Michelle's Review: Inconvenient by Margie Gelbwasser

themockingbirdscover Trade Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Flux

Language: English
Source of my copy: publisher
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
Welcome to Glenfair, New Jersey’s Little Moscow, where fifteen-year-old Alyssa Bondar lives with her Russian-born, Jewish parents. In their culture, drinking is as traditional as blinchiki and piroshkis. So when her mom starts having bad days, it seems like Alyssa’s the only one who notices-or cares.
Alyssa would love to focus on regular stuff like her first kiss with Keith, her cute track team partner-or simply come home without dread of what she might find. But someone has to clean up her mom’s mess. Her dad is steeped in work, the evening news, and denial. Her best friend Lana is busy-shamelessly vying for a place with the popular crowd who ridicule their Russian heritage.
It’s up to Alyssa to save her mom-and her family. But who will be there to catch Alyssa when her mom’s next fall off the wagon drags her down, too?

Michelle's Review:
The blurb does a great job summarizing what Inconvenient was about so I'll just go on about my thoughts and feelings about this book.
I've been reading out of my comfort zone lately, picking up "tough issues" type of books, and I am glad because Inconvenient was a fantastic, worthwhile read. While the book did mostly center around Alyssa's mother's descent into alcoholism, this book was a lot more than that. Themes of identity, family, friendship, loyalty, growing up, ethnic pride and first love were touched upon in this honest, emotional and unputdownable read.

I loved Alyssa's character--she was a real girl in her thoughts, emotions and actions. She wasn't perfect but I thought her first-person narrative was spot on. In the beginning and all through book, we are given hints as to how close and special Alyssa and her mom's relationship were and watching it deteriorate was painful. I really felt for her but I really liked how her character grew and evolved throughout the book. Besides the alcoholism--and this book definitely didn't shy away from the harsh realities of living with an alcoholic--what made this book a powerful read for me was that I related to Alyssa and her friend Lana in terms of their immigrant identity in school. I moved to the United States from the Philippines when I was nine years old and just like Alyssa and Lana, my friends and I endured teasing and innuendos in school and in the community. And just like Alyssa, I felt like an outsider for most of my years in school.

The glimpse of Russian-Jewish culture in the book were interesting and one of the aspects of the book I particularly enjoyed. The secondary characters added to the story and I thought Alyssa's blossoming romance with Keith, her running partner, was sweet. I was thoroughly riveted by this book until I got to the end. My one complaint about this book was that it ended abruptly--I understand that it's impossible for this book to have a happy ending concerning Alyssa's mom (I'm certain her alcoholism will be an ongoing battle for her and her family for many years) but what about Alyssa and Lana's friendship or Alyssa and Keith's romantic relationship? I don't know if there's going to be a sequel but this book reads like a standalone and an epilogue would've been nice. All in all, though, I really liked this book and thought it a fantastic debut by Maggie Gelbwasser. I am definitely excited for her next book. 4.5 out of 5 stars


  1. This sounds like something I should pick up- thanks for the review.

  2. Michelle, this is an amazing review. I had not heard about this book until now, but based on your review I am definitely interested in reading it. I really like the themes you mentioned and I know many of my students deal with alcohol parents, so it also sounds like a book to have available to them. Thanks.


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