This cover is so beautiful I just had to read the book! The blurb made it seem like a light-hearted contemporary with dual perspective between Quinn and Seth, but it’s so much more than that! I probably wouldn’t recommend this book to younger readers as two of the main themes are teenage pregnancy, and sexual relationships. However, it was really interesting to read a book with so many different dimensions, and I really like how there were recommendations for other books that had similar themes in the back.
One thing I was not expecting from this book was a political agenda. Now, I’m not very knowledgeable about UK politics and I have absolutely no clue about US politics! Luckily, I managed to pick up the terminology as the story progress, and there was a handy glossary at the back for a reader’s convenience. Although I found the debates about US politics from the 1980s and I understood the two different view points, I found myself skimming over the political jargon so I could get back to the love story I was promised in the blurb.
This book started out really well. The characters were introduced and I immediately got a good feel for who they were and what they’re motivations were, but by the end of the novel their relationship just seemed to be about sex. The pacing was strange, because I wasn’t sure how much time was passing in between chapters. This made the romance feel a little too fast. The narrative sort of jumped around – probably because the author was trying to write about so many different issues in one book – making ’89 Walls feel more like a collection of short stories.
I’m still not entirely sure what the purpose of this book was. I suppose it was to encourage Seth to go to college, but Quinn didn’t really have a plot line – apart from the whole teen pregnancy thing, which isn’t really talked about in literature. I liked both of the characters, but I couldn’t really relate to either of them. I wanted their relationship to be a slow build full of witty banter, but they got together pretty quickly in the scheme of things, and then suddenly it became a ‘we’re-going-to-try-and-fix-eachother’ thing.
Seth was funny, but he was also a bit of a jerk. I really liked how this book dealt with child carers, because it made Seth’s character more original rather than just being another one of those scruffy haired, funny guys that pop up in a lot of YA lit. His home life was really difficult, and I liked how easily the backstory of his mother’s condition was woven in through the description of the flowers. The plot might not have been very strong, but the writing was beautiful.
Quinn, on the other hand, had a wonderful life – or so it seemed – but she wasn’t happy. I guess, in hindsight, Quinn’s happy ending was being with a guy she liked and who treated her well. Unfortunately I’m not the biggest fan of books where the only outcome for the girl is that she’s gotten a boyfriend. Quinn was a confusing character because she had two personalities; the facade and the heroine, and I would’ve loved to see more of the kick-ass Quinn who didn’t put up with other people’s crap.
Overall, I gave ’89 Walls 2.5 stars, because I think the political sub-text really alienates an audience who knows nothing about the subject. It wasn’t exactly the sweet contemporary I was expecting, but I think that’s a good thing. I love it when YA novels deal with harder topics, but 16 and up is probably the key demographic!