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Teen review: Nothing to Lose by Alex Flinn

My name’s Leo. I’m a ninth grader at Pittsburgh Obama Academy 6-12 (Also known as IB High and formerly Schenley). I’m a gender-queer, lesbian, mentally ill writer. I’ll be reviewing books, with occasional graphic novels and music — I mostly read fantasy and horror, and listen to various forms of rock.

Seventeen year old Michael works at a carnival. He’s been on the road for about a year, seeing the world. He left to escape his violent home life and doesn’t regret it. But the carnival is returning to his home town, where his fears of discovery are overturned by the knowledge that his mother is on trial for the murder of his stepfather. Meanwhile, flashbacks to the previous year tell the story of Michael’s escape.

This book makes heavy use of flashbacks; it’s an interesting stylistic choice. A lot of the time this is a bad idea, but in this case it worked very well. The twist at the end is genuinely somewhat surprising, but actually fits with the story, although the ending works out strangely well without effort – I get the feeling Flinn was trying to cut the length of the book.

Overall, the book is a good one, brought down by its mediocre prose. That said, if that isn’t an issue for you and you’re again interested in ‘that sort of thing,’ go ahead and seek it out. It’s worth buying the paperback.

That said, if domestic abuse or miscarriages are trigger for you, skip it.

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