The last person seventeen-year-old Eleanor Livingston wants to see on the elevator—let alone get stuck with—is her ex-boyfriend Travis, the guy she's been avoiding for five months.
Plagued with the belief that when she speaks the truth, bad things happen, Elly hasn’t told Trav anything. Not why she broke up with him and cut off all contact. Not what happened the day her father returned from his deployment to Afghanistan. And certainly not that she misses him and still thinks about him everyday.
But with nowhere to hide and Travis so close it hurts, Elly’s worried she won’t be able to contain her secrets for long. She’s terrified of finally revealing the truth, because she can’t bear to watch a tragedy befall the boy she still loves.
“I’d told Travis ‘always and forever’ once, And look at us now. Caged in this elevator, Secrets thick as cement, Silence suffocating us both.”
I absolutely loved the concept, and have seen some non-YA versions of the novel-in-verse that blew my mind with how beautiful they were – check out Late Wife by Claudia Emerson. Elana Johnson’s use of language and structure were interesting at times and always highly accessible. My biggest issue with this book was the main character, Eleanor. Thus begins my mini-rant.
Can we stop with the young women who are completely crippled after a break-up? Like to the point they now need medical attention? I remember being young and dumb and wholly devastated, but developing a fear of riding the elevator simply because you used to ride that same elevator with your ex – that’s not ok. Let’s give our younger selves and our sistahs a little more credit than that. I am tired with the frequency with which I see hollow shells of girls and women – even in books that I unapologetically love, like Twilight. We can be strong and resilient, and damn it, awesome without men. Dust yourself off and ride the hell out of that elevator (or just use the stairs, seriously).
Eleanor faces some very real issues (that I won’t spoil in case you decide I’m batty and you still want to read). I found them mostly convenient and used for dramatic effect to the point it was ridiculous, rather than called for by the narrative or well established through the frequent flashbacks/forwards. Books like these legitimize the popular notion that YA is pithy and somehow removed from being qualified as “literature” – and that makes me upset for the genre. If you’re looking for a novel in verse, I would highly recommend some Ellen Hopkins, or Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse. Want something about how miserable and complicated love can be? Check out Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, or High Fidelity by Nick Hornby.