Jason dreams of going to art school in the city, but he must first survive his teenage years. He witnesses a street artist from Italy charm his mother from the backseat of his family car. He stands up to an abusive husband-and them feels sorry for the jerk. He puts up with his father's hard-skulled backwoods ways, his grandfather's showy younger wife, and the first-throwing schoolmates and eccentric mountain characters that make up Harpers Ferry-all topped off by the basement art project with a girl from the poor side of town.
Ugly to Start With punctuates the exuberant highs, bewildering midpoints, and painful lows of growing up, and affirms that adolescent dreams and desires are often fulfilled in surprising ways.
I remember when Yiota send me the e-mail in which the synopsis of the book was included, I told her that the book sounded really, really good, and that she should totally send me a copy. Unfortunately, the book was not what I was expecting.
Firstly, we have a perplex story. In each chapter we read different facts from Jason's life, in which the only common link is Jason himself. We cannot be sure if what we are reading is in a straight chronological line. You understand it only by some facts, Jason may think during something else is happening to him. But still you cannot be sure, about the distance from the previous facts.
Secondly, the writing part was weird. It was nothing like the styles I've been used to. You don't really understand why someone is reacting the way he does. The characters' character is changing in an instant and there are many thoughts unspoken which cause those reactions. Sometimes I was lost. It may happen that in one point everything is peaceful and the next all hell break loose.
Lastly, every single story in this book is true. There are thirteen different stories from thirteen different people, written on their own journals. The author just took those stories and combined them together under a main character. The good thing in it is that you appreciate the book more. The bad thing is that you learn in in the end, in the acknowledgement part. The other bad thing is that even though you learn that the book is almost true, it still feels like you read a journal of facts and not a novel which describe feelings and details.
Bottom line, it's different. For me different is good. I cannot say it was the best book I've ever read and I cannot say it was the worst. It's small, but it took me some time to finish it, due to my college reading. It's not a book of relaxation after a day's work. It's just different and the author leaves you with many questions during the end for what happens next into Jason's life. So, basically, it's up to you, to read it or not.
P.S.: Sorry for not being clearer, guys and gals. If you decide to read it, please tell me your opinion too.