I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.White Lines by Jennifer Banash
Published by Putnam Juvenile on April 4th 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
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A gritty, atmospheric coming of age tale set in 1980s New York City.
Seventeen-year-old Cat is living every teenager’s dream: she has her own apartment on the Lower East Side and at night she’s club kid royalty, guarding the velvet rope at some of the hottest clubs in the city. The night with its crazy, frenetic, high-inducing energy—the pulsing beat of the music, the radiant, joyful people and those seductive white lines that can ease all pain—is when Cat truly lives. But her daytime, when real life occurs, is more nightmare than dream. Having spent years suffering her mother’s emotional and physical abuse, and abandoned by her father, Cat is terrified and alone—unable to connect to anyone or anything. But when someone comes along who makes her want to truly live, she’ll need to summon the courage to confront her demons and take control of a life already spinning dangerously out of control.
Cat’s struggle to escape the pull of her abusive mother coupled with her fear of closeness, combined with the bustling setting of downtown New York in the 1980s, gave White Lines the potential to powerfully impact the reader. Instead, I found it flatlined, meandering from one conviction to another just like its disoriented heroine.
Cat is surrounded by interesting people, all with their own damages. Julian harbors a traumatic relationship history, Angela is a paradox of doll-like perfection and desire to rebel, Giovanni appears cheery but is in actuality isolated and desperate. All of the characters had so much depth, but reading about them was like looking at a flashlight through a frosted pane of glass. The effect of their glow was dulled by the narrative.
This could be due to the dialogue which was rarely strong, and more often formulaic. Think a vague statement, followed by a short question, ending in some showy answer. For example, when Julian asks Cat about her past, she says she might tell him when she knows him better.
“So will I?” He asks.
“Will you what?” …
“Get to know you better.”
Maybe this was done multiple times for dramatic effect, to add a pause and build tension. For me it just made things choppy and repetitive.
Beginning this book, I really wanted to see it resolve with explosive character development for Cat. I was excited for her to find her own strength and progress forward. While the ending was realistic and true to the story, I felt like White Lines could have left me with chills, but failed to dig deep enough.
I’m not sure I would recommend this one, because although it kept me interested, depending on what mood your in, it could not be what your looking for. It vaguely reminds me of Girls by Blake Nelson, possibly because of the narrative voice, even though the actual similarities are few.
Maybe you’ll become bored by the dialogue as well, or while you’re reading you’ll fantasize about a scene where Cat realizes her full strength. Though certain moments in the book brought her close, without that powerful crescendo, the story lacked durability.