Review: A Rose for Melinda

January 30, 2011

Read the review and more after the break. Please note there are a few spoilers.

McDaniel, L. (2002). A rose for Melinda. New York, NY: Laurel Leaf.

Melinda has one wish: to be a famous dancer. Jesse has one wish: to be with Melinda. Both their dreams are derailed when 13-year-old Melinda discovers she has leukemia. Told in letters, emails, and diary entries, this epistolary novel is sure to appeal to future and present Nicholas Sparks fans. While McDaniel never manages to make her different character voices unique enough, the lovesick Jesse comes across as genuine and heartfelt. Jesse grounds the novel, and makes it less manipulative or monotonous. So while Melinda’s life is the story’s tragedy, Jesse’s reactions are the real tearjerkers.

Other thoughts:

So a teen patron asked me to read this. I hated it for about 50 pages. Then it got better. Maybe I just submitted to it, or maybe it really got better. McDaniel doesn’t have an ear for dialogue. All her characters, young or old, sound exactly the same. Melinda and her friend Bailey come off as whiny little teenagers. At least Melinda is driven, what is Bailey’s excuse? Oh, and Melinda gets cancer so she gets off a little easier. That said, everything about Jesse is surprisingly honest and heartwarming. When he sells his skateboard to buy Melinda roses, well, that got me. Maybe his undying devotion isn’t realistic, but plenty of young boys obsess over childhood friends. And McDaniel does bring home the ending. If I wasn’t invested in the characters, one-dimensional and whiny or not, I wouldn’t have cried.

Similar titles (read-a-likes):

If I Stay by Gayle Forman, Anything by Nicholas Sparks, The First Part Last by Angela Johnson, Anything by Melody Carlson

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