Growing up in a small town, I know some rules are easier to bend than in cities. One of my first experiences was in the local library – bored to death by books for children, refusing to read romance books for love longing teenage girls, lovely librarians let me borrow and read books from adult department. I suppose this was the main reason why I always try to restrain from young adult books. There is this fear like I would go backwards with my readership, instead of widening my horizons and deepening my knowledge. On the other hand, there are days when I want to read without having full time resting bitch face, worried about future generations. On one day like this, I decided to give a try to Clancy of the Undertow and I´m very glad I did.
The main character Clancy is a typical teenager, struggling with her almost non-existing friendships, sexuality and consequences of her father´s tragedy. I could simply identify with Clancy, especially because of her refusal of gender roles, opinions about pretentious friendships and style of entertainment. Her way of speaking made me laugh every so often and I can´t remember when it was the last time I read a book with so genuine character. Another significant part of Clancy of the Undertow was Clancy´s homosexuality. It was described incredibly naturally, without annoying and stereotypical background stories – her sexuality just revealed with every upcoming chapter. Together with emphasis on coming out as not one-time event, rather a continuous process, Clancy´s persona can help many, not only LGBTQIA kids and youths, but also their relatives and friends trying to understand what their beloved are going through.
Although novel´s blurb speaks about moderately dysfunctional family, I would like to oppose to such statement. Yeah, I´m probably getting old, but I´ve seen or been to many families dealing with emotional detachment and troublesome youths. The older I am, the less I´m convinced about the pure existence of so called ‘perfect families’, where family members love to spend time together, eat at least one meal per day together, and where TV or internet doesn´t create a barrier in communication. Call me cold blooded, I would stick with realist. Therefore, for me, Underhill family is just a sample of an average family until her father gets involved in a traffic tragedy resulting in death of two local teenagers. As a reader, I highly appreciated approach to this case – not from the legal point of view, but human one. Christopher masterfully describes how one second can change not only one´s life, but also his closest relatives and friends; especially in a small town, which Barwen definitely is. Undertow´s family, once considered as normal, although having little bit strange kids, suddenly has to deal with hostile acts of their fellow residents. Yet Clancy of the Undertow has more interesting subthemes, making whole book much more enjoyable, such as Clancy´s funny, conspiratorial brother Angus. Having an older brother myself, I can fully acknowledge that sister-brother teasing is one of my favorite memories from childhood. Also, to place a new girl into the town and school was a great idea, as it can help many children realize that moving to another place doesn´t make them anyhow weirder; it just takes time, courage, luck and maybe one person who can help to make them feel at home again.
Clancy of the Undertow has a huge potential and it makes me wonder why it´s not already spread across all #bookstagram accounts, why it´s not vanishing from bookstores with unpredictable speed. Such beautiful story about family, friendships and all struggles associated with being teenager can really grab everyone´s attention. It did grab mine and piece of heart as well.