Keil, Melissa The Incredible Adventures of Cinnamon Girl, 298 pages. Peachtree Publishers, 2014. $17.95. Language: R (55 swears + 45 “f”, although the “u” has been replaced with “e”); Mature Content: R (underage drinking, reference to sexual activity); Violence: G.
Alba has recently graduated from high school, and is looking forward to a summer filled with drawing comics and working in her mother’s bakery. She lives in a sleepy Australian farming town called Eden Valley, and it is no secret that some of her friends are anxious to escape to the wider world of college or work. When a hack internet “prophet” predicts the end of the world and spouts the coordinates of Eden Valley as the only place on earth to escape the apocalypse, thousands of benign sketchers descend on the tiny community, including a home-grown TV star who returns for the spectacle. These events complicate Alba’s tortured thoughts about whether to stay in Eden Valley, or go away to college.
The author is talented at description, bringing personalities to life with quippy references to the t-shirts and shoes they wear, capturing place and mood using words and songs that illustrate particular moments, and referencing specific artists, which can either make a reader feel “with it” or “out of it”. But contrary to the title, there is very little adventure to be had in this book, and Alba’s moodiness and indecision gets repetitive. Even as the characters criticize the “navel gazing” pointlessness of stressing about the future, the reader is subjected to it to an extraordinary degree. She has created likeable characters, and the Australia-rich dialogue makes the reader feel they are a part of this tight friendship group, but the lack of any real tension or action coupled with the utter predictability of her decision make this an optional read.
HS – OPTIONAL. Reviewer: JA