My Rating: 4/5 stars
Publisher: Adams Media
Publish Date: June 6th, 2017
Recieved: Netgalley provided a e-arc copy in exchange for an honest review.
Bright lights, big trouble
Fans of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak and Judy Gregerson’s Bad Girls Club will relate to this story about a girl traumatized by her brilliant mother’s serious mental illness.
Like a grown-up Eloise from the picture book, the main character, Van, lives in an upscale casino in glitzy Las Vegas, giving readers entree into a crazy world that few ever get to see.
Based on real life events witnessed by the author, a harrowing look at the dangers of self-help cults that promise insight and instead deliver destruction.
With her mother, a brilliant businesswoman with fragile mental health, Van arrives in Las Vegas at the Silver Saddle casino, where Alex, a college student, is assigned to “babysit” her. Van is used to having to land on her feet, because her mother and her surrogate grandmother move from city to city all the time like corporate gypsies, but Alex introduces Van, a talented musician, to a group where her guitar skills may shine. But just as she’s about to play her first gig, her mother is lured in by a con man promising a “vision quest” in Arizona, and Van must go on the road to find and save her mom.
This book was one of those books that was weird in a delicious way. It’s so real and honest in how it portrays each character and all the interactions that occur. Vans mother is very sick and the beautiful way of that Natalka writes her illness and Vans struggle to ever truly understand and connect fully with her mother was amazing. The familial love in this book is done so well because it portrays the hard parts of love as well as the easier parts. Sometimes it’s easy to feel like giving up, but some part of you always keeps you going.
I also really enjoyed the Vegas setting for the beginning bits, but I’m a little upset that the synopsis gives away so much of the novel. I.e the second half where Van goes after her mother who is on a vision Quest as the supposed prophet of a certain psychedelic group of people.
However I’m getting a bit ahead of myself here. Let’s just talk about my absolute favorite relationship that this story enfolds Van’s relationship with Ida the woman who is the glue to this very unconventional family. Ida is an elderly woman that is like a chill grandmother that pays attention and really cares. Without Ida there is a lack of balance and things fall apart, but when she is present she knows how to be stern yet encouraging and truly a role model for Van. I love her more then words can say.
When Alex shows up as this awkward yet endearing love interest for Van. It felt very fitting. I really enjoyed how Van didn’t seem to know exactly the best way to interact with Alex and vice versa. I just enjoyed the weird ways they got to figure out who they were to each other. When Alex finds out Van can play guitar and introduces her to some friends in a band who needed a guitarist. All the adventure there was fun to read.
But, it didn’t stop there. Van’s mom is such a lovely character because she is so unpredictable and when she is stable she is like a light that Van can’t help but want to be like (she would never admit that even uncounciously) and when she is low… well things get really difficult. When you find out her mom is attached at the hip with a “psychic therapist” and things start going crazy at the hotel, Van’s mom’s job gets compromised and when Van’s mom takes off with her therapist to the middle of nowhere things get weird.
This book is a novel centered around discovery and finding out what it is you really want from life. It is about imperfection, mental instability, and a tornado of relationships that will leave you filled with curiosity right until the very end.
Thank you all for reading! I hope you enjoyed this review. What do you think about Welcome to the Slipstream? I’d love to hear your first impressions!
-Till next time!