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Winter Town    by Stephen Emond order for
Winter Town
by Stephen Emond
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2011 (2011)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Ricki Marking-Camuto

Winter can be a dark yet magical time, as can your teenage years. Stephen Emond does an amazing job of bringing all of this out and a whole lot more - in Winter Town.

Evan's best friend, Lucy, moved away during middle school when her parents divorced. However, she comes back every year to visit her dad for Christmas vacation. Evan always looks forward to these two weeks, but this year, there is something different the Lucy who came back is not the Lucy he has known his whole life. This Lucy is dark and moody, to match her new look, but he can tell the real Lucy is still in there somewhere. Can Evan and Lucy still be friends or something more as their lives now seem to be going in opposite directions?

The first half of the book is all from Evan's point of view. Evan is immediately a very likeable character, the type of person many aspire to be top of his class, whole life planned, great artistic talent, close group of friends. But Evan has some pressures at home that he is not sure he can handle, and knows deep down that he needs to break out somehow.

Lucy, on the other hand, comes back as the type of character one might shy away from. Her home life is even more broken than Evan realizes, and her first semester of senior year has been anything but stellar as she quickly spirals downward into drinking, smoking, and other destructive behaviors. However, as Evan knows, the real Lucy is still in there somewhere, and by the time Emond turns the story to her point of view, the reader has had plenty of time to see what Evan sees and feel the same way towards Lucy as he does.

To add even another layer of depth, Emond, a gifted artist himself, ends each chapter with a one-page comic that enhances the story. Although these comics are set in Evan and Lucy's fantasy world, they deal with the problems that Evan is facing in his life, bringing a different perspective that might help others dealing with some of the same pressures from family. Winter Town is an amazing novel and a wonderful YA contemporary that will appeal to both sexes. Stephen Emond is definitely an author and artist to watch.

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