When I began to include a monthly author feature, one of the authors I wanted to reach out to was Ellen. Reading Hard Love was one of the great finds of that early binge reading. Several years later she offered a rich gift to the YA world with Parrotfish. When we connected I was given the opportunity to read her newest novel, Local Girl Swept Away. Occasionally, my wife accuses me of liking everything I read; not true. I am a good reader of reviews and from time to time I don’t finish a novel I start. (A privilege we don’t offer students very often, that adult readers take all of the time.) Without a doubt, Local Girl Swept Away stole my imagination and took me away. This is a complex novel that reminded me of both the adult and YA fiction of Joyce Carol Oates, an author who doesn’t get enough credit for her YA fiction. It also reminds me in tone and theme of E. Lockhart’s We Were Liars.
Local Girl Swept Away is a novel of mystery and intrigue based on the friendship and betrayal of four friends. The novel’s narrator, Jackie moves from an innocent follower to more self aware adolescent who discovers how to nurture her artistic talents. Along the way, the four characters discover their individual strengths and weakness as they learn to stand alone before they can rebuild friendships. This is a novel with excellent characters, great narration, and complex themes that needs to be on your list of recommendations.