Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Book Review: Fingerprints of You by Kristen-Paige Madonia

  • Release Date: August 7th 2012
  • Page Number: 256
  • Genre: Contemporary
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster for Young Readers
Synopsis: Lemon grew up with Stella, a single mom who wasn’t exactly maternal. Stella always had a drink in her hand and a new boyfriend every few months, and when things got out of hand, she would whisk Lemon off to a new town for a fresh beginning. Now, just as they are moving yet again, Lemon discovers that she is pregnant from a reckless encounter—with a guy Stella had been flirting with.On the verge of revisiting her mother’s mistakes, Lemon struggles to cope with the idea of herself as a young unmarried mother, as well as the fact that she’s never met her own father. Determined to have at least one big adventure before she has the baby, Lemon sets off on a cross-country road trip, intending not only to meet her father, but to figure out who she wants to be.

Kristen-Paige Madonia just happens to be a Virginia author and I was fortunate enough to meet her at Fountain Bookstore in August. While there, Madonia discussed was how she did not write this book to be a YA, she just wrote a novel with a teenage protagonist and it was decided it would sell best as a YA. I love this idea, because by not being written as a YA, Fingerprints of You  avoids a lot of the tropes and cliches associated with the genre.

17-year-old Lemon's whole life has been her and her mother, Stella, against the world. Living in suitcases and moving every few years, Lemon describes her mother as a

"...restless woman who yanked us from town to town, an impulsive mother bound by bitterness, a woman boarded in  by secrets and regrets."

When Lemon discovers she is pregnant, by a man forgotten in another state, she decides to take a journey of her own. With her friend, Emmy she travels west to San Francisco to find her father and possibly roots of her own.

The style of this book reminded me a lot of the dirty realism movement in the 80's. I only think of this because I had to read a lot of it my last year of college. Dirty realism is defined in a 1983 edition of the  literary magazine Granta as fiction about " the belly-side of contemporary life – a deserted husband, an unwed mother, a car thief, a pickpocket, a drug addict – but they write about it with a disturbing detachment, at times verging on comedy. Understated, ironic, sometimes savage, but insistently compassionate... "

I think this sums up the books best parts very well. Lemon and Stella are both flawed in their own way, but the love each other fiercely. Stella is a little flighty in the book, she drinks a lot, falls in love to easily, but she never lets that compromise  Lemon's life too much.

Madonia is an excellent writer, her word choice is well crafted through the story. Lemon's voice is so honest and compelling. I loved how while Emmy and Lemon are on their 4 day Greyhound ride from West Virginia to California, she alludes that a boy on the bus is reading Looking for Alaska by John Green. This is probably one of the first times I've seen a YA novel mentioned in another novel.

However, Lemons' detachment from her baby was a little weird. I mean, she is only a month or two pregnant, but she is so nonchalant about it. She doesn't seem to care about going to the doctor or doing what she needs to do. The pregnancy seems more like an inconvenience than an actual issues in the book.

I think this book is a great journey and coming of age  about letting go of all the blame and fault that consumes life.


  1. Sounds like an intriguing, albeit somewhat tragic. Great review! Thanks! :D

  2. Lemon and Stella pose an interesting dynamic it seems. Especially since Lemon also is on her way to becoming a teen Mom. But at least she takes steps to find out who she is and perhaps resolves to do something a little different with her own child.

  3. Okay, so I can't really read your review because I just bought a copy of this one and I haven't read it yet, but I am very happy to see a positive review. I bought this one kind of on a whim, not knowing much about it. It may have been cover lust. I can't wait to read it now.

  4. I think you summed it up perfectly !

  5. I think Lemon's dive not to be like her mom is a big part of the book.

  6. The cover is certainty eye-catching ! At the signing, Madonia mentioned they wanted to do something different and the design is by an actual tattoo artist.

  7. Hmmm...this sounds pretty good. I've never heard of Dirty Realism. It sounds like something that would fit better in the 90s grunge era. I always think of the 80s as neon and yippy happy. But I guess there's always a downtrodden side.


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