Friday, June 2, 2017

And We're Off

And We're OffAuthor: Dana Schwartz
Info: Razorbill, copyright 2017, 288 pages

Seventeen-year-old Nora Holmes is an artist, a painter from the moment she could hold a brush.  She inherited the skill from her grandfather, Robert, who's always nurtured Nora's talent and encouraged her to follow her passion.  Still, Nora is shocked and elated when Robert offers her a gift: an all-expenses-paid summer trip to Europe to immerse herself in the craft and to study history's most famous artists.  The only catch?  Nora has to create an original piece of artwork at every stop and send it back to her grandfather.  It's a no-brainer: Nora is in!

Unfortunately, Nora's mother, Alice, is less than thrilled about the trip.  She worries about what the future holds for her young, idealistic daughter and her opinions haven't gone unnoticed.  Nora couldn't feel more unsupported by her mother, and in the weeks leading up to the trip, the women are as disconnected as they've ever been.  But seconds after saying goodbye to Alice  at the airport terminal, Nora hears a voice call out: "Wait! Stop! I'm coming with you!"

~Goodreads Description

I picked this one up because it was compared to Maureen Johnson's Thirteen Little Blue Envelopes and Gilmore Girls.  Seemed like a no-brainer.  But I feel like I should stop picking up books that are compared to something I love - they never really live up to the hype.

Nora is an artist known for her cartoon drawings on Tumblr.  She wants to seriously develop her art and live up to the expectations of her grandfather who is a renowned painter.  After she is accepted into an exclusive art workshop in Ireland, he offers to send her on a once-in-a-lifetime trip around Europe, planning secret tasks that she must complete at certain locations.  Nora is excited about the trip, but when her mother decides to tag along, the summer is far from what Nora imagined.

The story was okay - there is always the frustration when two people refuse to communicate with each other causing a lot of strife.  Nora's mother, Alice, is secretive and elusive every time she is asked about her job back home, and Nora is an angsty teenage girl who can be a little selfish and stubborn.  There relationship evolves at the end, as was expected, with a relatively genuine moment when they actually start talking to one another.

It was everything else that seemed a good idea but wasn't fully developed.  Nora's secret tasks played a sadly minimal role in the story.  I would have liked them to play a more prominent role in the story, along with the art workshop in Ireland.  Friendships between the other artists and Nora were quickly made, but seemed thin, and Nora's frustration with her art came a bit out of the blue.

As for the connection to Gilmore Girls - no.  Just...no.  I get it - mother / daughter relationship - but ALL Lorelei and Rory Gilmore do is talk.  The show was founded on their quick, witty banter that showed how close they were.  Not the case at all between Alice and Nora.

The book did make me long to hop on a plane and do some traveling.  It will happen soon enough when I take flight in July, but it wasn't quite the rummer European trip story that I was hoping for - not bad, just not as good as it could have been.

It is, however, one book completed on my summer to-be-read list!


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