Art and life are both equally intense for high school junior Addison Stone. When her art teachers arrange for her to leave her small town and spend the summer immersed in the New York City art world, no one expects that the whirlwind of city life will eclipse her senior year . . . or that the following summer, her body will be found in the East River under mysterious circumstances.

Author Adele Griffin, under the guise of Addison’s biographer, tells this story through a pastiche of newspaper articles, “interviews” with important figures in Addison’s life and dozens of images, including both photographs of and artwork (supposedly) by the teenage art superstar. This discontinuous format is the perfect match for Addison’s intense but disjointed personality and work style. Through the voices of friends, boyfriends, parents, teachers and others—and occasionally Addison’s own words via emails and other documents—Griffin presents readers with overlapping perspectives on Addison’s frenetic life of gallery openings, parties and performance art . . . and the doubt and self-destructive tendencies lurking beneath her fierce creativity. References to Snapchat and e-cigarettes ground the story firmly in contemporary times, while issues like living with roommates versus moving in with significant others place it on the border between YA lit and the emerging category of “new adult” fiction.

Multifaceted and thoroughly postmodern, The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone will appeal to teens and 20-somethings who love art, celebrity and forming their own conclusions.

 

Jill Ratzan reviews for School Library Journal and works as a school librarian at a small independent school in New Jersey. She learned most of what she knows about YA literature from her terrific graduate students.

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