By Liz Gallagher
Wendy Lamb Books, $15.99, 180 pages

Shock value. Vanessa knows two things about making a statement. As an aspiring artist, she realizes what she creates on canvas makes a bold declaration, an extension of sorts of herself. She also realizes that her appearance and attitude create yet another proclamation, this one, an expression of her individuality. Now why can’t everyone else be as mature as she is?

“I take the bagful of supplies into the garage and lay out newspaper from the recycling bin.
I choose the purple can first, with the super-fat mozzle.
I spray right onto the paper. It’s like the can is part of my body. I love the feel of this brilliant color materializing as I squeeze. It’s as simple, and as natural, as blinking. Breathing.”

Liz Gallagher tackles the young adult word in My Not-So-Still Life, addressing myriad themes of coming-of-age, fitting in, individuality and acceptance.  Unfortunately, the storytelling tries so desperately to make a point; a point that is plain old common sense. The plot fails to build to a crescendo, and instead, flatlines. Vanessa, the main character, is a prime example of a restless teen, maybe too prime. I’ve read carbon-copy characters in other YA novels so what separates this YA read and character from others with the same themes? The saving element of the entire story is the focus on art. Vanessa’s enthusiasm about the creative process and her need to experiment with varying mediums is an interesting twist that could intrigue teen readers.

Even though you can’t judge a book by its cover, I really like this book cover. Unfortunately, it stands out more than the story does.

Reviewed by LuAnn Schindler

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