Publication: January 17th 2017
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Genres: YA, Contemporary
Format: ARC Source: Publisher
What happens when you fall in love with someone everyone seems determined to fear?
Ninety seconds can change a life — not just daily routine, but who you are as a person. Gretchen Asher knows this, because that’s how long a stranger held her body to the ground. When a car sped toward them and Gretchen’s attacker told her to run, she recognized a surprising terror in his eyes. And now she doesn’t even recognize herself.
Ninety seconds can change a life — not just the place you live, but the person others think you are. Phoenix Flores-Flores knows this, because months after setting off toward the U.S. / Mexico border in search of safety for his brother, he finally walked out of detention. But Phoenix didn’t just trade a perilous barrio in El Salvador for a leafy suburb in Atlanta. He became that person — the one his new neighbors crossed the street to avoid.
Ninety seconds can change a life — so how will the ninety seconds of Gretchen and Phoenix’s first encounter change theirs?
Told in alternating first person points of view, The Radius of Us is a story of love, sacrifice, and the journey from victim to survivor. It offers an intimate glimpse into the causes and devastating impact of Latino gang violence, both in the U.S. and in Central America, and explores the risks that victims take when they try to start over. Most importantly, Marie Marquardt’s The Radius of Us shows how people struggling to overcome trauma can find healing in love.
There are many things that I love about The Radius of Us, but it was a little underwhelming for me. I read this book back in November, so that may have something to do with why I didn’t completely love it. It’s a good story with very important topics, that young adult literature needs right now. I just found myself not as invested in the story as I would have liked. Phoenix is a very interesting character, and I found his POV to be more to my liking than Gretchen’s. Even when I felt really bad for Gretchen’s situation, I still feel like something went wrong in the way her story was told. Still, this book addresses things in a way that may seem “over-the-top”, but I so give the author a big high-five for doing it.
You ever hear that song, “It’s A Hard Knock Life”, while you’re reading a book and the main character fits so perfectly? I started humming it whenever I would finish one of Phoenix’s chapters. It’s okay to be wary of strangers. It is most definitely warranted to be wary after you’ve been assaulted and mugged. Still, I can’t get over Gretchen’s and Phoenix’s first meeting. It was a little comical to me, actually. Do you know why? Yes, Gretchen suffers from panic attacks since her ordeal. What made me laugh a little is because those type of encounters happen all the time. How many people have run the other way when they see someone that doesn’t look like themselves? I hate racial profiling, but since that first interaction between these two was meant to add weight to Gretchen’s story, I went with the flow. In other words, it isn’t meant to be racial profiling whenever Gretchen is in the picture, but there is a lot of it from extras in this book.
There’s so much more to deal with in this story. I don’t want to spoil this for anyone, but I think that you will be surprised at the amount of depth that the author creates with these two very different, very young people. I was a tad bit annoyed at certain things, but I like Phoenix’s character a lot. He had so much more to offer and a lot to lose. 2016 was the year that everyone was screaming for diversity. I’m not sure if some readers actually want to read more diversely, or they were just going along with the mantra “we need diverse books”. But if you are seriously in need of some diversity, The Radius of Us is definitely a good one to add to your list. It wasn’t a mind blowing read for me, but I admit to not being in a good frame of mind when I read it, so this may be just the book you are looking for. My 3.5 stars aren’t bad, either 😉