Title: Crush. Candy. Corpse.
Author: Sylvia McNicoll
Publisher: James Lorimer & Company
Publication Date: February 17, 2012
Genre: YA, Mystery
Source: ARC from Publisher
Summary (from Goodreads): Paradise Manor is depressing - the smells are bad and the residents are old. Sunny would much rather be doing her volunteer hours at Salon Teo, but her teacher won't let her. Who says volunteering at a hair salon doesn't benefit the community?
But working with the Alzheimer's patients has a surprising effect on Sunny. Along with Cole, the grandson of one of the residents, she begins to see that the residents don't have much more choice about their lives than she does: what they eat, how they are treated by staff, even what they watch on television. So Sunny does what she can to make the residents happy - even if she has to sometimes break the rules to do it.
But when tragedy strikes at Paradise, Sunny's left to make the decision about whether or not to honor a promise that Cole made to his grandmother about her life and her death.
Being a cosmetologist and also hearing stories from my social-work friends who work in nursing homes, I actually found this book...what's the word...almost endearing with a touch of humor. I felt for the main character, Sonja aka Sunny, as she just seemed to be misunderstood and trying to establish her role in life during her teenage years. We all experienced peer pressure and toxic relationships growing up, but not everyone experiences the selflessness of volunteer work. Especially in a place like a nursing home. Even though this wasn't an action-packed fantasy romance novel, Sylvia McNicoll took me on a journey that pulled me in and left me thoughtful and growing along with the main character.
I really enjoyed the unique format this was written in. We find ourselves ping-ponging between the present-day courtroom and the flashbacks of the 41 hours Sunny spent at Paradise Manor. At first it was difficult to decipher between where Sunny's journal entries ended and the flashbacks began, but after the first few I figured it out. I do wish there was a better division between the two, I think it would have been more helpful to the reader.
From the acknowledgements in the back, it seems that McNicoll really did her research before she wrote this book and integrated some experiences of her own. I like seeing that an author did their homework.
Honestly, this reminded me of one of those kinds of books you read from your school library in Elementary (4th grade+) or Junior High. I think this could be a useful title in those venues as it isn't inappropriate in the least and contains a storyline that provides mystery and education in one. No steamy romance scenes, either.
If you're looking for a light read that doesn't necessarily provide a deep storyline, then I would recommend this book. Like I said, it didn't take me on any grand adventure, but it did leave me thoughtful. 4 stars for this one. :)
Good reading tidings,
Good reading tidings,