March 17, 2009

Ice Chip on his Shoulder: Thaw by Monica Roe

This title was a 2008 Cybils YA finalist.

This book is nothing if not thought-provoking and discussion-generating, let me tell you. Let me also say that it seems people either really liked it or really didn’t like it—as can easily happen with a book in which the narrator is extremely UNsympathetic. I’ll leave it up to you to decide whether there was enough of the redeemable in his personality to make it work.

Dane, the narrator of Thaw, is one of those popular athletic guys who seems to have it all—until he’s felled by Guillain-Barre Syndrome, resulting in almost total paralysis. Much of the paralysis is temporary, but it’s up in the air whether he’ll ever regain full mobility, let alone go back to being the champion skier he was before.

Dane also has an attitude the approximate size of the expert ski slopes he used to conquer with ease. That attitude, and the utter disregard with which he seems to view anyone who doesn’t meet his impossibly high standards—an attitude he picked up from his father—resulted in a breakup with his girlfriend Elise, just after he was diagnosed with Guillain-Barre. Now he’s got an even bigger chip on his shoulder and a set of uphill battles that are both physical and mental. But he’ll have to learn to respect that people have frailties and weaknesses as well as strengths if he’s going to heal…and he’ll have to accept that it’s not just his friends, family, and rehab therapists whose weaknesses he has to respect, but also his own.

Buy Thaw from an independent bookstore near you!


Charlotte said...

Here's what I didn't like--Dane is supposed to be so calculating, always things under control and working toward his interests. But when he's first in the hospital, he is an a...ole to everyone on the staff, especially his primary care nurse. And looking back on that part, after knowing him from before, as it were, it did not ring true. Someone that calculatingly self-interested would go out of the way to manipulate the staff, not antagonize them. I think.

Sarah Stevenson said...

That's a really good point, Charlotte. What bothered me was that he was portrayed as SO self-serving that I was ultimately not convinced by his transformation. I needed something more, some hint earlier in the story that such a change was even possible--and what was provided didn't seem like enough to me.

On the other hand, clearly Dane's characterization as a total a-hole was a resounding success!! :D