Sunday, February 10, 2019

Unclaimed Baggage (Book Review)

Title: Unclaimed Baggage
Author: Jen Doll
Publication: Farrar Straus Giroux, hardcover, 2018
Genre: YA
Plot:  Unclaimed Baggage follows three quirky teens working for the summer at a store that sells luggage lost and never claimed by airline travelers.  Doris is 16 and has a skill for finding things.  She is a liberal in a conservative town and yearns to escape to Brown (which would be lucky to get her).  She has been with the store long enough to be so highly regarded by the owner that she is put in charge of training two new summer associates: Nell, a reluctant newcomer from Chicago; and Grant, whose life has suddenly gone from football star to outcast. Even worse, he was once involved in the most traumatic episode of Doris’ life and showed no remorse.   This unlikely trio become friends, which helps each one find what he or she most needs.

Audience: Fans of YA who enjoy unusual friendship stories

My Impressions: I really liked this book and the character of Doris, who feels like a stranger in her own family and home town, but starts coming to terms with it once she has friends who really get her.  The story is told convincingly from three points of view, and author Doll does an amazing job creating major and minor characters, and weaving various types of friendship – among teens, among coworkers, and even between Doris, Nell, and Grant, and their families .   She also reminds us how differently people view the same events: an incident that took place at a local water park several years ago has haunted Doris, primarily because an adult did not believe her account of what happened and shamed her, but also because Grant laughed at her humiliation.  But Grant hasn’t thought about it since, although showing more clue than most teenage boys, he does remember, once prompted, is contrite about his failure to stand up for Doris, and is forgiven. And I forgive the author for writing in the present tense, which I usually find annoying.   

Another thing I liked was that all the parents cared about their children, even if they didn't always understand them or know how to show they care.  

Quotes I Liked:
“Oh, the 8-Ball!” she says, not even acknowledging that I was just caught making out with it. “I’ve asked it so many dumb questions.  Will I get into Brown?  Will my parents let me go if I do?  Will I ever be kissed?  By someone not horrible?” She sticks out her tongue and makes a face.  “The answer to that one: Very doubtful.  Every single time!  I think it’s trying to tell me something.” She laughs. 
* * * 
"One final question." Doris interrupts my train of thought.  "When can you start?  Oh, and one more question: Have you ever had a Krispy Kreme donut?"
* * * 
Having someone else value you means you don’t have to work so hard to do it yourself – or at least, it can feel that way, even if it shouldn’t.  
“But, Nell, you are interesting, on your own.  You are choosable!   I know that, and I’ve never even met your boyfriend.”
“You think so?”
“Yes, I would choose you.  I do choose you.” I reach out and squeeze her hand for a second, and she squeezes back.
“I choose you, too,” she says. “I’m really glad we’re friends.”
Unclaimed Baggage is a real store in Alabama!
Purchase Links:  IndieBound * Amazon * Barnes & Noble 

Off the Blog: This weekend included an exciting triple overtime win for the Crimson over Columbia on Friday, followed by a depressing loss to Cornell in which we'd had a 15 point lead.

Source: Boston Public Library

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