Althea & Oliver

Cristina Moracho. Viking, $17.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-670-78539-1
Debut author Moracho takes a familiar setup—best friends with incompatible feelings—and examines it thoroughly and deeply. Althea and Oliver have been inseparable since they were kids. As they mature, Althea yearns for something more from their relationship while Oliver wants everything “to be normal.” Complicating matters, Oliver suffers from an onset of Kleine-Levin syndrome, a rare illness characterized by extreme periods of sleep, memory lapses, and erratic behavior. During one of Oliver’s episodes, he and Althea have sex, drawing a wedge in their friendship and causing her to act out violently. In what reads like a marked departure from the first half of the book, which is set in smalltown North Carolina, latter sections find Oliver in New York City, enrolled in a sleep study. Meanwhile, Althea attempts to track Oliver down but finds new friends and a stronger, more independent version of herself. Throughout the book, Oliver’s reserve is an effective counterpoint to Althea’s reckless responses to the teens’ respective predicaments. Moracho wisely resists a storybook ending for these two, concluding with what seems like the next logical step in their lives. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/2014
Release date: 10/09/2014
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Paperback - 400 pages - 978-0-14-242476-6
Paperback - 384 pages - 978-0-451-47263-2
Compact Disc - 978-1-61176-309-6
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-607-07-2527-2
Prebound-Glued - 400 pages - 978-0-606-37577-1
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio

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