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Lemon by Cordelia Strube
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Very well written, but this book is a real downer; Lemon's life just goes from bad to worse. I found it hard to read. ( )
  vivaval | May 14, 2014 |
Lemon pits one girl against a world of unreliable parents, irreparable environmental damage, children suffering from cancer, and a collection of deadbeat, hopeless high school peers bent on making her life a spiraling vortex to hell. Our heroine, Lemon, is a rootless wonder -- her time is divided between her adopted father's suicidal ex, brief glimpses of the biological mother who Lemon has never met, and Drew, a school principal afraid to leave her house after she was stabbed by a student. At school, Lemon distances herself from her over-sexed, drug-addled peers; however, the self-imposed exile tends to draw more attention than she desires. She splits her time between a thankless part-time job at a mall ice cream parlour and a volunteer job on a cancer ward for children where she acts as a full-time caregiver for a quick-witted protégé. To escape the increasing disappointments of life in general, Lemon turns to critiques of classic literary heroines (eg. Jane Eyre, Tess of the d'Urbervilles) and stories of great tragedy for comfort. But life cannot be ignored, and the going gets worse before it can ever get better.

Despite the bleak content, Cordelia Strube's prose proves addictive and dazzling. Lemon's perspective leans toward the dark, brooding side of adolescence with good cause, but Strube compels readers to hitch themselves to the young girl's happiness. We want the best for Lemon, and it is hard to ignore the internalized protective parent who wishes to pull Lemon out from the tragedies gathering around her. Strube's first person narrative lends great believability to the character, and the artful integration of classic literary heroines adds greater depth to the novel's themes overall.

Ideal for: Coming-of-age junkies who will not shy away from troubling, upsetting events; English majors looking for a thesis topic comparing modern literary heroines with the girls of Austen; Readers who root for the underdog. ( )
  MizMoffatt | Jan 2, 2012 |
Lemon is not your average teenager - she hates parties and other social functions, spends her time volunteering in the children's cancer ward of the hospital, reads constantly, and criticizes everyone and everything. Pegged by publishers as a modern Catcher in the Rye for girls, Lemon is hilarious, heart-breaking, crude, and hands down one of the best books I have read this year.

Lemon was Longlisted for the Giller Prize this year, and while I severly dislike Catcher in the Rye, the first few pages of Strube's novel convinced me that it was a must-read. Lemon's voice flies off the page like daggers poking holes in the false nature of the people around her. She is disgusted by her teachers, her parents, her firends, her enemies. The only person she likes is a six-year-old named Kadylak who is dying from cancer.

Lemon's attitude makes sense - she was adopted as a baby by a couple who later divorced, moved in with her adoptive dad and his new wife, watched that marriage fall apart, and is now, at sixteen, being contacted by her birth mother. Lemon's best friend, Rossi, wants desperately to be popular, and so she has sex with every boy who looks at her - something Lemon cannot understand ever wanting to do. Add to that an awful part-time job scooping ice cream, and Lemon has a lot to complain about.

Of course, drama ensues, and some seriously traumatic events occur. Through it all Lemon maintains her wit and sarcasm, even when seeing things no teenager should experience. Along with this wit comes quite a bit of swearing and other offensive language, so if you are sensitive to that, Lemon would not be for you. For me, Lemon was a wonderful book - unique in narration, laugh-out-loud funny, and touching. ( )
1 vote Cait86 | Dec 20, 2010 |
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