I feel a bit like an odd girl out when it comes to Wintertown by Stephen Emond because it turns out most of my friends were neutral about it and I, personally, LOVED it. I began reading Wintertown after finishing the super intense, super long The Lies Of Locke Lamora in need of an intensely different book. You see, I am the sort of girl who gets book hangovers and who knows that the only cure is to read something drastically different. While Wintertown is incredibly different in length, genre, and format, it was just as successful with holding my attention. I am thinking I will have to actively try to search out and read Stephen Emond’s other books because I am totally a fan of Wintertown but I get why other people would not be.
When Evan and Lucy were kids, Lucy’s parents got divorced. Her mom moved from New England to Georgia, taking Lucy with her. Evan only got to see Lucy once a year, for two weeks. Yet, the two stayed close. Until recently. You see, Lucy and Evan were out for a walk, Lucy cut it off early and went home before the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Eve and then off to Georgia. Flashforward to next year, when Evan sees Lucy again. This time, Lucy is completely different. Instead of long brown hair and preppy clothes, she has an edgy haircut with black hair and heavy make up. She looks harder. She’s also different. Evan is still the same – glasses, messy hair, clean cut. He secretly sees this iteration of Lucy as NewLucyTM as compared to Old Lucy. She is acting really weird and he can’t figure it out. However, over the next two weeks, he slowly begins to find out what is going on with Lucy, she begins to integrate back into his life, and there might just be some kissing. Also, the two begin to work on a comic based on this fantasy world they made up as kids, Aelysthia.
Evan is very similar to the male leads in John Green’s books. He is awkward and quirky. Evan is artsy. However, he’s also a contender for valedictorian at his school. His parents are functional and happily married. His dad is a high powered lawyer and places a lot of pressure on Evan to get into an ivy league school. Evan’s family is tightly knit and has weekly Sunday night dinner and game nights. I can see why some readers wouldn’t love the main character of Emond’s Wintertown. He’s selfish sometimes and he can’t see beyond his nose, if you know what I mean. He doesn’t know pain and doesn’t see what others are going through. I mean, he’s nice enough, but you know, it might be hard to see him suck at being a friend and see him be so oblivious. However as a fellow oblivious person, I liked Evan even though he leaves a very charmed and privileged life.
I’ve seen Lucy characterized as a manic pixie dream girl, which I get. However, I think that’s kind of a big reduction of her character. Yes, when we first meet Lucy she is flighty and mysterious and quirky. She has some off the wall ideas. She’s emotional and distant and quiet. Then, we get into Lucy’s head as she is the star of a few third person point of view chapters. We see that Lucy has made a huge change because she’s been through a very, very tough year. I was really glad that we got Lucy’s point of view because it made her more than a manic pixie dream girl cliche to me. I thought she seemed quite well formed once I got to know her character a bit better. I don’t know, I just found Lucy really endearing and cared about her.
Frankly, when I looked at the print size of Wintertown I was all, damn it this will take me forever! However, I was just being stupid. Wintertown actually took me a short amount of time to read — I would have read it in a single sitting had Tony not wanted to go to bed kind of early the other night. Emond’s book is interesting and exciting — like I thought it was exciting to unwrap the different layers of Evan and Lucy’s relationship. There’s just something there that gave me feels and emotions and made me feel very connected to the characters.
I thought I would mention the art within Wintertown because Emond’s book could also be called a graphic novel. Between each chapter is a bit of Evan’s comic, the strips echoing what we are about to read. Also, the chapter art is gorgeously rendered. Then, within the chapters are bits of art echoing what we’re reading. There’s a few different art styles in here — but it works — there’s the comic style and then the more realistic style within the chapters and on the chapter titles.
If you go in with an open mind on a freezing cold evening, I bet you’ll really enjoy Wintertown by Stephen Emond, I certainly did.
Disclosure: Review Copy Obtain At BEA Some Years Ago