In rural Tennessee, ensconced in a world of Emily Dickinson, mythology, and piano lessons, thirteen-year old Alcyone "Allie" Everly cares for her cancer-stricken mother. Without a friend, save the irksome Sam Carroll, the boy who's always around, Allie is confined to her mother's introverted, fantasy world; until disaster strikes tearing it apart. Allie is then shipped off to Maine to the home of Beatrice Lovell leaving everything she knows behind only hours after the funeral. Forewarned by her mother to, "...look out for yourself and don't let your guard down. Don't ever forget your roots or your common sense," Allie subconsciously creates thick walls barring anything of her new life to creep in, especially her adoptive mother. Yet, it isn't until Sam's unexpected arrival in Maine that Allie's defenses begin to unravel.
While reading Interrupted, I thought of Estella of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations. Both Allie and Estella were taught at an early age to barricade their hearts from others. Both were robbed of a childhood free of righting the wrongs inflicted upon their caregivers. Notwithstanding Allie's and Estella's similar yet different upbringing, Allie fared a better ending.
Oh, the innocence, the innocence of Allie's and Sam's relationship! I loved how their friendship grew into love, which I think is lacking from many young adult novels. It wasn't an overnight, raging hormone lust/love, but a slow, steady building love formed over years of caring for one another. At times though, I thought Allie was down-right mean to Sam forcing him to apologize to her unnecessarily just to stay in her good graces.
Published at sixteen, Coker's promising talent shines in her debut novel. Each chapter opens with an Emily Dickinson poem or sentiment mirroring Allie's present life circumstances. Though "gulped" appeared eighteen times throughout the novel, it doesn't take anything away from the story. A tale of loss, acceptance, trust, and love, Interrupted: Life Beyond Words is a pleasant, quick read.
*All quotes taken from ARC and checked against published book.
**I received a complimentary ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.