Official Review: Autumn Drawings by Kelli Huffman

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Cecilia_L
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Official Review: Autumn Drawings by Kelli Huffman

Post by Cecilia_L » 05 Aug 2019, 12:08

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Autumn Drawings" by Kelli Huffman.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Autumn Drawings by Kelli Huffman is a YA novella blending the genres of suspense and romance. Other girls her age may be fixated on their wardrobes and weekend plans, but seventeen-year-old Xo (Zoe) is wrestling with more serious issues. She filed for emancipation at the age of sixteen due to her parents' drug abuse. Xo supports herself by working as a waitress. She's bullied at school and is counting the days until the end of the school year. Despite Xo's efforts to sever ties with her parents' dysfunctional lifestyle, once again, their actions place her in danger. Kit is a classmate, and she learns that he is also the son of her parents' dealer. As the story unfolds, Xo becomes conflicted. She is drawn to Kit's gentle nature but suspicious of his motives. Xo is doubtful about whether she should trust Kit, but does she have a choice?

I read this 60-page novella in an afternoon. However, despite the book's brevity, Ms. Huffman tackled some weighty issues, including drug abuse, bullying, abandonment, suicide, and low self-esteem. Described as a "young writer who seeks to open the eyes of her readers and truly make them think," Ms. Huffman accomplished her mission. The issues raised in the book have stayed with me. Her realistic portrayal of Xo's low self-worth due to circumstances that were beyond her control tugged at my heartstrings; I found myself hoping that her accuracy was born of creativity and not through experience.

Likewise, I would not have guessed that the author is a high school student. Although the book is self-published, its presentation is professional from the artistic cover to the meticulous editing. I particularly like how Ms. Huffman utilizes the timeline and flashbacks from Xo's past to propel the plot. During the shifts from present to past, the narrative alternates from first-person to third-person, which seems fitting when Xo is reliving painful memories. The timeline shifts and alternating narratives are executed seamlessly, which is a credit to the young author's skill.

The only thing I disliked was Ms. Huffman's unusual spelling of the protagonist's name. At first glance, I found "Xo" too similar to the popular acronym for "hugs and kisses." However, on the first page, Ms. Huffman clarified the pronunciation by referring to the more conventional spelling of the name, Zoe. Overall, this minor detail didn't detract from the book.

I'm pleased to rate this poignant YA novella 4 out of 4 stars. Ms. Huffman is an author to watch, and I look forward to more of her writing. The book is refreshingly free from profanity. Although it grapples with serious topics, sadly, they are relevant in today's culture. I recommend it to the target audience as well as parents of teens and young adults.

******
Autumn Drawings
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Post by carol kareema » 14 Aug 2019, 02:07

I like the book, because it has a powerful beginning which is one of the main conventional ways of attracting the reader. You get glowed from the beginning, especially when it involves a minor who find herself at a crossroad of irresponsible parents. I would like to read what awaits her life. Ms Hufman is superb writer.

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Post by Wamakima » 14 Aug 2019, 03:15

Wow! It sounds like a really great book. I think 'Xo' as a name is cute. I definitely will read it. I would want to understand the issues that the protagonist faced while growing in a household of drug users.
But the path I’ve chosen has always been the right one, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. :)

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Post by Cecilia_L » 14 Aug 2019, 04:33

carol kareema wrote:
14 Aug 2019, 02:07
I like the book, because it has a powerful beginning which is one of the main conventional ways of attracting the reader. You get glowed from the beginning, especially when it involves a minor who find herself at a crossroad of irresponsible parents. I would like to read what awaits her life. Ms Hufman is superb writer.
Thanks for your comment, Carol.

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Post by Cecilia_L » 14 Aug 2019, 04:34

Wamakima wrote:
14 Aug 2019, 03:15
Wow! It sounds like a really great book. I think 'Xo' as a name is cute. I definitely will read it. I would want to understand the issues that the protagonist faced while growing in a household of drug users.
Thank you. :tiphat:

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Post by VernaVi » 14 Aug 2019, 05:44

I liked the cover of this book, and it sounds like the story has some great depth to it as well! I appreciate the thought that goes into a story dealing with the YA genre. Thanks for an insightful review!

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Post by Cecilia_L » 14 Aug 2019, 07:05

VernaVi wrote:
14 Aug 2019, 05:44
I liked the cover of this book, and it sounds like the story has some great depth to it as well! I appreciate the thought that goes into a story dealing with the YA genre. Thanks for an insightful review!
I found the cover quite appealing, too. Thanks for your comment.

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Post by Stephanie Elizabeth » 14 Aug 2019, 08:10

I am impressed that a high school student wrote a YA novel that is both professionally edited and inspirational. Like you, I hope that the author wasn't recounting her own life experience. Thanks for the great review!

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Post by Cecilia_L » 14 Aug 2019, 10:17

Stephanie Elizabeth wrote:
14 Aug 2019, 08:10
I am impressed that a high school student wrote a YA novel that is both professionally edited and inspirational. Like you, I hope that the author wasn't recounting her own life experience. Thanks for the great review!
Thank you, Stephanie.

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Post by Chrystal Oaks » 14 Aug 2019, 11:21

When I saw the beautiful cover and descriptive title, I thought it would be a book of poems. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it is a YA novella. A teen-age writer producing a thought-provoking and well-written novella is a gem. After reading what this short story is about and comparing it to the cover and title, it almost seems like Huffman is looking for beauty in the midst of all the turmoil in the protagonist's life. I enjoyed reading your wonderful review. Thanks!
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Post by Cecilia_L » 14 Aug 2019, 11:39

Chrystal Oaks wrote:
14 Aug 2019, 11:21
When I saw the beautiful cover and descriptive title, I thought it would be a book of poems. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that it is a YA novella. A teen-age writer producing a thought-provoking and well-written novella is a gem. After reading what this short story is about and comparing it to the cover and title, it almost seems like Huffman is looking for beauty in the midst of all the turmoil in the protagonist's life. I enjoyed reading your wonderful review. Thanks!
That's an excellent point, Chrystal. Thanks for sharing.

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Post by Kibetious » 14 Aug 2019, 11:41

This sounds like a great read and the themes handled are really important in our current times. Thanks much for the review.
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Post by OuKoyoo » 14 Aug 2019, 11:48

From the review, I have no doubt that this is a great book. It explores critical themes which makes it an interesting read. Thank you for the review.

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Post by kdstrack » 14 Aug 2019, 19:45

There is so much to like about this novella! This sounds like a promising new author to follow. Thanks for this recommendation. I will be looking into Ms. Huffman's work.

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Post by Helene_2008 » 14 Aug 2019, 20:16

Sounds like the author packs a lot of serious issues in this short book. I can't imagine having parents with drug abuse issues. Parents have such a big influence on our lives.

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