July 16, 2013
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Danielle Snyder's summer job as a babysitter takes a tragic turn when Humphrey, the five-year-old boy she's watching, runs in front of oncoming traffic to chase down his football. Immediately Danielle is caught up in the machinery of tragedy [. . .]Danielle wants only to figure out how to mourn sweet little Humphrey, the boy who, really, became her friend over the summer. She doesn't want to be forced to deal with the police investigation, her own family and neighborhood drama, or what happens when it's discovered the the driver that hit Humphrey is an illegal alien.
Happy to avoid it all, a new relationship with a boy she meets in the park, Justin, and some newly revisited old relationships seem ready to help her face things. Yet, as more comes to light, not everything is as it has seemed.
Imperfect Spiral is told alternately through the present day: post-Humphrey's accident and the past: the summer while Danielle was babysitting Humphrey. It's a great way to tell the story as readers start the novel knowing what's happened, or thinking we do, at least. As things progress, it becomes clearer that it really was only the big picture that we were given at the start.
The closer we see Danielle and Humphrey grow, the more of their summer together is shown, the more you both want and don't want to know exactly what happened on that fateful day. Though the end result will, of course, be the same.
The glimpses we're given into Danielle's 'before' life make 'after' Danielle make a lot more sense, along with being a much more compelling way to tell the story. I'm really glad this wasn't told in a straight chronological way.
Where things did get a little muddled for me was when the larger debate came into play. I was able to see how it was important for the grieving and growth process Danielle was going through - and understood, especially after reading the author's note, why it was a part of the novel, Knowing that something was good for the characters and a smart addition, didn't quite make it fit, still. It was almost too much.
The characters in Imperfect Spiral were very well done. They were well developed, complex and had their own personalities, quirks and unique traits that made them distinct characters. Humphrey was only five but he was very much his own person. He had things that were definitely unique to him and made him stand out both to Danielle and to readers, but didn't make him seem older (or younger) than his age. The changes we see in Danielle from the summer through the accident and after seemed to make sense given the circumstances. She already had her own struggles that were then compounded by something so tragic.
Imperfect Spiral was sweet, emotional and a good read.
thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for me egalley