Book Reviews

Review – The Changing Season by Steven Manchester

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“This was supposed to be a simple summer for Billy: one more lazy expanse of time before college began. He’d fill the hours playing with Jimmy – his canine best buddy – going camping and doing all the things he promised Jimmy they’d do before Billy left. But that was before the accident that shook the entire town. It was before the summer job that turned into something so much more than a way to get a paycheck. And it was before Vicki. This summer was destined to be many things to Billy, things he didn’t truly understand until now. But it was definitely not going to be simple.”

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Once again I would like to personally thank Mr. Manchester for requesting a review and providing me with a copy of his book. I really appreciate it!

As usual, I should note that my reviews are purely opinion and how I personally reacted to certain aspects in the books I read. Feel free to agree or disagree with me. I always love a good book discussion and am always open to discuss further.

Now typically, I really enjoy simple coming of age stories. To see a character go through a trial of unknown territories, only to learn valuable lessons for the future. To see that same character grow and mature by the end of the book is immensely satisfying to me. Not to mention, I’m an avid dog lover. So when Mr. Manchester requested that I read his book, I thought it was right up my alley. And thankfully, I was right.

First of all, the main characters were all likable and well fleshed out. The protagonist, Billy, is a high school graduate who is unsure of what his future holds. Being a typical teenager, fond of gaming marathons and sleeping in, he feels himself grow more anxious as he sees his fellow peers with such confident aspirations. The only thing Billy is sure of is the love and affection he has for his faithful dog, Jimmy. Their relationship is one of the best aspects of the book as it really helps give the reader insight to Billy’s more caring and thoughtful side.  Billy is a well mannered young man, though he’s not perfect and makes mistakes. The way the author portrays this character makes Billy very relatable  and his situation only the more tragic as he is forced to hide a horrible secret from the one he loves.

Vicki, Billy’s girlfriend, is also a sweet and endearing character. Her personality meshes well with Billy and it’s very believable that these two would develop such strong feelings for each other. I will say that at first I thought the romance was borderline cliche. However, as I read on, I realized that yes, these two characters were teenagers and it makes complete sense. I remembered feeling that way many years ago, a sort of puppy love which the universe itself could not touch. The young couple has many warm and loving moments together, even when a horrific event in her past, makes Vicki more reserved at first.

Charlie, is one of Billy’s best friends. The most fun and social of their group, Charlie aspires to one day be an FBI agent. Despite coming from a bad home life, complete with an absent minded and uncaring mother, Charlie refuses to let it hold him down and keep him from his goals. Until one night, a terrible decision destroys any hope he has to get out in one fell swoop. It wasn’t until this point that the reader really begins to see Charlie as a complex character. It was a very smart choice for the author to switch point of views to see Charlie battling his demons. It makes his dilemma all the more heartbreaking.

Lastly, Arlene, the animal shelter worker and Billy’s boss for the summer. Both wise and nurturing, she helps not only several animals in her care, but also allows Billy to find his true calling. Attentive and determined, Arlene adds an understanding and unbiased adult voice in some of Billy’s decisions. I really enjoyed their exchanges at the shelter.

The rest of the characters, though memorable and realistic, are not in the book enough to warrant a more detailed description.

The writing, though simple and to the point, is not as descriptive as I would normally like. That’s not to say it’s bad, mind you, just something I had to get used to. The author does a wonderful job really delving into characters and their inner workings, particularly Billy and Charlie. His writing really helps the reader see both sides of the same coin and I felt my heart break for both of these characters. Both boys were simply caught in a lose-lose situation. Overall the lessons and morals in the book were both valuable and well presented. Because of this, the reader really feels the weight of each decision that a character makes, whether good or bad.

I commend the author for the ending as well. I thought I knew exactly how everything would play out and I was pleasantly surprised when they didn’t. The conclusion tied everything together nicely, albeit bittersweet, in my opinion. Overall, “The Changing Seasons” set out to be an endearing and mature coming of age story and it did just that.

Who I recommend this for:  If you enjoy coming of age stories as I do, or even happen to love animals.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars


                                                                                                 xx The Page Maiden

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