Max and Menna Book Cover Max and Menna
Shauna Kelley
YA, Coming of age, Fiction
Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
October 29th 2012
Paperback, Kindle, Hardcover
Book Tasters, Author

Max and Menna tells the story of two siblings surviving a deplorable home life in the South in the early 1980s. Telling the story from each of their viewpoints, Max and Menna outline their reliance on each other and on Nick, their only friend, as they cope with growing up in poverty, living with an alcoholic mother, and having no indication of the other half of their parentage.

The story opens with Max and Menna in the eighth grade. They meet Nick, a Native American, and the story continues to take place during their summer vacations progressively through high school. Max, quiet and introspective, struggles to understand how to be the only man in the house and protect a family that seems determined to destroy itself. Menna is quick-tempered and vivacious, and grows to love and view Nick as a method of coping with a childhood that requires her to be very adult.

Despite the strength of the bond the three of them share, however, their environment works against them. As the children of the town drunk, the younger siblings of the town slut, and the friends of an Indian from "over the fence," Max and Menna fight not only to grow up, and get out, but to stay together, and stay safe.

Author Shauna Kelley states: “This is a story that has been with me for a long time, but I hadn’t, until quite recently, lived enough to begin to do it justice. I relied on the excellent example of my writing heroes -- Margaret Atwood, Sherman Alexie, and John Irving -- and hope I have constructed a book that will appeal to women and young adults and help them learn about the human capacity for overcoming unbearable situations. This is a lesson that I have only just begun to understand.”


I had hoped since I left home that childhood itself wasn’t essential,
that I could easily walk away from it and bury it in the back of my mind.

I can’t.


I didn’t know what to expect from this book, the only thing I knew was what I read from the description. And I already knew it was going to be painful but also beautiful and heartfelt story, little did I know I would end up really loving it.

Max and Menna’s life has been everything but kind to them and they have grown faster than they should have. The way the story was told was captivating and well written, I really did enjoy Shauna’s writing style it was refreshing and well thought.

I too grew up without a father’s presence, however I was lucky enough to have a stable loving mother unlike our twins’.Their childhood is painful, neglected and full with sorrow, with an alcoholic mother that could barely take care of herself and a teenage older sister as troubled as their mother they could rely only on each other. It is really difficult for me to comprehend me to have a child and you know you have some responsibility as a parent and yet be so selfish and care only about yourself and comply to your needs only . I will never understand these people and it makes me angry that they don’t even try to fight their inner demons for the sake of their child/children… It angers me and the reason I feel so close to Max and Menna is that I have personal experience with this kind of situation in my family, same situation mother is an alcoholic with the only difference the father is present and takes care of the child, thus they feel soo real and true to me.

The thing I loved the most was how the time period was represented it felt real the characters, the mind set in the 80’s in Alabama the Native Americans which I found amazing as this is the first book I ever read featuring and having as a main character a Native American, the racism, discrimination all there palpable and suffocatingly real. I fell in love with Nick the moment he was introduced in the book and I loved him as much as I did love the twins.

Overall I totally recommend this book, it will hurt you it will heal you and it would make you fall in love with the characters and Shauna’s writing. I gave it 4.5 stars rounded to 5 much love for it it will have that special place in my heart for quite a while….



Shauna KelleyShauna Kelley was born in Silver Spring, Maryland to two very young, encouraging, and idealistic parents. She has been writing stories and poems since the third grade, and wrote the initial draft of a shorter version of Max and Menna while in high school. She attended Goucher College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English with a Creative Writing concentration.

Kelley currently resides in Baltimore, Maryland, with a mangy, 10-year-old Jack Russell that will always be known as her puppy. Her favorite pastimes include exploring Baltimore, watching Paranormal State or True Blood, and cooking decedent desserts. She reads voraciously, is an avid lover of action and horror films, and can’t live without Joe’s Squared pizza or Chiyo Sushi.

Kelley welcomes comments, feedback, and questions from her readers. Find her online:
Twitter: shaunak101


A big thank you to Book Tasters and Shauna Kelley for this opportunity!


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