Publication Date: November 20, 2013
Sia wakes in a park with no clue as to her identity, but a name on an Ipod. She finds herself homeless on the brutal streets. When Sia is located and returned to her home, she discovers that in the life she can’t remember she was cruel and judgmental. Her life on the streets has changed her but can she convince her peers and what will happen when her memory returns?
The author, Josh Grayson, gave me an advanced reader’s copy of Sia in exchange for my review. Minor details may have changed between the copy I read and the published edition.
The Sia Holloway before the novel was a bit of a jerk. She was a popular girl who got giggly from humiliating people and maintained a superiority complex by dragging others down. Grayson creates a teen in Sia that wants to be a better person and in so doing, he allows her to maintain the shallowness and self-absorption of the average teen. As sorry as Sia seems for her behavior, her primary attitude seems to be “OMG, if I can’t remember it, it didn’t happen so let it go.” Redemption doesn’t happen as easily as Sia thinks it should, but as a woman who has done a 180, she simply has to stay in her lane to prove herself.
Grayson missed a few opportunities in his début novel. The first is the issue of substance abuse. Over the course of much of the novel Sia’s mother is in rehab as a result of alcoholism. There are happy little visits and Sia and her father lend her mother support, but as with much of the novel, and perhaps because its geared to teens, her healing process is all “off camera”. It makes the rehab process seem to the child to be very an easy and happy one with butterflies and rainbows. Seeing some of the process could have served as a valuable point within the story line.
The second missed opportunity related to Amber. She could have been an excellent antagonist. In the narrative she was powerless without Sia, though she made a lot of noise. Teen girls do not see those mean girls as powerless and showing a deeper sense to Amber and more of why she was the way she was might help the teen audience gain perspective in their own school relationships. Amber makes some big moves but they are of desperation.
The message of the novel is of a teen girl given a second chance to be whom she should be and to make a difference in her community. She has been a vacuum of consumerism blind to the problems that her parents faced financially and emotionally. When Sia’s memory goes, her eyes open to the world around them and the kindness of Carol, the homeless woman who helps her survive at the start of the novel, opens her heart. There is a romance sub-plot though no sex. Sia would be an appropriate read for a middle school audience.
Sia would be an excellent novel for the Disney Company to adapt for film. Hers is a story of cruelty and kindness, pain and redemption and ultimately of making the world in which you live a better place. A good example for any teen who might choose to read this exciting work of fiction.