Saturday, January 14, 2012

Review: "Winter Town" by Stephen Emond

Title: Winter Town
Author: Stephen Emond
Publisher: Little, Brown & Company; 2011

Lucy visits New England every winter, for Christmas and New Year's, before heading back down to her new home in Georgia. Every year her best friend Evan looks forward to hanging out and catching up, drawing comics and going on walks, just like when they were growing up. But this year is different. This year, Lucy's hair is short and dyed black. This year, she has a nose ring and a bleak attitude. Evan doesn't know what is going on, but he tries just the same, all while trying to get his dad to back off from hounding him about his school work and getting into an Ivy League school. But will Evan and Lucy be able to overcome their differences that are now even more pronounced than ever? And what is going on between them, anyway?

I had trouble getting into this book. Though I loved all the artwork interspersed throughout the pages, especially the comics, I had a hard time connected with either of the main characters. Evan seemed dull and bland, while Lucy and her story seemed overly dramatic. Evan seemed to be defending his position that his life was hard too, just in a different way, which always seemed a bit weak to me considering what he was up against (abandonment, addiction, severe depression, etc.). Sure, there is a lot of pressure placed on him by his parents, but it seemed very whiny to me. All of this disconnect with the characters is particularly unfortunate because this book is most definitely character-driven, with most of the plot dealing with Evan's reactions to Lucy and vice versa.

As I mentioned earlier, I did really enjoy the artwork, though I liked the comics more than the more realistic illustrations. It all is very reminiscent of comic books and newspaper comic strips, and the loose line drawings are a lot of fun to look at. Emond made them a vital part of the story, including a sort of web comic that Evan creates at the beginning of each chapter, a symbolic story set in a fantasy world about Evan's own life.

I liked how the relationship between Evan and Lucy is never perfect. It doesn't tie up nicely most of the time, and it's clear that they are still just kids despite what they've been through, Lucy especially. This part of the narrative felt very real to me, and I appreciated that. I would like to check out Emond's other work to see how it compares to his latest.

Disclosure: The publisher sent me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.


  1. Connecting with the characters is typically my number one goal when I read, but I've seen mixed reviews for Wintertown. I'm pretty sure I will still pick it up though, because I just love drawings.

    1. The drawings are really great. It's not a labor-intensive read, so if you have I'd say definitely give it a shot.


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