Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Stray by Joni Johnson | Review

Stray by Joni Johnson
Publisher: Self-Published
Publication Date: March 22, 2017
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Pages: 250
Source: Received ebook from Author for Review
Find on Goodreads

Goodreads Description

Lila Baxter, 17, is abandoned at a gas station in a small town when her father, who was taking her to live with her grandmother, had a lapse in sobriety. Lila is left alone, unsure of where she is, with no money, and no cell phone. Gas station cashier Vance Larson, 18, offers to help the unwanted girl. And how does Lila repay him? By unwittingly unhinging Vance's whole life. Fixing the trouble she’s caused is next to impossible. And will any of it matter when her father returns?

My Thoughts

The synopsis of this novel gives a pretty good summary of what happens throughout the book. In a way I feel it almost gives too much away because the story starts before the information given in the description. The story opens with Lila going to her last day of high school. We get a little look at how her life is but not much. Lila thinks her father is about to kick her out since she's graduated high school but after getting home later that day she finds out he plans to take her across the country to live with a grandmother she's never met. I think knowing ahead of time that Lila would be abandoned at a gas station hut the shock factor of the moment. From the moment the two started on the road I was waiting for the moment Lila would be left.

The pacing of this story is pretty slow. The entire story takes place over about 2 weeks but it felt like it was longer. At some moments the pacing benefited the story, for example it made sure the romance didn't feel rushed, but other times it didn't. There were moments the story dragged and I found myself waiting for he next exciting moment.

I don't know anything about the background of where either of the main characters is from but they seemed real. The characters can make or break a story for me, and these characters made me want to keep reading to see how the story would end. I did feel their were some inconsistencies with Lila. She has trust issues because of the way she grew up, so much so that she didn't allow herself to open up and make friends. The only friend she had didn't really know anything about her life and she refused to tell him even when it could have helped her. However when she meets a complete stranger, Vance (and his mom), while she doesn't completely open up to them right away it seems like she almost completely trusts them.

I wasn't completely satisfied with the ending. I appreciated that there wasn't a perfect ending where everyone got exactly what they wanted because that's not how life is, especially Lila's. However there were some things that didn't quite add up and I had a lot of unanswered questions. One thing that didn't seem right was Lila's age. I know for parts of the story to make since Lila needs to be 17 but when looking at the timeline it doesn't make sense. Lila's birthday is in February and she just graduated high school so unless she skipped a grade Lila should already be 18. This wasn't a huge issue but it's something I noticed. My main issue with this story is all my unanswered questions.

  • Did Carl (Lila's father) leave her on purpose? 
  • If he didn't, was he on his way back to get her?
  • Why wasn't Lila's grandmother ever contacted? Even though she didn't know her, there was some way they could've found her contact information.
  • What did Carl's mother do when he and Lila never showed up?
  • Why didn't anyone contact Carl's next living relative once he was in the accident? Once again, there is a way they couldn't have gotten this information.
There are so many more questions I had but I don't want to spoil any of the story.

Overall, Stray was enjoyable. With some changes I think this story could've been incredible. I would like to see a little extension of the story to be able to see where life goes for Lila, and even Vance and his mother. If this synopsis sounds interesting to you, I think it's worth giving Stray a try.

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