Author: Julia Swift and Andrew Landis
** Thanks to the authors for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review**
Learning to be BOLD
When Sasha, a shy, 15-year-old girl who hides from the world, almost dies in a car crash, she vows that if she survives, she will be bold and live life to the fullest. Her newfound courage is tested when she meets Will, who moved to town after his journalist father’s disappearance. Will is fascinated by Sasha’s brush with and secret knowledge of death.
Sasha and Will push each other to take chances and break out of their sheltered world. Will they discover the difference between being bold and being reckless before they put themselves, or someone else, in danger?
First off, I have to admit I was unknowingly already a fan of these two author’s prior to reading this book. I have followed T.V. shows that they have written for such as Smallville and Hercules: The Legendary Journeys for years. So after learning that Swift and Landis had contributed to some of my favourite young adult television dramas, I could not wait to sink my teeth into their YA fiction offering. I was met with some definite similarities in themes and motifs which did not disappoint.
While I am not certain that Swift and Landis necessarily want their new written work compared to their previous work for television, I could not help but read this text with my previous knowledge in mind. In the past they have written about the underdog youths and beginnings of some of fantasy’s strongest, most unbreakable characters, such as Superman and Hercules. They are masters in narratives of building from the ashes, learning tough lessons from hard experiences, and overcoming obstacles to become who you are destined to be. All of these themes appear in one form or another in their YA novel, Bold.
Swift and Landis provide us with a very relatable story of two high school students, Sasha and Will, who have both experienced tragic life events which complicate the already rough terrain of young adulthood. Through Sasha’s point of view, the reader follows the story of a shy, socially awkward and unaccepted girl whose brush with death prompts her to shake off her wall flower roots and go out and get noticed. While her actions ultimately get her the wrong type of attention, the real draw to Sasha’s character is that there is something special, almost magical, about her character. With her character, I felt as though the authors were sending a message to all of today’s hyper-judgmental teens to say that behind every bullied, neglected teenager, there is something of value, some quality being taken for granted. Well high five to Swift and Landis for this, it is exactly the kind of message young society needs!! Everyone is valuable!
Will on the other hand, is a cool kid, although he is a cool kid at a new school. He plays basketball, makes friends easily, and wants to be part of the high school experience. So much so he becomes involved in the school newspaper. But there is more to his writing than just a desire to have a finger on the pulse, he is really writing to be close to his Dad, a high profile journalist who has disappeared. To try to sort through this difficult time, Will attempts to prove himself to his absent father. There is a scene in the book where Will is crying in public, another scene which speaks to the rigid stereotypes that exist in our youth’s culture, and this is where the unlikely couple meets for the first time.
What follows, part love story and part self-discovery story, is a fresh offering to the YA category in that it shows two separate characters as they develop and overcome their individual difficulties on their path to their love story. Neither one is dependent on the other for help with their issues, rather they admire one another and the different ways they have found to survive, grow and ultimately find each other. So do not look here for warm floating butterflies and consuming passionate kisses, though there are a couple, rather find an inspirational story of two young people who use the adversity life hands them to set them on the paths to their destiny.