I'm much more engaged by being shown what happened rather than told about it in a "this happened and then this happened" format, which was how I felt a lot of the story was told. 

Stronger character execution. I was still struggling to find redeeming qualities in the MC in Chapter 12. Given the story as a whole, I think maybe the part of that was that the author had an intended message--that the MC's behavior was bad. But the reality is that kids who do drugs and drink and act reckless are humans. They're not all bad. They're definitely not all good, but they're not all bad either. I had a hard time relating with the MC, and as a consequence I had a hard time caring what happened to her. 

Short story long, I think for an adult reader, this is a great read. For a teen reader, it may be ill advised due to some stereotyping and inaccuracies. For a new adult reader, I think it could go either way. It has it's strengths and weaknesses, and for me they were pretty evenly matched. 

Check it out yourself and let me know what you think! Purchase links are below. 

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