Monday, April 22, 2013

Mini-Review: COUNTING BACKWARDS by Laura Lascarso

Author: Laura Lascarso
Published: August 14th 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Atheneum
Pages: 279
Format: Hardcover
Source: Publisher (unsolicited)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
Taylor Truwell is a troubled girl with a neglectful mother, a callous father, and an urge to flee. When Taylor is caught with a stolen car and lands in court for resisting arrest, her father convinces the judge to issue an alternative punishment: treatment in a juvenile psychiatric correctional facility. And so Taylor arrives at Sunny Meadows.

Sunny Meadows is anything but the easy way out, and Taylor has to fight hard just to cling to her sanity as she battles her parents, her therapist, and a group of particularly nasty fellow patients, the Latina Queens. But even as Taylor struggles to hold on to her stubborn former self, she finds herself relenting as she lets in two unlikely friends - Margo, a former child star and arsonist, and AJ, a mysterious boy who doesn't speak.

Sunny Meadows goes against everything Taylor stands for. But is it the only place that can save her?

Taylor Truwell is angry – at her drunken mother, and especially at her impossible-to-please father, since he's the one who convinced the judge to send Taylor to Sunny Meadows. From trying to break out of Sunny Meadows to trying to fit in so she can be released, Taylor goes on a personal journey to find out who she is and who she wants to be. Right from the beginning, Taylor's strong voice and personality easily captured my attention, and Taylor's character growth throughout the novel is wonderfully written and portrayed. Lascarso lets readers see Taylor at her absolute worst and best through the sparse, straightforward 1st person narration. And, with an excellently diverse supporting cast, Lascarso fills COUNTING BACKWARDS with intriguing yet realistic characters that you cannot help but to enjoy. A story about friendship, family, and change, COUNTING BACKWARDS proves itself to be an enjoyable read. 

Highlights: Good pacing and a good conclusion. Diverse characters. A very vivid setting, I felt like I could envision Sunny Meadows perfectly. I enjoyed how much the characters evolved and how Lascarso altered my opinion of them throughout the story. A.J was such a sweetheart, and Margo was an awesome character. Themes of change, coming-of-age, friendship, family, and becoming the person you want to be.

Lowlights: Very predictable. I had a difficult time connecting with Taylor, but I was still rooting for her throughout the story. In the end, it seemed as though the writing was too weak or the story was too short to make a lasting, emotional impact (but I could be in the minority on this point, so give this story a chance). 



  1. I've never heard of this one before but I have to say that it sounds pretty interesting. I like that the setting is important and memorable. That really seems to elevate a book for me. It's too bad it was predictable though.
    Great review!

  2. I've heard of this, but never really felt like reading it. I'm always picky with my contemps. I'm not a big fan of predictable books, but I'm glad that the characters and pacing we're good. Those are musts with contemporaries! Awesome review!

  3. I'm glad that you liked Taylor-- she was a bit unlikable for me at times. But I do think that her development was fantastic! And AJ just ROCKED. I'm sorry that it was predictable for you, though. Rocking review!

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  5. The diverse characters, good conclusion and pacing sound great but sad that it was predictable and you had some trouble connecting.
    Brandi @ Blkosiner’s Book Blog