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Friday, December 4, 2009

Review: Alive and Well in Prague, New York by Daphne Grab

Title: Alive and Well in Prague, New York
Author: Daphne Grab
Publisher: HarperTeen
Pub. Date: 2008
Genre: YA
Main Themes: Moving, Parkinson's Disease, Family, Love, Friendship
Pages: 247
Plot (from book jacket):
"Matisse Osgood is a New York City girl through and through. She buys her clothes at Andy's Cheapies, watches indie films at the Angelika, and wouldn't be caught dead on a hayride. But when her father gets sick and Matisse's parents decide to leave Manhattan for a small town in upstate New York, her perfect world crumbles. As Matisse trudges through life in Prague, she dreams of waking up in her apartment on West 78th Street with a father who's well enough to walk with her in Central Park and a mother who doesn't pretend that everything is okay. When rumors surround Matisse at school and her father's symptoms worsen, Matisse realizes that the friends she's making in Prague are the kind you can count on. They help Matisse find the strength to reach out to her father, who may not be as far from her as she thought. And one particular farm boy shows Matisse that country living is a lot more magical than she ever imagined."

I liked, but didn't love Daphne Grab's debut novel. I felt that it had a lot of really good aspects, but overall it fell a bit flat.

I really liked the deeper, more serious aspects of the book, like Matisse's struggle with her dad's fight against Parkinson's and her realization that the people she is meeting in the slow town of Prague, NY are truer than anything she's ever known. I felt that she did have significant growth throughout the novel.

It was good that the novel was a slim volume, otherwise I don't know if it would have help my attention throughout. Much of the novel was composed of Matisse acting like a spoiled brat and I didn't have very much patience for her behavior. I know that she was a young girl, but even I knew in high school that the type of behavior she displayed was not acceptable. The most infuriating part of the novel is when she dates a boy based solely on the recommendation of his looks, though she can't stand his personality. Not cool.

I also found the lead romantic counterpart to be extremely awkward. His interests seemed so random - I would have liked a bit more background about him.

Ratings (Out of 10):
Plot: 8
Characters: 6
Writing: 9
Romance: 7
Originality: 8
Total: 38/50 (C)

I probably wouldn't recommend this book. While there were some definite good aspects of the book, it simply wasn't a memorable novel. I will, however, look into any future novels Grab writes, as I feel that the book had tons of potential and her might novel could quite possibly be amazing!


  1. Well it's a good thing there are so many books out there since I kind of doubt that everyone will like every book. Some books just don't capture people while others do which might lead to a wee bit of an obsession.

  2. I read this book last year. I think it dealt with an important topic, but I didn't like it as much as I hoped.

    Nice, honest review!

  3. Nice review :)

    This book sounds interesting--I'll have to look for it at the library since now I'm curious.

  4. The synopsis does sound interesting, but based on your review I think I might give this one a miss. It sounds okay, but doesn't seem like it quite hit the mark :/ Unfortunately! Hopefully her other novels capture your interest more!


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