Althea and Oliver was a stunning debut novel by Cristina Moracho. While the premise seemed ordinary and cliché, the novel was a great deal far away from that. It centred around 2 childhood best friends in their senior year of high school in a small North Carolina town and their changing relationship (i.e. Althea wanted to be more than friends). However, Oliver suffers from Kleine Levin syndrome, which means he can’t stop falling asleep for long periods of time (I can’t vouch for the medical accuracy of this book I’m afraid) and wants everything to stay the way they are. Then, when Althea makes a huge mistake, their friendship is left in ruins and Oliver leaves for New York for a clinical study and Althea races after him in a true coming-of-age fashion.
Firstly, I loved how the chapters alternated between protagonists as it really gives an insight into each character and how they tick and what emotions, thoughts & feelings are running through their heads. It gave an opportunity to see things through both of their eyes and how they processed them. I found the characters extremely likeable and realistic, they were both flawed and knew it, unlike many other novels I’ve read which as a result made them more relatable. Moracho dealt with many themes usually found in a YA novel and gave them a fresh twist, divorce & loss was dealt with in a fairly quick manner, both characters did talk about it at various points in the novel but it wasn’t strung out or talked about in a particularly soft mannered way, it was to the point, like the characters.
I devoured this novel in one evening and it was one of the best evenings I have spent this year. I loved the way Moracho wrote the minor characters as well, I felt as if they weren’t there then the whole novel would fall apart. Moracho managed to write a thoroughly compelling novel and put a fresh twist on the YA novel.
Rating: 5 stars.