Saturday, November 03, 2012

Week-End's Minis XXXI: Paradise by Jill S. Alexander

Paradise by Jill S. Alexander
published by Macmillan (Feiwel & Friends) in July 2011
Paisley Tillery is the drummer for a country rock band. If they can make it to the stage at the Texapalooza music fest, then Paisley will be closer to her dream of a career in music and a ticket out of her small Texas town.

Drumming and music are what Paisley has always wanted. Until the band gets a new lead singer, the boy from Paradise, Texas. With Paradise in her life, what Paisley wants, and what she needs, complicate her dreams coming true.
Genre: YA, contemporary
Series: None

What do you need to know? Paisley Tillery's mom is pushy and often looks down on people. Paisley's father could have made it to the professional baseball league; however, he got injured and as a result, they had to settle for what they had. Paisley's mom wants better for her two daughters and therefore has been pushing Paisley's older sister, Lacey, to pursue a singing career, disregarding Lacey's lack of talent and ambition. She also does not approve of Paisley being a drummer. As such, Paisley has to keep her passion a secret. She, along with some friends, have formed a country rock band and plan to participate to the Texapalooza music fest, figuring that'd be her ticket to her dream and also, would convince her mother. Unfortunately, the group is missing a lead singer... and then enters the new boy in town, Gabriela Cordova Granados and his accordion.

Why this book? Ames read Paradise when it first came out and really enjoyed it. It's been on my radar ever since, but I was too cheap to get the hardcover... So I picked it up when the trade-size was finally release earlier this summer.

What did I like? Overall, I thought Paradise was a nice read. The reason the book is titled Paradise is because Gabe comes from Paradise, Texas and therefore, Paisley calls him Paradise. I liked Paisley, she was portrayed quite realistically. Her desire and determination to be a drummer, to make it work even if that meant going around her mother's back. The family dynamics also felt very realistic to me. I enjoyed the complicity between the two sisters and with their dad. He's the buffer zone between the daughters and their mother's autocratic ways. While the mother had to be a certain way for the book to work, I have to say, I did not like her at all ^_^; She was looking down on people and I didn't really get why. I mean, seriously, you are not better than them... and she was so focused on climbing to the next class level that she was blind to her daughters' wishes. It's a balance thing really. Still, that's a part of Paisley's family and Ms Alexander didn't shy away from it, didn't try to make it better or as if it didn't matter.

I think what's most commendable about Paradise is how real it felt and also, how it wasn't all pink and rosy. The ending is not tied up all nice and neat, the relationship between Paisley and Gabe was not perfect... The rock band members were friends, but not BFFs...

What didn't work for me? I think I went into Paradise with expectations that were a bit too high. All in all, Paisley and Gabe's characters were nice, but they did not stand out for me. I also expected a lot more from the ending. I was hoping for it to be more poignant... Perhaps because I knew the ending already, so it ruined it for me ^_^; One thing about Paisley and Gabe's relationship... I liked that Gabe understood the meaning of "no." Paisley wears a purity ring and part of it, is to please her mother... but she's not ready to have sex. So Gabe would stop whenever she'd tell him. However, every time, it felt like the making out was initiated by Gabe. I feel if he really understood and respected Paisley, he wouldn't...

Another thing that bothers me a bit about the whole book is that all the events felt like a dream. Because the timeline was so fast, I didn't feel the depth of their relationship. Also, throughout the book,Paisley called Gabe Paradise. The whole thing makes it feels transient, no permanence, like a dream. Perhaps it was done on purpose...

My Grade? B-. I don't regret reading Paradise and the realness of it was really nice, but I have to say I was expecting more.