My review of A Not-so-Simple Life by Melody Carlson


About the book:

Fifteen-year-old Maya Stark seems to have it all–fame, fortune, a Beverly Hills lifestyle, and an eighties pop star dad who’s making a comeback. But looks can be deceiving, and on the inside, Maya is miserable. Her parents are divorced, her dad is away on tour, and being biracial, she struggles with her identity. Then, to make matters worse, her mother has returned to using drugs and is quickly depleting their finances. In a plan to become emancipated from her messed-up mom, Maya takes a job on Rodeo Drive. Selling designer clothes compromises Maya’s earth-friendly “green girl” values, but she is desperate.

Just when Maya thinks she’s got it all worked out, her life caves in. Her mom “embezzles” Maya’s savings and is later arrested on DUI and cocaine possession charges and is facing jail time. With nowhere to live, Maya is sent to spend the summer with her relatives. In the collision of two very different worlds, Maya must figure out where she fits in–or does she fit in at all?

My review: 

This story was incredibly edgy, but that’s what made it real. And the cool thing is that I read the second book first so I got to see her after she became a Christian. She is still learning what that means all through the next book. She struggles with things like real people do even after they find faith. Anyway, back to this book, which is the first in the series… Maya’s feelings are so real. She sounds so much like a teenager even down to the honest thoughts and feelings about her parents.

There is no attempt by the author to be politically correct. I appreciated that a lot. I also liked that she was trying to find who she was and become independent, but at the same time she just wanted to be loved and live a normal life in a regular family. Given her background, I could see the appeal of having a simple life.

I loved the fight scene with her mom where her dad came and rescued her before they killed each other. I sensed the real emotion in that one. And even the desire to commit suicide made sense. Very realistic reactions and emotions in this book. Maya sounded just like a hurt, confused, depressed and hopeless-feeling teen would think and feel. Yet she doesn’t follow through for good reasons. She knew she was missing something…peace…and where to find it. Well done!

A Not-so-Simple Life was published by Multnomah Books in July 2008.

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