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Inconvenient Paperback – November 8, 2010

4.5 out of 5 stars 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

  • 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: #2,394,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Crystal Fulcher VINE VOICE on July 23, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Inconvenient was a different book, but a very realistic book. It involves a teenage girl undergoing several problems at one time. First she's a Russian immigrant and she has some difficulty with teasing and fitting in due to her heritage. Then there is some tension at home and her mother seems to drink too much at times, while her dad seems to withdraw. On top of that she gets her first boyfriend who confuses her all the time and her best friend is trying to fit in and be popular and seems to be leaving Alyssa behind. I honestly felt for Alyssa through this book, yet it didn't feel unrealistic. Any one of these problems would be hard enough to go through, but all of them together make it really difficult for Alyssa. And while at times she feels like giving in, I really love her strength.

In Alyssa, Ms. Gelbwessar, has made an amazing character for all girls to aspire to, she's not perfect, and she's struggling to find herself, but she doesn't give up even when things are at a point most people would. I also love the side characters, especially Keith, who at times frustrates me, but then he seems like a good guy. I didn't really like Lana, but I understood her. What girl who is in high school or has been to high school hasn't aspired to be liked by the popular kids and to fit in with them. Lana will do what it takes to fit in even if it means leaving Alyssa and her heritage behind.

There is a message in the book and I don't want to give too much away, but it's a great message to take away. I enjoyed the book, it had great learning experiences, romance, and a high entertainment factor for me. I wanted to know how Alyssa would react next and what life would throw at her. Ms. Gelwessar crafts a great young adult novel in Inconvenient and I will be searching out more of her work in the near future.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
INCONVENIENT is a story about fifteen-year-old Alyssa Bondar's conflicts with a new boyfriend who may only be interested in a fling, a popularity-hungry best friend who's drifting from her, classmates who poke fun at her Russian-Jewish heritage, and a loving mother whose lack of confidence leads her into heavy drinking. Alyssa and her father are in denial at first about the mom's drinking until it becomes strongly apparent that she is out of control with her problem. This is a fantastic debut and a realistic contemporary read centered on the heavy issue of alcoholic parents and their family dynamics.
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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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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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