Don’t forget to check out my interview with author Katie Pierson here!
Title: ’89 Walls
Author: Katie Pierson
Publisher: Wise Ink Creative Publishing
Genre: Young Adult
College is not in the cards for Seth. He spends his minimum wage on groceries and fakes happiness to distract his mom from the MS they both know will kill her. It’s agony to carry around a frayed love note for a girl who’s both out of his league and beneath his dignity.
Quinn’s finishing high school on top. But that cynical, liberal guy in her social studies class makes her doubt her old assumptions. Challenging the rules now, though, would a) squander her last summer at home, b) antagonize her conservative dad, and c)make her a hypocrite.
Seth and Quinn’s passionate new romance takes them both by surprise. They keep it a secret: it’s too early to make plans and too late not to care. But it’s 1989. As politics suddenly get personal, they find themselves fighting bare-fisted for their beliefs—and each other—in the clear light of day.
This book interested me right away, because hey–I was a high school senior in 1989. Would the author be able to take me back to that time, and still make it relatable to today’s high schoolers? I had to find out. Clearly, I was destined to read this one.
The answer to both of my questions turns out to be yes. Though I wasn’t nearly as politically involved/aware as Seth and Quinn while in high school, I do remember most of the major events mentioned in the book. (Though somehow the fact that the Berlin Wall actually came down in ’89 surprised me. I do remember it coming down, just not that it happened that year–I’m going to plead to being distracted by my first semester of freshman year here.) For people who weren’t around in the late 1980s, or who didn’t pay attention in their 20th-century history classes (though the fact that events from my childhood happened long enough ago to be taught in history classes boggles my mind. Denial. It’s not just a river in Egypt), Ms. Pierson gives both a glossary of terms and a 1989 timeline at the end of the book.
I especially loved the timeline…so many things on it had me nodding my head, saying, “Yep! I saw that on TV,” or “Yeah, that happened.” I totally remember the major controversy around Madonna’s “Like a Prayer”, for example, when Pepsi dropped her in less time than it took to hairspray my bangs into submission.
But back to the story…
I loved Seth and Quinn. Quinn was a bit harder to like at first–I’ve always had a soft spot for the quiet, geeky guys who aren’t afraid to do well in school and who love their moms–but she definitely became a more sympathetic character as the book continued. I could really identify with her relationship with her dad, and of course she fell for my boy Seth, so she was all good in my book.
The story had a lot going on in it. Most of the major political/world issues of the day were discussed in Seth and Quinn’s U.S. Foreign Relations class and at Quinn’s home. Seth’s mother has a pretty severe case of Multiple Sclerosis, and he has to juggle school, work, and being her primary caretaker. He’s turning 18 and graduating, which means their Social Security checks will be coming to an end soon, so he doesn’t think college is in the cards for him even though he scored in the top 5% on the ACTs. Quinn’s going away to college in the fall and has had a fairly privileged upbringing. He’s a liberal Democrat with the t-shirt collection to back it up; she tends toward conservative Republicanism like her dad.
On paper it doesn’t seem like they could work. Even the two of them have their doubts. But somehow when they’re together those doubts seem to disappear…
There were some things that I would have liked more time and attention spent on–the epilogue, for example, was really short. I was expecting a response from Seth (the epilogue is a letter from Quinn to him) but instead the book just ended there. Quinn, Seth, and Quinn’s mom make a trip to Omaha at about the 50% mark, and what happens there is something pretty major. It felt like it should have had more of a lasting impact, especially on Quinn, than it seemed to. (And when Quinn’s best friend Trish mentions having made a similar trip? That whole conversation was way too short and quickly forgotten. I’d almost rather it had not been there at all…)
Overall, though, I was so charmed by Seth and Quinn’s relationship and the trip down memory lane the book took me on that it was easier to overlook its few shortcomings. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more from this author.
Rating: 4 stars / A-
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.