Rating: 4/5 Stars
First off, Slingshot has a very similar mood to the books of Jennifer Dugan (Hot Dog Girl & Verona Comics). It is a quirky, off beat and more raw/real kind of a read. If you have read Dugan’s books and loved them this book will probably be right up your alley!
Here’s the summary off of Goodreads:
Grace Welles had resigned herself to the particular loneliness of being fifteen and stuck at a third-tier boarding school in the swamps of Florida, when she accidentally saves the new kid in her class from being beat up. With a single aim of a slingshot, the monotonous mathematics of her life are obliterated forever…because now there is this boy she never asked for. Wade Scholfield.
With Wade, Grace discovers a new way to exist. School rules are optional, life is bizarrely perfect, and conversations about wormholes can lead to make-out sessions that disrupt any logical stream of thoughts.
So why does Grace crush Wade’s heart into a million tiny pieces? And what are her options when she finally realizes that 1. The universe doesn’t revolve around her, and 2. Wade has been hiding a dark secret. Is Grace the only person unhinged enough to save him?
Acidly funny and compulsively readable, Mercedes Helnwein’s debut novel Slingshot is a story about two people finding each other and then screwing it all up. See also: soulmate, friendship, stupidity, sex, bad poetry, and all the indignities of being in love for the first time.
This book did a lot of things really well and there were some moments that were also hard to read for me. Overall it was a fantastic read for me and 4/5 stars. In regards to things it did well I would put character believability, sarcasm and wit, and the story in general felt very realistic. Something that was difficult for me to read was a moment of physical abuse by a parent near the end of the book. I was not expecting that and had to set the book down for a minute to process what I had read.
Okay, so the character believability, if that’s a thing, was incredible. As I was reading this I just kept thinking that these are totally things that teenagers would go through and experience, especially in this private boarding school setting. Each character had a unique voice and personality, but I personally loved our leading lady, Gracie. Reading her thoughts and reactions I could totally and completely see a kid reacting the way she does. The emotions and reactions are so real in this novel that I found myself slipping back into my high school mindset, thinking how I would have reacted to some of these situations.
The wit and sarcasm were ON POINT in this book! Mostly from Gracie but also occasionally from Beth, Wade, Derek and Georgie as well. The quick wit and sass (sometimes incredibly bitchy, but usually on point) was much appreciated as I read through things. There is one moment where the main character, Gracie, talks about how her wit and sass is only there in moments of extreme anger and I could totally relate to that. I am not sure how Mercedes Helnwein writes such great comebacks for her characters but I loved it!
The last thing that I really loved about this was story in general. The story felt very raw and real. These characters and their stories were believable and felt like things that could actually be happening at a school somewhere right now. With this raw and real writing does come the emotional ups and downs for the reader as well. I felt my mood fluctuating and changing as I read these things because it was so real and believable and that bring me into the one thing I had a very hard time reading in this book.
Near the end of the book there is a moment of some pretty severe physical abuse from a parent. I have not dealt with this in my own life, but reading it on the page was incredibly hard. It was very brief, over the course of 4 pages, but it was very real and happens to a character we grow to love as the reader. If you are triggered or suffer from trauma from abuse in your life, this might not be something you would want to pick up for that reason. I think I would have still read it if I had known it was going to happen, but I think it’s important other readers know it going in as well.
Overall, this was a wonderfully written novel and I can’t help but feel like I read someone’s actual life events. If you are looking for a raw and real contemporary novel to read this is it.