Book Review: Avalanche

If you like the YA genre, then I have a book for you. I recently read Avalanche by K. Vann O’Brien which is full of teenage romance, turmoil and angst, but also full of hope and redemption.

The author says that the title Avalanche is not only a literal description of what happens in the book, but also a metaphor for how the character develops in the story.

In Avalanche by K. Vann O’Brien, we meet Alice Bass. A former cheerleader, fashion obsessed teenager who has recently gone through quite a change. She quit the cheerleading squad, gained weight, and dyed her blonde her jet black. She exchanged high heels and high fashion for black shirts, and baggy sweatshirts. Her mom, concerned over the dramatic change of her daughter, sends Alice off to drug camp. But, Alice isn’t on drugs. So why is she at a drug camp? We do meet a lot of kids who do have addiction issues at the camp. They are marked by their past, the addictions that hold them back, and the people in their lives who have made them feel abandoned. The camp is nestled in the snowy mountains in the state of Washington. Campers spend their days enjoying hiking, skiing and more. When an actual Avalanche hits the camp, Alice must choose between being honest with herself and addressing the secrets of her past, or helping her new friends.

In the book, Graceful Wind is the name of the drug camp, and even though it’s advertised to be “Christian based”, the campers do not find Christian values.

Reading Avalanche hit really close to home for me. In fact, you could say my reaction felt like an Avalanche. My husband runs a recovery program for teenage boys who have substance abuse addictions. It is also Christian based. I was so sad for the characters in the book, because they only encountered hostility at Graceful Wind. I kept comparing the fictional drug camp in Avalanche to the very real program my husband runs. The two could not be more different. My husband  and his staff work hard every single day to show the young meant in the program what it means to follow Jesus. They also work with them to uncover what got them into a lifestyle of addiction.  As they work through that, they experience true freedom.

Despite the fact that I really struggled with the camp (in comparison to  to the program my husband runs), I continued to remind myself that not all drug/behavioral programs are run like the one my husband runs. Some of them really are like Graceful Wind in Avalanche.

There are a lot of intense situations that are either directly addressed or indirectly implied in Avalanche. This is a book for teenagers/adults, so it is not a book you want to use a read aloud for growing readers. The book addresses drug use, suicide, losing a parent, and rape. I felt like the author did a great job of introducing these intense issues and allowing the characters to work through them. I usually hate bringing up potential spoilers, but because I recommend a lot of chapter books with read aloud potential, I want to make sure you know: Avalanche is a great read, but it has adult content.

I read Avalanche in two days. It was a great book. I had a hard time putting it down. If you need YA LIT genre book to read, this is a great book to pick up!

You can find Author K. Vann O’Brien on Facebook and her website. On Facebook and her website, you will find information about K. Vann O’Brien’s other books.

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