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Inconvenient Paperback – November 8, 2010

15 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 8–10—Russians and alcohol go hand in hand, both in ignorant stereotypes and in 15-year-old Alyssa's experiences. The daughter of Russian immigrants, she is used to seeing her parents find any occasion to imbibe. But when her mother's drinking starts to get out of control, it's not just insensitive comments from thoughtless classmates that are the problem. While Alyssa works to navigate having her first boyfriend, her newly popular best friend, and her cross-country running career, she is simultaneously—and single-handedly—covering up for her mother's growing alcohol abuse while her workaholic father stands by in willful denial until he realizes he must act. Alyssa feels more and more isolated until her new boyfriend, Keith, offers insight that helps "New Alyssa" temper "Old Alyssa's" enabling behaviors. Though the imagery is a bit heavy-handed in parts, the topic of parental alcoholism is an important one to address, and the Russian Jewish teen is an uncommon protagonist in YA literature, both of which create an interesting narrative perspective. The day-to-day nature of Alyssa's story is a refreshing take on the YA problem novel, one that refuses melodrama and favors instead the powerful significance of the smaller moments of life—a smell, a look, a flash of a memory.—Jennifer Miskec, Longwood University, Farmville, VA
(c) Copyright 2011.  Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Growing up in a Russian Jewish community in suburban New Jersey, Alyssa, 15, gets advice from her best friend about how to fit in with the popular high-school crowd. Alyssa especially wants to hook up with Keith, who runs with her on the cross-country team, and she is thrilled when he returns her interest, and they make out. The love story is steamy in this first novel, told in Alyssa’s immediate, present-tense voice. But Gelbwasser tackles more than romance here. Alyssa’s beloved mom has become an alcoholic, and Dad hides from the problem. Will Mom disgrace the family at their Russian synagogue, where everyone loves to drink? Will she show up drunk at Alyssa’s school? Will AA help? Rooted in the author’s Russian Jewish immigrant background, the story is both hilarious and heartbreaking, and the situations are universal. Some readers may find themselves slowed by the details, but the story, especially the ending, is honest and unsentimental about the difficulties Alyssa faces. Grades 9-12. --Hazel Rochman

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 830L (What's this?)
  • Paperback: 312 pages
  • Publisher: Flux; Original edition (November 8, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0738721484
  • ISBN-13: 978-0738721484
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,020,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Margie Gelbwasser is a freelance writer who has written for a variety of magazines. Her first novel, INCONVENIENT (Flux, 2010), was named a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teens. It tells the story of Alyssa Bondar, a Russian-Jewish teen who is coping with an alcoholic mother, tuned-out father, hot/cold boyfriend and distant best friend. Margie's next novel, PIECES OF US (Flux, March 2012), is told in 4 POV (one of them second) and focuses on cyber-bullying, abuse, family relationships, and how one teen's actions affect the other three. When not writing, Margie loves hiking, cooking, dancing, and reading. She lives in NJ with her hubby, and four-year-old son.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By michelle on November 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
The blurb does a great job summarizing what Inconvenient was about so I'll just go on about my thoughts and feelings about this book. I've been reading out of my comfort zone lately, picking up "tough issues" type of books, and I am glad because Inconvenient was a fantastic, worthwhile read. While the book did mostly center around Alyssa's mother's descent into alcoholism, this book was a lot more than that. Themes of identity, family, friendship, loyalty, growing up, ethnic pride and first love were touched upon in this honest, emotional and unputdownable read.

I loved Alyssa's character--she was a real girl in her thoughts, emotions and actions. She wasn't perfect but I thought her first-person narrative was spot on. In the beginning and all through book, we are given hints as to how close and special Alyssa and her mom's relationship were and watching it deteriorate was painful. I really felt for her but I really liked how her character grew and evolved throughout the book. Besides the alcoholism--and this book definitely didn't shy away from the harsh realities of living with an alcoholic--what made this book a powerful read for me was that I related to Alyssa and her friend Lana in terms of their immigrant identity in school. I moved to the United States from the Philippines when I was nine years old and just like Alyssa and Lana, my friends and I endured teasing and innuendos in school and in the community. And just like Alyssa, I felt like an outsider for most of my years in school.

The glimpse of Russian-Jewish culture in the book were interesting and one of the aspects of the book I particularly enjoyed. The secondary characters added to the story and I thought Alyssa's blossoming romance with Keith, her running partner, was sweet.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jewish Book World Magazine on December 27, 2010
Format: Paperback
Fifteen-year-old Alyssa Bondar lives in a Russian Jewish immigrant community in New Jersey where she is dealing with the typical teenage issues of boys and popularity along with the intense difficulties of her mother's alcoholism. Cleaning her mom's mess has become "inconvenient" and her dad is in denial about the problem. The message of how a teenager can try to deal maturely with an alcoholic parent is well done. But while the novel is a serious exploration of an immigrant community and of a family's dynamics, the author gets bogged down dealing with Alyssa's run of the mill high school problems with boys and her desire to run with the popular crowd. This novel is clearly written for older teen readers as some of the scenes of sexuality, such as when an evening sleepover becomes an opportunity for Alyssa and her best friend to videotape themselves dressed up in lingerie. Descriptions of teenage drinking, marijuana use and sexual exploration may feel gratuituous to some readers. Ages 15 and up. Hilary Zana
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By cheryl averta on November 15, 2010
Format: Paperback
i was at Barnes and Noble when the author was there for her book signing. i listened to her selected reading and heard what the book was about, what her inspiration was and that the target intended audience was..... teenage girls (13-17). i needed 2 Hanukah gifts for girls in this age bracket so i bought (and Margie signed)2 copies.
this weekend, i decided to read Inconvenient and i loved it. 1st let me tell you...i have not been in that age group for 40 years!!! the themes are universal... loyalty to family, desire to fit in and 1st love (with all the angst that goes along with that)
i have already recommended this book to several of my friends. Margie had mentioned that night that she has a 2nd book in the works...i cannot wait.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Michelle Dennis Evans on April 1, 2012
Format: Paperback
This novel, for me, had a shaky start and I was concerned it might become a super light YA read. But it wasn't. Inconvenient deals with alcoholism and the silence around it. I also found it interesting to look into a Jewish Russian lifestyle.
Thoughts while reading...
Who around me could be dealing with alcoholism and I don't know about it. Many people who have issues with alcohol keep it very silent.
How far will you go to be accepted? How far will your kids go to be accepted? How far will your friends go to be accepted? There is a line where a person can try so hard to be accepted by someone that they are no longer the person they were created to be.
A sweet reminder to cherish our differences rather than change and become more like another person, so that they will accept you.
I read this in one sitting, I couldn't put it down.
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Format: Paperback
wasn't sure what to expect from this book. If I'm being honest, I only decided to read it so I could be a part of the blog tour (since I'm international, I can rarely take part in blog tours). It didn't sound bad, but not extraordinary either - a little too out there for me, with the Russian-Jewish culture and all, since I usually need to be able to relate to the main character to enjoy the novel. None of that was a problem, though - this book is great!

What I enjoyed most about this one is the writing. It's so graceful, beautiful and vivid - the best writing in a debut novel I've read in a long time! I felt like I was there right alongside Alyssa. At first the metaphors (especially the butterfly ones) seemed kind of forced, but I got used to the style quickly. I love how Margie Gelbwasser ended each chapter with a beautiful, thought-provoking sentence I had to let sit a while before I could start the next one.

The characters are great and complex. Despite our different situations, Alyssa is easy to relate to - she's just a normal teenaged girl trying to cope with what's going on around her. Her insecurities are ones most teenagers have felt (well, at least I have, and I'm going to assume others have, too). Lana is a great character as well - even though I didn't particularly like her and wanted to shake her most of the time, her motives are understandable and she's a very realistic character. Just like Alyssa, I'm split on what to make of her mom. At times I hated her for making those decisions and putting her daughter in such a difficult situation, but I could also understand how she felt pressured and didn't know what else to do. Towards the end, though, I grew more and more frustrated with her.

The novel does have some flaws, though.
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