Blair and Ardith are unlikely friends. Blair's mother is a defense attorney bent on becoming judge. She's all about McMansions, appearances and rubbing elbows. Cheating husbands and beloved, but incontinent dogs, do not fit, so one is put to sleep and the other kept on a tight leash. She has no room in her carefully structured life for a daughter until it suits her purposes, so Blair is usually left to her own devices. Maybe if she'd been as committed to her family as she was her career goals, the two girls might never have gone so far . . .
Ardith's household is completely the opposite. Her parents are in denial about their age and parental status, so they encourage, participate in, and contribute to her brother and his friends using their place as a drunken crash pad. Every day is a party. Ardith learns the importance of locking her door at night, and she refuses to subject Blair to her humiliating gene pool. Determined to never fall to their depths of disgust, she studies hard and doesn't miss a day of school. Maybe if her parents would have spent more time being responsible adults instead of drinking, the two girls wouldn't have felt forced to do what they did . . .
Fate can be a nasty thing. As much as Ardith didn't want Blair to see what her home life was like, it was inevitable. In the same way, there was always going to come a day when Ardith would experience the ruthlessness of Blair's mother. What happened next was a domino effect that put a cop in the hospital, a boy on trial, and left the girls feeling desperate to put things right, even if an innocent had to become collateral damage.
I assume Leftovers is meant to be a sort of study in the damaging effects of inadequate family backgrounds, and it partially succeeds in that effort. However, there are issues I have, both with some aspects of the central plot structure and the writing style, that really take away from the book for me.
The policeman who was injured plays an exremely large part, and yet he's barely ever seen or heard. The book begins with the girls at his house, confessing to him what they had done and why. This leads into toggling between past and present. During the portions that take place in the present, the first person viewpoint is used, and I'm fine with that. What I don't like is the second person view being used for the past. I am not a fan of second person, to begin with. Unless it's a "choose your own" book, I don't want to see "you," especially in the case of a story like this where the characters do things I would never even consider. Also, for some reason, author Laura Wiess has decided not to include the policeman's half of the conversations. What we end up with is each girl babbling on for a page or so, "repeating" his questions so the reader knows what he's supposed to be saying. Since we're only getting one girl's side, at a time, they're constantly shifting over to the other by leading in with something like "I'll let you talk to Blair now" or "Ardith isn't feeling well? She must be having a hard time with the next part." Why not just let us hear the policeman's own words and skip the babbling intros?
The biggest issue involving the policeman is that I just didn't get why the girls were so determined to avenge him. They saw him a few times, and, yeah, he was nice, but those times didn't seem to call for the creepy stalker thing they had going on where he was concerned. There wasn't enough contact, in my opinion, to have formed the kind of bond they felt they had with him. It was just odd. I also think that, while a despicable and immoral thing to do, what the girls finally confessed to was a letdown after all of the suspense building up to it. It was nowhere near as bad as I was expecting.
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