Saturday, December 31, 2011

Review for Ugly to Start With by John Michael Cummings

Ugly to Start WithUgly To Start With
By John Michael Cummings
Published by Vandalia Press
Review Copy from Author (Thanks!)
168 pages

"Jason Stevens is growing up in picturesque, historic Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in the 1970s. Back when the roads are smaller, the cars slower, the people more colorful, and Washington, D.C. is way across the mountains—a winding sixty-five miles away.

Jason dreams of going to art school in the city, but he must first survive his teenage years. He witnesses a street artist from Italy charm his mother from the backseat of the family car. He stands up to an abusive husband—and then feels sorry for the jerk. He puts up with his father’s hard-skulled backwoods ways, his grandfather’s showy younger wife, and the fist-throwing schoolmates and eccentric mountain characters that make up Harpers Ferry—all topped off by a basement art project with a girl from the poor side of town."-Goodreads

A very raw, colorful, intense book. Definitely not my normal read and one that I wouldn't find myself quite ready to read again. I give props to the author for tackling some hard-core issues in this book!

Throughout this short set of 13 stories I just couldn't quite get a feeling of who Jason was - no doubt at the stage in life he's at he doesn't know but I just didn't get a feel of him, I was confused and disconnected. The only person I liked in this book was his mother. She was what a mother should be; protective and caring - the only ray of sunshine in this book. The variety of personalities in this 'story' is quite a range, I'm surprised at how each individual was composed of different qualities. The characters and plot were very layered and I think would create quite the discussion!

I was uncomfortable with some of the situations and subjects; in particular the chapter regarding Carter. Truthfully I had to skip it and I don't think I could have read that bit. It was just too ... mature, disturbing? There was an excessive use of cursing in here that made me squirm too, I mastered the ability to fly over the words I didn't want to process. The chapters, were like I said before, separate accounts in different points in Jason's life and I couldn't follow too well.

All that being said, I can see that the author has a deep understanding of events in the world. He has this insight and touches on many different subjects; abuse, prejudice, harassment, and others. It shows skill to tackle these. There were a couple accounts that interested me too.

Overall,  I just don't think this was the book for me - or my age group. I would say if you are thinking about this book, look into different reviews and then decide for yourself if you want to read it. Apparently most others (on Goodreads) think this was a great book but its definitely for older audiences. Mr. Cummings, great job - it just wasn't for me!


On our way back from town, Mom and I spotted Ernesto, the new artist in Harpers Ferry, walking along the highway. We shot past, and I begged her to stop. She looked at me as if for the life of her she couldn't understand me. Then, she took her foot off the gas and began signaling over.
"I don't know about this, Jason," she said.
I stuck my head out the window and peered back down the highway. Ernesto was trying to catch up, but the large sheets of paper he was carrying in the grip of one hand bent in the wind whenever he hurried. I told Mom to back the car up, but she said that as too dangerous to do on the shoulder.
He reached us at last.

1 comment:

  1. Hmm, yup, from the sounds of it, might not be for me either! I can understand why you felt a bit uncomfortable.


Thank you for commenting! I read and appreciate every single one! I <3 to hear your thoughts so don't be afraid to say whats on your mind!!