By Sylvia McNicoll
Paradise Manor is depressing -- the smells are bad and the residents are old. Sunny would much rather be doing her volunteer hours at Salon Teo, but her teacher won't let her. Who says volunteering at a hair salon doesn't benefit the community?
But working with the Alzheimer's patients has a surprising effect on Sunny. Along with Cole, the grandson of one of the residents, she begins to see that the residents don't have much more choice about their lives than she does: what they eat, how they are treated by staff, even what they watch on television. So Sunny does what she can to make the residents happy -- even if she has to sometimes break the rules to do it.
When tragedy strikes at Paradise, Sunny's left to make the decision about whether or not to honour a promise that Cole made to his grandmother about her life...and her death.
I requested this title from Netgalley to review. Being granted an eBook to review from James Lorimer & Company (the publisher) has no way influenced my opinion of the book.
What caught my eye about this book was the cover and then the title. The young girl’s gaze called to me and I found myself drawn in by the look on her face and pink hair. Crush.Candy.Corpse intrigued me in its own right and combined with the short description provided I had to know more. After reading the book I can say that the unique title and cover picture fit the book perfectly and I can’t imagine a better match. To me they were both the perfect choice.
Sonja Ehret known as Sunny throughout the book is a seventeen year old girl struggling to figure out what she believes in and who she is, something every young adult and even older adults can relate too. When she meets Cole Demmers, the grandson of one of the resident’s parts of Sunny’s true personality and character emerge showing her in a different light to readers. She introduced quite a few residents and minor characters that actually made the story better. They provided different types of interactions allowing you to really get to know Sunny and who she was as a person. I enjoyed how Sylvia McNicoll used situations and moments of stress in a way to let readers develop their own feelings about the characters and who they were. Instead of saying Sunny is good or Donovan is bad. McNicoll made the readers judge Sunny, Cole and the rest of the characters based on their actions and not what they were being told to think.
Another aspect that I loved about this book was how McNicoll made the decision to start the story in a courtroom with Sunny facing charges of manslaughter. She proceeds to fill in the blanks using mandatory journal entries from her community service at the nursing home that lead into scenes from the previous year. I worked in an assisted living facility so I found myself locked into the story and remembering all the old people I met during my own experience and remembering how it broke my heart to watch them deteriorate before me and some even pass away. I could sense Sunny’s struggle to come to grips with understanding along with trying to help the residents. Her unbreakable desire to make them happy touched my heart in so many ways. Not only do you get to know Sunny through flashbacks but also through the witnesses called to the stands and her friends.
Crush.Candy.Corpse packs a punch. Hands down, this is a book that should be required reading for students. McNicoll weaves such a heart wrenching story that you’re forced to contemplate your own beliefs, to question parts of yourself that are easily pushed away and rarely confronted. While reading this book you will have no choice but to think about how you feel about what’s happening to Sunny. After all, she could be you. The way the story unfolds introducing different elements and parts of Sunny’s character and personality through bits and pieces adds to the total effect. Sunny is not portrayed as perfect by any means and doesn't even walk away from the story a saint. Through the story she even admits that time and time again. But between the covers you grow with her and understand her pain. At the end of the story you won’t be the same, it is bound to touch you in some way.
This coming of age story had me entranced from beginning to end. Just when I thought she couldn’t cut my soul anymore, she slid the knife in deeper. Sylvia McNicoll uses similes and metaphors throughout the book that add a certain depth along with a “detachment” in the beginning. Who wouldn't want to see the courtroom as something else when you’re standing trial for manslaughter and possibly facing your future? Honestly I tried to find something that I could point out and say could possibly have been better. However when I was reading this book my heart was pounding and the only thing that mattered was the next page. I was completely drawn in, not just by Sunny but the unique plot as well. I haven’t read another book quite like this. Crush.Candy.Corpse made me question my own feelings about facing death. Even when I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it. Sylvia McNicoll made all the right choices from beginning to end.