In the Middle of Nowhere by Julie Ann Knudsen

In the Middle of Nowhere (Willow's Journey #1)


Butterflies. Little, fluttering butterflies. That’s what fifteen-year-old Willow Flynn feels in the pit of her stomach every time the mysterious boy is near. But Willow has other things to contend with as she deals with the tragic loss of her father, as well as her emotionally preoccupied mother, while being uprooted to a new house, a new school, a new life, far away, on an island, in the middle of nowhere.

At the beginning of the school year, the sickly, but cute Michael sends Willow the first of many cryptic notes during homeroom. He stares at Willow and gives her the creeps. Michael never returns to school after that, but Willow ends up connecting with the poetic boy on-line where they strike up an unusual friendship.

As Willow attempts to fit in and find her niche in the ever-cliquey high school world, she is further confused by Michael who strives to win her over and mend her broken heart. But will he be able to, especially when his own existence remains so uncertain?


While I didn't hate In the Middle of Nowhere I also didn't love it. Willow, even though she is only 15, has to be one of the dumbest, or maybe just ignorant, kids ever. Take for example how she grew up in Massachusetts, which is in north eastern US, moved to Maine, also in the NE (really not that far away) and has never heard of a nor'easter before. I grew up in PA and I heard of a nor'easter before, and PA is a bit south of New England. Unless she lives under a rock and has never seen the news, or heard the radio, or anyone talking about the weather or something like that ever it is like why are you so surprised by this terminology? I mean it is not uncommon...just things like that made me go really? I know she is 15, but shouldn't she know these things? Maybe if she had moved from farther away, somewhere where they don't get big snow storms, sure I can believe you never heard of it before. It just made it seem like she was younger than she is. 

Willow also was really judgmental and liked to complain a lot. She has "friends" from back home, and then has some "friends" in her new school as well, but she doesn't seem to actually like any of them. She gets angry at the slightest things, and is ready to drop them. Maybe I am too old, seeing as how I am not a teen, but Willow seemed so immature, even for 15. No one really seemed to care about her, or her them. She just hung out with people to hang out with people, then complain about how horrible they were, but then still try and hang out with them. 

Then there is Michael who is hardly even in the story. I thought from the synopsis this would be great, he would be a main character and help Willow with her issues from her dad's death. Instead he is barely there, they don't talk or even see each other much, then suddenly they are in love. It was strange as I wasn't sure why either of them liked the other. Really they didn't even interact it was kind of a non-romance trying to come off as a romance so people would read it. Not very good. 

Then the writing. It was written in a way that I didn't care about any of the characters. It was so dry and clinical and didn't invoke much emotion at all. There were parts of the story that didn't make sense time wise also. For example Willow runs into Michael after lunch when she is trying to get to class quickly. He says see you later maybe and she looks for him all day. She comments on how she thought she might see him at lunch...even though she saw him after lunch so that is not really possible. I felt like the author didn't check the timeline of the story very well as this happened on a few occasions.

 Then there was all of the teen have to fit in so say nothing or don't refuse to do something so you don't look uncool. That is fine. I am sure it does happen to some people, but then again nothing bad happens from it and there is no real this is bad message. In one instance Willow is driving around with "friends" and the driver is drinking and she comments how she wasn't cool with drinking and driving, but she didn't want to say anything because then she would look like a geek. Nothing happens so it is fine, and there is no real I really shouldn't have done that, drunk driving is bad! message. It was just kind of like eh, whatever. She doesn't like it, but so what. Nothing bad happens so who cares? It just doesn't send a very good message. It bugged me quite a bit. Drunk driving in particular is not cool ever so to have it not really be addressed at all...not cool with me. At the very least have Willow realize she shouldn't never let that happen again as it is dangerous. 

Then I was also confused quite a bit with different scenes for the different characters. It starts off and Willow quickly jumps up and locks her door before whoever is coming up the stairs can come into her room. She is so quick about it and it is written in such a way I thought oh, there must be something bad going on in her house. There must be some reason why she is so nervous for someone to come into her room. Instead there is nothing, her mom seems fine as does her brother (who she is mean to for no apparent reason). Then later there is a scene with Brian where he seems like he could easily turn abusive towards Willow, but again there is never any hint of that again, just the one scene. It was just strange as I was waiting for it, then like why did you put that scene in there? I didn't get it. 

Overall Willow was pretty immature and dumb for her age. Michael wasn't really in the story at all, and the writing could use some work (plus some mention that the dangerous things she was doing were in fact dangerous and you shouldn't do). 

Rating: 2/5


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