Sharon Reads: Splintered by A.G. Howard

Splintered by A.G. Howard is a young adult novel that blends a girl’s search for herself, redemption for her mother, and the Alice in Wonderland story. Alyssa Gardner is said to share a curse of madness with her mother. This is because they are descendants of Alice Liddell, the inspiration for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The curse has put her mother in a psychiatric facility with declining health, and Alyssa now shares some of the symptoms.  Alyssa comes to believe that Wonderland is real, and that she must fix her ancestor’s mistakes in order to free herself and her mother from the curse. Alyssa will face betrayal, tests of affection and memory, and her own belief in herself as she works to save her mother. Will she find love as she searches for the truth, or will she get lost in the dark and twisted world she only knows from childhood dreams.

Splintered is much more than a retelling of Lewis Carroll’s stories about Wonderland. It is an emotionally deep look at a girl lost in her efforts to turn away from a part of herself she wants to ignore. Alyssa has channeled all that she wants to ignore about herself into her art and skating, to things that her best friend, Jeb, and her father understand and support. She worries for her mother, and that she will end up just like her. Even teens with parents that seem perfectly normal to outsiders often have these fears. The family curse, and Alyssa’s discovery of its root origin, and he efforts to free her family are tightly woven with a mentor from Alyssa’s childhood dreams. Jeb’s accidental journey to join Alyssa could be a blessing or a curse, cementing their friendship to something more or destroying them both. Morpheus could be her greatest ally, a treacherous foe, out for only himself, or possibly all of the above. The journey through a Wonderland we might recognize from Carroll’s tales, is twisted and darker than expected, as are the characters we met. The character development and the story itself are fast paced, often take unexpected turns, and were perfectly explored.

I highly recommend Splintered to readers that want something that shakes up the preconceived notions we have about classic stories, and the worlds they involve. Readers that enjoy deep looks at the emotional state and development of characters facing huge problems on top of the normal stresses of school, social life, and family will also find great value in this book. The world of Wonderland is not rehashed, rather it goes beyond anything that readers might expect, as do the characters that enter its borders. the sequel, Unhinged, is scheduled for release in January of 2014. I gave this book a full 5 stars on Goodreads.

This review was previously published on Sharon the Librarian.

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