Publisher: Delacorte Press
Publish Date: November 8, 2011
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Fiction
Synopsis: Sandinista Jones is a high school senior with a punk rock name and a broken heart. The death of her single mother has left Sandinista alone in the world, subject to the random vulnerability of everyday life. When the school system lets her down, her grief and instability intensify, and she ponders a violent act of revenge.
Still, in the midst of her crisis, she gets a job at The Pale Circus, a funky vintage clothing shop, and finds friendship and camaraderie with her coworker, a boy struggling with his own secrets.
Even as Sandinista sees the failures of those with power and authority, she’s offered the chance to survive through the redemptive power of friendship. Now she must choose between faith and forgiveness or violence and vengeance.
Readers will cheer Sandinista on as she navigates on often brutal but unexpectedly beautiful world.
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
The Sharp Time by Mary O’Connel is a week filled of strong emotions. Eighteen year-old Sandinista Jones is filled with pain and grief. She lives alone in Kansas City. She lost her mother not too long ago, and there is nothing in her life that gives her hope or self-worth.
After an altercation at school, Sandinista questions and analyzes her life. Piece by piece, she relives through her past, attempts to cope, and definitely, longs for her mother. She is bitter, emotionally distraught, and in the midst of solitude. Each day passes with hope that someone will reach out for her and simply ask if she is okay.
She fills her time by working at the Pale Circus, a vintage clothes shop, planted in the middle of Thirty-Eighth Street. With its sherbet colored walls, the Pale Circus serves as the only glimmer of color in Sandinista’s life. It is at her time at the Pale Circus that she reconnects with people.
The Sharp Time has a very unique supporting cast, starting with Bradley. Bradley, her co-worker and her friend. Someone that she opens up to and seeks solace with, Bradley serves as the voice of reason. The other characters include Henry Charbonneau, her boss, a monk or two, an erotic confectionery baker, and others on the street that will leave you puzzled. But she slowly creates her own version of a family. A very dysfunctional family, but one that could possibly care for her.
While this book is full of somber, it is also full of quirk. O’Connell knows when it is too heavy for the heart and inserts a wonderful quote to make you smile. For me, it started with “Miss Sandinista Jones. I would have hired you for your name alone, even if you were a serial killer or a chronic shoplifter.” One of my favorite quotes of the book is, “As it turns out, the whole love thing doesn’t really leave because you will it to. I don’t know what to do.” But the quote that resonated through the book was, “Who, who are you?”
Sandinista lives each day wondering who she is, where she came from, and the most important question, what she will be tomorrow. It is not easy to have a book filled with so much grief, denial, and anger, but O’Connell does it in such a way that you feel every emotion Sandinista feels. All of your own experiences, feelings, faith is thrown out the window once you read through the eyes of Sandinista.
I felt lost at times, but so was the protagonist. I felt her pain and confusion surrounding the death of her mother, and I suppose the death of her life. So many emotions were felt while reading this book. I’m not sure that I could sleep easy, while still feeling this way. The Sharp Time is paced really well for only having a timeline of a week. It doesn’t feel rushed, nor does it feel like there is so much information.
I know why people gravitate towards this book. O’Connel understands what grief is like and how to live life afterwards. She knows how to tell the tale of a young girl who is lost without her mother, and in essence who is lost without who she was before. Each character had a story, one that I became emotionally invested in equally.
I cried when I didn’t want to. I suffered when I was alone. And in the end, I grieved for Sandinista. The Sharp Time was a mesmerizing and powerful read.
Thank you Around The World Tours and Princess Bookie for letting me be a part of this tour.