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Friday, March 11, 2011

Leah by J. M. Reep

Introverted and shy, 14-year-old Leah Nells has lived her life alone, with only books to keep her company. As she starts 9th grade, she finds herself lost within the complicated social universe of high school — especially when she falls in love with a boy from her class. Under pressure from her parents, her classmates, and the whole noisy world, can she become the girl she wants to be?

Reviewed by Dale

With the earthquake in Christchurch it has been some time since I have had an opportunity to read let alone review a book for my blog but with the kick-off of 'Read an eBook Week' I felt compelled to find something good to read and forget about the horrors of the past few weeks. 

So it was that I found myself digging through the teen catalogues of Smashwords and discovered this little gem tucked away. A simple title, a catchy cover and an intriguing sounding blurb. 

I think it was the loner aspect of the character that made me pick the book. For once a novel written about shy teenagers that doesn't include vampires, misfits or freaks. Instead what we have here from Mr. Reep is a very well written, carefully crafted almost journal like story that could be insanely boring. How do you write about a shy teen's life which is fundamentally boring with any kind of skill that doesn't leave the reader starved of any excitement or compulsion to turn the next page? A challenge to any author. Reep has pulled it off and I found myself drawn easily into the character's life. Leah's idiosyncrasies and awkwardness add flesh while the authors own almost claustrophobic style of writing compound the sense timidity. Referring to Leah's parents as simply Mr Nells or Mrs Nells or the constant and repeated use of the personal pronoun 'she' all help reinforce this feeling of inside outside; of Leah's world and what is not Leah's world. 

As the Authors blurb states we join Leah on her first day at a new high school. Overwhelmed by new sights and sounds, unfamiliar routines and new faces, it's a challenge for any new student but for Leah it's an even more dramatic day. I changed schools a lot as a kid and remember all too well how anxious the first day at a new school was. Maybe being a little shy as a teen myself helped this story to resonate with me. I could certainly empathize to a small degree. 

What strikes me is that this is no short novel it weighs in at about 229 pages and yet it has pace, and fluidity. I never tired of reading page after page. I must admit I'm more comfortable reading fantasy and adventure and know what to expect in such terms but with these fly on the wall or slice of life type stories it's more challenging I  believe, to achieve these things. Steinbeck had it, Miller had it, seems Reep has it too.

If you enjoy a well written story with a bit of depth and a thoroughly interesting perspective then let me recommend this story to you. It is simply delightful and insightful.

Go grab it!  

Format: eBook, Print
Price: Reader Decides (but I urge you to make a payment as it will encourage this great writer to write more!)
83,000 words

Download Link: Leah
Author J. M. Reep
Web: Author Site

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