By: Amy Kathleen Ryan
Publishers: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Release May 2010)
Reading Level: Young Adult Fiction
Zen and Xander are sisters—truly, madly, deeply sisters, and this is their last summer together.
Ryan's May release Zen and Xander undone is one novel that packes one hell of an emotion punch. From the book description I anticipated a heart wrenching story of loss for these two girls that becomes their undoing. What I did not anticipate was that the true under lieing storyline of a young girl that is struggling with the loss of everything in her life. Because of the lifestyle and choices of poison it is an immediate concern for the future of Xander the older out of control eighteen year old, but the reader slowly learns that Zen is in more trouble than at first sight. Zen has not only lost her mother, but she is now facing the loss of her sister and her deeply depressed father. This book reminded me a lot of P.S. I Love You, because of the letters that Zen and Xanders mother prepares before her death. This was a careful crafted story line that is deeply emotional, and will pull the reader through by the heart strings. The amount of saddness and despair in the one small book is unreal. I especially felt sad for Xander when it becomes clear that Adam is in love with Xander. It seems as though this character is always being left behind. This is the first novel that I have ever read that has the main character doing all of the talking, but it is mainly about the side characters story. Everything seems to be about Xander, but you discover that under the story Xander feelings show through. The story then takes a definetly turn, to the mystery and mission of their Mother. After having stolen their mothers will records from the lawyer, they find that I may not really know their mother. This turns into a disasterious mission to discover their mothers secrets. Only what they find is that everyone has secrets, and when you don't know all of the details it is easy to make presumptions and judge unfairly; somethings are better left buried. As my first novel by Amy Kathleen Ryan I have to say that I am quite impressed by this authors ability. Such deep feeling is intertwined in her writing that it left me craving more. I look forward to seeing what she can come up with in the future. As for my cover note on this novel it was pretty self explanatory without reading the novel. Mine is the cover previewing two girls one with makeup, jewelry, and looking like shes on the prowl which my guess is Xander; while the other is innocent and sweet I perceived this to be Zen. Not a lot hidden in the cover, but definetly beautiful and will attract a lot of attention.
**Special Thanks to Houghton Mifflin for my review copy of this book!!