Author: Jonathan Friesen
Genre: YA Contemporary/Paranormal
Release Date: January 31, 2017
Jonah wishes he could get the girl, but he’s an outcast and she’s the most perfect girl he knows.
And their futures seemed destined to fork apart: Jonah’s physical condition is debilitating, and epileptic seizures fill his life with frustration. Whereas Stormi is seemingly carefree, and navigates life by sensing things before they happen. And her most recent premonition is urging her to leave town.
When Stormi begs Jonah for help, he finds himself swept into a dark mystery his small town has been keeping for years. And the answers Stormi needs about her own past could possibly destroy everything Jonah has ever known—including his growing relationship with Stormi herself.
PRAISE for UNFOLDING:
An awkward 18-year-old and his enigmatic crush discover that their town hides a terrible secret. Gullary, Oklahoma, a former mining town that is now dominated by a maximum security prison and ruled by a group of vigilantes called the Circle, has always been prone to violent storms. White narrator Jonah, afflicted with scoliosis and epilepsy (aka "Old Rickety"), is more preoccupied with Stormi, a "free and wild" spirit with a healing touch and psychic powers, than storms. Wandering in and out of occasionally florid flashbacks peppered with fake Latin, self-deprecating humor, and self-pity, Jonah recounts the awkward evolution of his friendship with Stormi and his misadventures with Old Rickety and his twisted spine. When Stormi predicts a tragic accident and comes under the Circle's suspicion, she and Jonah flee Gullary, learning its dark secret along the way. Someone or something wants justice, and they're its instruments. Several plot points pass in a whirlwind of explanations, losing some emotional impact. Tired tropes, such as epilepsy as a harbinger of evil spirits, abound. However, when the dust settles, some strong character development remains. The biblical, ominous atmosphere of Gullary provides a vivid backdrop for Jonah's and Stormi's feelings of longing and alienation, which are further explored through occasionally poignant banter and conflicted family relationships. The almost-romance is engaging. A flawed but darkly atmospheric read. (Fiction. 13-18) -- Kirkus Reviews
Unfolding is a fascinating young adult novel that mixes paranormal and contemporary fiction with a good dose of mystery. I was immediately intrigued after reading the description, although the actual book itself fell a bit short of what I hoped. There are several great aspects that I enjoyed - the characters were all well rounded and had unique personalities, especially Jonah (the main character) and Stormi (Jonah's best friend). Jonah's character was incredibly realistic and I immediately empathized with him. He suffers from seizures and scoliosis, both of which have a huge impact on his life. He's a wonderful main character for the book - down to earth, a loyal friend, kind and funny. He tries not to let his physical ailments define him, and he makes a lot of jokes about himself throughout the story. I personally don't know what it would be like to suffer from these illnesses, but Jonah's character portrays it in a realistic way and I really sympathized with him and all of his obstacles.
The author wrote the book from the first person point of view - which is by far my favorite style. Jonah is the narrator of the story, so we get to see everything through his eyes. The first person POV also allows a deep connection with the narrator, and I loved getting to know Jonah over the course of the novel. His relationship with Stormi is definitely complicated and I liked seeing their friendship grow and develop during the story. As for the plot, it was interesting and had great potential, but somehow fell a bit short for me. There were times when I got caught up in everything that was going on - especially with the paranormal elements and the secrets that surrounded the town - but then things would happen that didn't fully make sense or would happen really fast with not enough development or explanation. I think those are the main issues I had with the story line. There was definitely a great story in there, but the majority of it was lost on me - which was a bummer. I really wanted to love this book, but it just didn't fully click on my end. These are solely my opinions and not every reader will have the same problems as I did. Recommended for fans of fantasy, paranormal, and contemporary fiction.Jonathan Friesen is an author, speaker, and youth writing coach from Mora, Minnesota. His first young adult novel, Jerk, California, received the ALA Schneider Award. When he’s not writing, speaking at schools, or teaching, Jonathan loves to travel and hang out with his wife and three kids.
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