Love and Leftovers: review

May 8, 2012 Reynje 35

Love and Leftovers
by Sarah Tregay

It’s fair to say that I’m fickle when it comes to verse novels – I can’t decide whether I like them or not.

But I do like this book. 

Love and Leftovers is an earnest, sweet story of a teenage girl’s journey through trials of the heart, family and friends. There’s nothing particularly ground-breaking in the plot: Marcie’s parents have split up, her father has a new boyfriend, and her depressed mother has fled across the country, dragging Marcie with her. Alone in a new state, Marcie is attempting to balance a long distance relationship with her emo-rocker boyfriend, and the burgeoning interest of local jock J.D. In a new place, Marcie can become a new person, but is that who she really wants to be?
This is a case where the verse is what makes the story compelling and vital. Tregay’s writing breathes life into the premise, resuscitating a somewhat vanilla concept into something more complex and interesting. Tregay uses different styles of verse here effectively – smoothly transitioning between free form and more traditional poetic structures to suit each particular scene. As I read Love and Leftovers, I felt I was reading poetry, not simply sentences broken into stilted shards. 
What also works in the book’s favour is that I was convinced this was the voice of a teenage girl. The novel takes the form of poems Marcie writes in a notebook, interspersed with IMs with her best friend and song lyrics (Yes, I know. Song lyrics. But trust me, it’s okay – they work). It reminded me so much of the way I expressed myself as a teenager (although my poetry was decidedly rubbish), that it felt unmistakably realistic. 
I also enjoyed the inclusion of Marcie’s group of friends, dubbed the Leftovers, and the way they resisted being categorised under one stereotypical high school label. I love books that acknowledge that high school doesn’t always fall neatly into popular/not popular boxes, and friendships that are diverse. As a former Leftover myself, I really appreciated the way Tregay created a cast of characters that were interesting and seemingly contradictory in themselves – because this feels truer to me than stock standard high school archetypes. 
At it’s heart, Love and Leftovers is a story about making mistakes, forgiveness and moving on. It handles a range of topics both sensitively and frankly, upfront about self-doubt, sex and depression. It’s touching, funny and beautifully written.  
I may never make up my mind about verse novels in general, but I’m definitely a fan of Sarah Tregay’s charming debut. 
Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars
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35 Responses to “Love and Leftovers: review”

  1. Max Cio

    Our thoughts were on the same page with this one, lol. ^_^ I haven’t read much verse novels, save Crank by Ellen Hopkins. Are there any other good verse novels out there?

  2. Sarah (saz101)

    You know, I’ve STILL not read a single verse novel… but I love that this could take a story so trite and done so many different ways and turn it into something beautiful. LOVED your review as ALWAYS, Reynje!

  3. Rachel

    I thought this was so dreamy and sweet. I’m glad to see you liked it, Reynje! I’ve read three verse novels so far and I’ve loved two of them. Chasing Brooklyn was the other one that I really enjoyed. Great review. :)

  4. FABR Steph

    I love a good verse novel and despise the others. I would like to give this one a try. Thanks for the review.

  5. Amy

    I have never read a verse novel, and despite all of the awesome reviews for this book, I still can’t bring myself to buy it out of fear I won’t like the style of it. Maybe I should get this from the library.

    • Ashley

      Oh Amy! You SO need to try a verse novel! Seriously! There are definitely some that are… less than awesome. But if you can find an author who truly masters the verse format, there is very little I love better. Seriously. Verse novels can just be so powerfully amazing! But ya, libraries are great for trying new formats! :)

      (If you like Contemporary, Lisa Schroeder is great, and if you like edgier, harder Contemporary, Ellen Hopkins is PHENOMENAL.) :)

  6. Ashley

    Gasp! What?! All of these people who aren’t sold on verse novels?! *Ashley collapses*

    Ahem… Which verse novels have you read?! I can for definitely recommend some new ones of you want to become sold… :)

    Also- This review made me happy. I hadn’t heard much about this book and haven’t been reading too much lately, but I’ll have to give it a shot! :)

    (Yay for verse novels! ;) )

    • Reynje

      I think I need to read some more, Ashley :) I’ve read Song of the Sparrow and one of Lisa Schroeders, and I also have a new Australian verse YA to read soon.

    • Ashley

      Oooh, which Schroeder? I totally <3 her :)

      What genres do you like? Because if you like the tougher, grittier Contemporary, Ellen Hopkins is one of the most talented verse novelists I’ve read.

      I am also totally in love with Australian YA writers. :) Makes me VERY sad that it’s so ridiculously hard/expensive to get them to me… Le sigh. ;) Which book is it?

  7. K.

    I’ve never tried a verse novel…its a trend I’ve been missing. Maybe I’ll start with this :)

  8. ashelynn hetland

    oh yay, I’m glad you liked this one! I’m so curious, but verse novels are SO STRANGE (to me at least.) The last one I really liked was Lisa Schroeder’s The Day Before, and even then I wished it wasn’t told in verse. They are so weird.

    great review, though! definitely intrigued about this one…

    Ashelynn @ gypsy book reviews.

    • Reynje

      I’ve felt that way about other verse novels too, Ashelynn :) Sometimes I have a hard time connecting with them. I thought this one suited that particular style, though, and I enjoyed it a lot.

  9. A Canadian Girl

    I’m not crazy about verse novels, but then again, I haven’t read many of them. I do know I enjoy Lisa Schroeder’s and I’ll probably give this one a try. The poetry sounds well-written and I like that Tregay manages to incorporate different themes that teens are concerned about.

    • Reynje

      I know the feeling :) I think this one really worked, and I definitely enjoyed the poetry in this one.

  10. Sam

    I haven’t had much experience with verse novels but this sounds like a good place to start. Wonderful review Reynje! I’m glad this was a good read for you and I’m definitely interested in seeing what I’ll make of this now.

  11. Missie, The Unread Reader

    I can’t decide on verse novels either, but to be fair, I have read many. They just seem offish to me.

    So, finally, the Leftovers are explained. Thank you. I’ve been wondering. I think I’d really enjoy the stray away from what is typical in high school hierarchy too.

    • Reynje

      I haven’t read a lot either, Missie. I thought this was a really sweet, yet realistic story. If you read it, I’d love to hear what you think.

  12. Andrea @The Bookish Babes

    I loved Love & Leftovers. I could not stop reading and finished it in less than two hours. I am in awe of those who are able to use prose to tell a story.
    I’m glad you gave this book a chance. Nice review!

  13. Meagan

    I loved your review! For a long time, I was on the fence about verse novels, even though one of my favorites when I was a teen was one (You Remind Me of You). I think it all hinges on the story, and how it pulls together with the verse itself. It can be really compelling. That’s what I liked about this book, too. I completely agree with your review.

    • Reynje

      Thanks so much Meagan – I totally agree that it depends on the story – some just seem to suit verse better than others :)

  14. Betsy

    I’m iffy on verse novels. The few I have read didn’t hit home, but this one sounds successful! I’ll try it out. Thanks, great review!

    • Reynje

      I usually feel the same way, Betsy. I thought this one really worked though. Thanks!

    • Reynje

      So glad you loved it Fara! I was surprised by how much I ended up liking this book :)

  15. starryeyedjen

    I’ve been contemplating this book for awhile, although verse novels aren’t really my cup of tea normally. But it sounds like a more realistic portrayal of high school and life in general at that time in a young person’s life, and I’d definitely like to see more of that. Great review…I’m no longer on the fence about this one! :)

    • Reynje

      Thanks Jen, I haven’t read a lot of novels in verse, but this one is definitely one my favourites so far.

  16. Christina

    I totally agree with you about poetry being what made this book work; had it not been told in verse, I would have hated the MC, but it served as a conduit to understanding her.

    Usually, I am not a poetry person, largely because a lot of the novels in verse or even poems I’ve read, seem like people did just break up their prose into lines so that they could do less work and get the same amount of money. That’s how I felt about Sisters of Glass. This one, thought, worked perfectly.