Home Lost in Romance Cobwebs by Karen Romano Young, a review by Yvette Ramirez

Cobwebs by Karen Romano Young, a review by Yvette Ramirez

by Louisa Klein

 Lost in Romance continues with a brilliant review of an intriguing book for young adults. Enjoy!

Karen Romano Young takes a whole new approach with the paranormal romance genre in Cobwebs. This isn’t your typical vampire/mortal, werewolf/mortal, or the even rarer and newer (and somewhat disturbing) zombie/mortal romance. Think more along the lines of Spider Man’s Peter Parker and Mary Jane. Her central characters are people who happen to be descendents of Anansi, the African Spider trickster. But aside from this “Spiderness,” as Nancy, the protagonist, refers to the paranormal aspect of her life, a lot of the story revolves around her struggle to meet the expectations of the people she loves while being true to herself.
Nancy, a girl with a fondness for crazy-colored tights, has always been surrounded by her loving but slightly peculiar family. While her classmates are worried about high school dances, the latest beauty secrets, and curfews, Nancy’s worries are of a different kind. Her parents, while married and in love, do not live with each other except in the winter time. Nancy’s grandmother, a potter with advance arthritis, is determined to bombard Nancy with stories of her childhood, even if half the time they’re incomprehensible. Her grandfather is a semi-retired doctor who still does house calls and occasionally disappears; leaving Nancy with a mystery to solve. But it is not until Nancy comes across Dion that the mystery starts to unravel and he becomes one string in many connections involving the search for angels, transformations, and the power of love.
Our teenage years are about growth and changes. We all experience this awkward but exhilarating phase once in our life and Romano Young’s storytelling delivers in a credible, straight-forward style that allows us to view Nancy’s world as a teenager, including the paranormal “Spiderness,” in a plausible light. The only thing that may be a bit of a hurdle to anyone who reads this is the smattering of famous literary works that Romano Young injects into the story. For a literature fanatic like myself this is actually a plus. For the most part, the literature mentioned within Cobwebs contributes something to the story but occasionally I felt that Romano Young used the fact that her protagonist was a student as an excuse to drop some literary names into her work.
Cobwebs is one of the many books I came across in 2005 while I was still a teenager. That year, I read as many books as I could get my grubby little hands on, and out of all the stories I devoured since then, Cobwebs is one of the few that has stayed with me. This may partly be due to its unusual romantic pairing and partly because as a teenager I was able to relate to Nancy, sans “Spiderness.” The beauty of this story is that the romance doesn’t take center stage. It develops at a slow and natural pace, allowing for other elements of the story to expand. It reads less like a Harlequin Romance for teens and more like a story about the transitions and adjustments of adolescence. Cobwebs, as the name implies, is about love and the many connections that we make in life.
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publishing Date: October 2004
Pages: 400
Language: English
Formats Available: Hardcover

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