Type Eighteen Books

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By Mary Vensel White

IR Rating:
An artful blend of travelogue, romance, mystery, and teen coming-of-age, Mary Vensel White's THINGS TO SEE IN ARIZONA is a well-written, imaginative and satisfying read.
IR Approved

When her father takes a suspicious two-week trip “off the grid,” seventeen-year-old Tuesday Mayes sets off with a friend’s dishy brother to track him down.

In THINGS TO SEE IN ARIZONA, the newest novel by Mary Vensel White (the author of gems like The Qualities of Wood and Bellflower) longtime friends Tuesday Mayes and Rosanna Robles are getting ready to go to a concert by a band called Brave Colony, whose lead singer, Jax, is Rosanna’s enduring crush. Tuesday is a regular teen–angsty yet fun-loving, self-centered yet loyal–with a couple of atypical qualities. For one thing, she calls her parents not “mom” and “dad” but by their names, Janis and Devin. For another, she has retinitis pigmentosa, a genetic disease that makes cells in the retina break down slowly over time, causing vision loss. There is no cure. This sounds horrific, but Tuesday is blithe about her diagnosis, saying, “For every law of averages, someone occupies the edge of the bell curve . . . And I’ll be that exception.”

As Tuesday and Rosanna head out to the concert, a stranger arrives with a strange warning for Janis: Devin needs to stay away from the man’s sister, who works at a casino Devin sometimes visits. By coincidence–or not–Janis also has a note from Devin announcing he is disappearing for a couple of weeks to a “healing center” to figure out how to “be better.” He leaves his cell phone behind, meaning he will be unreachable just as decisions need to be made about Tuesday’s future: she wants to go to Northern Arizona University, a few hours away, but her mother wants her to stay home and go to community college. Deciding to force the issue, Tuesday sets off to track down her father, accompanied by Cristian, Rosanna’s brother, whom Tuesday has always liked and who may have kissed her at the Brave Colony concert. Along the way, Tuesday uncovers family secrets while dealing with matters of the heart. How will she emerge from this emotional sandstorm?

THINGS TO SEE IN ARIZONA is a satisfying blend of travelogue, romance, mystery, and teen coming-of-age. Mary White’s descriptions are spot-on: “cotton candy sunsets,” “wispy, half-ass clouds.” Arizona, with its history of alien sightings and new age outlooks, and its landscape that seems wide open but conceals quite a lot, is an excellent backdrop for a story centered on redefinition. Finally, Tuesday and Cristian make an entertaining couple whom the reader can’t help but root for.

An artful blend of travelogue, romance, mystery, and teen coming-of-age, Mary Vensel White’s THINGS TO SEE IN ARIZONA is a well-written, imaginative and satisfying read.

~Anthony Aycock for IndieReader

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