YA takes Lorenzo: Lisa Moore’s Flannery (Book Review)

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It was the best of times, it was the worst of times – it was high school. Lisa Moore’s Flannery takes readers on a journey back to a simpler time full of heartbreak, drama, and raging hormones. It is also the first Lorenzo Reading Series book of the Winter 2017 term.

Admittedly, Moore’s novel is a peculiar choice for the reading series. It is a Young Adult (YA) novel and, in the past, most of the selections for the Lorenzo Reading Series have been books aimed for older readers such as His Whole Life, Secret Life: The Jian Ghomeshi Investigation, and Black River Road. So cracking open Flannery and finding a classic high school YA novel certainly is a surprise.

Author Lisa Moore (Photo source: University of New Brunswick)
Author Lisa Moore (Photo source: University of New Brunswick)

That’s not to say Flannery is not worth your time. On the contrary, it is a refreshing addition to the reading series. After reading the heavier content usually associated with Lorenzo, a fun high school romance novel was more than welcome. Avid followers of the Lorenzo Reading Series will likely agree.

Flannery tells the story of high school senior Flannery Malone and her adventures in love, family, and her school’s Entrepreneurship Fair. The seemingly trivial dramatics of her life are ones that readers will understand all too well: “unrequited love” for the hunkiest guy in school, an eccentric parent who just won’t listen, and withering friendships that she thought would last forever.

While Flannery is a fun, interestingly crafted work of YA fiction, it is not for everyone. YA fiction by its very name isn’t for everybody, and older readers may find the content a bit too immature for their liking. For example, readers unable to relate to the traumatic experience of purchasing a bra for the first time may be alienated by the novel.

On the other hand, readers who can relate and are searching for something that will provide nostalgia for days might want to give it a try. The opening scene of the novel shows this nostalgia as with the automated voice messages that accompany high school class tardiness. Anyone who has attended high school recently has probably received at least one call from “Regular Guy”, and to see the scenario so vividly described by Moore provides enough laughs to continue forward in the story. This is only one of the many scenarios in Flannery that will bring back all of those (shall-we-say) pleasant memories of high school.

Flannery by Lisa Moore (photo source: House of Anansi Press)
Flannery by Lisa Moore (photo source: House of Anansi Press)

But aside from the silly romance and friendship drama that go hand-in-hand with the “good ol’ days”, the book also deals with more serious subject matter. Flannery has to live with a spacey single mother who doesn’t seem to take her education seriously, and one can’t help but wonder how a child is supposed to succeed in a situation like that. Then readers find Flannery worrying about her family’s financial status while her mother throws away money on trinkets and toys, and suddenly this isn’t such an immature YA novel anymore. It becomes very, very real.

For anyone craving a break from the dry, heavy textbooks required for courses, Flannery is definitely worth a read. It is reminiscent of a time when the biggest concern was getting a crush to like you back, and when YA romances were the most complex texts you had to decipher. It will also provide a wonderful distraction from the hectic whirlwind known as university.

Moore’s reading as part of the Lorenzo Reading Series will be Thursday, January 19th in the Ganong Hall Lecture Theatre at 7:00 P.M. There will be refreshments provided, and it is free to attend.


EDITOR’S NOTE: Liam Floyd, editor-in-chief of The Baron, is also employed by the Lorenzo Society.