Lara lives in the small town of Turnpost, South Dakota. She’s not sure why she started writing a blog. In 2002, it’s just the thing to do. She’s not the only one blogging. Follow five characters in different walks of life as their paths overlap (or just miss each other) in a variety of ways. A story about unexpected connections and the difficulty of change, “Another Year or Two” is a charming, multilayered glimpse into the thoughts of people who have no idea who is reading what they post.
I will be honest with all of you up front; the type of novel I tend to read is both Young Adult and has some type of hero’s journey element to it. It’s why I gravitate towards books like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and The Hunger Games. It’s always why I enjoyed Ascendant so much, because while I hadn’t known about it prior, there is still an element of the hero’s journey in the book. I set you up with this bit of information about myself for a simple reason: Another Year or Two is not the type of book I usually read and enjoy.
So what kind of book is it? Simple. It’s a character piece through and through. Another Year or Two follows the blogs of five very normal characters: a single mother dealing with the aftermath of a husband who abandoned her and her son, a teenage boy living without a father (and friends to boot), a teenage girl navigating the social sphere’s maze in all her wonderful naivety, a recently divorced middle-aged man who loves dogs and is struggling with the idea of not seeing his daughters often, and a 20-something struggling teacher coursing through family problems and a new relationship. They’re all people who could live next door to you, or work with you, or even go to school with you. Each character is realistic, right down to the intentional grammatical errors on Stephen’s part in their blogs.
This doesn’t mean the characters are static. There’s subtle evolution in all of them, from the mom becoming more than just a mom to Kyle developing a love for dogs and starting to socialize, these characters are not the same characters at the end that you meet in the beginning. There aren’t monsters or magic; it’s just very, very human, and beautifully so. While it took me a bit to get into it, it wasn’t the book’s fault; Stephen’s writing is beautiful, and each character’s voice is different from the others. Not to mention, each character is incredibly age appropriate. The worries of young Kyle are far different from older Casey (and appropriately so). Yet, it’s easy to get attached to all of them and root for them to get what they want, even though it would be impossible for them all to get their dreams (as some of their wants, specifically crushes, conflict).
- The character voices are authentic.
- The comments from other characters on each of their blogs is sometimes hysterical.
- There is somebody for anybody to relate to, whether by age or by what they are dealing with.
- For me, it was a hard read because it isn’t fast paced. For others, this won’t be a con.
- I found it difficult to find the arch in the story (which is typical for character pieces).
The conclusion is relatively simple: as a book, Another Year or Two is solid, and perfect for the type of reader who enjoys character pieces. It’s also a fantastic book for aspiring writers to read–it’s the perfect example of capturing the different voices of your characters.
- Interview with Author Robin Stephen! (brayandbooks.wordpress.com)
- Review: Another Year or Two by Robin Stephen (amandasnoseinabook.wordpress.com)
- Interview with Robin Stephen, author of Another Year or Two (amandasnoseinabook.wordpress.com)