Review: White Lines by Jennifer Banash

"Children should love their mothers."

White Lines by Jennifer Banash
Publishing Date: April 4, 2013
Publisher: Putnam 
# of pages: 304
Genre: Contemporary / Historical 

A gritty, atmospheric coming of age tale set in 1980s New York City.

Seventeen-year old Cat is living every teenager's dream: she has her own apartment on the Lower East Site and at night she's club kid royalty, guarding the velvet rope at some of the hottest clubs in the city. The night with its crazy, frenetic, high-inducing energy--the pulsing beat of the music, radiant, joyful people and those seductive white lines that can ease all pain--is when Cat truly lives. But her daytime, when real life occurs, is more nightmare than dream. Having spent years suffering her mother's emotional and physical abuse, and abandoned by her father, Cat is terrified and alone--unable to connect to anyone or anything. But when someone comes along who makes her want to truly live, she'll need to summon the courage to confront her demons and take control of a life already spinning dangerously out of control. 

Drinking game: one shot every time a simile or metaphor is used, two shots every time either one is used to describe whatever horrible emotion Cat is experiencing. Albeit, there were some moving passages but overall I've about had my fill of both writing devices for... ever.
The last third is definitely the shining part of this book. It's not horrible by any means but it could've still used a lot of work. Character developments fell short and the pacing was so stagnant that if you asked me to clearly outline the novel I couldn't. I couldn't tell you the purpose of all the characters and what role they each played in Cat's journey. I couldn't even point out major parts or stages of the book. After awhile it all just blends together. Granted I've been reading this for awhile but if the plotting and pacing of a novel is clear enough that shouldn't really matter. All you'd need is a quick refresher but even that couldn't do it for me. (Please hold your 'that's what she said' jokes. I've made them for you.)

What is it with horrible mothers and YA? Is a mother's love that elusive to writers? There is way more than the absence or abuse of a parent that can fuck a person over. I know that very well. I'm just so very sick and tired and repulsed by the role (or lack thereof) of mothers in novels. 85% of all contemporary novels I've read so far have used the shunning of a mother to the main character as a plot device. It's very depressing to read, you know. It's a hard thing to really argue in this case because all of Cat's issues are rooted in her mothers abuse towards her--physical and emotional--but I'm commenting on how this is the general case in most YA novels. And it sucks.

But hey, those club passages be bangin'. I loved how Banash really made Cat's other-life seem so electric and alive. As demonstrated in the summary, some of those description ran way too long but the feel and emotional intensity Cat feels is so nailed down. Even if you aren't a club person, it kind of makes you want to be one. (If you've never been, I'd recommend going to a club once. You don't have to give into the entire culture of it all but it is very freeing to just literally dance the night away.)

It's clear the editing and plotting needed to be way more well-done and certain aspects of the novel needed to be much more fleshed out. Cat, however, was fleshed out just fine and empathized with her on several parts. Her personality or self isn't very well defined but it's not meant to be me, mostly because she doesn't know who she is. Girl is a down-right mess. It was actually rewarding to see her make that final crash and realize that her life isn't one worth giving up on despite how it's been so far. Though how she got there was predictable.

Overall, great if you need something to read before heading to bed but not so great if you want something more guilty pleasure (which you'd think this was) or more provocative. I don't think it's something that'll provoke any deep thought but it's one of those things that, while depressing to read, does actually make you feel not as isolated.

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