Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: Music has always been my only connection to him. And in a weird way, he’s never let me down.
Rachel has always known who her father was but never saw him, only the checks he sent. When her mother passes away right before Rachel’s 18th birthday, her father suddenly appears and takes her home with him. Suddenly Rachel is thrust into a relationship with the unknown while trying to navigate her senior year of high school. As Rachel attempts to find a connection with her father while grieving her mother’s death, she soon learns that despite the anger, pain, and loneliness, happiness can often come when we least expect it.
I’m a huge fan of Sarina Bowen’s work. I simply adore Bowen’s writing. Fast, fun, and sexy, her characters draw me in like a moth to a flame. Realistic and appealing, they aren’t perfect and while we do see conflict, it’s not eye rolling dramatics used to create unnecessary angst and misdirection. Bowen builds smart, industrious characters whose actions are genuine in reaction to the circumstances and their age.
Her first venture into YA is a winner as she lends her voice to a young woman whose entire life has been turned upside down by her mother’s death and the appearance of her absentee father. Bowen taps into all the emotions available as we learn Rachel’s only contact with her father was by following his career in the tabloids and buying his albums. Suddenly he appears, wanting a relationship, and now she struggles to find her place in a world that is off-kilter. A new father and high school are enough to send anyone running but Rachel is a force to be reckoned with. Strong, intelligent, and courageous with a vulnerability that comes with this age and will have everyone cheering her journey. Bittersweet with bold sweeps of humor and sorrow, Bowen addresses the obvious; the love, loss, grief, and confusion that Rachel and her father are forced to deal with while symontaniously giving us an intimate look into the life of a teenager making new friends and finding a new love while being forced to end an old one.
I adored Rachel and her immature father, Frederick. Unsure at times who was the parent and who was the child, their journey is fraught with pitfalls. Frederick is a rock star whose legends of fans and multi-millions has created a self-absorbed man who is unsure how to care about someone other than himself. Rachel has so many questions yet is unable to voice her concerns due to her own feelings of abandonment and fear. She has already lost one parent, she can’t lose another. Bowen captures their angst perfectly and paints a vivid picture of the tentative dance they perform around one another. You don’t doubt Frederick loves her yet at the same time, his own insecurities inhibit his ability to communicate honestly with her. The addition of a common denominator helps to break through Rachel and Frederick’s wall, allowing Rachel to finally be herself and Frederick to understand Rachel needs a dad more than a friend.
A vivacious and well developed supporting cast all gather around Rachel and Frederick, offering support, friendship, love, admonishments, and advice throughout the story. Though the story’s focus is on Rachel and Frederick, there is a couple of minor storylines that pop up, sliding easily into the main story as Bowen uses them to further hammer home the point that parents are people too. They make mistakes and the fear of disappointment and failure affects all ages. Jake, Rachel’s mentor at school, becomes a romantic contender while Haze, a childhood friend, makes some decisions that force Rachel to let him go. Frederick’s band takes on pseudo roles of uncles while Rachel finds the family she always wanted with her new grandparents, only to discover that all families carry baggage.
The Accidentals is a coming of age story that shines brilliantly against a background of music, love, and forgiveness.
Mostly YA Lit