cover image Little Miss Chaos

Little Miss Chaos

Paula R. Hilton. CreateSpace, $14.95 paper (276p) ISBN 978-1-5237-0153-7

Hilton’s debut introduces 17-year-old Princeton hopeful Vivian Ellis and 19-year-old armed robber Jake Donnely, who meet when Jake holds up the New Jersey Dunkin’ Donuts where Vivian works. Despite these unlikely circumstances, a tentative friendship blossoms into love as the teens embark on an increasingly reckless path. Meanwhile Vivian’s mother, Ivy, is deeply grieving for her husband, who died the previous year, and her response is to cling tighter to Vivian. Jake’s father, Sonny, is also struggling with the ever-growing rift between him and his son that began when Jake’s alcoholic mother, Wendy, left. When Jake and Vivian go too far, it threatens to destroy their futures and their families. Hilton puts an equal emphasis on her adult and teenage characters, creating a well-developed landscape of the interconnected repercussions of their decisions. The third-person omniscient perspective favors dense swathes of exposition and description over actual dialogue, and while this can be jarring at first, it allows for rich characterizations. The pace drags a bit, but Hilton’s story remains an intriguing look at the ripples caused by lives spiraling out of control. Ages 12–up. (BookLife)