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One Lonely Degree by C. K. Kelly Martin
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One Lonely Degree

by C. K. Kelly Martin

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After reading two of C. K. Kelly Martin's novels, I added all of the others to my wishlist on Amazon, and bought three of them, her first three novels, when they went on sale. One Lonely Degree differs quite a bit from my prior experiences. Although the style clearly belongs to Martin still, and the books have a similar tone that I associate with her, I can really tell how much she grew as an author from this book to My Beating Teenage Heart. I did enjoy reading One Lonely Degree, but the subject matter is a bit overdone and it's also a subject I really just don't care for much personally.

Of course, Martin does not write contemporaries full of rainbows and sunshine and happiness. The first half of the novel reminded me quite a bit of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, though their plot and situations differ. Finn, short for Fionnuala, aches and lives in fear, cringing at the memory of some incident months before. The reader does not learn precisely what transpired until quite a long ways in, allowing time for guesses. This both builds suspense and lets the reader see just how much Finn refuses to deal with what happened. She avoids talking about it to anyone, and even thinking about it to herself.

As always, I respect Martin so much for not shying away from how terrible teens can be. They have sex, they drink, they do drugs, and they generally hurt one another constantly. Finn is so incredibly selfish throughout One Lonely Degree, and, honestly, I'm finding that I really love the main characters that admit their own selfishness and indulge anyway, because that is being a teenager, or, really, a human.

On top of her personal difficulties, Finn's parents have been going through something, and she fears that divorce is on the way. Already so unstable, she throws bratty temper tantrums and ignores her obviously upset parents, hoping that, if she fights back hard enough, the current of change will retreat back whence it came. With her friend Audrey, too, Finn always focuses on herself first, her personal dramas counting much more, largely because of The Event.

At this point, I'm going to have to venture into spoiler territory, because I just don't see any other way to talk about what happens and why I didn't like this book more than I did. As happens in about 75 percent of YA novels set in a school, a new guy comes into Finn's class. In this case, her turns out to be a childhood friend, Jersy. Though at first annoyed by him, she quickly starts to crush on him, but tamps those emotions down when Audrey expresses interest, because broken as Finn is, she doesn't think she could handle a relationship anyway.

Jersy's presence destroys the friendship between Finn and Audrey in so many ways, none of which were his fault, but I still never cared for him as a character largely because I feared where the novel was going (and I was right about that). I did think it was awesome that he is shorter than Finn, though, because that pretty much never happens in fiction. Anyway, his presence in their lives breaks down their friendship, first because Finn pretends never to have wanted him, second because he and Audrey end up having to sneak around while dating because of her father's disapproval, and third because, when caught sneaking around, Audrey gets sent away from the summer, leaving Jersy and Finn free to bond and hook up.

Damn it, I suspected the whole time that One Lonely Degree was taking the slow train to infidelity town, but I kept hoping, because, as I said, SLOW train. I know nobody likes cheating, but I seriously hate it, because I've always had a very black and white sense of justice, and, to me, such things seem stupid and so easily avoidable. In this modern age of communication, send your girlfriend an email and end things, so that you can launch on your new relationship as something other than a cheating douchebag. Similarly, talk your feelings out with your best friend before you ever lay a finger on her boyfriend in a sexual manner, and, ideally, don't tell her he's fair game when you've already got feelings for him. Audrey would have backed off immediately had Finn mentioned her burgeoning attraction, because of all of Audrey's lingering guilt about her part in what happened.

Sadly, I would have liked Finn and Jersy well enough as a couple had they not been betraying someone else. Maybe you can't help who you fall for, but you can at least try to be less of a jerk about it than they did. While my heart ached for what Finn went through, that does not excuse her behavior here. Plus, once the characters are in that place, there aren't really any endings that will satisfy me. Pretty much as soon as the cheating occurs, I cannot like those characters as much as I did before, and I can't root for them to have a happy ending, at least not for a long while. Forgiveness and empathy are not emotions that I'm especially good at.

In no way would I say that One Lonely Degree is a bad book, but if you have huge issues with infidelity as a theme like I do, you may not love it either. I feel, too, that I might have appreciated this more had I not read several novels with similar themes that spoke to me more than this one happened to. ( )
  A_Reader_of_Fictions | Apr 1, 2013 |
One Lonely Degree kind of reminded me of a lighter version of Speak. It wasn’t what I expected and in the end I wanted more.

The story kind of dragged on a little. I didn’t really understand Finn, let alone like her in the beginning. But as I read farther into the story, I finding out she was sexually assaulted I understood why she acted this way. She was numb to it all and wanted to forget…I just wanted her to be stronger. I wanted her to know that she wasn’t something old and used. She kept this secret practically from everyone except her BFF Audrey…

I really liked the relationship between Finn and Jersy. With Audrey away and Jersy…Finn was becoming stronger and coming out her shell. She wasn’t so depended on Audrey anymore. I really liked reading about Finn's growth throughout the novel.

What I enjoyed most with this book was Kelly Martin's writing, she did a wonderful job creating realistic and re-latable characters. I think there are a lot of girls like Finn who just wanted to forget about what happened to them. And wish they would have had the courage to speak up.(P.S. i hated Adam's guts...jerk!)

In the end I liked One Lonely Degree, it has genuine characters, uncomplicated romantic plot, with easy and flowing writing.I'm sure a lot of teens can relate. I'll be reading more of Kelly Martin's books. ( )
  fayeflame | Oct 6, 2010 |
Reviewed by Jennifer Rummel for TeensReadToo.com

Finn isn't the girl she used to be before - before the party when her life changed.

Only her BFF, Audrey, knows about that night. Now she's just a shell of her old self, not wanting to take a chance on anything.

When a former friend moves back to town, she knows he's gotten hotter. While she's interested, she can't bring herself to do anything about her crush. When Audrey asks her if she would mind if she dates Jersy, Finn immediately says no. After all she's done for her, Audrey needs a little happiness, too.

Soon she becomes the third wheel, and when Audrey's mom and dad find out, she becomes a convenient excuse. When Audrey's parents send her away over the summer, Finn doesn't know what to do with herself. She gets a job, but without her BFF, she's lonely. Plus, her own parents are breaking up.

She needs someone to turn to. Will that someone be Jersy?

C.K. Kelly Martin creates another wonderfully awkward love story with ONE LONELY DEGREE. ( )
  GeniusJen | Oct 12, 2009 |
Finn and Audrey are the type of best friends who seem like the same person. Their tastes are so similar that they even end up falling for the same guy - new kid in town Jersy. When Audrey and Jersy get together, Finn swallows her disappointment as she attempts to cope with the tension that suddenly fills her parents' marriage. But then Audrey's parents decide she needs to spend the summer away from Jersy, and Finn and Jersy start to get closer. So close that they begin to realise that they may be the perfect match, not Audrey and Jersy. A very well-rounded teen romance filled with tension, anxiety and uncertainty. Just slightly missing the same "snap" as I Know It's Over, but still highly recommended for both teens and adults. ( )
  Elishibai | Sep 18, 2009 |
This is the first book I've read by C.K. Kelly Martin, I know for shame, I need to read I Know It's Over. I really liked the idea of this book but it played out a bit differently than I would have hoped. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed it and I loved Finn. I mean she wanted to be a graphic designer and move to London or New York, we basically had the same dream!

One thing I was really interested in finding out was what happened at The Party, and I was surprised to find out how soon that information was given out. I figured I would have to wait a lot longer than I did. But at the same time it was kind of nice to know what the incident was because it allowed me to understand why Finn was the way she was without having to do that after I had finished the book, I got to do it during the book.

The parts I enjoyed most of the book were after school had let out and Finn's friend and Jersy's girlfriend Audrey was out of the picture. I really wanted to see how this relationship would develop between Finn and Jersy. How could it happen in such a way that Finn would be horrified with herself when she finally realized what was going on between herself and Jersy. I thought it was pretty believable. Sidenote: these characters have the coolest names! Anyhow, I really liked these parts but the ending left me wanting more. I'm not really certain how it ended, this was a case were I wanted a more concrete ending, I was having trouble imagining for myself where this would go.

All in all an interesting book and I can't wait to read the author's other title, I Know It's Over! ( )
  mint910 | May 17, 2009 |
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When fifteen-year-old Finn's world falls apart after a violent sexual encounter, the only person she can talk to her is her best friend, Audrey, until beautiful boy Jersy moves back to town and both girls develop feelings for him that threaten to destroy their friendship.… (more)

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