A solid debut of an unusual YA/coming-of-age story
The debut of author M. S. Izbecki is a mix of YA/coming-of-age story, mixed with thriller elements.
The Capellos is a criminal family belonging to the mob. Sixteen-year-old Dani Capello, who lives with her aunt and uncle, doesn’t know exactly what her family does, but she knows that not everything is legal. When she is sent to a Catholic boarding school after a verbal clash with an older family member, she quickly bonds with three fellow students, Emma, Madeline, and Whitney. The four become fast friends and more develops between Emma and Dani after some time.
This is the part that corresponds to a YA story. Classes and life at a Catholic boarding school have the four of them repeatedly skirting the strict rules and sneaking off campus to a party or just hanging out outside. Of course, there is some high school drama and bickering involved too. Entertaining.
I have to say, I’m glad I’m not at that age anymore, having to figure out who I actually am and how I want to live my life. The reader follows the four friends in their outings and misadventures with boys, girls, and lots of booze.
I liked the slowly developing relationship between Emma and Dani. The first big love is still the most precious one, including all the insecurities they feel, not always knowing how to behave. Not knowing if they should come out to their friends, or even less clearly, to their parents. Especially Dani, who knows that her Italian-American mob family will not welcome a lesbian member with open arms. So she keeps quiet about who the Capellos are to her friends and also to Emma. As you can imagine, that’s very depressing when you have to disguise yourself while not being able to tell important things and yet, sometimes I could have shaken Dani into finally opening her mouth and telling Emma more, and trusting her.
The first part, with all the campus life, drags on a bit for me. But from the moment Dani invites Emma home to a wedding, only as a friend of course, the story picks up speed massively and the mob shows its ugly head. It becomes exciting and dangerous with some acts of violence – finished with heartfelt romance. There is a lot of action and Emma and Dani’s relationship is put to the test for the first time. Even if the story has some minor flaws, it is entertaining in the first part, and gripping in the second part.
I really liked the characters, not just Emma and Dani, they are well-developed so I could feel the personalities. And there is enough background information on the characters to understand their actions. A solid debut of an unusual YA/coming-of-age story.
Thanks to the author and Booksirens for providing an ARC for an honest review