Handcuffs by Bethany Griffin
[Full disclosure: I won a copy of Handcuffs by Bethany Griffin (2009) from Free Book Friday Teens! Along with the main site, Free Book Friday, a lot of great books have gotten into the hands of readers at no charge, thanks to founder Jessica Brody and the generosity of authors. Check out the sites, and know that my review is in no way influenced by having won an autographed copy of the book.]
Parker Prescott is the quiet middle child with a "perfect" older sister and a younger brother with ADHD. There's a lot happening in Parker's world, as we learn in this first-person story, including the unfolding details of her not-so-perfect sister's problems, serious family financial issues related to Dad's earlier job loss, a girl from school who is blogging very unkind things about Parker, a little blackmail, and a new relationship with a boy--a very complicated boy who brings her to the attention of everyone in school just by his own coolness.
A lot is not as it seems, and we learn more about reality and the complexity of real life right along with Parker.
One touch that I absolutely loved is that the boy in question always remains nameless throughout the book, even as the story of their relationship unfolds in flashbacks, slowly and with the perfect details revealed at the perfect times. Every other character has a name that we know, but not him. I think that sets him apart in a special, almost mythical way.
Just as Parker seems slightly unsure, right through until the end of the book, about her relationship with this boy--is he a jerk, a dream come true, her boyfriend, not her boyfriend--I felt the same way as a reader. Talk about flashbacks to being young and dating! [I think a conversation with her friend near the end of the book indicates that Parker actually does have a grasp of who he is in relation to her by that point, but I don't want to give anything specific away.]
And, regardless of what happens with him, we know Parker will be fine because she's strong, smart, loyal, and her own person. I loved this character!!
I'm definitely adding Handcuffs to my list of favorite books read in 2009.
And, yes, there's a scene involving handcuffs, Parker's father's den, and the unexpectedly early return of Parker's parents. . . .
Check out the author site here.
My overall personal rating of Handcuffs is an A-.