The premise of this book immediately drew me in. A boy with mutism with a fondness for writing in notebooks and hotel-loitering? A metaphysical girl with silver hair who claims to be immortal? Sign me up.

Character

Parker Santé is our male protagonist. I feel like I rarely read boy POV books, so this is a refreshing change. He is a relateable, adorable, and sometimes quite awkward, and I totally enjoyed his voice (hah hah). Parker isn’t a perfect role model, and he lingers in hotel lobbies to engage in petty thievery. But back to his personality! Parker is sweet enough when a random strange girl he meets in a hotel tells him of her suicide plans, he immediately flails about trying to prevent her from killing herself. It’s also obvious Parker has a ton of grief issues and is in so much denial, he hasn’t spoken in 5 years and relies on crutches like sign language and writing. But he DOESN’T devolve into an angry, bitter little lemon. I like how the author handles the whole mutism/mental illness thing in a mature? way instead of writing a stereotypical sulky teenager. Also, have I mentioned Parker is a writer? We get some samples of his stories, and they’re quite enchanting fairy tales.

Zelda is our peculiar mystery girl. She has silver hair and boasts of immortality. She agrees to join Parker for a few days of fun while he figures out how to deactivate the suicide bomb. I actually liked Zelda despite her being a Manic Pixie Dream Girl who’s also possibly delusional. She has all these quirks that could indicate she’s older than she looks: suaveness, confidence bordering on arrogance, antiquated words, contempt for the younger generations, and bone-deep weariness of the world. I loved how she threw away money like crazy on Parker, buying him expensive notebooks and clothes like a reverse silver fox (or sugar daddy? I don’t know!)What’s more, she tells a good tale. She says she’s been living for hundreds of years, giving detailed accounts of her past life, places, dates and names. I like the ambiguity of her nature. Is this paranormal, and we’re dealing with an actual suicidal immortal? Or is this just a whimsical, crazy teenager? We don’t know. Maybe I’m just attracted to freaks. I see no wrong in being a freak.

I enjoyed the supporting cast, too. Parker runs with a decidedly unpopular crowd, with several chess players and such, but they’re all so kind to him and Zelda although most of them are socially awkward. They’re the cheery dots amid all the gloomy and deep between Parker and Zelda. There’s also a good measure of diversity, with Parker and many of his friends being Hispanic. All in all, the side characters have enough presence and color, and I’m satisfied.

Plot & Pacing & Setting (Smushy Mode)

The plot is definitely quite engaging. With this huge threat of suicide hanging over our head, we can’t help but become invested in the journey of Parker and Zelda. Parker has only a few days to show Zelda what a wonderful world we live in and how many incredible things are still to come, and he drums up a road trip route touring San Francisco. I love road trips! We get to see many landmark & niche destinations with the duo and their unique perspectives on the scenery. The pacing is timed comfortably too, with few drags in between. The ending took me by surprise, but I also embraced it because of it’s frankly realistic. *SPOILER* People can’t be fixed with a few days of happy road trips, and to think otherwise would be foolish and delusional. I liked how Parker went on with his life, although I’m still a little squinty over his complete nonchalance over what happened.

Some Final Thoughts

I absolutely loved Wallach’s writing. I haven’t read any of his books before, though I’ve heard of We All Looked Up. It’s gorgeous and filled with exquisite descriptions and blackish-blue contemplation. I adored Zelda’s thoughts in particular, those observations that are so wise yet desperate. Again, Wallach’s ability to intersperse bleak thoughts with humor makes me want to gobble the whole book up. If you like whimsical girls and dorky boys going on road trips, Thanks for the Trouble may just be the book for you.