Friday, March 16, 2012

INTERRUPTED: LIFE BEYOND WORDS by teen novelist Rachel Coker

It's not every day a book lands in my box written by a teenager, but that's exactly what happened when I opened the package from Rachel Coker's publicist and pulled out this pretty paperback. Although I'd detected hints of a buzz surrounding this debut novel, I was a bit skeptical. Was it just marketing hype? Or, at 15 years old, had Coker really pulled off a historically accurate, coming-of-age romance?

So with doubtful thoughts, I opened the book … and found myself captured by her tale.


Alcyone Everly – "Allie" to almost everyone, was named after a star – but her life hasn't been bright for quite a long time. Solely responsible for the care of her dying mother, Allie would be alone in the world, if not for her annoying neighbor, Sam Carroll, who constantly interrupts her plans. One such interruption takes Allie away from her mother at her darkest hour – and she vows never to forgive him for it.

Whisked away from her mother's funeral to become the "daughter" of a prim and proper woman in Maine, Allie retreats into her journal, writing letters to her mother to retain some sort of connection beyond the grave. Beatrice Lovell longs to make some sort of connection with the young girl she's adopted, but Allie will have nothing to do with Beatrice. Tension fills the home. As World War II looms ever closer, Sam arrives in Maine to stay with his aunt for the summer, and Allie's already uncomfortable world turns upside down with the new emotions he ignites in her heart.

Across the ocean, American boys are dying – and Sam could soon be one of them. Will Allie's stubborn hold on the past be able to protect her from the pain if he is lost? Or will she have to become willing to take a chance at allowing herself to love – and to be loved – in order to survive?


Having an almost-15-year-old daughter of my own, I recognized a few moments in the story that seemed to fit within the limited life-experience parameters of a teen girl's existence; but Coker's dedication to crafting believable, multidimensional characters is much more evident than any limitations her age might put upon her story.

Rachel Coker is a budding wordsmith – and this coming-of-age romance has an almost literary quality to its stylization. Giving attention to the sensory atmosphere of her setting and the physical and emotional nuances of her characters, this young author displays the insight of a writing talent well beyond her years.

Hard-hearted Alcyone Everly would be a difficult character to like if not for the love and care she shows her mother. But the reader sees, through Sam and other characters, the beauty-from-ashes qualities that Allie is capable of developing. And, as the story progresses, it is quite easy to cheer for Allie's star to remember how to shine.


An unpredictable and engrossing tale of how grief, faith and romance collide within the heart of a girl, Interrupted: Life Beyond Words is quite an achievement – and teen novelist Rachel Coker is an author to watch.

(This review originally appeared at USA Today's romance fiction blog, Happy Ever After.)

Serena's rating:


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