Pub. Date: July 2004
Source: contest prize
In Laura Moriarty's extraordinary first novel, a young girl tries to make sense of an unruly world spinning around her. Growing up with a single mother who is chronically out of work and dating a married man, 10-year old Evelyn Bucknow learns early how to fend for herself.
Offering an affecting portrayal of a troubled mother/daughter relationship, one in which the daughter is very often expected to play the role of the adult, the novel also gives readers a searing rendering of the claustrophobia of small town midwestern life, as seen through the eyes of a teenage girl. Evelyn must come to terms with the heartbreaking lesson of first love -- that not all loves are meant to be -- and determine who she is and who she wants to be. Stuck in the middle of Kansas, between best friends, and in the midst of her mother's love, Evelyn finds herself . . . in The Center of Everything.
I cannot confidently say people who stumble on this book will definitely love it. If you're looking for something new, exciting, full of surprise, The Center Of Everything won't do you any good. But if you love ordinary, meaningful piece of writing, you'll find it extremely interesting.
The story doesn't have a particular plot so there won't be no climax, twists or whatsoever. It simply told a life of a teenager, someone you would find kind of boring - yeah, almost nothing was special about the main girl, I have to admit. At first when I read the summary, I was so certain I'd not find any fun in this book. And what happened? When I started reading it, I just couldn't tear my eyes away.
Evelyn's teen life was the main focus of the book. With just 352 pages long, the author managed to convey everything that happened in a very logical way. The pace was always the same - not too slow nor too fast - but it never felt monotonous because Laura invested different kind of elaboration in different periods of time. Sometimes a day stretched in pages while three years had already passed by just by in two lines. The point was, nothing she wrote was meaningless. In almost every random conversation or monologues readers would, surprisingly, found the truest and most meaningful thing about life they never ever realized before. If you love quotes, you'll love this.
I liked Evelyn really much. Sure thing she wasn't an extraordinary character. Sometimes I think she was selfish, timid, unreasonable - she complained about her shoes too much even though she knew her mom was depressed, she acted like her brother Samuel wasn't her sibling at all. But what was amazing about Evelyn was that the way Laura portrayed her - it made me feel everything the girl did, like I was the one in the book. When she was pissed I was pissed. When she was sad I found myself unhappy as well. It was strange but enjoyable. Her life was very complicated, though not interesting, yet it would show you a lot of aspects - the town she lived in, the religion and politic issues, the way teenagers led their lives. And above all, learning to thrive through mistakes.
Like I said above, not all of you will love this book. But if you can, I think you should give it a try.