Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Review: Becoming Bonnie by Jenni L. Walsh

Release Date: May 9, 2017

This novel about Bonnie Parker, of the infamous Bonnie and Clyde, is so well written I didn't even notice at first that it's written in present tense, which I normally don't like.

The characterization was very well done too, with the best part being the evolution of Bonnie becoming the figure we picture her as (it's certainly an appropriately titled novel). Although this is a novel about how Bonnie met and fell in love with Clyde, I wouldn't call it a romance. It's more about a young woman finding herself in a chaotic world and learning what she really wants from it and from the people in her life. Blanche's character was compelling too and I almost wish for a sequel done in Blanche's voice. Knowing in real life, Blanche is the only survivor out of their group, her voice would make a good narrative for a sequel, but I don't know if the author has plans for a sequel at all.

Additionally, although Bonnie is a teenager throughout the book and there is nothing inappropriate in it for teens to read, I wouldn't call it a young adult novel (nor is it marketed as such, though I see some people on Goodreads have tagged it). Bonnie is very young, but she's very much living her life as an adult, and it deals with adult themes, so it doesn't have a young adult feel to it.

There are a few deviations from the factual timeline in the beginning but it does come together. At first, it seemed like Clyde was being introduced way too early, but then it became clear that he and Bonnie don't really formally meet until much later and so he was more of this shadowy, mysterious, background figure. It wound up working really well and made an excellent, believable story line. Keep in mind, this is not a tale of Bonnie and Clyde's life together, it's really about Bonnie's life before Clyde and everything that led them together. They don't really meet till near the end and the novel ends well before their crime spree. You might think that would make it boring, but it really doesn't. I read the entire second half of it in one day, I felt so compelled to finish it.

Advanced review copy from publisher via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.

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