Lisa lives with her mom, Amber, in sunny Florida. Unfortunately, due to Amber’s lack of job-keeping skills, their house has been foreclosed upon and Amber is sending Lisa to Lynn, Massachusetts to stay with an aunt she has never met while Amber tries to spend time pulling her life together. Lisa throws a few meager possessions in her suitcase and takes the train to her new destination. She is met at the train by Michael, a student at CIN Boarding School. Her aunt watches over and lives next door to a brother and sister who, according to Michael, are not super friendly. There’s a dog named Pig that doesn’t like to be touched and a cat that Lisa’s supposed to avoid. Hopefully there are others that Lisa can be friends with.
Lisa is the product of a rape, so that’s why she thinks that her mom doesn’t want her around. Lisa’s step-dad left them five years before, and she really misses him. Amber can’t stay away from Lisa long, so she shows up in Lynn not long after Lisa gets there. Lisa is so happy to be going home. The next thing she knows, though, Lisa is waking up at the hospital, being told that it is a mystery as to how she escaped death when she was struck twice by lightning. Lisa remembers none of this, and even thinks that her mom hadn’t come to take her home. What is going on in this town?
School is about to start, and that’s when Lisa finds out the strange secret of the school and its students; why they stay almost year-round on campus. Then she begins to learn the extraordinary story of Alex and Ally and their family’s connection to Lynn. Then Lisa has to make a decision about either staying in Lynn forever or leaving and never returning.
The idea behind this story is an interesting and compelling one, but the storytelling does not reach its full potential. There are way too many “easy answers” and conveniences for the writing to ring true. One of my pet peeves is when melodrama is mistaken for drama. Sure, if you are writing a gothic romance, this would be appropriate; but here, it just seems to be done for the sake of drama (“insert here”) and to move the plot along immediately. There is no building up of the plot from a solid foundation. People just don’t behave like they live in a soap opera, and that’s how the main characters seem to act here. The tension, secrets, relationships, conversations and conflicts need to be more fully fleshed-out and believable. For example, it made no sense as to why Ally is so mean, other than to create drama. She sure seems to back off of it easily, too.
There’s also so much going on here that it’s bordering on too much. There’s a lot to keep track of, especially during that part of the story where you don’t know the “secret.” Some of it seems superfluous, like having to get up early to feed the chickens. They live in a town with a grocery store – why does Lisa have to earn money by taking care of chickens? Homeless guys, Alex and Ally prefer to eat their meals in their rooms, the rooming situation…plus, there is a part that is very confusing when the mother comes to visit. I think it is purposefully misleading, but until you realize that, you think that you’ve completely missed something or the book was misprinted. There are small things, too, that people just don’t do. At the beginning of the story, it is the day that Amber and Lisa are to be evicted and Lisa is to leave for Lynn, and Lisa is not packed. She throws a few things in a suitcase and a box, but that’s it. Why didn’t she pack her toothbrush and other belongings? Her house was foreclosed upon, so she won’t be returning. Unless the character is being presented as forgetful or stupid, there doesn’t seem to be a point to this. Also, they supposedly don’t have any money, so why would she leave things only to have to replace them in Lynn?
The title of the book makes no sense (other than sounding like the word “sin”), especially since we never learn what CIN stands for. The photo on the cover seems to be designed to be merely provocative and eye-catching, yet has no connection to the story. And the continuous refrain of “Lynn, Lynn, the city of sin” that the author uses to give the story a dark edge and foreshadowing: what did it have to do with the narrative? Where was the real sin in the story?
2 of 5 Stars (Based on Ink and Page’s Rating System)
Genres: Young Adult Fiction Fantasy Romance
Ages: 14 and up
CIN by Christina Leigh Pritchard was published April 13, 2010 by CreateSpace. A free copy of this book was given to Ink and Page in return for an honest review.