"18-year-old Lainey Pike can tell you everything you need to know about the people in her family just by telling you how they died. Her reckless stepfather drove his motorcycle off the highway and caused the biggest traffic jam in years. Her long-suffering grandmother lived through cancer and a heart attack before finally succumbing to a stroke. And Lainey's mother, still devastated over her husband's death, hung herself in the basement just days after Lainey's high school graduation. Now Lainey's five-year-old brother is an orphan and her estranged older sister moves back home to act as his guardian. Dealing with her brother has always been a struggle, but sharing the responsibility with her sister is proving to be just as challenging.
I liked the beginning of this book, struggled through the middle, and loved the end. A sure fire way to draw me into a book is to start with either death or destruction, (those aren't the only ways, but they always work) and this book kicks off by describing three deaths, all within the same year. At first, I was really sympathetic with the main character, Lainey, but after she didn't deal with her feelings, and didn't deal with her feelings, and didn't deal with her feelings...Well, she really got on my nerves. Plus, she went on a perfect-boyfriend-dumping-and-slurpee-guy-dating fling, creating a love triangle that was quite frankly unnecessary. It wasn't until a little impromptu road trip that I really got back on board with the story.Lainey knows that this is all her mother's fault, but she also knows that she eventually has to move out of the "anger" phase of the grieving process. What she can't figure out, though, is how to make peace with a dead woman."
Although The Snowball Effect does have a bit of a derailment midway through, it still had moments that were pure gold. One of them, as I mentioned above, involves quite a few miles of driving. Others involve Lainey (finally!) dealing with her feelings and learning some important things about herself and her family along the way.
Lainey works her way through some difficult relationships in this novel. She has to deal with a sister she hasn't seen for years, a father that was never there for her, conflicted feelings for two different boys, and most importantly, her feelings about the mother that left her behind.
Considering that The Snowball Effect is Holly Nicole Hoxter's debut novel, I really am impressed by it. The dialogue is clean and realistic, and the story moves along fairly well. I enjoyed some of the details that the author threw in, such as Lainey being named after a soap opera character. This book isn't a must-read, but it certainly has its moments.