Review + Giveaway: White Chalk by Pavarti K. Tyler
Welcome to Mother/Gamer/Writer for the White Chalk Blog Tour. For today’s tour stop, please enjoy Sarika’s review of a very controversial novel and enter for your chance to win a copy!
I received this book for free from the mentioned source in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book nor the content of my review.
White Chalk by Pavarti K. Tyler
Published by: Evolved Publishing on July 22, 2013
Genres: Contemporary, Mature YA
Source: Blog Tour
View on: Goodreads
Grab it: Buy on Amazon
About the Book:
Evolved Publishing presents an intimate glance inside teenage angst and confusion, and one talented but troubled girl's attempt to make sense of life, in the coming-of-age tale, "White Chalk," by award-winning author Pavarti K. Tyler. [Literary, New Adult, Women's Fiction]
Chelle isn’t a typical 13-year-old girl—she doesn’t laugh with friends, play sports, or hang out at the mall after school. Instead, she navigates a world well beyond her years.
Life in Dawson, ND spins on as she grasps at people, pleading for someone to save her—to return her to the simple childhood of unicorns on her bedroom wall and stories on her father’s knee.
When Troy Christiansen walks into her life, Chelle is desperate to believe his arrival will be her salvation. So much so, she forgets to save herself. After experiencing a tragedy at school, her world begins to crack, causing a deeper scar in her already fragile psyche.
Follow Chelle’s twisted tale of modern adolescence, as she travels down the rabbit hole into a reality none of us wants to admit actually exists.
Note: This review does contain spoilers
This book was impossibly difficult to review. I read it once, re-read certain parts again, and then abandoned my kindle for a few days so as to free myself from the mixed emotions this book began to spurn in me. I revisited the novel a little later, and I’ve sufficiently narrowed down my feelings about Chelle and her ‘screwed up life’.
I didn’t enjoy reading this book. I doubt anyone would, given the deeply morbid and extremely unsettling themes it covers. Don’t get me wrong-I am definitely not one of those people who think a good book must merit a feel-good read. Half of my favorite books are equally depressing, saddening and cover equally dark topics. I just didn’t like how Tyler dealt with these issues in the first place.
1. Pedophilia: I understand the extremely fragile nature of this topic, and I definitely respect the author for attempting to delve into the many layers that cover this issue. However, I disliked the way Chelle was painted as a completely innocent character (A teacher explicitly stated that she wouldn’t get in trouble for her interaction with Mr Harris, no matter what conspired between them, because as a minor, she is apparently inherently innocent) where she was most often the instigator in their relationship. Yes, she’s a thirteen year old kid, and she was navigating through some treacherous waters-but I don’t see how this is a viable defense. Her feelings that guide her through the relationship, the ‘rush of power’ and ‘feelings of control’ aren’t thoughts a normal teenager would have in the first place-she shouldn’t be able to use a youth as an excuse: she was just as accountable as the teacher in their mistakes.
2. Her relationship problems: Again, it unsettled me to see how the protagonist was painted as a victim with regards to her relationship with Troy, when she knew he was in a relationship, when she knew he was unable to commit to her. Although getting involved with such a young child was definitely wrong on Troy’s part, it doesn’t excuse Chelle’s actions whatsoever. Yes, he was unable to detect her feelings for him towards the beginning of the novel; yes, he fooled around with her when he shouldn’t have, but Chelle made questionable decisions herself, and the fact that she was a girl and that she was younger does not make her any less liable for the disaster that ensued. Again, I disliked the prejudice Tyler displayed that made it appear as though these two feats made her inherently innocent.
3. The ending: I know it will sound brutal to condemn Chelle for her final act of suicide, but I promised myself I would be honest in this review; and these are my honest feelings- I am extremely disappointed with the casual manner in which the author tosses away Chelle’s life, when there were so many windows of opportunities for the protagonist. She was unusually intelligent, had friends who cared for her, another love interest who loved her, along with a wonderful mother and supportive teachers. If a book were to be a champion for suicide prevention amongst the youth, this wouldn’t be a very good nomination because throwing your life away because of a boy is not acceptable at all. If I could have made any alterations to the book, I would’ve made her seize the opportunity to change given to her by her teachers, showing teens just like her that there is a solution, and that there’s no such thing as a lost cause.
Lastly, the writing style didn’t appeal to me as much as I thought it would. It did not invoke any sympathy on my part, simply because I don’t think the writer gave herself much time to build up on the emotions surrounding her gritty reality. It seemed like problem after problem kept hurling themselves at Chelle; an abusive father, a smoking addiction, an inappropriate relationship with a teacher, best friend troubles, living under poor circumstances and relationship drama, so that eventually they just became a list of troubles that didn’t do too much to make the character very likable. I believe Tyler was banking too much on the premeditated sadness associated with these issues that she forgot to establish any emotion herself.
Having said that, I did admire the risks she took with her writing, and the way she managed to capture the mind of a suicidal teen so well. It just wasn’t for me-maybe it’ll be different for you.
3.5 out of 5 Controllers