Fixing Delilah

Fixing DelilahFixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Could not put this book down for long today…A charming, wrenching story about Delilah Hannaford and what it means to be family.

First, a note about the name: I couldn’t stop thinking of the Hannaford grocery store chain. That is all.

I love that this story is unembellished. It creates so much room for the reader to fill in the blanks about the small town in Vermont where Delilah’s mother and aunt grew up and the people who populate it. There’s just enough detail to flesh out the story and characters, but there’s so much room for each reader to come in and complete the picture. Just enough room for us all to step in to Delilah’s shoes and say, Ahh, I know this.

Much has been made in reviews about this book’s similarities, passing or otherwise, to the works of Ockler’s fellow YA author Saran Dessen. I see the comparisons, really I do, but Ockler’s style is less detail-dependent and, shall we say, picky than Dessen’s. Dessen’s books and female leads make me feel like nothing has been overlooked in the creation of the story, which makes for a vibrant picture but leaves very little elbow room for me to identify with the character if I haven’t been smack in the girl’s shoes myself. There’s lots of real detail, but sometimes there’s so much that it permanently separates me from the girl in the story I’m supposed to be feeling for. I’ve never been in Delilah’s shoes totally, but I empathize with her wholly for those fleeting bits and pieces we share. And the ending of Delilah’s summer, and Fixing Delilah itself, is so open-ended but hopeful and full of positive energy and also closure. It is a true portrait of a teenage girl’s summer, not a starting and an ending all tied up in one neat little package, but a fluid thing filled with before and after and here and there and now and then. You have a sense that the characters started out well before the book did and will keep going along well after it ends, without feeling set up for a sequel. (Note: Please let there be no sequel. I love these characters right where they ended up, each and every one of them.)

Now I want chocolate hazelnut lattes. Lots of ’em.

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