Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 1987
HIDDEN DEPTHS AND YOGA MATS
(Updated: August 29, 2012)
Overall rating 
 
4.3
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
In SINCE YOU LEFT ME, the new book by Allan Zadoff, Sanskrit is confused, although at first, he doesn't seem too bothered by that. Life is confusing, parents are confusing, religion is really confusing, and so on. That's just sort of how things are, and he's resignedly, if not happily, going along for the ride. Then he tells a little lie to cover up for his flaky mother missing parent-teacher conferences, and soon things are spiraling out of control.

The spiral is what engaged me. At first, I was a little wary of a story in which the main character is named Sanskrit Aaron, and who has a sister named Sweet Caroline. Yes, like the song. Lordy, I thought. Not another wacky-name-character book. I proceeded with caution, and one eyebrow raised.

It is therefore proof of Allan Zadoff's storytelling magic that by the end, I was completely engaged in the world of the book, and I knew that of course these two people (not characters, people) were called Sanskrit Aaron and Sweet Caroline, and wasn't that just the whole mess in a nutshell? Not once did I even so much as twitch a supercilious eyebrow. I was too busy reconsidering my place in the universe.

See, Mr. Zadoff is a sneaky, tricksy writer (I say that admiringly). He sucked me in with zany chapter titles like: "An Israeli woman with large breasts is calling my name." Like I'm going to resist that. So of course, I thought I was reading a fun book. A funny book. A light-and-easy-lemon-squeezy book. And so it is, right up until the moment it isn't, and suddenly I found myself thinking about the place of the divine in the universe, and what we owe (or don't) to our family and heritage, and what being a mother truly means, and what it must be like to let go of someone you believe you can't exist without, and...and... All that and more snuck up on me, softly and gently, so that I was laid bare to it, and found myself provoked into feeling and thinking about things I wasn't expecting to confront on a summer morning. It was like Brecht, only without the utterly depressingly negative view of humanity.

WHEN YOU LEFT ME is not depressing. It is not negative. The characters are flawed, but you forgive them (much like you do your crabby Aunt Lucy, because you know it's her just her way). By the end of the book, Sanskrit is perhaps more alone, but he's also more free, and that sense of possibility is the best part of being a teenager, setting foot upon a path, not knowing what will come, but hoping it will be wonderful.
Good Points
Nutty, but believable story
Philosophically challenging, yet ultimately comforting
Report this review Was this review helpful to you? 0 1

Comments

Already have an account? or Create an account
Powered by JReviews

FEATURED GIVEAWAYS

Latest Book Listings Added

Look Both Ways
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
This story was going to begin like all the best...
Ashes (The Wings Trilogy: Adam, #3)
 
0.0
 
5.0 (1)
"The truth was, I wasn’t on anyone’s side except Claire’s....
Fire (The Wings Trilogy: Adam, #2)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
After being killed by demons, former angel Adam wakes up...
Spark (The Wings Trilogy: Adam, #1)
 
0.0
 
5.0 (1)
"It came out of nowhere. A sweep of emotions. Love,...
The Twin
 
3.7
 
0.0 (0)
After their parents divorced, 10-year-old twins Ivy and Iris were...
Devil Darling Spy
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
It's 1940, and Sarah Goldstein is hiding in plain sight...
The Life Below
 
4.0
 
4.0 (1)
It was hard enough for Naomi to leave Leo, a...
Mr Penguin and the Fortress of Secrets (Mr Penguin #2)
 
4.5
 
0.0 (0)
Meet Mr. Penguin―Adventurer (And Penguin!) When Mr. Penguin...
Famous by Default
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Jax Buried, By my family's fame. Dying to escape...
Sword and Pen (Great Library Book, #5)
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
With the future of the Great Library in doubt,...
Butterfly Yellow
 
3.3
 
0.0 (0)
Perfect for fans of Elizabeth Acevedo, Ibi Zoboi, and...
Jonny Lambert's Construction Site
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
A beautifully illustrated book for babies featuring lots of noisy...
Pop-Up Peekaboo! Baby Animals
 
5.0
 
0.0 (0)
Take your toddler on a rain forest adventure and find...
Seven Deadly Shadows
 
4.0
 
0.0 (0)
Seventeen-year-old Kira Fujikawa has never had it easy. She’s...
Pet
Pet
 
4.7
 
0.0 (0)
The highly-anticipated, genre-defying new novel by award-winning author Akwaeke...
Gray (The Wings Trilogy, #3)
 
0.0
 
0.0 (0)
The long anticipated finale to the Wings Trilogy. ...

Latest Member Reviews

The Life Below
 
4.0
"After our mindbending landing on the moon back in 1969, we’ve faltered in our quest to explore space. Mars seems..."
The Twin
 
3.7
"Ivy and her twin sister Iris parents divorced when they were ten. Ivy got to live with their father and..."
Devil Darling Spy
 
4.7
"Sarah Goldstein, alias Ursulla Haller, is living right under Nazi rule in 1940 Germany. She's the Shirley Temple of the..."
The Life Below
 
4.0
"Naomi can't help but wonder if there was an ulterior motive behind the decision to kick Leo out of the..."
The Stars We Steal
 
3.7
"Jane Austen in space….yes please! The Stars We Steal by Alexa Donne is a futuristic retelling of Jane Austen’s Persuasion...."
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things
 
4.0
" The story: After living in foster care since the death of her mother, Edie finally..."
Seven Deadly Shadows
 
4.0
"Sixteen-year-old Kira Fujikawa loves helping at her family shrine. She also has a paranormal ability. She sees the not only..."
The Shadows Between Us
 
5.0
"THE SHADOWS BETWEEN US is the highly devourable YA fantasy I have been searching for! This is an enthralling story..."
 
3.3
"The Betrothed is a brand new YA-novel set in the 15th century by Kiera Cass, whom we all know from..."
Remember Me
 
4.0
"‘First rule of storytelling,’ he says, a glint in his eyes.’ Everything is possible.’ Nell is..."
Lobizona
 
5.0
"Sixteen-year-old Manuela, 'Manu' is in hiding from her father's Argentinian crime family. She also runs the risk of being deported..."
A Very Large Expanse of Sea
 
4.7
"Reviewed for YA Books Central A book that should be on every teen's shelf. ..."
Serious Moonlight
 
5.0
"Birdie and Daniel has the most awkward first encounter. So when Birdie started her job in a historic hotel, she..."
Long Way Down
 
5.0
"I feel like I've been asleep for the last 31 years and I just woke up. I am woke. ..."
The Opposite of Always
 
5.0
"Opposite of Always is a heartfelt and stunning debut; that is worthy of all praise. I am in love..."
Tyler Johnson Was Here
 
5.0
"Tyler Johnson Was Here--did not come to be politically correct, or racially ambiguous. Tyler Johnson came to tell an ugly..."
We Are Not Free
 
5.0
"Fourteen friends who grew up together in Japantown, San Francisco find themselves and their families sent off to incarceration camps..."
The Way You Make Me Feel
 
3.7
"Clara Shin is the class clown and definitely qualifies as a troll too. (Big difference between the two, I'm not..."
Pet
Pet
 
4.7
"Recently recognized as a National Book Award finalist and a Stonewall Honor book, Pet is also Akwaeke Emezi’s YA debut..."
Brown Girl Ghosted
 
4.0
"Sixteen-year-old Violet Choudhury has a huge secret. During the day she's part of her Midwestern town's cheer squad and at..."