3 out of 4 stars
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Melina arrives at Balsam State University to meet a different world to the one she is accustomed to. She has a hard time fitting in with her peers at the dormitory. More pressing problems arise when she receives news of a difficult situation at home that needs her urgent attention. However, if she goes home, she would miss her exams, lose her scholarship, and possibly get suspended. What dire situation has befallen her family? What would she do? What are the repercussions of the choice she makes? Why can’t Melina fit in with the other students in her dormitory? Find answers to the questions and more in this fiction piece called Fragile Courage by Martha E. Casazza.
I think the author did a good job with this book overall. I was pleased with the way she started the tale in a way that showed the relationship between Melina and her family. Most authors are guilty of telling and not showing. I think it’s important for authors to be able to show the relationship between the characters through their emotions. This writer did that expertly, as I was able to feel her family's pain when she left for school and the joy around the neighborhood when she visited.
Additionally, the character development is excellent. Although there was a lot of dialogue between the characters, the story was told in the third person, with a particular focus on Melina and Margot. Margot is a young lecturer in the book that readers may find very similar to Melina in many ways. Through the writing style the author employed, I was able to appreciate each character and their thinking process. For instance, the major antagonist was Dr. Stakes, and I understood him to be someone that wasn’t willing to compromise on existing rules to accommodate anyone. While he appeared to be somewhat harsh, I could understand how he became that way because of the backstory that was provided for him.
Also, the author arranged the tale into an impeccable plot that is consistent and easy to follow. As a result, I followed the story without confusion. The description of places and events was also excellent. I could smell Melina's neighborhood and taste the food her mom prepared. I could also feel how tired her father was from working multiple jobs. All these are a testament to the author's descriptive ability.
The only thing I didn’t appreciate about the book is that the conflict of the story wasn’t serious enough to make me pity Melina. At times, Melina seemed like a naïve girl that wasn’t ready to navigate her way through life regardless of the challenges associated with it. It was almost like she asked for an opportunity she hadn’t decided if she wanted or not. I don’t think that was the picture the author wanted to paint to readers, but that’s how I felt. Also, I felt that the story could have included more information about what Theresa, Melina's roommate, thought about Melina. Maybe part of the story could have been told with Theresa as the focus.
Needless to say, the book Is well edited. I encountered only a few errors that didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the novel. I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. The issue I found with the story is the reason I deducted one point. Readers that are interested in fiction stories with college settings would enjoy this read. Young adults would also find this one interesting. However, readers that are affected by profanity may sit this one out since the book contains major profane words.
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