Reviews for Opposite of Love
Booklist Reviews 2007 September #1
Through a teen's angry first-person narrative, adult writer Benedict's debut YA novel confronts harsh contemporary issues of vicious racism and child abuse. Smart and beautiful, Madge, 17, never knew her Jamaican dad, and has had to cope with her irresponsible white mom, an illegal alien in the U.S. Madge gets support from her aunt and from a small circle of friends, especially her classmate and boyfriend, Krishna (with whom she has great sex). But the prejudice is ugly in her run-down white Pennsylvanian town, and when she rescues an abandoned black foster kid, four-year-old Timmy, she wonders if she's doing the right thing by bringing him home. Family is the heart of the novel, with Benedict delivering an unsentimental view of how hard it is to care for a needy child, as well as a sense of the tenderness that holds Madge and Timmy together. Copyright 2007 Booklist Reviews.
Kirkus Reviews 2007 July #2
A biracial teen living in a Pennsylvania town makes a difference by fostering an abandoned Hispanic child. As the only black in a white town, 17-year-old Madge has felt like "the black button in the white button box." An ex-con and illegal alien, Madge's single-parent mom frequently disappears, leaving Madge to fend for herself with support from her Aunt Liz, her best friend Serena and her boyfriend Krishna. Madge's skin has always made her feel like a pariah until she visits her cousin in New York City where she finds Timmy, a four-year-old brown-skinned boy who seems alone and at risk. Impulsively, Madge "rescues" Timmy, bringing him home to Pennsylvania. Madge soon realizes raising a child may be more than she can handle. As she becomes attached to Timmy, Madge learns that Timmy's aunt in New York wants him back. In the end, Madge makes the right decision by refusing to be indifferent. Mature language and realistic life situations lend verisimilitude to this compelling drama of a young woman's brave stand against abuse and intolerance. (author's note) (Fiction. 13-17) Copyright Kirkus 2007 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.
School Library Journal Reviews 2008 March
Gr 7 Up-- "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference." Madge, 16, makes Elie Weisel's statement her mantra, promising to never be indifferent, even as it takes her to extreme, unrealistic measures. As the only person of color in rural Hollowdale, PA, except for her Indian friend, Krishna, who moved there in ninth grade, Madge has never felt at peace. Her tough-talking white mother is an ex-con and illegal British immigrant and Madge has never met her Jamaican father. Even with that weak set-up, the book remains readable until Madge decides to bring home Timmy, an impoverished, Hispanic four-year-old boy she met while visiting her white, newspaper reporter cousin in New York City. Madge, who has essentially kidnapped Timmy, acts like he's her own child, letting her once-stellar grades and at least mildly interesting social life fall by the wayside. Benedict's first YA novel suffers from too many competing issues, including biracial identity, racism, child abuse, and the troubled New York City foster-care system. With its resolution that raises far more problems than it solves, strong language, and lack of focus, it's hard to envision this book at home in any library. Instead, recommend Chris Crutcher's Whale Talk (Greenwillow, 2001) for topics of racial identity and Catherine Ryan Hyde's The Year of My Miraculous Reappearance (Knopf, 2007) for issues of child welfare.--Sarah Krygier, Solano County Library, Fairfield, CA [Page 193]. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
VOYA Reviews 2007 August
Madge never met her Jamaican father. Her mother, Brandy, is an illegal immigrant from England who enjoys living outside the law. They reside in the small northeastern Pennsylvania town where she was born. During her mother's unexplained disappearances, Madge lives with her Aunt Liz. While visiting her cousin in New York City, Madge finds Timmy, an injured preschooler, in a city park. Weeks later, she checks on Timmy and determines that no one is truly concerned about his welfare. She decides to rescue Timmy, preventing him from being subjected to her perceived horrors of foster care. After Brandy is arrested, Madge and Timmy are welcomed by Aunt Liz who agrees to help raise Timmy What a confused and confusing book. Madge feels isolated as the only non-Caucasian, yet her boyfriend is Indian. The entire town is prejudiced, but the diner owner defends Madge from a verbal attack and shows concern for her feelings. Madge hates her mother for not being law abiding, but she takes Timmy without legal permission. Madge is consumed with worry over a boy liking her, and then can only focus on the injustices of foster care. The abrupt shift between utterly self-centered and excruciatingly selfless is jarring and off-putting. Madge is judgmental and self-righteous, yet she never deals with the potentially devastating consequences of her actions. The author absolutely deserves respect for attempting to tackle the difficult issues of racial discrimination, small town prejudice, social acceptance by peers, and abuse/neglect within the child welfare system. Unfortunately in trying to address all the issues equally, the author prevents a clear message on any of the topics from being delivered to the reader.-Stacey Hayman 2Q 2P S Copyright 2007 Voya Reviews.