Thursday, August 1, 2019

Review: THE CONFUSION OF LAUREL GRAHAM by Adrienne Kisner



Seventeen-year-old Laurel Graham has a singular, all-consuming ambition in this life: become the most renowned nature photographer and birder in the world. The first step to birding domination is to win the junior nature photographer contest run by prominent Fauna magazine. Winning runs in her blood—her beloved activist and nature-loving grandmother placed when she was a girl. 

One day Gran drags Laurel out on a birding expedition where the pair hear a mysterious call that even Gran can’t identify. The pair vow to find out what it is together, but soon after, Gran is involved in a horrible car accident. 

Now that Gran is in a coma, so much of Laurel's world is rocked. Her gran's house is being sold, developers are coming in to destroy the nature sanctuary she treasures, and she still can't seem to identify the mystery bird. 

Laurel’s confusion isn’t just a group of warblers—it’s about what means the most to her, and what she’s willing to do to fight to save it. Maybe--just maybe-if she can find the mystery bird, it will save her gran, the conservatory land, and herself.

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I have to be in just the right mood to actually sit down and read (not listen) to a YA Contemporary book. So when I decided to start THE CONFUSION OF LAUREL GRAHAM this weekend I was apprehensive. It tuned out to be *exactly* what I needed! I started it on Friday morning and finished it Sunday evening. It was witty, moving and I just loved all of the different bird and photography references.

Laurel is a senior in high school who is spending her summer working at the local nature reserve. When her Grandmother and fellow avian enthusiast is in a tragic accident, she begins to wonder if the new bird call she's been hearing is really her grandmother trying to tell her something. With the fate of the nature reserve up in the air, Laurel rallies her flock (see what I did there?!) to try and "fight the man" and save the day. 

As the daughter of a nature photographer, the synopsis for this book really spoke to me. It reads much like a middle grade novel, except that it includes a lot of f-bombs in the dialogue. The main character is about to start her senior year in high school, there is minimal romance and the plot is not super dramatic/"high stakes." Sometimes that's exactly what I'm looking for. I might classify this as a lighthearted yet moving story. Like I said, YA contemporary can be truly hit or miss for me and this was a huge hit. I was captivated by the plot and found myself laughing out loud and nodding my head at some of the things written. I'd definitely recommend this to any nature loving friends.
Image result for Adrienne Kisner
Adrienne Kisner has lived her entire “adult” life in a college dormitory working in both Residence Life and college chaplaincy. (She prefers the term “dormitory” over “residence hall.” Don’t @ her.) She went to school for a long time so that now she gets to swoop around in a fancy robe and silly hat (like at Hogwarts). She also has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts (a place like Hogwarts). Adrienne is a birder and knitter with more heart and enthusiasm than actual skill. Her debut novel DEAR RACHEL MADDOW won a 2016 PEN New England Susan P Bloom Discovery Award and was one of YALSA’s 2019 picks for Best Fiction for Young Adults. Her second novel, THE CONFUSION OF LAUREL GRAHAM, will be released in June of 2019. Book three, SIX ANGRY GIRLS, is due out in the spring of 2020. She loves her current home in Boston but will always be a Pennsylvanian at heart.

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