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Reviewed by Arya Fomonyuy for Readers' Favorite
Phantom Adolescence by Michele Asseo is an inspiring story of loss, family, and healing. What happens when tragedy befalls a family? Jean Rayson is a typical teenage girl, fascinated with modeling. It’s no wonder she’d love to stay put, an issue of Vogue fluttering before her. It doesn’t matter if she reads it or not, but the images of the models inspire her. Such is her world until her younger brother dies in the summer. Mathew, on the other hand, has gradually developed an aloof attitude, having lived in two homes and not finding life so easy with his mother. But he begins to look at life differently after the death of his younger brother. As their family totters towards breaking point, Jean and Mathew each undergo exceptional transformation, taking responsibility to embrace the pain and journey towards healing. In their own way, each chooses to not let their family down. It’s for the reader to find out how.
This is one of the best books I have read this year on family dynamics and it is interesting to see how the author weaves the themes of love, family, loss, compassion, and healing into the well-imagined plot. The characters are wonderful and each of them has an inspiring journey that will have readers thinking about their own responses to loss and tragedy in their family. The characters are real and easy to sympathize with. Michele Asseo’s writing is excellent and the descriptions are vivid and compelling. I fell in love with the prose right from the very beginning of the story. The author makes the images beautiful, the characters interesting, and the story gripping, thanks to her wonderful gift for strong writing and storytelling, deft and balanced. Phantom Adolescence is engaging, inspiring, and delightful. It’s a must-read.