Title: Imperfect Spiral
Author: Debbie Levy
Release Date: July 16, 2013
I am someone who is frequently surrounded by young kids. I lead an afterschool club helping elementary schoolers with their reading, I have a steady part-babysitting and part-tutoring job, and I’m the weird relative at family functions asking people I hardly know if I can play with their infants. There’s something about the innocence and honesty of children that delights me, and the sense of responsibility when I’m in charge of another living person makes me feel needed and important. Needless to say, I felt as if Imperfect Spiral, by Debbie Levy, was a book written about my worst nightmare.
The book is about high school student Danielle Snyder, who is spending the summer babysitting Humphrey, an inquisitive five-year-old with a passion for alliterative words and intriguing thoughts. One evening, as Danielle and Humphrey are walking home from the park, Humphrey is hit by a car, and Danielle finds herself in the middle of chaos. People want to know her opinion of installing sidewalks and streetlamps on the road where Humphrey’s accident occurred, and when it becomes evident that the car that hit Humphrey was being driven by an illegal immigrant, things take a political turn. Danielle, of course, is having enough trouble dealing with the guilt she feels from Humphrey’s death; she would rather try to remember the sweet, smart, unique character that was Humphrey than get involved in a legal squabble.
For me, the most interesting part of this book was the various relationships the reader observes between Danielle and other characters in the book. Author Debbie Levy captures Danielle’s relationship with her parents, with her brother, with her friends from school, with Humphrey’s parents, and with Justin (a boy she meets at the park) in a genuine way. It is clear that Levy has an insightful grasp on interpersonal interactions. My favorite relationship in Imperfect Spiral, though, was the touching bond between Danielle and Humphrey. Told in flashbacks, the reader is able to see the strong connection they formed, and the age-transcending friendship they were able to have. Both uncommonly thoughtful people, Danielle and Humphrey shared something special, and for me, the most emotionally evoking scenes were the ones in which Danielle was remembering the things she and Humphrey learned from each other.
I appreciated the raw and honest portrayal of characters that seemed incredibly real in this book. While there are a few slow-moving parts, Imperfect Spiral has an easygoing feel, which nicely compliments the intense and tragic subject matter. I think this book is a good fit for anyone who enjoys realistic fiction, though it feels especially appropriate for younger young adult readers. Particularly for those of you who also spend your time babysitting, be prepared to shed a few tears and share your sympathies with Danielle through her struggle. Imperfect Spiral is heartfelt and touching; I’m confident it will make you feel something.
– Katie (:
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