[Book cover credit: librarything.com/work/9527854]
Booktalk (kind of):
I want to think of something clever and interesting to sum up the plot of the book and get you interested, and I almost never use the jacket copy or internet summaries, but what it says right on the cover is just too good to pass up:
If you had to choose between Heaven and Hell, which would it be?Awesome, yes? But in order to give you a little more info about the set-up, I'll try again:
...Are you sure about that?
Frannie Cavanaugh is a pretty average girl: one of 5 sisters all (really) named Mary, kicked out of Catholic school, expert in Judo. Like I said, pretty average. Until Luc shows up, shortly followed by Gabe. Two new guys at school, one smolderingly hot and sexy, the other the real life embodiment of what Calvin Klein was trying to do with all those blond male models in tighty-whiteys. And both seemingly enamored of Frannie and determined to win her for his own. But this is no (un)friendly rivalry or game to get the girl. Luc and Gabe are battling each other to win Frannie to their side, and who she picks may determine the fate of the world.
Look at that cover and then look at my little blurb again. It seems like Personal Demons could be an overly dramatic teenage bodice-ripper involving "heavenly bodies" with "hellish consequences" (it's a euphemism if it's in quotes) among other things. It's not. True, there are some Very Big Things going on here, and the potential to be over the top about it is high, but Desrochers manages to make this story focus on Frannie and her inner turmoil about these two guys who suddenly want her, her unwillingness to let people in, and her discomfort around religion in general.
Told in alternating points of view, Frannie and Luc's, Personal Demons is not only really damn steamy, it's also a refreshing look at the start of a relationship. In YA lit, it seems that we're always treated to the girl side of the equation, and more often than not, that girl is insecure about where the relationship is going. We get that here, and Frannie certainly has a LOT to be worried and insecure about with Luc, but we also get the other side. The parts of the book from Luc's point of view were my favorite. Not only has he had centuries to perfect his wit, making him both funny and insightful,* but he's also just as insecure as Frannie. She's supposed to be his mark; he's been sent from the depths of Hell to tag her soul for eternity. He is knocked on his butt by his genuine attraction to and feelings for Frannie. I love seeing a guy in YA go all googly eyed (without turning stalker or otherwise creepy) over a girl...even if this guy is a demon.
There is so much else that Personal Demons has going for it. I don't want to make this unreadable long, so I'll try to just touch on a few other points of greatness here:
- Frannie has awesome friends who threaten to beat up Luc if he messes with her.
- Frannie has hilarious sisters (all named Mary) who aren't so fleshed out that they crowd the story, but are all there and manage to be supportive anyway.
- Frannie's Grandpa! He's great. Just so so great. He's supportive of Frannie in a way that the rest of her family is not. They all want what's best for her (which is wonderful); he trusts her to figure out what that is for herself.
- There are multiple deep discussions about forgiving oneself as well as a serious look at whether or not there is anything that is unforgivable.
- Frannie's discomfort with religion is explored in a sensitive way along with why bad things happen to good people.
- By the end of the book, Frannie, Luc, and Gabe all learn a lot about love and sacrifice.
Book source: Review copy provided by the publisher.
*Best line in a book EVER (with some context):
Because I love her.
That's got to be what this feeling is--the giddy rush I feel when I look at her, the way all my insides scream when I think about Belias taking her, the insatiable need I have to be with her. How is that possible? There's no crying in baseball and no love in Hell. It's just the rules.
p.193 (bold emphasis is mine; the italics are all Desrochers)