Streamline by Jennifer Lane
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: March 1, 2012
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Source: Received for review on blog tour
Seems like Leo Scott has it all: looks, brains, and athletic talent. He's captain of his high school swim team with a bright future in college and beyond. But Leo has secrets. His mother's crippling car accident has devastated his family and left Leo to deal with his father's abuse, battered and alone.
Leo's girlfriend Audrey Rose is poised for her own share of success. As one of Florida's top high school swimmers, Audrey dreams of college swimming stardom. But there's an obstacle to her glorious rise to the top. Her number-one supporter-her father-is in prison for murder.
Part murder mystery, part tale of young love in a military family, this gripping story takes readers on a journey from Pensacola to Annapolis. Leo and Audrey must band together to rise above the adversity they encounter and find their true selves in the process. When everything's on the line . . . streamline.
Streamline by Jennifer Lane is a book with a lot going on, and that threw me off a little, quite frankly. Not only were there several major conflicts (like, more than your run-of-the-mill contemp), but the point of view flipped from character to character quite frequently, and sometimes it took me a second to realize whose mind I was in, considering most of the narration sounded the same. I honestly felt like a majority of the POV switches could have been cut and that this book should have been split into two, which is something that rarely comes out of my mouth. I love when authors have the skill to tackle multiple daunting issues in one novel, but I honestly felt like the first half of Streamline and the second half were two different books mashed into one.
In the first half, the characters face multiple horrifying challenges such addiction, child abuse, and teen pregnancy/miscarriage. Everyone is doing their best to overcome these monumental obstacles and desperately searching for a solution. There is a sort of frantic pace, accompanied by an underlying sense of dread for what comes next for the characters. It's like, okay, you took down the big bad wolf, seemingly defeated him, and sure there are a few other things that need to be resolved, but take a breather, leave that to the next book. But then the second half of the book all of a sudden transforms into a murder mystery. The main character Leo has moved to a Navy academy in Annapolis while Audrey, his girlfriend, is in Tallahassee at FSU. So there's less Audrey, a whole lot less swimming, and Elaine and Alex (two of his friends who make frequent appearances in the first half of the book) are never mentioned again, which really blows because all of those components were so vital in the first half (Okay, maybe Elaine and Alex weren't vital, but they were around a lot and then it's like POOF! They no longer exist). A whole new cast of characters is introduced, and the pace is much slower as Leo strives to concur the Academy. His stellar Navy skills begin to slip, however, as the lingering effects from the previous events in the novel set out to destroy him, and he breaks all the rules to uncover the truth about a murder Audrey's dad was blamed for. Like I said, they were almost two completely different books.
But aside from all the crap happening, the book really did contain some commendable qualities. The romance, for example. Leo and Audrey have already been dating for two years by the beginning of the novel, and you can easily fall into the comfort of their relationship. You can tell that their feelings are genuine through even the simplest of exchanges. And no matter what tribulations their relationship faces, you can tell that, really, they're rock solid, and they'll get through it. And, while their feelings for each other do play a significant role throughout the novel, in no way does the romance dominate the story or overshadow the plot(s).
The characterization is also executed pretty well. There was a lot of times when getting through this book was admittedly pretty difficult, but what spurred me on were the characters. What would happen to them? Each character has to face different results and repercussions for the events that occur through the novel. Leo is a swimmer, a perfectionist, a Navy-son, smart, tough, and willing to accept blame for basically everything, even if it's obviously not his fault. He has to learn from his father's mistakes and come to terms with the fact that imperfection is not the equivalence of being a horrible human being. I love that he rarely lies. Like, absolutely adore that quality about him, though it gets him in quite a bit of trouble. And I gotta say--for such a smart kid, he sure as hell makes some really dumb decisions, but such is life I suppose. Audrey, aforementioned GF, has a lot in common with Leo (swimmer, smart, and a Navy-daughter), but definitely balances his out in really essential parts of his life, being extraordinarily forgiving and supporting him every step of the way. Never doubting him when he doubted himself the most. Jason, Leo's brother, goes from a homeless alcoholic to a guy seriously getting his shit together, protecting his brother, and doing his best to protect others who suffer child abuse. There's even a significant change in Mary--Leo's mother--who is finally recovering from the accident that flipped her family's life upside down, and James, the abusive father who realizes a little too late what a dumbass he is.
So yeah, I had some complaints about this book, but overall it was a really gripping and emotional story (or two ;]) about three families that severely suffer from the ripples caused by one man; a story of family, love, an consequences. And most importantly, a story with engaging characters that will keep you immersed in the story.
Thanks so much to Omnific Publishing and AToMR tours for hosting such an awesome event, and of course, offering a FANTAB prize!
Don't forget to follow along with the rest of the tour and stop at all the other blogs!