Title: Graffiti Heaven
Author: Marita A. Hansen
Rating: 2 of 5 Stars
Blurb: Life is turned upside down for Ash Rata and Tiana Lilu after they skip school to take their relationship to the next level. When their family and friends find out, they are forced to deal with rumours, bullies, an overprotective brother and mortified parents.
Amongst the turmoil Ash grows closer to his stepdad, learning to trust again after years of holding a grudge against his jailed father. But following a guys’ night out together, Ash’s life is shattered when he wakes up in hospital and learns his stepdad has done something unforgivable. Traumatised, he pushes everyone he loves away, terrified that they will discover what really happened that night.
Set in the year 2000, ten years prior to Behind the Hood, Graffiti Heaven is the first in a series that follows Ash Rata’s teenage years, a coming of age tale where both comedy and tragedy battle it out on a New Zealand stage.
My Review: So, ummmm….. I’m scratching my head here. Lets see… Overall, the book wasn’t bad.
The beginning was very tedious and had I not been reading on my iPad would have thrown the book down in frustration. Luckily I should some restraint and my iPad is still intact. (Thank God!) 🙂 The first few chapters had this book feeling like a total chore for me. In the sense that I was dragging my feet and not into it. But my commitment to finish books I start, kept me reading. One thing that annoys me to no end in books is what I consider to be high school drama. You know: the gossip, bullying, backstabbing, lying, etc. and overall childish and immature attitude teens are known for. Well Graffiti Heaven is full of that. So in understanding that I don’t enjoy this you can see why I struggled with this book. The book got better once the story line was established and progressed (although this always remained a part of the book).
Hansen kept me hooked with some good plot twist and some well thought out foreshadowing. If that last statement left you scratching your head, what I mean is that she so subtlety hinted at things and left me with a curiosity that I could not contain and forced me to keep reading. Once that whopper of a plot twist played out, she would once again stoke my curiosity and keep me hooked.
Also, Graffiti Heaven takes place in New Zealand and color me ignorant but I was so out of my element in the culture this book presents. I’ll admit that this is a prime example of a situation of where Google would be my best friend- but I’m a lazy gal that figured it out with assumptions and context clues. Like starting this book I had no clue what a Croatian was. Now I have a very solid guess. So I did spend a good half of the book with a question mark hanging over my head.
This book also deals with a lot of sensitive subjects: sex, drugs, abuse, rape, bullying, and a few more things that I will reserve in the hopes of not providing spoilers. Hansen does a great job with writing about such sensitive and controversial issues. She presents a tough world for teenagers where this is their reality. She narrates in a way that allows the reader to understand the emotions that provoke and result from these actions. She also cleverly weaves positive solutions that left me with a positive outlook after everything that happened. I can imagine that although this book did get a bit tough to stomach at times that it is that kind of book that can give people in similar situations hope.
All in all, this a cleverly written book. It is honest and realistic and very well written. I don’t necessarily think it was a bad book, I just think it wasn’t for me.
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