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The Unlikelies

Review

The Unlikelies

THE UNLIKELIES is the story of the summer adventures of five teens in the Hamptons on Long Island: Sadie, Val, Alice, Jean and Gordie. After Sadie finds an upset baby in a car at the local farm stand, her confrontation of the child’s father goes viral. Soon she is honored at the local Rotary club, where she meets Val, Alice, Jean and Gordie, all of whom are “Homegrown Heroes” who help out in various areas of society. They strike up an immediate friendship, and soon what Sadie thought was going to be a boring summer turns into an attempt to flood society with “good deeds.”

From this point on, the five teens embark on a mission of “troll busting” and anonymous donations at the insistence of Mr. Upton, a mysterious elderly man in Sadie’s town. However, the teens soon realize that good intentions and reality often don’t mesh, especially after they try to help Izzy, Alice’s friend, overcome her heroin addiction. Soon they are in over their heads, and they start to wonder --- at what point are you unable to change the world?

"[THE UNLIKELIES] is an important and valuable read for all teen readers --- it is a book that teens will feel 'gets' them, a book that captures the essence of the teen experience and growing up."

If you’ve ever been wary of contemporary fiction, THE UNLIKELIES is the book to convince you that you’ve been missing out. The novel is filled with distinct and unique characters, who each support both one another and their community. They have an instant friendship with each other, but their bond is also realistic, with occasional conflict and flaring tempers. However, there is no obnoxious drama, and Firestone’s second novel is perfect for the summer season --- a relatively light read that will make readers wish they had friends like Sadie.

The characters’ adventurous spirits, tendency for spontaneity, and a capacity for endless optimism give the story levity, as well as the small side romance. Still, Jean, Val, Alice, Gordie and Sadie all come from different backgrounds, and the author includes many frank and weighty sentiments on cultural differences among societies, though all five are close friends despite their dissimilarities. They have varying relationships with their parents, providing a realistic picture of modern families.

THE UNLIKELIES also deals with other serious topics including anxiety, unhealthy relationships and drug abuse, as seen through the eyes of teenagers. The lessons that the author includes are relatable to the reader. These topics, as well as an exploration into responsibility and “good samaritanism,” provide the framework for the coming-of-age arc of the story.

The only element that may worry some is that the story doesn’t make it entirely clear that the best way to counter drug abuse is to inform an adult, rather than teenagers trying to solve the problem themselves. This is something that the characters come to realize as the book continues, part of their “coming-of-age,” but it is never clearly stated. Overall, however, the character’s desire to do good deeds is refreshing in today’s world. Coming to terms with the harsh realities of greed and evil is a theme that is relatable, especially for a teen audience, and the reader will find many of their own questions and fears reflected in the chapters. Though this story feels lighter, it is by no means “fluff,” and is an important and valuable read for all teen readers --- it is a book that teens will feel “gets” them, a book that captures the essence of the teen experience and growing up.

Reviewed by Rachel R., Teen Board Member on June 29, 2017

The Unlikelies
by Carrie Firestone