Book Review: Something Wicked
Something Wicked by Lesley Anne Cowan
Penguin Canada | June 2010 | ISBN-13 978-0143173939 | $15.00 Cdn. (paperback) | 224 pages
Publisher’s blurb: “Sixteen-year-old Melissa’s most recent troubles stem from a secret: her twenty-eight-year-old boyfriend, Michael, has just broken up with her. Even though the relationship is clearly over, Melissa clings to the past, riding a never-ending wave of hope and disappointment. Meaningless sexual escapades, drunken nights, and drug-induced blackouts help her deal with heartbreak, but her pain goes much deeper than her failed relationship. Along with a broken heart, Melissa has to cope with the memories of her younger brother’s death; the non-existent parenting of her insecure, flighty mother; being juggled between social workers and psychologists; and getting kicked out of school and sent to a special program for at-risk youth. So when the cracks in her life threaten to tear her apart, Melissa has to decide whether to keep fighting—or to let go.”
My Review: Something Wicked is a gritty, intense novel that deals with some dark and difficult issues. Teen drug and alcohol abuse, risky sexual behaviour, poverty, broken relationships, and loss all figure prominently. Melissa is one of the most intriguing and complex protagonists I’ve encountered in YA recently. She’s fighting many demons in her life and making bad decision after bad decision. She’s tough but emotional, highly intelligent yet disturbingly naïve at times.
In spite of all her troubles, it is clear Melissa has potential to succeed in life—there’s her volunteer work at the animal clinic, her aspiration to become a veterinarian, her astute ability to incorporate literature in to her shaping of the world, and her strong sense of personal morals. It is heartbreaking to watch her life spiral out of control and her deepening state of depression hold her back. Something Wicked gives an honest depiction of the destructive cycle of teen depression if left untreated. As dark as it is however, readers will appreciate Melissa’s sharp wit, self-deprecating sense of humour, and the message of hope conveyed by the end.
Author Lesley Anne Cowan is teacher with the Toronto District School Board working with high-risk students. If you enjoy Something Wicked, you may also want to check out her first novel, As She Grows, which is about teen pregnancy.
Thanks to Cat from Beyond Books for selecting me as the winner of her Something Wicked contest, and to Penguin Canada for sending me the book not once, but twice. I’m glad the second copy made it into my hands, and hopefully there’s a reader out there enjoying the first copy.