Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wanted - Heidi Ayarbe

Wanted by Heidi Ayarbe 
I have a bad tendency of reading review copies well before the release date and not writing up a review or even jotting down notes.  Though this also has it advantages as well because I get the opportunity to revisit a novel and reevaluate my first impressions.   I know a novel is a winner when I can still remember much of the plot line and a few of the quieter moments that moved me in the first place.  This is exactly what happened with Wanted.

17 yr old Michal is a bookie,and has set up her own buissness called Sanctuary at her high school.   Michal keeps to herself and follows one rule, never place a bet.  She's convinced herself she needs the money more then the rush.  Before bets are placed, Michal reads from Dostoevsky's, Gambler.  At first it was a cover now it has become ritual.  Everything is going according to plan until Josh moves to Carson City.  Soon after Michal places her first bet and catches the rush bug.   Carson City is town divided by the have and have nots.  Michal wants to use her winnings to even out the odds a bit. When that is not enough Michal and Josh begin a secret crusade. They are Bonnie and Clyde meets Robin Hood.  

I am not sure if author intended for Wanted and Sanctuary together so well or if it was simply a happy accident. I am betting (pun intended) on the latter.   Wanted Sanctuary/ Sanctuary Wanted, either way there's  something there that I could not ignore; even more so after reading the novel and getting to know Michal, who is raised by her grandmother, whom she calls Lillian.  She also a longs for her mother and wishes for a closer connection to her mother's homeland of Mexico. After a creative writing assignment  Michal continues to compose 5 word memoirs. When language is sparse I have a great appreication for it. Since the memoirs are only five words, Ayarbe is using punctuation like nobodies business.        
"Heart bursts with words not said"

Some of the memoirs are by  classmates -  "No country, No nationality, Mexican American exile"   written by Moch. The two were very close when they were younger but drifted apart.  Now Michal worries about the Moch she once knew, while the older one has joined a gang.

The author handles difficult subjects like classism and racism with care.  Nothing feels loaded down or forced. It all a smooth natural part of the story, as Michal and Josh risk everything  to challenge status quo.

An excerpt via Harperteen

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