Review: Take Me There

In one short week . . . three lives change.

Rhiannon is devastated after the breakup with her boyfriend and wants him back. Nicoles ex is still in the picture, but she can’t help having a new crush. James and Rhiannon are just friends, though he may try to take it to the next level. Will their desire to take a mean girl down a notch bring these three friends what they want . . . and more?–From Goodreads

Take Me There possessed all of the traits I loved about Susane Colasanti’s other books and more. As usual, Colasanti demonstrated her deep understanding of adolescence and young romance. Her writing was just as funny and touching as always. However, I think Take Me There displays Colasanti’s craft more fully than the other books I have read by her thus far. This novel really showcases her mastery of alternating points of view and her talent in writing about more serious issues.

Take Me There is told with three alternating POVs–Rhiannon, Nicole, and James–over the course of one week. Balancing several points of view can be tricky. Each voice has to be distinct. Events that are retold can sometimes feel repetitive. Some characters may feel less fleshed out than others. Colasanti’s book does not suffer from any of these problems. The characters all have their own clear style, and each section delicately unveils just a little bit more about what happened, allowing you to hear the story from every side.

Colasanti’s characters strike me as pretty similar from book to book, but I continue to enjoy the nerdy, fringe overachievers she creates. The overarching ideas about fate and karma and true love seem to span all of her books, as well. Take Me There has all the usual romantic elements, dealing primarily with the inevitable relationship between two best friends, but tackling several other smaller relationships, as well. In addition, though, this book includes issues like physical abuse in a relationship and sexual abuse by a family member. It’s not an “issue” book, in that these things are not at the forefront by any means, but Colasanti does portray them with the same realism and sensitivity that I have come to expect from her writing. I also think that the inclusion of the abuse serves as a strong reminder that such tragic things go on in the lives of teens all the time, but they are often hidden and kept secret. We rarely know what others are really going through.

Take Me There also deals with Nicole’s intense crush on her young, male math teacher. Having taught myself, these kinds of stories are really bothersome to me. They are creepy, and I suppose they are meant to be, but I hate to imagine my students thinking like that. I suppose it is normal for teens to have crushes on their teachers, but reading about it makes me uncomfortable. As the book progressed, I could really appreciate how Nicole’s feelings told the reader a lot about her character and what she was going through. I began to tolerate the discomfort because I could see where Colasanti was going with the story, and respected her understanding of the psychology behind the crush.

One of my favorite friendships in this book is a minor one. James befriends an elderly woman who lives in his apartment building. He picks up her groceries every week, helps her unpack, and catches up with her over cookies. She pushes him to go out with Rhiannon, and he keeps her company and assists her up the stairs from time to time. The camaraderie they have is really sweet, and ultimately life changing for James in ways you might not expect.

After reading Sea, I was having trouble getting into any of the books I had picked up from the library. I often get into a reading slump after finishing something I really like. I picked up Take Me There because I knew I could depend on Colasanti to provide another great read, and she didn’t let me down. Now I only have Waiting For You left to read and review, and then I will have completed all of her books!

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