Book Review: Fixing Delilah by Sarah Ockler

Fixing Delilah
by Sarah Ockler
320 pages - Hardcover
Published December 1st 2010 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
ISBN: 0316052094 (ISBN13: 9780316052092)


Things in Delilah Hannaford's life have a tendency to fall apart.

She used to be a good student, but she can't seem to keep it together anymore. Her "boyfriend" isn't much of a boyfriend. And her mother refuses to discuss the fight that divided their family eight years ago. Falling apart, it seems, is a Hannaford tradition.

Over a summer of new friendships, unexpected romance, and moments that test the complex bonds between mothers and daughters, Delilah must face her family's painful past. Can even her most shattered relationships be pieced together again?

Rich with emotion, Sarah Ockler delivers a powerful story of family, love, and self-discovery.


This reminded me a lot of Jandy Nelson’s The Sky Is Everywhere. It’s one of my best reads of 2010, so I was a little blah with the similarities. Which means that I was a little biased and was trying hard to point out the ‘un-nice parts’ in the book so I’d end up not liking it (it happens most of the time), but alas! I couldn’t find anything to rant about, so I came to the conclusion that both are similar and different in many good ways and both are very good and worthy reads.

First, let me point out how much I love the title. At first, I thought it was a typical title for a contemporary YA with a problematic teenager protagonist. But after reading the book, I felt that it’s more connected to the story than what it seems.

When Elizabeth Hannaford, the grandmother whose name Delilah had not been allowed to speak for over 8 years died, Delilah and her mom were forced to go back to Vermont where it all started. And to relive what transpired 8 years ago that made her aunt Rachel and mother break all their ties to her grandmother. But what really happened in Vermont was triggered by a more painful event that affected Delilah’s life in more was that she could ever imagined.

Nobody knows why her aunt Stephanie died. But when Delilah found her diary, she started obsessing with finding out how her aunt died and what truly happened 8 years ago.

The plot practically revolves around how Delilah’s aunt Stephanie affected her family’s present life. The mysteries, lies and secrets that her mother had to keep from her all came down to her aunt’s death. Delilah was undergoing the rebellious phase of her life back in Pennsylvania when she went to Vermont. Her grades dropped, a picture of her and a boy making out was on the school paper, and she was sneaking out at night to meet with her ‘non-boyfriend’.

I felt real sympathy for Delilah about the father she never met. She spends time wondering what it’s like to have a father. Imagining what his voice would sound like, what his cologne would smell like… she stalks him on the internet, trying to get more information about his life before he met her mother. It really tugged on my hearstrings when she discovered the truth about him.

But not all angsty contemporary YA’s are all about angst. When Delilah went back to Vermont, she was reunited with Little Ricky, her childhood best ‘summer’ friend, and immediately felt sparks. I think their romance was a little rushed, though. They’ve known each other since they were kids and they pretty much spent a lot of time together when she came back to Vermont. There were a lot of opportunity to develop their relationship but each time they work on that aspect, it always fell flat.

The plot is medium-paced and Ockler’s writing is simple, making it easy to read. I can’t say Delilah is a unique character as I didn’t really see anything special about her, but there’s something about her narrative that made me keep reading the book. The ending, however, did not satisfy me. There are many aspects in the book that left me hanging towards the end. I would’ve liked to see all her questions come to a close, especially about her father. Though, I can also live with the fact that Delilah’s story did not just end as the book ended. I like to look at the brighter side and think that the book’s end is only the beginning of her story.

Rating: 4/5 stars


  1. this is an honest and well-thought out review. not sure I'm going to rush out and pick up the book, but it sounds like something fans of contemp will enjoy.

  2. I agree with Jessie, this is a very good and thoughtful review. If I'm looking for an easy read in the near future, I'll be picking it up. Thanks!

  3. I really liked Twenty Boy Summer, Sarah's other novel, and so have this one on my wishlist. I have a feeling though I won't like this one as much because of the rushed romance and ending. Great review, Chel!


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