Lipstick Trace is a young adult novel that follows four teens, Quincy, William, Alice and Roslyn as they deal with identity, independence and young love. This novel takes place over a span of two and a half years, beginning with the start of William and Quincy’s friendship.
Alice is introduced early as the love interest, although it is unclear who her suitor will be. We meet Roslyn last when William travels to a Renaissance Fair. She is selling ocarinas and immediately captures his attention with her beauty and sharp tongue.
The dynamic cast of characters fit together like a train track. Their personalities are unique and they are all celebrated instead of ridiculed for their individuality. I loved how different the characters were yet their friendship group seemed well balanced. The story also takes the time to grow most of the relationships organically so that you feel as if you’ve been with them since the beginning.
Because of the way Lipstick Trace is separated into five different sections, each with several months’ time lapse, it was often hard to stay in the character’s head. Maturity at that age, evolves quickly. Reading about a sixteen-year-old on one page then an eighteen-year-old sixty pages later with a completely different mind frame was a challenge. Additionally, the dialogue started off as true to their age, but by the end of the book the group took a formal turn.
During the scenes at the Renaissance Fair, between William and Roslyn, it was required of them to speak with a renaissance accent- which was a nice authentic touch- or could’ve been. The renaissance dialogue created wordier paragraphs and mental fatigue. I found myself rereading lines over and over. Also, midway through the story, previous grammar issues and typos increased and characters names were mixed up which interfered with reading.
A touch of suspense would do wonders for Lipstick Trace. Every obstacle presented was given a solution or loophole quickly. None of the characters have cushy so I would have liked to see more of them working through their obstacles.
The relationship between Quincy and his parents wasn’t clear in the beginning of the story. I kept waiting for an explanation for the father’s behavior. He went from detached to aggressive without reason. I would have liked one more conversation with the father so I could understand that dynamic better.
Still, I couldn’t complete this review without mentioning the beautiful writing. The author uses vivid metaphors to create crystal clear comparisons. If you don’t enjoy anything else in this book, I think you’ll at least appreciate the vibrant pictures he paints with words. Especially when we get a chance to see the lyrics that Quincy has been writing in his notebook over the years.
Be warned, there are a few strong curse words for those easily offended and also a slur (g*psy) that is used repeatedly.
All that being said, I would recommend this book to older teens (and adults) who are looking for a lengthy, in-depth novel.
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