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4.0 3
by Margie Gelbwasser

A 2011 Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teen Readers!

In fifteen-year-old Alyssa Bondar's Russian-Jewish culture, having a few drinks is as traditional as blinchikiandpiroshki. So when her mom's midday cocktails turn into an all-day happy hour, it seems like Alyssa's the only one who notices—or cares. Her dad is steeped in the nightly


A 2011 Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teen Readers!

In fifteen-year-old Alyssa Bondar's Russian-Jewish culture, having a few drinks is as traditional as blinchikiandpiroshki. So when her mom's midday cocktails turn into an all-day happy hour, it seems like Alyssa's the only one who notices—or cares. Her dad is steeped in the nightly news—and denial—and her best friend Lana is too busy trashing their shared Russian heritage so she can be popular.

Alyssa would rather focus on cross-country meets and her first kiss with her running partner, Keith, but someone has to clean up her mom's mess. But who will be there to catch Alyssa when her mom's next fall off the wagon threatens to drag her down, too?


"Inconvenient is riveting and whole."—Beth Kephart, author of Undercover

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Amy Fiske
On the surface, fifteen-year-old Alyssa is living an immigrant success story. Through tireless hard work, her Russian-Jewish parents traded immigrant poverty for a quiet suburban existence in New Jersey. A large Russian community helps them maintain a place in two worlds—Alyssa's daily experience is a blend of typical American high school and Russian-Jewish expat culture. Good grades, a place on the cross country team, and the attention of an older boy spell out a promising future. Alyssa's friend, Lana, also Russian American, hopes to use Alyssa's fledgling social connections to springboard them to a higher level in the social stratosphere. To add to the maelstrom of teenage drama, Alyssa's mother begins to drift from heavy social drinker to full-blown alcoholic. Alyssa's balancing act becomes more precarious as she deals with her father's denial, manages her mother's blackouts, and attempts to hide the truth from neighbors, friends, and schoolmates. Gelbwasser realistically portrays the shifting emotions of a teenager navigating complicated situations and conflicting loyalties. The characters are well-developed, from the father who loses himself in television news every night to the popular jock with surprising substance. This is a complicated drama of people sinking to the lowest common denominator and rising to their best selves to do the right thing. None of the relationships are clear cut; Alyssa learns about betrayal, both public and private, and finds unexpected allies. This will be a hit with girls who like realistic fiction that focuses on the complexity of human relationships. Reviewer: Amy Fiske
School Library Journal
Gr 8–10—Russians and alcohol go hand in hand, both in ignorant stereotypes and in 15-year-old Alyssa's experiences. The daughter of Russian immigrants, she is used to seeing her parents find any occasion to imbibe. But when her mother's drinking starts to get out of control, it's not just insensitive comments from thoughtless classmates that are the problem. While Alyssa works to navigate having her first boyfriend, her newly popular best friend, and her cross-country running career, she is simultaneously—and single-handedly—covering up for her mother's growing alcohol abuse while her workaholic father stands by in willful denial until he realizes he must act. Alyssa feels more and more isolated until her new boyfriend, Keith, offers insight that helps "New Alyssa" temper "Old Alyssa's" enabling behaviors. Though the imagery is a bit heavy-handed in parts, the topic of parental alcoholism is an important one to address, and the Russian Jewish teen is an uncommon protagonist in YA literature, both of which create an interesting narrative perspective. The day-to-day nature of Alyssa's story is a refreshing take on the YA problem novel, one that refuses melodrama and favors instead the powerful significance of the smaller moments of life—a smell, a look, a flash of a memory.—Jennifer Miskec, Longwood University, Farmville, VA
Kirkus Reviews

Fifteen-year-old Alyssa, the daughter of Russian Jews who came to America when she was four, lives in suburban New Jersey, where on the surface everything is smooth. But behind closed doors, Alyssa's mother, who has multiple traits that never quite form a cohesive personality, is drinking and drinking and can't seem to stop. Alyssa's overworked engineer father views his daughter's problems, such as being late for school because her mother is too hungover to drive, as mere inconveniences. How Alyssa comes to terms with her mother's drinking is the crux of the novel, and to her credit, Gelbwasser doesn't make it simple or take the easy way out. Unfortunately, she clutters up this realistic, heartfelt story with ideas and subplots that fail to engage—e.g., one in which Alyssa's best friend tries to lose her Russian identity in order to join the cool clique seems oddly ancillary. However, the other important thread, Alyssa's growing attraction to fellow runner Keith, is stronger and better integrated, though readers will guess its strongly telegraphed surprise. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

North Star Editions
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)
830L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 18 Years

Meet the Author

Margie Gelbwasser is a freelance writer who has written for various magazines, including SELF, Ladies Home Journal, Women's Health, New Jersey Monthly, Girl's Life, Instructor, and Writer's Digest. Her debut novel, Inconvenient, was a 2011 Sydney Taylor Notable Book for Teen Readers. The author received her master’s in English from William Paterson University and currently lives in New Jersey. Visit her at MargieWrites.com.

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Inconvenient 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Alayna Alliniece More than 1 year ago
Kina slow tho the beggining. Just make it to chapter 28 and it gets sad but AMAZING!!!
Crazy-Bookworm More than 1 year ago
When I first read the premise for Inconvenient I couldn't wait to read it, but what I didn't know was how much I was going to love it! I am still left in awe by this book. Once I started reading, I couldn't stop. The author immediately pulls you into Alyssa's world. Once an easy and care-free world slowly turns into a dark and lonely one. The author created such a incredible character cast, each character was so well written and so real. It's very easy to relate to the characters whether it's Alyssa, a young girl that just wants her life to be like it use to be. Or Lana, a teenager with the desire to fit in. The transformations throughout the book are pretty dramatic, every character has one. But the one most obvious and dramatic is Alyssa's. She was taken from her teenage life and was forced to walk down a road that no 15 year should have had to deal with. She reacted with how any real teenager would react...angry. She never sugarcoated a moment when telling us how painful it was to see her mother battle with her addiction and how angry she was at her mother for allowing it to happen. Inconvenient is a beautifully written book, that will have you hooked from the very first page. It is gripping and brutally honest. It is not only a book about a teenager dealing with an alcoholic mother. It is a book about best friends, first loves and self-growth. This is a brilliant book that needs to be added to your 'To be read' piles!