Monday, May 7, 2012

Review: Streamline

Jennifer Lane
Contemporary Young Adult
460 pages
Omnific Publishing
Available now
Received through AToMR Book Tours for review

THE STORY (from Goodreads)
Seems like Leo Scott has it all: looks, brains, and athletic talent. He’s captain of his high school swim team with a bright future in college and beyond. But Leo has secrets. His mother’s crippling car accident has devastated his family and left Leo to deal with his father’s abuse, battered and alone.

Leo’s girlfriend Audrey Rose is poised for her own share of success. As one of Florida’s top high school swimmers, Audrey dreams of college swimming stardom. But there’s an obstacle to her glorious rise to the top. Her number-one supporter--her father--is in prison for murder.

Part murder mystery, part tale of young love in a military family, this gripping story takes readers on a journey from Pensacola to Annapolis. Leo and Audrey must band together to rise above the adversity they encounter and find their true selves in the process. When everything’s on the line . . . streamline.

Streamline is a dark and powerful story, one that weighs heavily on our minds and hearts as we find ourselves both fascinated and disgusted by the painful lives of the Scott family and those closest to them. While reading, we find ourselves with conflicting urges–the desire to cast the book aside and retreat back into the safety our reality at odds with our need to keep reading as though our knowledge of Leo and Audrey’s battles will provide them some form of comfort. From the first chapter, the excruciating secrets Leo keeps from everyone regarding his home life sit like lead in our guts, and every time his military commander father doles out his idea of “discipline”, that tangible weight seems to double until even the tiniest movement of our fingers to flip the pages is met with resistance and leaves us utterly exhausted.

Leo is a study in extremes: unbelievably strong mentally and physically not only as an athlete but as a survivor of repeated violent abuse, yet at the same time he is emotionally vulnerable to a staggering degree as years of beatings and verbal lashings have taught him to believe he is deserving of such cruelty. His story is not one of steady growth and improvement until we reach the end and have a happy, healthy young man where a damaged one stood before, instead he realistically struggles all the way through, making several small steps forward only to fall back several a few chapters later. Through every hard-fought battle however we cling to the hope that Ms. Lane would not be so unkind as to tear him down without building him back up, and we meet each page with a heady sense of anticipation that maybe it’s the one that finally grants us his happiness.

Ms. Lane pulls no punches in her depiction of the Scott family, eschewing the paranormal in favor of a very human monster, and it’s nothing short of heartbreaking to watch the violent and blustering cyclone that is Commander Scott suck his family into a rotating vortex of pain, lies, and betrayal. Commander Scott operates at the far reaches of the emotional spectrum, his anger never expressed quietly or approached logically, instead his own dark past and his rigid military training create a composed, put together man hiding a hair trigger under his perfectly pressed uniform. He seems vile and loathsome–a larger than life evil capable of inflicting infinite damage on his loved ones–but his power is constructed of flimsy cards precariously stacked, the merest of breaths capable of sending his whole world crashing down, and we therefore find him to be worthy of both our hatred as well as our pity.

While the characters are stunningly depicted–the pain of their lives visceral and unforgettable–the story itself is a bit long and at times tedious. The abuse (a colorful variety including physical, emotional, and substance) is so intense in the beginning that when Leo and Audrey’s stories veer off into more mundane day to day activities including swim meets, random dinners, and eventually naval academy training for Leo, our attention starts to drift and we long for a return of what drew us initially. There are several smaller side elements that could have easily been culled in favor of, ironically, streamlining the abuse/murder mystery plotline to keep our attention glued to the pages, but overall, Ms. Lane impresses with her dark contemporary tale and I will certainly be looking for more of her in the future.

Rating: 3.5/5

I received this book as part of the the Streamline blog tour, so for those interested in following along, you can find the full list of participating blogs HERE. The tour runs from today through May 12th and there are tons of fun giveaways, reviews, and interviews planned, so be sure and check it out! Also, Jennifer is offering up a $25 gift card to a bookseller of your choice for those following the tour, you can enter HERE.


  1. This does seem like a difficult book to read. But it might be worth it. I like that Leo doesn't take the easy character development path. With a life like his, it wouldn't sound realistic.
    What do you think of the cover? I can't decide if I like it or if it's too weird.

    1. Yes. I also think it's too true to read it through. Sometime we all have to bear the burden that the elder generations leave on us, which make life difficult.

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  2. Even though the story at times was a little tedious at times, it sounds like the characters are really worth reading about. Great review Jenny! I wasn't sure about this book before but it sounds like it could be a pretty good read.

  3. The cover is captivting .. love it!! The Story though sounds quite heavy and intense... and I need to be in the right mood to read such stories.. I liked that you mentioened the "hope" - there is nothing worse for me in such a drak tale when there is no hope...

  4. Sounds like a good contemp-with-an-edge. I've just re-read Anna and the French Kiss so I am looking for something more head-in-the-clouds fluffy right now. I'd need to be in a different mindset to read this one.

  5. Love the cover!! But I'm not looking for books who loose their intensity and what's special about them during the story...

  6. Hey Jenny, awesome review! I especially liked this quote: "eschewing the paranormal in favor of a very human monster". I was portraying Narcissistic Personality Disorder (among other diagnoses) with Commander Scott, and your description of him is spot on. I wrote this story during a somewhat dark time in my life, as you can tell. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and be part of the tour.

  7. Alison - It was definitely a heavy read, but I was rooting for Leo and Audrey the whole way through. They were fantastic characters. And I love the cover:)

    Sam - They definitely were. I felt the whole story could have been significantly shorter than its 460 pages, but the characterization was amazing:)

    Danny - Me too! I had to be in the right mood as well, I walked away from this one a couple of times for self-preservation:)

    Leanna - There's most certainly an edge! I liked the darkness, it was just so dark at times that the length made it a challenging read because I knew no end was in sight for a good long while.

    Miss Page-Turner - Yay, me too! The story was just a bit long in parts for me, drawing things out before we got back to the central plotline.

    Jennifer - I thought that might be what CS suffered from. Bastard. I thought all your characters were brilliant, and I am thrilled to be on the tour!

  8. Wow Jenny what an amazing review. Ive never heard of this before but I love dark romances or contemporary stories with darker long as it wont leave me sobbing buckets, I can usually handle books with abuse in them.

  9. I've been curious about this one for a long time because I love the cover, but I'm now kind of disenchanted. Yes, I noticed you didn't really mention much about the romance aspect of the book, so that worries me. Not that I expect this one to be heavy on romance, but I think the straying away from that initial draw wouldn't have had the same effect on me as well.

  10. This sounds like an intense, memorable read. Commander Scott seems a bit intimidating...

    Nicely written review, Jenny!

  11. Tina - Thank you! If you like the darker themes, this one will definitely be up your alley! And I can't promise you won't cry, but you won't be left sobbing at the end:)

    Missie - Alternating POV - we hop around to a bunch of different people (like with J.R. Ward), but mostly it's Leo and Audrey.

    Lea - He definitely is. He's also a bit of an a-hole:)

  12. I have not heard of this book Jenny, but thanks for putting it on my radar. This book sounds great! Thanks so much for sharing. Plus, I love the cover.

  13. This sounds like such a heart wrenching read! I usually have a difficult time reading books dealing with abuse but I just can't help but being drawn to the gorgeous cover! I think I will still give it a shot! Another fab review Jenny! :)

  14. Sounds like quite a few different things are going on in this one, and I do like that. The good, the normal and the bad

  15. Not sure if I want to read Streamline. From the sound of the story, I have a feeling its one that would get me crying because of the circumatances of the characters.

  16. Savy - You're welcome:) And I love the cover too:)

    Jasprit - It definitely was! I had to take breaks while reading and shore up my courage before going back in:)

    Linda - There's a lot happening and while I thought some of it could have been cut to keep the plot moving forward a little quicker, I really enjoyed it overall.

    Jenny - I had many a tear while reading, but I loved Audrey and Leo:)

  17. I've never heard of this book until now. Definitely sounds gritty and hard hitting. Interesting how you thought the mundane moments were a bit slow. I would have expected the opposite. I think I'll wait and see if I can get this one from the library. Thanks for the review, Jenny!

  18. I love contemporaries that have a darker edge so I'll be sure to look into this one, Jenny. The characters and their pain seem like they're depicted well. It's too bad though that the story seemed long at times. If I get around to reading this, I'll probably be reading another book at the same time then.

  19. This does sound like a tough read and yet I think it would be great for teenagers. A chance to really show that you never really know what is going on at someone's home---even if they appear to have it all!

    Great Review!

  20. Yikes a cyclone of pain and excruciating secrets, this sounds like a tough read but I am sure there are valuable lessons to be gleaned. Real life isn't pretty sometimes. I am fascinated by the cover, really cool. And really, Jenny, deep fried butter? That sounds awful, it would make my stomach roar, too much grease!

  21. The domineering military father reminds me kind of Pat Conroy's The Great Santini. (Of course, that's not a YA but I do love Pat Conroy!) It sounds terribly sad--I have a hard time with stories of abuse--but it also sounds like a well-written story. Great review, as always!

  22. Art? Dark? Okay you had me with just those words.

    Human monsters are always way more scary to me than anything paranormal. Hm... still even though it does sound tough, it also sound interesting. As long as I don't get into the ugly cry with this one, I think I may have to read this one.

  23. Oh wow dude.... I think I heard of this one awhile ago, but I doubt I would've picked it up before reading your review!!!


  24. This one seems a little heavy even for me. I think I'll steer clear. It sounds like it was well done, but I want a little lighter fare lately. You did an excellent job describing the tenter hooks a family hangs from when there is an abuser in the family. As always an informative, unbiased review. Thanks!


  25. This sounds like a heavily emotional book. Which is good for the right mood. I read another review and they loved it. I enjoyedgetting your perspective and opinion and it has me thinking it might be a book I would enjoy at the right time.

  26. Ohhh, I've not heard of this one before! It definitely sounds like an intense read, that's for sure. Thank you for reviewing it for us, and for putting it on my radar!

  27. This one sounds pretty good and I loove this cover .. I kind of reminds me of The Unbecoming of Marad Dyer's cover :) !

  28. This looks good! Are those the same people on the cover of Mara? I saw them on another book! What's up with that...I thought they were unique to the Mara books. Oh well. LOL

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