Ripple – Heather Smith Meloche – G.P Putnam’s Sons – Published 20 September 2016
With her impossible-to-please grandmother on her back about college and her disapproving step-dad watching her every move, Tessa would do anything to escape the pressure-cooker she calls home. So she finds a shot of much-needed power and confidence by hooking up with boys, even though it means cheating on her boyfriend. But when she’s finally caught red-handed, she’ll do anything she can to cover up what she’s done.
Jack is a prankster who bucks the system every chance he gets—each transgression getting riskier and riskier. He loves the thrill, and each adventure allows a little release because his smug smile and suave demeanor in the face of authority doesn’t make life at home with his mom any less tough. He tries to take care of her, but the truth is he’s powerless in the face of her fragile mental health. So he copes in his own way, by defacing public property and pulling elaborate pranks, though he knows in the end this’ll only screw up his life even more.
As they both try not to let their self-destructive patterns get the best of them, Tessa and Jack gravitate toward one another, discovering the best parts of themselves in the process. An honest portrayal of the urges that drive us and finding the strength to overcome them.
As expected, Ripple was an edgy mix of heartbreak, rough life, tough choices and just a touch of hope. It is beautifully told in alternating chapters, with the voices of Tessa and Jack shining.
Tessa’s life is complicated. A stepfather who drinks and is verbally abusive, a family struggling to stay financially afloat, a grandmother who seeks to control everything, the seemingly perfect boyfriend. Everything she shows people is a façade to cover up what she feels inside, especially when she finds comfort in the arms of guys other than her boyfriend. Jack, too, is hiding things. He and his mother have recently moved to town in an effort to stave off running out of money and people finding out the truth about his mother’s mental health. Pulling pranks keeps Jack from exploding under the pressure.
What I find most amazing about Ripple is how much I liked the characters. I didn’t like their choices, especially Tessa’s, but right from the start I was on their side, understood why they did what they do and hoped everything would work out for them. I think this was due to the wonderful writing style. Tessa and Jack’s voices were so clear and so unique. I think the positioning of other characters was also helpful, Tessa’s boyfriend for example. Yes, it’s not great she’s cheating on him, but I was concerned for Tessa and not Seth.
Jack is totally endearing. He loves and cares for his mother so much, worries, works extremely hard, plays the violin and is genuinely likeable. He’s also a smooth talker, continuously making me want to laugh and quote him. From the first moment he meets Tessa, he challenges her, pokes fun and makes her question her actions. I loved that their relationship starts as a rocky friendship. They start to confide in each other, gradually starting to understand what the other is hiding from the rest of the world. And of course, there is attraction, but Jack is firm on staying friends until they can move forward in the right way (just another thing to like about him).
Ripple is a beautiful and moving story, exactly what I love about YA fiction – romance, friendship, self discovery, hard family situations, mental health, and little surprising moments that bring hope and smiles.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Friendships, romance, family, family breakdown, sex and dating, relationships, mental health, pranks, high school, college.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Sexual references and scenes. Frequent coarse language, f***, sh**, sl**, wh***.
Published: 20 September 2016 by Simon Pulse.
Format: Hardcover, ebook. 320 pages.