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LEGACY is author Jessica Blank’s latest novel. Blank has also written ALMOST HOME and KARMA FOR BEGINNERS along with several plays. In terms of plot and premise, LEGACY is very different from most of the YA books I’ve read, but it does explore the ideas of finding oneself and discovering purpose, common themes in many well-loved young adult novels.

"LEGACY is the perfect novel for anyone looking for a coming-of-age YA story, but with a more unique and unconventional plot."

LEGACY is about 17-year-old Alison, whose older brother, Andy, died in a car accident several years before the story takes place. Following her brother’s death, Alison’s personal and family life has become dark and difficult. Her experience in high school has not been great either, she has to deal with nasty bullying and her ability to graduate is in jeopardy due to absences. All Alison really wants to do is spend time with her punk-rock boyfriend and finally get out of Tacoma, Washington. However, when her boyfriend, Jeff, gets kicked out by his dad and Alison gets into a massive fight with her mom, the two of them decide to join a group of environmentalists protecting a forest of ancient trees from being cut down. It starts out has just having a place to stay and sleep at night, but soon Alison begins to understand the importance of protecting the woods from destruction. She begins putting herself on the line to work with the environmentalists and stop Cascade, the lumber company, from cutting down the trees. As she works for something she truly cares about, she finds compassion, true friends and something that inspires her and brings her the purpose she needed.

For the first couple of chapters, I had a hard time staying engaged with LEGACY and the novel moved a little slow. I was also frustrated by the somewhat stereotypically way in which Blank portrayed Alison, as a moody, bitter teen. Jeff, Alison’s boyfriend, also did seem possessive of her at times, though thankfully that situation was handled well in the story by Blank. However, once Alison arrived at the Free State, where the environmentalists were protecting the trees, the novel became much more interesting and picked up pace.

Towards the middle of LEGACY, I found it hard to even put the book down. It seemed like Blank wrote the book in a way that allowed the book to become better and more interesting as Alison’s life became better and more purposeful. I loved that the character of Alison became more confident and strong as the novel went on and how Blank constructed the friendships Alison and some of the environmentalists, it really showed how she was finding herself.

At times, the plot could be a bit redundant, but the character development of Alison and her personal journey of becoming more of her own person is really what makes LEGACY a well-written, interesting book. She grows from being a moody, frustrated, grief-stricken teenager into a powerful, caring person, which is not something that usually happens in shorter novels like LEGACY. The character development did not seem too rushed or awkward; it was a smooth transition that really showed the quality of writing in the novel. When I first picked up LEGACY, I was almost positive that I would not like it, but soon enough I couldn’t put it down and wanted to read even more. LEGACY is a quick, but great, read.

LEGACY is the perfect novel for anyone looking for a coming-of-age YA story, but with a more unique and unconventional plot. I would also recommend LEGACY to anyone looking for a quicker, but still worthwhile read or for anyone who is looking for a book that is not set (exactly) in the present day, as LEGACY takes place in the mid-1990s with many references to punk-rock culture.

Reviewed by Ansley K., Teen Board Member on September 6, 2018

by Jessica Blank