Review: Albatross by Josie Bloss

Albatross by Josie Bloss
Josie Bloss's website here // $9.95 from {amazon}

Publisher: Flux; 1 edition (February 1, 2010)
Paperback: 240 pages
Summary: from {goodreads}
What's so cool about nice guys?
Everyone at Tess's new school warns her that Micah is bad news—a heartbreaker. But she can't ignore her attraction to this brooding, brilliant, friendless emo hottie who can turn on the charm—or heart-shredding scorn—at a moment's notice. Starting over in a new town after her parents' split isn't easy for Tess, and Micah feels like her first real connection. But what happens when their bond suddenly feels like shackles? And Micah starts to remind Tess of her freakishly controlling father?
With Albatross, Josie Bloss takes her storytelling in a new direction by exploring the dark side of relationships.

Rating: View my rating system.

My Thoughts: I WANT TO SLAP MICAH SO BAD. Think jerk, think Micah. He epitomes all things high school, aka horrible, always degrading Tess, being prejudiced against others, and... UGH. But I suppose that annoyance - or hatred, even? - attests to the high quality of this book in that a guy like Micah is exactly what Josie Bloss wants. Especially now, when there are so many stirrings in the blogosphere regarding abusive and obsessive relationships, Micah fits right in with his intelligent-coffee-shop (the kind with the black notebook, mussed up hair, and glasses) appearance and condescending, egotistic, cocky, malevolent... you get the idea, rotting interior. Kudos to Josie Bloss, though I came this close to slapping the book a few times. Sorry, my beautiful Albatross for tapping you so hard in frustration.

... Now if Micah would get off that Godzilla-height high horse.

... *sends fierce hate through ESP*

ANYWAYS, as much as I dislike Micah, I actually have to attribute part of that frustration with Tess. She realizes that Micah isn't quite the guy he appears to be early on but decides to brush it all aside. In fact, even later when Micah bites her, it takes Tess time to realize that, maybe, oh! Biting isn't right?! Ultimately, I don't know whether my aggrivation should be counted as a success or flaw on Josie Bloss's part, but the fact remains that both of the two main characters were annoying, one intentially so. Micah is the typical guy you throw out with the trash, but as for Tess... I just don't know. Her past situation with her controlling father makes it more understandable, but, please, instead of bottling up your anger, say something.

On the other hand, when Tess finally does find that special "voice" telling her that Micah is, yes, a jerk, I cheered for her. Josie Bloss definitely addresses the serious issue of mental abbuse, which is often overlooked for the more evident physical abuse. She cuts to the chase and depicts with disturbing clarity the possibility of this horrible abuse occuring right under the nose of other oblivious persons: at school, at home, anywhere. As long as there is a an abuser and a victim, Daisy and Tess, abuse happens. Abuse isn't just in underprivileged families and the abusers aren't just middle-aged married men. Tess's submissiveness and self-degradation to please Micah can come off as annoying and weak, but unfortuantely, that desire to "measure up" can be all to true. Tess has been told off so much by her father, I feel that when Micah emphasized her inferiority, there's a portion of Tess that believes him - and that breaks my heart. So although no particular aspect packed a "wow" factor for me, I admire Bloss's clarity in conveying and stressing her point.  

The progression of the storyline was fairly standard, and what I more enjoyed was seeing how Micah and Tess's particular relationship played out. It was a quite repetitive, but that was mostly due to the cyclical nature of abuse: the insults, the break-up, the endearing make-up, the insults, etc. and there are different people and events thrown here and there to spice things up. Though there is a semi-unexpected twist at the end that I probably should have been expecting since "idiots now, idiots tomorrow, idiots forever!"* Given the subject matter, I found the ending satisfactory and sweet without being overly gushy or "happy." Life is hard and there's not always that happily ever after, but you're in control of your life and you're the one who can make it better. And that's what Tess proves.

Romance: Abusive. Not much to say here.
Cover: 2.5 -- It's pretty, but a it just doesn't hold any special appeal. The main girl also isn't quite how envisioned the semi-reserved, laid-back Tess that isn't very concerned with her appearance most days...
Writing: 3.0
Characters: 4.0
Plot: 4.0

Bottom Line: Albatross is a clear portrayal of the gross and demented nature of mental abuse and teaches solid lessons about independence and self-identity that all girls, and boys, should know. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a non-graphic depiction of the cruelty and manipulation involved in abuse and, overall, a fairly quick read with some substance. In honor of Shakespeare's birthday, I part with these wise words for Micah, "I scorn you, scurvy companion. What, you poor, base, rascally, cheating, lack-linen mate! Away, you mouldy rogue, away!" (Shakespeare, Henry IV Part 2, 2.4)

*note on "idiots today, idiots...!" - Sorry about that, agh! I've been studying too much AP U.S. History and George Wallace's segregation spiel!!! *knocks useless history information out of my head*