Look Review (2): A Study in Charlotte

Goodreads synopsis: The last thing sixteen-year-old Jamie Watson–writer and great-great-grandson of the John Watson–wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s enigmatic, fiercely independent great-great-granddaughter, who’s inherited not just his genius but also his vices, volatile temperament, and expertly hidden vulnerability. Charlotte has been the object of his fascination for as long as he can remember–but from the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else.
Then a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Holmes stories, and Jamie and Charlotte become the prime suspects. Convinced they’re being framed, they must race against the police to conduct their own investigation. As danger mounts, it becomes clear that nowhere is safe and the only people they can trust are each other.
Equal parts tender, thrilling, and hilarious, A Study in Charlotte is the first in a trilogy brimming with wit and edge-of-the-seat suspense.

I was thrilled to win an Advanced Reader’s Edition (ARE) from Harper Collins via a Goodreads giveaway! I rarely enter giveaways, but I won 2 in 2015!

Cavallaro’s other published work is all poetry, and I found her prose to be poetic, without ever glowing purple:

There it was, that weightless rush, that floor-bottoming-out exhilaration that comes from saying something you can’t take back.

Cavallaro has obviously meticulously researched Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous stories and characters. Elements from 3 Holmesian stories are prominently featured in the crimes themselves.

Those past wrongs that Sherlock and Dr. Watson had made right were being pushed into our present, and the details of the good deeds they’d done were being used to hurt us and the people we knew.

Many of my favorite characters (Lestrade, Mrs. Hudson, Mycroft, and Moriarty) are represented in some way, but it’s the characterization of Holmes and Watson that really shines.

While I stood there, shaking with fear, she was efficient, cool-headed, working swiftly to get us absolved.

He is lovely and warm and quite brave and a bit heedless of his own safety and by any measure the best man I’ve ever known.

Their friendship is one of the highlights of the book for me.

“I’ll have toast,” Holmes told the waiter, handing him her menu. “Two pieces, whole wheat. No butter, no jam.”
“No, she’ll have the silver dollar special, with her eggs sunny-side up and . . . bacon instead of sausage.” I fixed her with a scathing look. “Unless there’s something else on the menu she’d rather have. That isn’t under ‘side orders'”.
She snorted. “Right, then. He’ll be having the same thing, except he wants sausage, not bacon, and please do keep on giving him decaf instead of regular. It’s a mistake on your part, but it works to my advantage. He’s quite cranky when he doesn’t sleep.”
The waiter scribbled down our orders. “Happy fiftieth anniversary,” he muttered, and moved on to the next table.

My adoration of Holmes and Watson (both the originals and their descendants) and their exemplary friendship prevents me from “shipping” them. The hints of romance throughout the book detracted from the story, for me. I loved this quote from early on, and wished it had stayed completely true:

But I had never wanted to be her boyfriend. I wanted something smaller than that, and far, far bigger, something I couldn’t yet put into words.

The other problem I had with the story is something that other reviewers have praised. The teenagers in this book are dealing not only with murder, but with sex, substance abuse, and physical and sexual violence. There is also a smattering of extreme cursing. Cavallaro has been hailed for the realism of these situations, but for me they seemed over the top. If they ARE realistic, I am both grateful for my atypical adolescence and terrified of what my own children might face in a few years.

I have a few nit picky problems with word choices, but since I was reading an ARE, I’m trusting that those issues will be ironed out before the final publication on 3/1/16. They may  simply be a product of my own weirdness – my husband and I have argued on more than one occasion as to whether “next Sunday” means the next Sunday that occurs or the Sunday after this Sunday. 😉

Now for the look:

. . . Charlotte Holmes was as fastidiously put together as if she were about to give a speech on etiquette. She had on slim navy pants . . . her face was as bare as if she’d just washed it.

imageNot being a teenager myself, I went with makeup that looks bare, rather than an actually bare face. 😉 I wore my navy skinny jeans, and dressed as neatly and precisely as Charlotte herself.

2 thoughts on “Look Review (2): A Study in Charlotte

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