The Sharp Time

The Sharp Time
by Mary O’Connell
Publication Date: November 8, 2011
Publisher: Delacorte Press
240 pages. ARC.
Rating: 3/5

Sandinista Jones is a high school senior with a punk rock name and a broken heart. The death of her single mother has left Sandinista alone in the world, subject to the random vulnerability of everyday life. When the school system lets her down, her grief and instability intensify, and she ponders a violent act of revenge.

Still, in the midst of her crisis, she gets a job at The Pale Circus, a funky vintage clothing shop, and finds friendship and camaraderie with her coworker, a boy struggling with his own secrets.

Even as Sandinista sees the failures of those with power and authority, she’s offered the chance to survive through the redemptive power of friendship. Now she must choose between faith and forgiveness or violence and vengeance.

Sandinista Jones has to be one of the coolest teen narrators I’ve come across. Sure, she’s lost and bitter, but she’s also witty and real. She and her co-worker Bradley were the saving graces of an otherwise confusing book. I think the plot itself works, but the way Sandinista’s brain works sometimes lost me. Her thoughts were so clouded by anger and depression that I was left wondering what the hell was going on. I’m guessing this was a little bit intentional, but it annoyed me. I don’t like feeling uncertain about where a story is going.

I like O’Connoll’s writing. It’s descriptive and a little lyrical. I think sometimes it came off as pretentious, but I like that Sandinista was aware of that. She knew when she or Bradley or both of them were acting that way. There’s an excellent example of it when they meet on her first day working at The Pale Circus. For the most part, I enjoyed the prose. I thought the tone of it matched Sandinista’s personality perfectly.

Both Sandinista and Bradley are very complex. They’re downright confusing. I barely understood some of their actions, though Bradley is easier to figure out. They’re both dealing with some serious issues, but Bradley is more level-headed (except for the whole pot-smoking thing). Sandinista’s thoughts take some dangerous detours and Bradley ends up being her voice of reason. They’re both strong personalities though, and I think they complement each other well. They have a perfect platonic relationship. They definitely drive the story more than anything else, especially when they’re together. When Sandinista was on her own, the book dragged a little to me. I think that was partly because life was dragging for her. She was so totally alone and time always seems to pass by more slowly when you’re alone, waiting for something else to happen.

I’ve never really read a book like The Sharp Time. I’ve read plenty of realistic fiction about teens dealing with various problems. Still, this book felt pretty original and I think a lot of that is because of the personalities of the characters and the tone of the prose. It was littered with witticisms and pop-culture references that come off as annoying in other books, but worked well in this one.

Just an FYI: there’s drug use, a little underage drinking, and some major profanity in this book. It’s not really the type of book I’d give a thirteen-year-old, but it should be relatable and thought-provoking to an older teen.

Source: Around the World ARC Tours
Purchase this book: Delacorte/Random House | Book Depository | IndieBound

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1 Comment

  1. The two different choices Sardinista has are representations of the way that Harry and Voldemort chose to deal with their respective situations-Harry chose to love, Voldemort chose to hate. Connections are cool!


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