Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Book Review: "Naked" (Stacey Trombley)

Stop and consider something for minute. How bad would your life have to be for you to run away rather than stay and suffer?

It's a question Anna Rodriguez doesn't have to consider because she knows the answer. Thirteen-year-old Anna ran away from an abusive, controlling, and manipulative home life she could no longer stand. What she did to stay alive during her three years away is something that has redefined her, maybe forever.

When she's discovered and returned to her parents by a caseworker who wants the family to make amends, Anna agrees to go back to school, hoping to start over. Between the nice neighbor boy, Jackson; the new family guard dog; and several other social outcasts at school, she begins to build herself a network of support ... 

... until someone at school starts leaving notes in her locker, threatening to expose her past to everyone. The rumors were bad enough before, but now, she doesn't know who to trust. And making amends with her parents isn't going as well as she'd hoped, either. How much more can she afford to lose?

Entangled Publishing's Teen imprint presents Naked by Stacey Trombley, a sweet, contemporary young adult novel that debuted this summer.

In the past, YA fiction has tended to handle sweet teen romances, feuds with parents, "soft" episodes of rebellion against authority, and hearts broken by two-timing (now) exes. Which makes Trombley's offering all the more refreshing and fascinating.

Teens today are dealing with far more than many of us have given them credit for. No longer do their life issues tend to revolve around their wardrobes or what to say to attract the cute guy or girl in the cafeteria today. Those topics, while still represented, are far less common than contemporary teens' real lives. That YA fiction has evolved to lend credence to what today's teens are facing is a testament to its adaptability as a genre.

In Naked, Anna is really an unexpected character. The story is told in her voice, in the first-person perspective, and she is, by turns, sarcastic and kind, self-sufficient and helpless, down-to-earth gritty and dreamy. Indeed, her art class at school is the one place where she feels almost at peace.

She has an otherworldly grownup aura about her, given what she's experienced, but it's clear that she mourns for the childhood she never really got to have. She fears being vulnerable herself but leaps to the rescue on behalf of those who are weaker or being used.

Juxtapose all of that against the usual teenage mood swings and hormones, and pair it with her very adult past, and you have an unusual, unpredictable, beautiful protagonist, someone you're more than willing to spend several hundred pages getting to know.

Interestingly enough, the work is almost a coming-of-age novel. Despite Anna having "come of age" in some ways, emotionally and psychologically, during her time as a runaway, she returns home like an insect trapped in amber, frozen in a childhood time she hadn't experienced in three years.

The story of her rediscovering herself, her limits and abilities, her dreams and hopes, is as compelling and arresting as Anna herself.

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Author: Stacey Trombley
Title: Naked
Publisher: Entangled Publishing (Teen)
ISBN: 978-1-63375-008-1
Purchase here:

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this work from the publisher via Net Galley in exchange for an honest, though not necessarily positive, review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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