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Review: Imaginary Girls

Imaginary Girls by Nova Ren Suma was released in the U.S. on June 14, 2011 in hardcover and eBook formats. It is available to order online in both formats at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Published by Dutton Juvenile, the print edition is 352 pages.

Imaginary Girls is one of the books that can be chosen for the 2011 Debut Author Challenge hosted by Kristi at TheStorySiren.com.

Goodreads description:

Chloe’s older sister, Ruby, is the girl everyone looks to and longs for, who can’t be captured or caged. When a night with Ruby’s friends goes horribly wrong and Chloe discovers the dead body of her classmate London Hayes left floating in the reservoir, Chloe is sent away from town and away from Ruby.

But Ruby will do anything to get her sister back, and when Chloe returns to town two years later, deadly surprises await. As Chloe flirts with the truth that Ruby has hidden deeply away, the fragile line between life and death is redrawn by the complex bonds of sisterhood.

With palpable drama and delicious craft, Nova Ren Suma bursts onto the YA scene with the story that everyone will be talking about.

***

Once upon a time there was a town called Olive. But when it was decided that the City of New York needed more water for their residents, Olive and eight other towns were slated for destruction.

The residents of all the other towns gave up their land and their homes willingly but the townspeople of Olive were much more resistant.

So when that final bell sounded out across the valley that once contained their homes, those that remained behind as a final line of defense against this injustice were there to bear witness to the powerful flood of water that rushed in to overtake the town, submerging it far beneath the waterline. Relegating it to a thing of the past.

But this town, though forgotten by many, was not forgotten by all. And both Ruby and Chloe knew that when they trespassed in this reservoir, the town of Olive lay quietly far beneath the surface in it’s murky depths. That just maybe those that stayed when the waters came rushing through could see them as they swam above against the backdrop of the night sky.

And they knew that the place where the water was coldest, over the deepest part of the reservoir, lay right over the heart of the town that was once known as Olive.

***

Imaginary Girls is a hauntingly beautiful, incredibly eerie, touching and melancholy story about the bonds of sisterhood and the power and limitations of one girl.

This is ultimately the story of two sisters, Ruby and Chloe, who come from a broken home, with an alcoholic for a mother and two different absentee fathers. During their childhood older sister Ruby became Chloe’s protector, putting her before all else until the one time she didn’t.

And it was that one moment which shattered everything, which broke their bond, and caused Chloe to leave home and Ruby behind.

After time and distance, Ruby seeks out her sister in an attempt to put things right and Chloe decides to return home. But what’s done can’t be undone, and no matter how influential Ruby is in her town, and over her sister, things can never return to the way they were before.

As past actions demand consequences, secrets come to light that threaten to unravel everything Ruby has done to bring her sister home.

Author Nova Ren Suma is an absolutely brilliant writer. Her writing is poetic and lyrical and totally mesmerizing. As she takes readers through all the complex twists and turns in the story, they cannot help but become ensnared by her alluring and simply beautiful passages which transport them right into this dark and fascinating world.

This is a story that will make readers think. Readers will have to dig a little deeper to uncover some of the hidden meaning and important points the story makes. Nothing is spoon-fed or just lying out in the open.

It is easy to be captivated by the words, as the lyrical quality of the writing makes it effortless for readers to just skim the surface, but there is depth to this story and it is a story that is quite heartbreaking.

Reviewer gives this book [rating=5]

On a personal note:

I am completely wowed by this story. It was exactly as I expected and yet nothing remotely like I ever imagined it would be.

Hours after reading this book I am still thinking about some of the deeper meaning that the story held – about family and trying to make things right. About sacrifice and about love. And about the power that one person has over another, which can alter them even if that is not the intent. And bind them to one another, when saving them was the only goal.

Much of the story on the surface was a mystery, but what was hidden beneath was what truly mattered.

It made me just so very sad. I felt rather despondent when I finished reading this story and couldn’t quite figure out why. Perhaps it was the fact that no matter what the characters did, they couldn’t change the past or make up for mistakes that they had made. And I really feel the loss for both Ruby and Chloe. Even though neither were particularly likable characters, they were both extremely sympathetic ones.

This is an extremely quick read, although it is not a light one. But it is just so totally beautiful and as long as you let it take you where it’s headed without trying to make sense of every little thing along the way, you will see where it has been leading you from the very beginning.

Although I have read a few books that have a similar feel to Imaginary Girls, books like Jeffrey Eugenides The Virgin Suicides, I can say that I’ve never read anything quite like this and that this is a book that I will be remembering for a long, long time.

You definitely need to be in the right frame of mind to read this book, but it is a story that is quite powerful, achingly beautiful and extremely chilling.

I cannot wait to read more from this author and she is most definitely one to watch.

One of my favorite passages:

I should have known that a closed door was no defense against Ruby. Walls and miles of road between us wouldn’t matter in the end. She’d find out. But I wasn’t thinking straight. I felt like I had no legs, like there was nothing between us, like we were floating somewhere pantsless and without names or faces together, and I forgot about her because what I felt was everything. Absolutely everything.

All at once.

In a way Ruby never told me.

***

To read an excerpt from Imaginary Girls CLICK HERE.

Book trailer for Imaginary Girls:

This review is based on an eARC received courtesy of the publisher, Penguin Group, and NetGalley.

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