Verdict: WHAT THE VALLEY KNOWS manages to straddle the line between YA and adult fiction in such a way that both categories of readers will appreciate the richness and high drama of the story.
Molly is not excited about starting her senior year of high school at a brand new school, but she and her mother, Ann, have just moved to Millington Valley to do just that. But things start to look up when Molly meets Wade, the star of the football team, and they begin to hit it off. Meanwhile, Ann gets a job as a paralegal and her boss even offers them an apartment at a steep discount. It all seems almost too good to be true.
Heather Christie’s WHAT THE VALLEY KNOWS is a YA drama told through three perspectives: Molly, Ann, and Wade. These perspectives provide for a varied and detailed illustration of the events which transpire in the book, which explores the ways in which teens cope with the very adult problems they find themselves facing. The perspective of Ann is unusual for a story aimed at young readers and at times the book begins to feel less like it was written for teens and more like one written for adults. As the mother character, Ann’s problems can seem distant from those of the teenagers, but her perspective gives valuable nuance to Molly’s struggle and is a good reminder of the ways that adults try to help the young people in their lives.
The story focuses on Molly, but Christie manages to keep Ann and Wade’s lives just as deep and complex. Each character has their own set of challenges, and just when the readers starts to feel as though a character has drifted apart from the main story, Christie manages to bring the group back together. There is not much in the way of completely unexpected twists but, like a good soap opera, the high drama keeps will keep the reader interested.
As characters deal with themes including alcoholism and sexual assault, this novel plays with the line between young adult and adult fiction. But ultimately WHAT THE VALLEY KNOWS manages to straddle the line in such a way that both categories of readers will appreciate the richness and high drama of the story.
~Parrish Turner for Indie Reader