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Life as it Comes    by Anne-Laurie Bondoux order for
Life as it Comes
by Anne-Laurie Bondoux
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2008 (2004)
Hardcover, Softcover

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* *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Fifteen-year-old Mado Yazinsky is studious and responsible, while sister Patty, age twenty, is a carefree party girl, who lives on her own - two sisters different as night to day. What brings them together? After the Yazinsky parents die in an auto accident, the family court judge reluctantly appoints Patty as Mado's guardian. That stops social services from sending Mado to a foster home. However, it is Mado who ends up taking care of Patty.

Only eight months after the brake failure that killed their parents, Patty announces she is pregnant. The father doesn't know of the pregnancy; according to Patty, Luigi left her for another woman. If social services finds out, they might separate the sisters. Patty continues to work as a waitress until August when the sisters head by train to the family summer home. Arriving at the Aubenas train station, they take a taxi to the house, where there's no phone, no TV, and no car. Mado coaxes Patty into a swim in the river, where they meet nineteen-year old Daan and sixteen-year old Sander from the Netherlands. Mado experiences her first love with Sander, as Patty falls for Daan, risking that they may be 'two butterflies about to get burned'. Humorous moments are not lacking as Patty continues to hide her pregnancy.

Wondering what she and her sister have in common, Mado concludes 'as much as a turtle and baboon'. Patty's philosophy is 'take life as it comes and keep on smiling, even when the going gets tough!' As the time of birth nears, Patty refuses to seek medical assistance. What transpires is haunting and surreal, at times leaving the reader in limbo. Mado's musings are disheartening: 'My voice dies in my tight throat ... a bit of rain and silence remind me of all the things I've almost forgotten during the previous glorious days: Dad, Mom, life without them, the future, unknown and frightening. I feel as fragile as a crystal vase.'

Reading Anne-Laure Bondoux's fourth book for young adults, I experienced a miasma of apathy, empathy, and sympathy; and missed the drama and excitement evident in Bondoux's previous writings. Though Life As it Comes is lightly told, the undercurrent is heavily emotional, at times depressing. The narration is insightful, funny, and poignant. It's not a dramatic or suspenseful plot, yet one to take in and feel ... a story of loss and mourning, love and hope, the pain of lies; yet, the reality is - life goes on.

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