2-For-1 YA: The Deepest Roots & When Elephants Fly – Short Reviews Are My Bane

Confession: I have a problem with writing reviews that are less than 300 words, especially when it comes to ARCs. I feel like I’m not doing the story justice and I get anxious and guilty–the whole package–which is a little ridiculous because I like reading other people‘s less-than-300-word reviews. But sometimes there are only so many words I can say about a book–usually those run-of-the-mill 2/3 star books. Because I can do passionate love and passionate rage, but I have no idea how to go about doing passionate “meh.”

So as a compromise for my poor brain, I’ve decided to stuff two short reviews into one post.

deepest roots

Title: The Deepest Roots
Author: Miranda Asebedo
Publisher: HarperTeen
Genre: YA Contemporary, Fantasy
Release Date: September 25th, 2018
Page Count: 320 (hardback)
Rating: 5/10

Cottonwood Hollow, Kansas, is a strange place. For the past century, every girl has been born with a special talent, like the ability to Fix any object, Heal any wound, or Find what is missing.

To best friends Rome, Lux, and Mercy, their abilities often feel more like a curse. Rome may be able to Fix anything she touches, but that won’t help her mom pay rent. Lux’s ability to attract any man with a smile has always meant danger. And although Mercy can make Enough of whatever is needed, even that won’t help when her friendship with Rome and Lux is tested.

Booklist called The Deepest Roots “a must-read for fans of friendship based books like The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants”, which had my ears perked right up. I’m desperate for more female friendships in books and, to my surprise, the comparison to Traveling Pants isn’t too much of an exaggeration. The dynamic between the Rome, Lux, and Mercy is charming and touching, and though they don’t have same allure as the Traveling Pants group, I’ll take what I can get.

My biggest problem is that the story tries to be too many things all at once–contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and mystery. We brief touch on the girls’ powers at the beginning of the story, but they’re not elaborated much further, which is frustrating and disappointing. There’s a ghost that occasionally comes and goes, but we get no explanation as to how a ghost can exist in this world. There’s also a treasure hunt subplot that kind of fizzled out by the end.

The contemporary element is the strongest of the bunch, with exploration of heavy subjects like poverty, abuse (though they weren’t as in-depth as I’d have liked), and lighter ones like romance and friendship.

Readers wanting YA contemporaries that emphasize female friendships might enjoy this one, but I personally found myself craving more magic and depth and a less disorienting plotline.

Copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

flourish

When Elephants fly

Title: When Elephants Fly
Author: Nancy Richardson Fischer
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Genre: YA Contemporary
Subjects & Themes: Schizophrenia, Animal Abuse
Release Date: September 4th, 2018
Page Count: 400 (hardback)
Rating: 6/10

T. Lily Decker is a high school senior with a twelve-year plan: avoid stress, drugs, alcohol and boyfriends, and take regular psych quizzes administered by her best friend, Sawyer, to make sure she’s not developing schizophrenia.

Genetics are not on Lily’s side. When she was seven, her mother, who had paranoid schizophrenia, tried to kill her. And a secret has revealed that Lily’s odds are even worse than she thought. Still, there’s a chance to avoid triggering the mental health condition, if Lily can live a careful life from ages eighteen to thirty, when schizophrenia most commonly manifests.

But when a newspaper internship results in Lily witnessing a mother elephant try to kill her three-week-old calf, Swifty, Lily can’t abandon the story or the calf. With Swifty in danger of dying from grief, Lily must choose whether to risk everything, including her sanity and a first love, on a desperate road trip to save the calf’s life, perhaps finding her own version of freedom along the way.

When Elephants Fly is a book for those who love, love elephants and can grit through scenes of animal cruelty. Unfortunately for me, while I do adore those floppy-eared pachyderms, I have a hard time with the latter, which is partly why I didn’t enjoy this as much as I thought I would.

The exploration of schizophrenia is done very well. It’s a topic that I rarely ever see portrayed in a respectful manner in fiction, let alone YA. At its heart the story is about taking chances in life and pushing through the fear of not knowing what’s ahead; the message is an inspirational one and I’m glad it’s out there in the YA sphere. It also debates the morals of keeping animals in zoos versus keeping them in a circus, which wasn’t something I was expecting but, again, is appreciated.

My biggest problem is that I couldn’t really connect with the characters–even the main one. There’s also a baffling romance subplot that just drops out of nowhere.

I also found the adult characters all so strangely irresponsible. Keeping a teenager locked up with an elephant overnight? Check. Sending said teenager off to Florida in the middle of the school year? Check. Slapping said teenager? Check. A 28-year old man seemingly flirting with said teenager? Check. Their actions felt caricature-y and overblown at times, which jarred with the realism of schizophrenia and animal abuse.

This is undoubtedly an important story–one that I’m sure many people will love and connect with–but I just never found myself truly invested in it.

Copy provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review

29 thoughts on “2-For-1 YA: The Deepest Roots & When Elephants Fly – Short Reviews Are My Bane

  1. Gerry@TheBookNookUK says:

    Good reviews! I say don’t worry about word count of reviews, write what you want to write! If it happens to be 30 words, 300 or 3000! I always worry that I write too much or too little (usually it’s too much) but when other people post the same I never think that it’s too much or too little. I’m just glad that they’ve posted!

    Keep it up, you’re doing great! 🙂

    Like

  2. MetalPhantasmReads says:

    Great reviews! I tried a sample of the elephant book and didn’t like the writing and now I think I’m going to skip it due to the irresponsible adult things you mentioned. I don’t know why authors think having irresponsible adults in their books is a good thing. I might still check out Deepest Roots though 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jennifertarheelreader says:

    Thoughtful reviews, Kathy! About the elephant book, Water for Elephants was too much for me, and this sounds like even more than that. These are definitely important books, and I’m hoping that they contributed to finally closing the big circuses here in the US. Loved reading your thoughts. ♥️

    Liked by 1 person

      • jennifertarheelreader says:

        We still have zoos…Many involve intensive preservation efforts, and that is important, but… The circuses- Barnum and Bailey has been shut down for a couple years, and I believe they had stopped the elephant and other animal acts prior to the closings. I can’t promise there isn’t some smaller kind of circuses traveling the country, but thank goodness its mostly over, right?

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Justine says:

    Oh no! When Elephants Fly sounded super interesting and the cover is really pretty, but I will probably pass it up now. Review length has been my problem lately. I want them to be short but still get the most important details in…but then I think everything is important and before I know it. the review is now like 10 pages -.-

    Liked by 1 person

      • Justine says:

        Yea haha the picture is older and I was feeling weird with such a huge picture of my face on there when I showed it to people. I’ll probably end up taking a better picture of the jar someday or an updated pic. And aww lol. It’s good that you have so much to say about shorter works, too, though!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. arubunwritten says:

    I totally get what you’re talking about RE passionate love and passionate rage. There’s no such thing as passionate meh 😂

    The Deepest Roots sounds really interesting but I think I’d be in it for more supernatural/SF elements. Short but great reviews Kathy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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