You Have Seven Messages, by Stewart Lewis

Stewart Lewis's YA novel You Have Seven Messages is a mash-up of mystery, romance, and coming-of-age plot elements. The end result is an ambitious—but ultimately pretty silly—teen-friendly soap opera.

When fourteen-year-old Luna finds her mother's cell phone a year after her death in a car accident, she discovers seven messages that raise questions about her mother's life. Luna is determined to uncover the truth, but her girl-detective act promptly runs into several roadblocks and complications: a budding romance with the cello-playing boy next door, her own debut as a professional photographer (seriously), and the discovery that everyone has secrets, and sometimes our nearest and dearest might be happier remaining in the dark about them.

The heroine of You Have Seven Messages is implausibly articulate, the book features too many pointlessly melodramatic plot twists, and the mystery dies without much of a payoff. Peter Abrahams covered similar ground—growing up, family secrets, untruthful parents—far more successfully in his Echo Falls series, and readers looking for a realistic take on these issues should probably pick up those books instead. But Lewis's writing has charms of its own: he has a gift for creating memorable supporting characters, his upper-crust New York setting is far more glamorous than Abrahams's take on small-town Connecticut, and the mysterious phone messages were an undeniably great hook. Unfortunately, little else about this book lived up to the promise of its setting and premise, so I'm relegating You Have Seven Messages to my mental list of “Readable but Fundamentally Flawed YA Books”. Sadly, it has a lot of company.

Review based on publisher-provided copy.
Posted by: Julianka


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