From Bad to Worse
By Chris
May 5, 2007 - 12:59:00 PM

FROM BAD TO WORSE: A NOVEL (WITH GIRLS) is a first-person narrative of Griffin Smith’s road trip of a lifetime with his closest friend and secret crush Amanda Mackenzie.  Having survived their college freshman year, Griffin’s offered to join Amanda on a road trip from her West Coast school to their Kansas hometown.  But this trip is bigger than the fact that Griffin has been in love with Amanda for years.  This is a trip of disturbing lessons and hard truths, off-set only by Amanda’s ability to pull Griffin out of or inadvertently into his irreverently comical daytime reveries, of which the reader is given a firsthand view. 

With Amanda’s parents’ marriage in turmoil, Amanda herself is dreading returning to a fractured home.  And Griffin?  With all the demons plaguing him and the baggage that he is ever burdened with, all girls should think twice before getting involved with him.  The thing is – Griffin’s dark wit, gritty sarcasm, and cunning intelligence are unexpectedly endearing.  If it’s not his self-deprecating humor, which is hilarious, or his uncharacteristically characteristic episodes of genuine kindness, which are “Watch out, Griffin” hug moments, his shockingly realistic and fresh take on age old issues will leave the reader wishing they had a Griffin of their own, darkness and all.

It’s hard to imagine a Christian publication, such as Todd and Jedd Hafer’s FROM BAD TO WORSE as appealing to readers of today’s romance genre.  But the truth is – it’s more than appealing.  Granted, FROM BAD TO WORSE provides a raw picture of the traumas inflicted on today’s teenage population from a spiritually deficient point of view, as well as the sometimes sinister themes of impending adulthood, harsh life lessons, and anything else that would put a person onto a path of self-destruction.  But despite all of that, FROM BAD TO WORSE is also a love story about two young people pondering taking their long-time friendship to an adult romantic level. 

For all of Griffin’s supposed character faults, like his inability to forego sarcastic deflection during a serious conversation, or his occasional retreats into conversations in his head, Griffin is surprisingly well-balanced.  And considering he carries a past of self-mutilation, binge drinking, and the grief of being a product of divorce, all before the age of 19, to maintain his humanity is an amazing feat.  Amanda’s intuitive connection with Griffin is frighteningly sweet.  Frightening in the sense that there are moments when the reader is gifted with a bird’s eye view of the pedestal Griffin has placed Amanda on.  From that height, Griffin’s adoration and respect for Amanda is awe-inspiring, but the idea that she has to make him see she’s human just like him is a daunting task. 

Todd and Jedd Hafer’s FROM BAD TO WORSE: A NOVEL (WITH GIRLS) is edgy and on the verge of disturbingly shocking; but it’s also disarmingly charming, leaving the reader awash with a sense of hope.  Definitely a thought-provoking worthy read.

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