Thursday, March 17, 2011

Review: The Long Weekend

Savita Kalhan
Young Adult
180 Pages
Andersen Press (London)
Available Now
Received from I Swim For Oceans and Savita Kalhan for review

Sam couldn't be more excited that he has found a best friend in Lloyd his first week at a new school and is looking forward to hanging out with him over the weekend. However, when both boys mistake the man offering them a ride home for the other boy's father, they find themselves in for a very different weekend than the one they had planned.

While Lloyd remains oblivious to their current situation thinking his wealthy father has planned some extravagant fun event for the two of them, Sam becomes increasingly aware of the danger they're in. Forced to separate upon arriving at a sprawling mansion, neither Sam nor Lloyd realize the full extent of the separate terrors both will have to endure before the weekend is over.

A spectacularly eerie and suspenseful tale, The Long Weekend wastes little time drawing us into the action and putting us on edge as the gravity of Sam and Lloyd's mistake settles over us with a tangible weight we carry with us to the very end. We want so badly to join in the boys' initial denial of their situation, hoping and wishing events will not unravel as we secretly know they will, the incessant tingling of our pebbled skin and the sick twist in our guts evidence we cannot ignore or rationalize away as we are forced to come to the same horrifying conclusion as Sam–that his situation is dire, his life is at risk, and his options are limited. For a story short in length it lacks for nothing, the tension and fear so thick we can almost taste it, our mouths shockingly dry while we repeatedly try to swallow past the lump in our throats and cling to vain hope we might be able to save Sam and Lloyd with the safety of our reality. Though our wish to rescue them is a futile one, Ms. Kalhan ensures we are with the boys every step of the way, pulses pounding so loudly we're convinced the villain will sense us and our fear ratcheting up with every echoing thump as we know we can do nothing but read on, invisible but involved companions to Sam and Lloyd through an experience that will profoundly change their lives.

Sam is a character of infinite loyalty and ingenuity, making up in mental strength what he lacks in physical as an eleven year old boy, assessing his situation with admirable calm and refusing to meekly accept his status as a victim. He thinks clearly and soundly, makes difficult decisions, and attempts to thwart a man bigger, stronger, and disgustingly unhinged. His patience with a very traumatized Lloyd is painful to witness, our hearts aching with every quiet reassurance uttered as we know even if both boys make it home, their lives will be irrevocably changed. Every time Lloyd freezes in fear we stop breathing, wondering if the time has come where he or Sam will accept defeat and resign themselves to a fate no child should have to endure, the anxiety pulsing in these quiet moments of indecision so potent our bodies tremble in anticipation, waiting, watching, and willing them to fight just a little longer.

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of this story is Ms. Kalhan's ability to elicit extreme emotional reactions with her delicate handling of a difficult subject matter. Though it's clear to us what happens to Lloyd, the details are sparse, thereby augmenting an already suffocatingly tense atmosphere with the added uneasiness of the unknown. She works a similar magic on our villain, the description of him brief and succinct yet we feel the weight of his presence as though we have seen him clearly, knowing we will forever remember the feel of him–the chill and disgust he calls forth from us markers we will always recognize and associate with a monster. Though he never touches us physically as he does Lloyd, we do not walk away from this story unscathed, the remnants of his sickness remaining permanently with us as brands so deeply embedded in our skin they will never fully fade.

Overall, The Long Weekend is a story that both shocks and unnerves us, the depth of terror and fear punching us in the gut with a force we are grossly unprepared for, doubling us over as we choke and sputter and try to regain our equilibrium so we can walk side by side with Sam and Lloyd with the hope they will share in our recovery. Quick, fast, and unleashing a deluge of overwhelming emotions, this is a story that should occupy a spot at the top of everyone's to be read pile.

Rating: 4.5/5

Stop back in this afternoon for my interview with Ms. Kalhan as well as a giveaway of The Long Weekend!


  1. I have read so many great reviews of the book! I really want to read it. It sounds scary and thought-provoking.

    Thanks for the great review!

  2. Nice review! I just recently bought this for my Kindle, but have yet to get started on it. This review makes me want to read it even more :)

  3. I loved this book! I really did want to slap Llyod!! But yay, I love it. Nice review Jenny!!

  4. Great review, Jenny! I loved this book as well, though it's a very different love than other books, because this is potentially the most disturbing story I've encountered in recent memory. It definitely makes me want to lock my future children up tight.

    You hit the nail on the head when you said that Savita knows how to bring out those emotions. My skin crawled.

  5. Wow, that sounds really creepy but great. If the main character is only 11, does it feel appropriate for YA?

  6. This is about the fifth positive review Ive read for this book. Im really interested in reading it...but it sounds a little scary.. :O

  7. Misha - It surprised me, I got sucked in and couldn't put it down:)

    Two Readers - Can't wait to see what you think!

    Savy - Me too, I felt so bad for him and when he froze I just wanted to scream!

    Jen - Exactly! I adored it, but it's not one of those you want to read again and again. I get shivers just thinking about it:)

    Alison - It's definitely older YA and deals with a difficult situation, so even though he's only 11, I wouldn't recommend it for MG.

    Tina - It's more disturbing than scary I'd say, one of those books that stays with you for a while. I highly recommend!

  8. "Ms. Kalhan's ability to elicit extreme emotional reactions with her delicate handling of a difficult subject matter." <<<---THIS. I often feel like either the emotional reaction the reader is suppose to have or delicate handling of sensitive issues is missing or glossed over. To me, that doesn't make the less bearable and only causes me to feel frustrated.

    Awesome review Jenny! I've been looking forward to reading this book since Melissa's review.

  9. When I first saw this book I thought it might be a little young for my tastes, but I've been hearing a lot of good things about it. It sounds deliciously creepy, and I love the cover! Great review as always, Jenny! :)

  10. I am about to dig into this one, and your review has me anticipating it so much! Great stamp of approval!

  11. That review had my heart beating so fast and it wasn't even the book. This one sounds seriously intense and a must read. That review was awesome! Thanks Jenny, I'm adding this to my TBR right now.

    In the Closet With a Bibliophile

  12. Missie - I think she did a brilliant job in dealing with a pedophile. It was disturbing without being graphic, and my stomach was in knots the entire book. I'd love to know your thoughts if you read it:)

    Leanna - I thought the same thing, and continued that thought through about the first 20 pages, but then it's like a switch got flipped and the book morphed into an amazing and suspenseful story that older readers will enjoy too:)

    Linds - YES! Dying to know what you think:)

    Jen - Thank you! It's a short book, so it's easily devoured and I don't think you'll be disappointed:)

  13. You are such an amazing writer. Great review. You had me at "eerie." Can't wait to read this one.

  14. For anyone whose afraid it's is, but at the same time isn't. I'm scared of watching any scary movie...I REFUSE to watch them, but I had no problem with this book.

    Great review Jenny! :)

  15. Midnyte - Thank you very much:) Hope you like it!

    Jacinda - Very true, not scary in the traditional sense, just really creepy and unnerving:)

  16. wow that sounds amazing!! Great review Jenny! =D

  17. Oh sounds good. Hm... I wonder if I need to make room in the freezer for this one. ;) I like unnerving, but sometimes... it just needs to freeze for a bit. lol

  18. Larissa - I really enjoyed this one, I wasn't sure it was for me at first but then it blew me away:)

    Melissa - It's definitely unnerving, but it's so short and intense I bet you won't even have time to freeze it:)

  19. Wow, this is an incredibly well-thought out and well written review. I had wanted to read The Long Weekend prior to reading your review, but you just made it a must read for me. Shorter stories usually leave me wanting more, but it really seems like this one has it all, packed into its short 180 pages.

    Great review!

  20. DYING to read this one, although a little scared to as well. Great review as always Jenny!

  21. This sounds so good yet so creepy. One of those books that I need to hide in the freezer (like Joey from Friends) when it gets too scary!

  22. This sounds like a great, tense read; definitely not one I should read while my husband is out of town. I have an overactive imagination and don't need any help jumping at little sounds. :)

    Wonderful review!

  23. Nikki - Thank you very much! I agree, normally I have trouble with shorter stories because they don't always feel complete to me and I want the story to go into more depth, but this one tells a brilliant story in a short amount of time:)

    Angelique - I loved it! It's not scary scary, more just the type to leave your stomach all in knots while your reading:)

    Nic - It won't freak you out I don't think, it will more disturb and unnerve you:)

    Jennifer - I have an overactive imagination as well, I can't watch or read anything scary, but this was more suspenseful than terrifying:)

  24. Wow this sounds amazing! I haven't heard of this book before I read your review! Thanks for sharing this with us!

  25. I've never heard of this one but it looks and sounds super creepy. I'm going to add it to my wishlist since you liked it so much.

  26. Wow, this book sounds HEAVY. I'm thinking this might be one of those "short but powerful" books I admire so much. My heart is pounding from reading your review!