Friday, September 13, 2013

The File on Angelyn Stark by Catherine Atkins

Catherine Atkins young adult novel The File on Angelyn Stark shows the perseverance of its title character even as the adults around her, and sometimes her own judgment, fail her. Angelyn thinks of herself and her friends Jacey and Charity as the tough girls at her high school. At the beginning of the book the three run into Jeni, who at first appears to be meek but turns out not to be afraid of their bullying. Jeni, even though she’s new at school, knows a few things about Angelyn’s past that Angelyn would like to keep in the past.

Since The File on Angelyn Stark is not heavy on plot, I won’t give any more of it away. The book’s strength is its character development. The characters are not clearly good or bad, and many of them you’ll find yourself alternately loving or hating or some combination of the two. There are few clear villains in The File on Angelyn Stark and this is a good thing.

My one complaint about Atkins’ novel is that at times it reads too much like a play. Many pages are almost all dialogue with only occasional quick descriptions of the characters’ actions and surroundings. Events seem to move along at such a breakneck pace that I found myself getting lost at several points. At the same time, Atkins can’t be accused of getting bogged down in extensive descriptions of people and places.


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