Monday, July 20, 2015

What We Knew by Barbara Stewart

What We Knew

Tracy and her best friend Lisa are enjoying a lazy summer hanging out with their boyfriends, partying, and just being normal teenagers.  One night while walking near the woods, one of the guys brings up something they hadn't thought of in years: The Banana Man.  

It was supposed to be a dumb urban legend, but when Trent shows them where this guy supposedly lives, it starts something.  Suddenly Lisa becomes paranoid that he's watching her... waiting for an opportunity.  She won't let her little sister out of her sight, for fear he's after her too.  

At first Tracy thinks she's being silly, but a souvenir that shows up soon proves Lisa has reason to worry.

Everyone in America knows that you're supposed to check your kid's candy after they go Trick-or-Treating.  It's because there's an urban legend that people put razor blades and poison in candy and hand it out.  It's been passed around with warnings being reported on the news, and everyone just believes that this stuff happens every year.  In reality it doesn't.

It started because a boy in Texas died after Halloweening and cyanide was found in a pixie stick.  It turned out his own father was the one who poisoned him, but people don't remember that part of the story.  They remember that Halloween candy isn't safe.  I'm not saying it's not a good idea to look over the candy, I'm just saying how urban legends start.  How we let our imaginations run until nothing is safe.

This book started with an urban legend too.  The tale of someone called the Banana Man, who was either a flasher or a kidnapper or a child molester-- or all of the above.  But this urban legend became a shadow in the lives of best friends Tracy and Lisa.  After a trip to the woods, Lisa starts believing that this guy is stalking her and her little sister, and while Tracy thinks Lisa has lost it, she becomes a believer when she experiences something firsthand.

I really enjoyed the characters.  I loved how it felt like books from my younger years, but brought older subject-matter into it.  The girls in this book felt like real 16 year olds to me.  They were right on the edge... mature enough that they were thinking about sex & boys, partying, and all the teenage stuff, but still silly and immature at the same time.

Their friendship had heavy ups and downs, but I felt it did a good job of showing how friendship isn't always enough to save someone.  You can love the heck out of your friends, but some problems are bigger than your love can fix.

The setting for this book was refreshing for me.  It takes place in a lower class neighborhood, but it's not overly exaggerated.  It felt real.  I haven't come across too many books that pull this off in a way that is not offensive and also adds to the book at the same time.

I don't want you to think this whole book is about The Banana Man.  It's about lots of issues.  Tracy is struggling with something traumatic that happened to her, while also dealing with her parent's divorce and her dad's infidelity.  Her brother also dipped out, so there's a lot of abandonment issues going on with her.  She's in a relationship with a really nice guy, but can't seem to figure out how to be content with that.  So all this, along with her trying to help Lisa.

The thing I didn't love so much about it was the way the author set this up with emails Tracey writes to her brother in between the chapters.  They were really good in getting the intensity going, but they didn't go anywhere like I was hoping they would.

OVERALL: I enjoyed the feel of this story and how realistic the characters were.  I wished there was a little something more in it, but still really really liked it.  It was like an updated Fear Street book with a little more substance.

Date Published: 7/14/2015
How I got this book: Thanks to St. Martin's Press for providing me a copy to read and honestly review
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin

Add this to your To-Read List!!

This Books Contains:
  • Urban legends
  • Email letters
  • Partying, drinking, drugs
  • Sex
  • Sexual assault
  • Divorce
  • Glass eyeballs
  • Family
  • Friendship
  • First love

My Rating: 4/5

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  1. This book sounds very interesting and like something I would enjoy. I especially like how authentic you described it to be. Great review!
    ~Chioma @ Blue Books and Butterflies

  2. I really want to read this! Urban legends are so interesting. Great review!

  3. I like how you added some explanation about the urban legend in your review introduction. Interesting book. Thanks for sharing your review!