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Review: Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

Title: Everything, Everything
Author: Nicola Yoon
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
ISBN: 0553496646
Published: Delacorte Press, September 1, 2015
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

Main Characters: Madeline, Olly, Carla, Pauline

Synopsis: You’ve heard of Bubble Boy… well, here comes Bubble Girl. Afflicted from a young age with SCID (Severe Combined Immunodeficiency), Madeline is allergic to everything. She’s never been outside. She’s never felt the wind on her skin, treasured the cool lap of an ocean wave, smelled the freshly cut grass. Her mother, a doctor, is her caretaker and best friend. Only friend, really– until a new family moves in next door. Madeline finally realizes there is more to life than what she’s been living, but she must decide what’s worth risking her life for. Is anything? Is everything?

Memorable Quotes:

  • We are awkward together for a few moments, unsure what to say. The silence would be much less noticeable over IM. We could chalk it up to any number of distractions. But right now, in real life, it feels like we both have blank thought balloons over our head. Actually, mine’s not blank at all, but I really can’t tell him how beautiful his eyes are. They’re Atlantic Ocean blue, just like he said. It’s strange because of course I’d known that. But the difference between knowing it and seeing them in person is the difference between dreaming of flying and flight.
  • He leans his forehead against mine. His breath is warm against my nose and cheeks. It’s slightly sweet. The kind of sweet that makes you want more.
    “Is it always like that?” I ask, breathless.
    “No,” he says. “It’s never like that.” I hear the wonder in his voice.
    And just like that, everything changes.
  • “They tried to stop me. They said it wasn’t worth my life, but I said that it was my life, and it was up to me to decide what it was worth. I said I was going to go and either I was going to die or I was going to get a better life.”
  • “Maybe growing up means disappointing the people we love.”
  • My heart is too bruised and I want to keep the pain as a reminder. I don’t want sunlight on it. I don’t want it to heal. Because if it does, I might be tempted to use it again.

Review: I haven’t reviewed anything in over a year. I’m terribly sorry. I haven’t been reading very much, either. Went through some shit. Left the country for the first time. But anyway, I figured this was a good book to come back with. There will be slight spoilers in the below.

If you’re looking for a book that will remind you what your priorities in life should be, this is the one you want.

I tend to judge books based on their ability to make me cry. A book can still be good if it doesn’t, absolutely. But I’m not much of a crier, and it takes a lot to set me off. Whether it’s a sensation of awe, or grief, or unfairness, something that just hits a little too close to home… This book was none of those things, though. I was crying and I didn’t even know why. I still don’t, and I finished it last night.

So, long story short, Bubble Girl meets Boy From Outside and risks her entire existence to be with him. Okay, it’s not that simple. It’s not just about him, and she knows that. What he does is give her a taste of what life could–should– be like. And life isn’t trapped inside her white, air-filtered room. Madeline notes that she’s happy, but she’s not alive. And she never realized there was a difference until she meets Olly.

I can’t relate to her situation, of course. I’ve never been forcibly trapped in a house with an airlock. (Forcibly? What a great plot twist, right?) But I definitely don’t live my life the way I could.

We spend so much time in our own little worlds. We don’t take risks. We don’t appreciate what we’ve got until it’s gone.

I read an article recently about a billionaire doctor who contracted a terminal illness. And he said that suddenly, none of it mattered– not his mansion, his fancy cars, all the things money could buy. And of course it was a little aggrandized, like this guy had spirits come to him in his sleep and tell him what life was really about blah blah… but what matters is that he got there, you know? He came to the realization that all that was important in life are the people you surround yourself with, the people you love. And he’d wasted so much time…

I never want to be that person. I want to take every step of my life with love. Just because I haven’t managed to find my life partner yet doesn’t mean I can’t express that love in other ways. Friends. Family. Animals. The planet.

I’ve carefully constructed a facade of cynicism and I’m tired of being that person. I believe in love and hope above all things– I always have– and I’m tired of hiding it. Maybe it makes me naive, or a dreamer, or somehow “lesser than.”

But I don’t care.

Do everything you do with love, and all the rest will flow.

“Love is worth everything. Everything.”

Rating: ★★★★★

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Review: Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Title: Ready Player One
Author: Ernest Cline
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 978-0-553-45938-8
Published: Random House, 2011
Purchase: Amazon, Barnes & Noble

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Main Characters: Wade/Parzival, Art3mis, Aech

Synopsis: In the not-so-distant future, technology companies own… well, pretty much everything. The development of fully-immersive virtual-reality gaming (the OASIS) catapulted its inventor to multi-billionaire-dom, and while he used his wealth and power for good, there are plenty of others who would like to obtain and use that power for evil. Wade, known in-game as Parzival, is a very average kid: his home life sucks, so he spends most of his time in the virtual world. When an opportunity arises to solve the world’s biggest virtual riddle and inherit the billions of dollars the OASIS’ founder has left behind, Wade jumps at it. Can Wade solve the riddle and change his future forever, or will the evil corporations and their less-than-orthodox methods win out?

Memorable Quotes:

  • “You’re probably wondering what’s going to happen to you. That’s easy. The same thing is going to happen to you that has happened to every other human being who has ever lived. You’re going to die. We all die. That’s just how it is.”
  • “Very well!” he said. “You shall prove your worth by facing me in a joust!” I’d never heard of an undead lich king challenging someone to a joust. Especially not in a subterranean burial chamber.
    “All right,” I said uncertainly. “But won’t we be needing horses for that?”
    “Not horses,” he replied, stepping away from his throne. “Birds.”
  • I considered giving them what they wanted. I really did. But I thought it through, and I couldn’t come up with a single good reason why they would let me live, even if I helped them clear the First Gate. The only move that made sense was to kill me and take me out of the running. They sure as hell weren’t going to give me five million dollars, or leave me alive to tell the media how IOI had blackmailed me. Especially if there really was a remote-controlled bomb planted in my trailer to serve as evidence.
  • I felt no shame about masturbating. Thanks to Anorak’s Almanac, I now thought of it as a normal bodily function, as necessary and natural as sleeping or eating.
    I would argue that masturbation is the human animal’s most important adaptation. The very cornerstone of our technological civilization. Our hands evolved to grip tools, all right—including our own. You see, thinkers, inventors, and scientists are usually geeks, and geeks have a harder time getting laid than anyone. Without the built-in sexual release valve provided by masturbation, it’s doubtful that early humans would have ever mastered the secrets of fire or discovered the wheel. And you can bet that Galileo, Newton, and Einstein never would have made their discoveries if they hadn’t first been able to clear their heads by slapping the salami (or “knocking a few protons off the old hydrogen atom”). The same goes for Marie Curie. Before she discovered radium, you can be certain she first discovered the little man in the canoe.
    It wasn’t one of Halliday’s more popular theories, but I liked it.
  • I sat there in my stronghold, staring at the monitors, watching all of this unfold in stunned horror. There was no denying it. The end of the contest was at hand. And it wasn’t going to end like I’d always thought it would, with some noble, worthy gunter finding the egg and winning the prize. I’d been kidding myself for the past five and a half years. We all had. This story was not going to have a happy ending. The bad guys were going to win.

Review: I received this book as part of a LootCrate and it took me an embarrassingly long time to get around to reading it. Like, on the order of months. I hadn’t heard anything about it and wasn’t really intrigued by the blurb on the back, and honestly, I thought it might’ve been too geeky for me! I play a myriad of video games across all kinds of genres (like World of Warcraft, Transistor, Borderlands, Counter-Strike, what have you), which… okay, yeah, I’m pretty geeky. But I’ve never delved into the lore of such games, and I figured that’s the kind of thing this book would be about.

Then one day I was staring at my shelves, trying to decide what to read, and this was one of the few left untouched. So I grabbed it, and it did not leave my side until I’d finished it. I carried it around in my purse for a few days– to work, to dinners, and then up and down the steps with me at home. It was so, so quick to catapult itself to the top of my favorite books list that I was almost in shock. My review on GoodReads was quite brief, amounting to: “This is it. This is my favorite book in the world.” Let me tell you a bit about it.

As I mentioned in my synopsis, we begin in the not-so-distant future: the year 2044, to be precise. The world is quite different. The wage gap continued to grow and numerous environmental crises took root. There are few habitable areas left, and those that do exist are wrought with poverty. There’s pretty much one place left in the United States where there’s any sort of money or power, and it’s in Columbus, Ohio. Most people’s lives are pretty shitty, and most people take to the OASIS to escape. That’s the name of the fully-immersive virtual-reality world created by James Halliday, which quickly became the go-to computer operating system in the world, and made Halliday the king atop a pile of gold. (Well, not literally. But he wound up kinda rich. Like, the most rich.) However, the OASIS is a free service. You have to buy the computers and headsets, of course, and the internet, but once you can log on, you’re home free.

At any rate, Halliday died (like people are wont to do), and instead of a will, he left a riddle. A riddle that would culminate in the finding of a golden egg. A riddle so ridiculously intricate that it was five whole years before anyone managed to figure out the very first steps. Five years of studying every piece of 80s trivia available (Halliday’s favorite era), five years of studying gameplay of video games long since forgotten, and five years of “gunters” (egg-hunters) slowly throwing their hands up in defeat.

Wade, our hero, thinks it could be him. He’s a smart kid, and he’s put in some hard work. He spends all his free time on the OASIS, either attending virtual school or ingesting more potentially-useless trivia. There’s no real reason for him to go anywhere else, because he lives in a trailer stacked atop approximately twenty others, and he lives with his aunt, who doesn’t seem to care what he does. Pretty much his only possessions are the interfaces that allow him to connect to the OASIS, and he’s got them sequestered away in his hideout, which is pretty much a cave deep within a pile of old, rusting cars.

But not even Wade realizes what will happen the instant his username appears in the first-place slot, or what dangers will arise. It’s been blank for five years, and there are some people– or companies (companies are people, right? Right…?)– who would do anything to get their hands on the golden egg (and Halliday’s fortune). Namely IOI (Innovative Online Industries), the internet service provider that has monopolized that industry, headquartered in the only city left in the United States that isn’t a slum: Columbus, Ohio. The IOI wants Halliday’s money. They want his legacy. They want to make even more money by being able to charge people to log into the OASIS. And they want it really, really badly.

Badly enough to kill.

Wade has never really had a problem going it alone, but he had met some online friends along the way. One such friend is Aech, whose whereabouts are unknown but has always been there for Wade as a gaming partner or a confidant. Aech is pretty equally matched with Wade in terms of 80s knowledge and video game expertise. They’ve spent the past few years collaborating on their research, but decided that if they’d figured out the first steps, they’d keep it to themselves. Nothing like a little friendly competition, right? But they’ve got plenty of learning to do about each other, first, and when Wade’s situation turns desperate and he winds up turning to the real-world Aech for help… well, let’s just say there are surprises in store for both of them.

A second person he meets along the way is Art3mis, the wickedly intelligent blogger who Wade had always admired from the safety of his terminal but had never attempted to interact with. When he runs into her virtual avatar outside the tomb where the first clue is located, they begrudgingly spark a friendship that quickly turns into something else… or does it?

I really don’t want to give away too much here. I want you to read this book. I want you to love it. I was barely alive in the 80s (late ’88) so some of the references are lost on me, but a lot of it is stuff that is firmly ingrained into the public consciousness and won’t be going away any time soon! And look, it’s 2016– if you don’t know what something is, you can flop the book down and open a new tab for Google. There’s no excuse for not “getting” anything that happens in this novel. Besides, if people in 2044 are still loving the 80s, you can too!

The point is that I loved this book. I loved it so much. The ending made me bawl. Like, flat-out “put the book down and cry”-cry. And that is honestly not something that books can achieve for me very often. I want to buy this book for every person I know. Actually, I started toward that goal today– I was at Books Inc. in Mountain View this evening with my friend Alex, and I bought it for her. I hope she loves it as much as I did.

A lot of this story rang true for me because I’ve been there. I’ve gotten lost in the virtual world. It allows you to be a person you can’t be in real life– to fly, to use magic, to be strong– and allows you to see places straight out of other people’s dreams. I’ve met so many people through virtual platforms, friends and lovers alike. I started playing World of Warcraft in 2009 and I still talk to people from my first guild on a regular basis. Sometimes the friends you make are thousands of miles away, but it’s never stopped any of them from being there for me when I needed them most. Just like Wade’s friends.

Whether you’re a gamer or not, I hope this book inspires you to take the first steps of something. Maybe nothing so drastic as a challenge to win yourself billions of dollars, but maybe something you’ve always wanted. Make an effort to meet the person you’re in love with… for real. Change your stripes. Write a book. Record an album. Do something, but do it because life is short and it will be worth it. I promise.

Rating: ★★★★★+

P.S. they’re making a movie out of this, due in 2017. You’ll want to have read the book first. I’m hoping the movie will be awesome but as we all know, it’s never quite as awesome as the book. 🙂

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Excerpt: “Just One Day” by Gayle Forman

I’ve got a few excerpts I want to share with you all. These excerpts are really too long to be featured quotes in another article, so I’m going to make them their own posts.

I particularly loved this bit of the book. It’s a unique look on love versus… lust, perhaps, or maybe something entirely different. But it resonated with me, so I’d like to share it with you.

From Just One Day by Gayle Forman, pages 62-65

… “We just fell in love once.”

I take a gulp of my citron pressé— and choke on it. It turns out it’s not lemonade so much as lemon juice and water. Willem hands me a cube of sugar and a napkin.

Once?” I say when I recover.

“It was a while ago.”

“And now?”

“We are good friends. As you saw.”

I’m not sure that’s exactly what I saw.

“So you’re not in love with her anymore?” I run my fingers along the rim of my glass.

Willem looks at me. “I never said I was in love with her.”

“You just said you fell in love with her once.”

“And I did.”

I stare at him, confused.

“There is a world of difference, Lulu, between falling in love and being in love.”

I feel my face go hot, and I’m not entirely sure why. “Isn’t it just sequential– A follows B?”

“You have to fall in love to be in love, but falling in love isn’t the same as being in love.” Willem peers at me from under his lashes. “Have you ever fallen in love?”

Evan and I broke up the day after he mailed in his college tuition deposit. It wasn’t unexpected. Not really. We had already agreed we would break up when we went to college if we didn’t wind up in the same geographical area. And he was going to school in St. Louis. I was going to school in Boston. The thing I hadn’t expected was the timing. Evan decided it made more sense to “rip the bandage off” and break up not in June, when we graduated, or in August, when we’d leave for school, but in April.

But the thing is, aside from being sort of humiliated by the rumor that I’d been dumped and disappointed about missing prom, I wasn’t actually sad about losing Evan. I was surprisingly neutral about breaking up with my first boyfriend. It was like he’d never even been there. I didn’t miss him, and Melanie quickly filled up whatever gaps he’d left in the schedule.

“No,” I reply. “I’ve never been in love.”

Just then the waitress arrives with our crêpes. Mine is golden brown, wafting with the sweet tartness of lemon and sugar. I concentrate on that, cutting off a slice and popping it in my mouth. It melts on the tip of my tongue like a warm, sweet snowdrop.

“That’s not what I asked,” Willem says. “I asked if you’ve ever fallen in love.”

The playfulness in his voice is like an itch I just can’t scratch. I look at him, wondering if he always parses semantics like this.

Willem puts down his fork and knife. “This is falling in love.” With his finger, he swipes a bit of the Nutella from inside his crêpe and puts a dollop on the inside of my wrist. It is hot and oozy and starts to melt against my sticky skin, but before it has a chance to slither away, Willem licks his thumb and wipes the smear of Nutella off and pops it into his mouth. It all happens fast, like a lizard zapping a fly. “This is being in love.” And here he takes my other wrist, the one with my watch on it, and moves the watchband around until he sees what he’s looking for. Once again, he licks his thumb. Only this time, he rubs it against my birthmark, hard, as if trying to scrub it off.

“Being in love is a birthmark?” I joke as I retract my arm. But my voice has a tremble in it, and the place where his wet thumbprint is drying against my skin burns somehow.

“It’s something that never comes off, no matter how much you might want it to.”

“You’re comparing love to a… stain?”

He leans so far back in his seat that the front legs of his chair scrape off the floor. He looks very satisfied, with the crêpe or with himself, I’m not sure. “Exactly.”

I think of the coffee stain on his jeans. I think of Lady Macbeth and her, “Out damned spot,” stain, another speech I had to memorize for English. “‘Stain‘ just seems like an ugly word to describe love,” I tell him.

Willem just shrugs. “Maybe just in English. In Dutch, it’s vlek. In French, it’s tache.” He shakes his head, laughs. “No, still ugly.”

“How many languages have you been stained in?”

He licks his thumb again and reaches across the table for my wrist, where he missed the tiniest smudge of Nutella. This time he wipes it–me– clean. “None. It always comes off.” He scoops the rest of the crêpe into his mouth, taking the dull edge of his knife to scrape the Nutella off the plate. Then he runs his finger around the rim, smearing the last of it away.

“Right,” I say. “And why get stained when getting dirty is so much more fun?” I taste lemons in my mouth again, and I wonder where all the sweetness went.

Willem doesn’t say anything, just sips his coffee.

If you haven’t read the rest of this book, I hope this inspires you to pick it up. It’s a true gem.

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Review: Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid

Title: Never Always Sometimes
Author: Adi Alsaid
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 0373211546
Published: Harlequin Teen, August 2015
Purchase: Amazon

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Main Characters: Dave, Julia, Gretchen

Synopsis: Dave and Julia are best friends. Nothing strange about that. Prior to the beginning of their high school careers, desperate to avoid turning into the cliché high schoolers you see on TV, they collaborate on a list: things they should Never Do. With three months left of their senior year, they decide that maybe it’s time to give the Nevers list another look…

Memorable Quotes:

  • “Well, it’s part of a longer quote, this really beautiful passage about how the best anyone can ever do is to leave the world a little better than you found it. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Invent a new toaster or reach out a helping hand; just, you know, leave it a little better than you found it.”
    Dave noticed that their knees were touching. Amazing what kind of warmth could come from such slight contact. “What book is it?”
    Timbuktu by Paul Auster,” she said. “I know it’s weird to say or even think this, but that book has made me who I am. Not entirely, obviously. It didn’t help me at soccer, or make me so good at telling jokes with a straight face. But certain lines felt like they were thoughts I’d had my whole life that just hadn’t taken shape yet until I read them. ‘A little better than you found it’ is how I see everything now. Not just the world, but everything. People, too. I want people I know to be a little better off than when I found them. God, that sounds pretentious, doesn’t it?”
  • How Julia had felt something so deeply for so long without knowing it herself was a mystery. As if love was a fugitive harboring in an attic, hidden even from the people residing in the house.
  • “That’s not enough,” Gretchen said after a moment. “To be sorry you hurt me is not enough for me to forgive you.”
  • Gretchen took a step closer to Dave, so she was less of a silhouette, the details of her face coming into focus. He couldn’t tell what she was feeling, if she was about to slap him or hug him. The moment stretched on and on without a clue as to what was on Gretchen’s mind. People walked all around them as if on fast-forward, like a film-editing trick. Dave realized he had no idea what was on anyone’s mind, not even a little.

Review:

It’s been a long time since I’ve read something so good that I actually wanted to accumulate the energy to review it. (It’s really hard to do this when your job sucks the life out of you, you guys. Hold out as long as you can.) But this book, especially the last third, resonated with me on a level that a novel hasn’t in quite a good while.

Spoilers ahead!

So, let’s face the facts: Dave and Julia are best friends. The book starts off in third-person-Dave, so we know right off the bat: he’s in love with her, he’s been in love with her as long as he can remember. He’s memorized her face, he’s tortured by her touch, he adores when she smiles (especially if he’s the one who caused it). When he and Julia decide to start breaking the Nevers, he can’t tell her that he’s been breaking one this whole time: #8. Never pine silently after someone for the entirety of high school.

Most of the Nevers are silly, things that most kids in high school take for granted. Never go skinny-dipping. Never hook up with a teacher. Never go to a beer party. They’re fun to break, and any time spent with Julia is time well-spent, no matter what they’re doing. But when they get to the lower Nevers on the list, things start to get complicated. Never date your best friend. Can that one be broken? How? Why?

Dave meets Gretchen at a party and a few things fall into place: one, Julia is never going to feel for him the way he feels for her, and two, Gretchen is pretty awesome. She’s smart, funny, pretty, and genuine. And she’s interested in him.

Naturally, it takes the lightning bolt of seeing Dave and Gretchen together for Julia’s heart to kick-start into motion: she’s in love with Dave. Of course she is. But she can never tell him. Not now, not that he’s finally found someone he loves. Who wouldn’t love Dave? Julia expresses surprise that no one’s ever taken an interest in him before. He’s handsome, intelligent, funny… oh God, she’s so in love with him.

The dance of love/not-love/platonic love that follows in the wake of this revelation is fantastic, especially as someone who’s been through (is in the throes of) a similar scenario. Julia can’t hold down her feelings for long, and this culminates in a night of passion on a beach– a cliché to end all clichés, if we’re keeping score! Waking up with Julia in his arms was just as he’d dreamed it would be: perfect. It was perfect.

Before, when Dave had dreamed about love, this is what it looked like:

It was lazy. Love was lazy as hell. Love laid around in bed, warm from the sheets and the sunlight pouring into the room. Love was too lazy to get up to close the blinds. Love was too comfortable to get up and pee. Love took too many naps, it watched TV, but not really, because it was too busy kissing and napping. Love was also funny, which somehow made the bed more comfortable, the laughter warming the sheets, softening the mattress and the lover’s skin.

But. (There’s always a but.)

It isn’t long before Dave realizes something is off. As much as he loves Julia, as perfect as this friendship-turned-relationship has turned out, he can’t escape from the fact that when he’s looking at Julia, sometimes, just sometimes, he’s thinking of Gretchen. The doubts manifest into a dark cloud that follows him around, and he has to face the truth: that his affection for Gretchen had grown into something that not even this finally-requited love from Julia could squelch. For so long, Julia had been all he wanted– and now he’s gotten it, and he wants something else.

Gretchen gets hurt along the way, of course. It was unavoidable. As someone who is currently standing in Gretchen’s shoes and hasn’t gotten her happy ending yet, I almost couldn’t bring myself to finish this book because I couldn’t bear to find out how it ended. (Seriously, there were tears.) Would Dave make the right decision? Would he follow his heart to Gretchen, and where it would be truly happy? Or would his guilt, obligation, and fear of breaking Julia’s heart make him stay with her?

Spoiler: he makes the right decision.

In a scenario like this, someone getting hurt is unavoidable. But there comes a point where you can’t worry about the other people who will be hurt: you have to decide what’s best for you. It took a lot of courage for Dave, to break off this relationship with this person he’d wanted for as long as he could remember, who’d finally given him her entire heart. How could he ever hurt her? He’d already hurt Gretchen; that wasn’t the issue. But he had to figure out where his heart truly lay, and it was with Gretchen. To stay with Julia because… that was how he’d always wanted it, or because that’s how she wanted it, or because he didn’t want to hurt her… isn’t fair to either of them.

You’d be surprised how difficult this decision is for some people. Some people never make it. They settle. They never get to live a life less ordinary, or experience the difference between great love and mediocre love.

Jump. If you take one piece of advice from me, ever, it is to jump. Take that leap.

I’ll never fault anyone for following their heart.

Rating: ★★★★★

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Review: The Museum of Intangible Things by Wendy Wunder

Title: The Museum of Intangible Things
Author: Wendy Wunder
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 1595145141
Published: Razorbill, April 2014
PurchaseAmazon, iBookstore

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Main Characters: Hannah, Zoe, Danny

Synopsis: Hannah and Zoe are best friends. They always have been and they always will be. In a classic case of “opposites atrract,” Zoe is the thunderstorm and Hannah is her lightning rod. When Zoe’s health issues take a turn for the worse, Hannah has to try and keep her friend safe while she sifts through her own shit: self-pity, daddy issues, and love. A whirlwind tour around the country carves etchings of jackalopes, buffalo, and casinos on each of our three characters’ hearts.

Memorable Quotes:

  • Whereas I am grounded and mired in this place, she’s like milkweed fluff that will take off with the first strong breeze. Stronger than fluff, though. She’s like a bullet just waiting for someone to pull the trigger.
  • So, what is the opposite of a “helicopter parent”? I wonder. A subway parent? A sinking ship parent? A hibernating bear?
  • “You’re a glass-is-half-empty kind of girl, aren’t you?”
    “No, not really. I just like surprises, so I keep my expectations low.”
    He seems to think for a moment and then says, “The difference is subtle.”
  • “Don’t break up with her. You don’t want any part of this,” I say, swirling my hand in the air. “I don’t mean to be presumptuous or anything, but you seem to be testing the waters. And these waters are seriously polluted. With scorpion venom and Crown Royal and all sorts of toxic whatnot. Stay with Rebecca.”
  • I’m reluctant to steal a car. And I’m really reluctant to steal a car from a McDonald’s employee whose entire paycheck goes into the upkeep of the car just so he can drive back to work. Like that story of Sisyphus rolling the rock up the hill and never getting anywhere.
  • “No, Zoe, it’s not enough,” I say, and I think how my love for Danny, at the outer limits, might last until he goes to college. My love for Zoe is supposed to last through graduations and weddings and baby showers and games of bridge. Forever.

Review: This is the greatest book I’ve read in a while. I’m sure you’ll notice the dearth of posts lately; it’s not that I haven’t been reading, but I haven’t come across anything that screams, “Review me! Tell the world how great I am!” This was definitely a yelling book.

I’m going to warn you straight off the bat, though, that this book does not have a happy ending. It’s not that kind of story. It’s a story that rings true, a tale of struggle. Zoe has bipolar disorder, and it’s about as bad as it gets: hallucinations and altered experiences. Hannah is Zoe’s rock, and has been since they were both very young. Hannah has seen Zoe’s disorder manifest itself over and over; she’s learned the signals, and she’s learned how to cope. How to help Zoe cope.

But this time, it’s not working. The Pippi stockings aren’t working. The threats of lithium aren’t working. The last stop on Hannah’s “Help Zoe” train, Zoe’s autistic little brother, Noah… isn’t working.

Zoe has her heart set on the college of her dreams: New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology. She is a wizard of a seamstress, breaking fashion boundaries and helping the girls at the prep school keep their skirts too short. But somehow, Zoe isn’t accepted, and something inside of her snaps. She blows out of town like a hurricane, dragging stick-in-the-mud Hannah along with her.

Hannah has her own crap she’s in the middle of, though. She’s been hauling a hot dog stand around town for two summers, trying to earn enough money to attend the local community college. Her mom is poor, and her dad is squandering every cent he makes on booze when he’s not attending AA meetings or being a weatherman. After an on-air meltdown, Hannah discovers that her father has siphoned her hot dog money. All $2000 of it.

So, what the hell? Why not run off with Zoe? It’ll only be for a day or two tops, right? It’ll give her time to cool off, time to think of some way to face her father without smashing his head in. Or sending him to rest peacefully at the bottom of the lake, which is where her hot dog stand now resides.

Except Zoe doesn’t want to turn around. When she’s not turning the car north to follow tornadoes, she’s turning it west to chase buffalo. She’s setting Kermit the Frog free the night before the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. She’s bleaching her hair blonde in a Walmart bathroom on Black Friday. Above all, though, she’s not eating. Or sleeping. She doesn’t need to anymore, she tells Hannah. The aliens have been reformatting her DNA.

Hannah has to match her every step, because she doesn’t know what else to do.

Is Zoe crazy? What is crazy? If someone creates a world for themselves that’s better than the one they’re in, can you really blame them? She’s not harming anyone– except, okay, maybe the elderly security guard at IKEA whom she tazed in the middle of the night. Except herself, as she continues her path into starvation and sleepless madness. But she’s Hannah’s best friend. She’s the girl who creates museums in her basement for her brother to understand emotions. She’s the girl who teaches Hannah the meanings of audacity. Gluttony. Destiny. Betrayal. Insouciance. None of the meanings that you can glean from a dictionary, but the meanings that invoke life.

“If you won’t come with me, I’ll go with you,” Hannah tells Zoe. When forced to make a choice, I chose her.

Rating: ★★★★★

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Review: Finding It by Cora Carmack

Title: Finding It
Author: Cora Carmack
Genre: Fiction
ISBN: 0062273280
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks, October 2013
PurchaseAmazon

finding it

Main Characters: Kelsey, Hunt

Synopsis: Kelsey is on a mission to find herself. She’s been running from herself and her twisted past ever since graduation: drinking, dancing, and fucking her way across Europe. One night, in a drunken stupor, she lays eyes on the hottest man she’s ever seen, a man with one name: Hunt. Somehow, he’s immune to her charms, which naturally just makes her want him even more. Kelsey thinks she’s finally had enough and is about to give up and head home, but a few more encounters later, Hunt issues her a challenge: spend a week with him, and if he can’t give her the adventure she’s been looking for, then she’s free to hang her head and go home.

Memorable Quotes:

  • There was no room for unhappiness when squeezed between two sets of washboard abs.
  • All of my friends were off chasing their dreams, moving into their futures, and I just wanted to want something with that kind of desperation, that kind of fire. I was an actress. I’d spent nearly half my life stepping into a character, searching out her desires, finding what drives her. But for the life of me, I couldn’t do the same for myself. It had been a long, long time since I’d let myself want something enough for it to matter.
  • A haunted expression stole over his face, filled with ghosts and shadows. It was the kind of look that told me more about him than any words he could ever say. He meant it when he said that he would protect me. It was written as plainly across his face as whatever tragedy tore through his memory because of my words.
  • I’d thought before that gravity pulled me toward Hunt, but it was more than that. He was the gravity. In that moment, he was the push and pull that held my universe together.
  • “You’re not horrible, Kelsey. You are vibrant and beautiful, and you burn. Burn so vividly. Fires can damage, but they’re also beautiful and vital and they can purify and give the chance to start fresh. You’re not horrible. Not at all.”
  • I opened to him immediately, his tongue tangling with mine. He tasted like warm summer days and hurricanes, like everything I wanted and everything I didn’t know I needed.

Review: So somehow I missed that this was the third book in a trilogy. I did my research after the fact though, and luckily, the other two books focus on different characters. So I didn’t really miss anything important, just other stories that happen to take place in the same world. Phew!

At any rate, I completely fell in love with this book. It’s absolutely brilliantly written. It’s just Kelsey and Hunt, traveling around Europe. And it’s fantastic.

I don’t even really have the words for this. You’re just going to have to take my word for it. If you like realistic characters with realistic backgrounds and realist feelings and reactions, this is the book for you. Check out the quotes up there and how brilliant and evocative they are, and go get this book right now!

As soon as I get a job, I’m snatching up the rest of her books. If they’re half as good as this one, it’ll be money well spent!

Rating: ★★★★★

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Review: Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill

Title: Meant to Be
Author: Lauren Morrill
Genre: YA Fiction
ISBN: 0385741774
Published: Delacorte Press, November 2012
PurchaseAmazon

meant to be

Main Characters: Julia, Jason

Synopsis: Julia is a bookworm. There’s no way around it. She keeps perfectly sharpened #2 pencils in her purse! And her friends bailed on her, so now she’s the only bookworm on the class trip to London. When you’re in high school, it seems like teachers are out to make your lives hell, and Mrs. Tennison is no exception: she assigns partners for the trip. Who does Julia get paired with? Class clown and unruly ginger, Jason. All Julia wants to do is survive this trip and get back to distantly ogling her MTB (Meant To Be), also known as the gorgeous hunk Mark, whom Julia has known since childhood. Is there more to Jason than meets the eye? Furthermore, is there more to Julia…?

Memorable Quotes:

  • I hate to fly. Seriously. HATE IT. It seems wrong to be hurtling through the clouds at warp speed in a metal tube. It makes about as much sense as being flung over the ocean in a slingshot.
  • London is where Mom and Dad went on their honeymoon, and they always talked about coming back here. Dad used to joke that Paris was the city of love for unimaginative folks. “Give me those guards in the big fuzzy hats any day,” he’d say, laughing and planting a kiss on Mom’s forehead. They’d even saved up for a tenth-anniversary trip, but when Dad got sick, the trip was quickly forgotten.
  • “Wow. That’s … wow,” I reply, choking back what I’m really thinking, which includes the phrases “shove it” and “butt munch.” I toss back my glass and manage to mask my disgust for the drink and the company in one fell swoop.
  • His voice cuts right through the London fog, and I’m glued to the bench, unable to take my eyes off him. He stares right back at me, eyes sparkling. He hits every note, even Paul McCartney’s trademark ooohs at various pitches.
  • “Point is, maybe some people wouldn’t want to be around me all day, but there are people out there who would. And they’re smart and funny. And they like some of the things I like and hate some of the things I hate, but they also introduce me to all kinds of new things. That’s as close to ‘meant to be’ as I can imagine.”

Review: This was a completely lovely story. It’s one of those that, again, you pretty much know how it’s going to end, but the journey it takes you on to get there is well worth the ride.

It’s set in London, as mentioned in the synopsis. The class trip is a little over a week, and they’re staying in a very posh hotel. Julia doesn’t even have to deal with a roommate, which is great for her, because she’s one of those “me against the preps” girls. (I used to have that kind of frame of mind too, back in elementary school, but thank goodness I grew out of it!)  She can spread out, fold her clothes, set out her books… and not have to worry about anyone messing it up.

Julia starts off with nothing but distaste for Jason, especially since he spent the whole plane ride over yelling “We’re going down!” every time there’s a semblance of turbulence. Like Julia doesn’t hate flying enough. (This, she and I have in common. See the first Memorable Quote.) That sums up his personality in a nutshell, really: he’s a joker, prankster, doesn’t really care how he’s perceived as long as at least one person is laughing.

In terms of things I didn’t like, SPOILER, Mark shows up in London. Yes, that Mark. Mark and Julia were neighbors when they were children, and they used to have a blast playing together every day. They even staged a pretend marriage! Alas, Mark moved away at some point, and her crush waned, as things do. But then Mark moved back, and it was like he’d never left. Clearly, this was a sign that they were Meant To Be.

At any rate, it turns out that Mark has some sort of connection to the hotel Julia and the kids are staying at, so she bumps into him in the lobby and they end up hanging out a lot. Long story short, Julia realizes Mark is definitely not the guy she thought he was. At all. I didn’t really… like that. I didn’t think it was necessary for him to magically show up. I think she could’ve appreciated Jason on her own, without the contrast of “Oh, Mark sucks, so Jason is clearly the only choice.” I wish she would’ve made the choice on her own, instead of basically having it made for her.

Regardless, this was a completely enjoyable book. The descriptions of London are so vivid and real. I even made myself watch a YouTube video of a trip on the London Eye because it was described so well in the book that I had to see it myself! Sadly, I’ve never been to London. I’ll get there someday, though, and this book gave me a few places I’d like to add to my sightseeing list!

Rating: ★★★★

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Review: The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

Title: The Infinite Moment of Us
Author: Lauren Myracle
Genre: YA Fiction
ISBN: 1-41-970793-0
Published: August 2013, Harry N. Abrams
PurchaseAmazon

infinitely-us

Main Characters: Wren, Charlie, Tessa, P.G., Starrla

Synopsis: Charlie is in love with Wren, but up until today, she didn’t know he existed. Wren has been too focused on being perfect for her parents– perfect grades, perfect career path, perfect lack of boyfriends. Is she willing to throw it all away for Charlie? Is he willing to do the same for her?

Memorable Quotes:

  • She waved at him and smiled, and relief rippled across his features. Immediately he soothed his expression, but she’d seen, for a second, what he really felt. She had the strangest urge to go to him and say, No. Please. Sometimes the things we hide– aren’t they the parts of us that matter most?
  • He replied in his lowest, most serious voice: “I don’t make promises I don’t mean.”
  • She let go of him, and he missed her touch. She turned her back to him and stared up at the sky. Night had fallen, and the first stars had winked their way into existence, twinkling against a palette of inky purples, deep reds, and one last slice of pearly, light-infused blue. It was a blue that reminded Charlie of the ocean, or of pictures of the ocean. He’d never been. He wondered what Wren saw.
  • “Oh,” Tessa said. “You’re jealous.”
    “Am I? Ugh, I guess I am, but only when he picks them over me. But that’s dumb. I know.”
    “I didn’t say it was dumb,” Tessa said. “It’s what you feel, and guess what? Feelings are like three-year-olds. They’re not rational. They’re just there.”
  • How could she be his everything if she, herself, wasn’t enough?

Review: Let me preface this by stating that the only reason I ever put this book down was because it was 4:30am and I literally couldn’t hold the book anymore, let alone keep my eyelids up. But I promptly finished it the next morning (okay, afternoon), before I even rolled out of bed.

I completely enjoyed this book, and it was quite refreshing after the travesty that was the last book I reviewed.

Wren and Charlie fall in love really fast, and and not unrealistically. They’re both young and it’s the first experience of love for both of them. Naturally, that love is also peppered with insecurities. Like any teenage female, Wren struggles with the idea that Charlie could possibly like her over someone, anything else, especially when that someone is the too-attractive Starrla. Charlie’s troubled past and reluctance to share it with Wren isn’t helping those insecurities fade.

Wren is a character that’s very easy for me to identify with. From our insecurities to our thirst for knowledge to our ideas about gun control (“her solution to gun violence would be to make all guns everywhere disappear”), she could be me in a parallel universe.

Wren is an only child, and as such, she’s been spoiled rotten by her parents. They’re not especially rich, but they’ve spoiled her in attention. Naturally, as one is wont to do, you grow out of needing that level of attention, and sometimes the parents just can’t understand why. Wren has reached that point. She wants to live her own life. She doesn’t want her parents to live another life vicariously through her. Understandable, right? Wren has been accepted into the college her mother works at, to pursue the career they want her to do, and they bought her a car (for which her mother wrangled special freshman “car on campus” privileges). But Wren… doesn’t actually want to go there. So she defers her enrollment, deciding to sign up for Project Unity instead (which is like a less-intensive version of the Peace Corps).

The catch? She doesn’t tell her parents she’s done any of that.

Charlie, on the other hand, grew up in the system. The System. Capital T, capital S. He was a foster child. Somewhere along the way, though, he was picked up by Pamela and Chris, and they have treated him well. Treated him as their own. Sometimes Charlie still can’t wrap his head around it, though, drawing on his past experiences with other foster families, knowing it has to go sour at some point. He found asylum as a young teen in Starrla, another broken person, someone who could actually understand what Charlie was going through. It wasn’t love, but it was… something.

Wren and Charlie… their souls touch. They’re truly in love, something neither of them have experienced before. It’s a whole lot of firsts between them, though maybe not the same ones.

The only thing I didn’t like about this book was the ending, really. I was a bit confused, because for all intents and purposes, it looked like she had decided to stay and he had decided to go, so they were going to miss each other by a matter of minutes.

My favorite part of the book, though, is when Wren has decided that love isn’t worth the pain, and she’s going to cut off her nose to spite her face, basically.

“Well … I guess I just realized how hopeless it all was,” she heard herself say. “Love. Relationships. Being with Charlie.”

“Being with Charlie is hopeless?” Tessa said. “Why?”

“It was hopeless from the beginning,” Wren said. “I just convinced myself it wasn’t. I convinced myself that because we loved each other, we should be together, when really, what is love? It’s not something you can prove, is it?”

“Oh, okay,” Tessa said, cocking her head. “Is this because of Starrla? Because of what she said about Charlie?”

Yes, thought Wren. Because he told her, but he didn’t tell me. Because he was afraid to tell me, because he knew it would upset me. Because it has upset me.

“I’m not good enough for him,” she whispered. “His problems are always going to be bigger than mine.”

“So, what, you’re cutting him off like… like a tag on a piece of clothing? Something you can just throw away?”

Wren shrugged. It was easier not feeling things. “There’s no room for me.”

“Wren. You’re being ridiculous.”

“I know.”

“You’re hurting him, and you’re hurting yourself.”

“Yep.”

This excerpt hits home a little bit for me. I tend to do this, all the time. “It’s easier not feeling things.” Every time I develop feelings for someone… the instant I realize it’s happening, I shut it down. There’s no point, I tell myself. They’re not going to like me anyway, so I might as well flip the switch and save myself the trouble of getting hurt somewhere down the line. “I have to learn not to need people,” Wren says. She and I, we’re the exact opposite of risk-takers, building up the walls that we have no intention of scaling.

At any rate, this is a fabulous tale of love, insecurity, and figuring out that real relationships do actually take work.

Rating: ★★★★½

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Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson

Title: The Impossible Knife of Memory
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson
Genre: YA Fiction
ISBN: 0-67-001209-2
Published: 2014, Viking Juvenile
Purchase: Amazon,  River’s End Bookstore (autographed)

memory kinfe
Main Characters:
Hayley, her father, Finn, Gracie, Trish

Synopsis: This story follows a daughter and her PTSD-ravaged war veteran father as they cease trekking the country in an 18-wheeler and settle down in their old hometown. Hayley has been home-schooled for a number of years, but her father wants her to have a normal senior year, graduate, and go to college. She just wants to make sure her father is okay.

Memorable Quotes: 

  • I turned the page in Slaughterhouse Five, a forbidden book at Belmont because we were too young to read about soldiers swearing and bombs dropping and bodies blowing up and war sucking.
  • I swallowed the fear. It’s always there– fear– and if you don’t stay on top of it, you’ll drown. I swallowed again and stood tall, shoulders broad, arms loose. I was balanced, ready to move. My body said, “Yeah, you’re bigger and stronger, but if you touch this, I will hurt you.”
  • I’d given him bits and pieces of my peculiar life, but colored softer and funnier than they had been. I’d painted my dad as Don Quixote in a semi, on a quest for philosophical truths and the best cup of coffee in the nation.
  • “The world is crazy. You need a license to drive a car and go fishing. You don’t need a license to start a family. Two people have sex and bam! Perfectly innocent kid is born whose life will be screwed up by her parents forever.” [Gracie] stood up carefully. “And you can’t do a damn thing about it.”
  • I just knew that I wanted to push him away from me more than I wanted to hold him close.
  • Is there anything worse than making your father cry?

Review: I’ve always been a huge fan of Laurie Halse Anderson. I read Speak in ninth grade. I was in chemistry class and I didn’t learn a thing that day because I was completely absorbed. (I don’t know how I didn’t get in trouble.) I finished the book and all the lights seemed brighter, all the contrasts darker. I read Wintergirls last summer; I’m not sure why I didn’t review it here. I probably thought I didn’t know what to say, or how to say it.

That’s how I feel about The Impossible Knife of Memory. It evokes feelings in you that you can’t describe, the kind that you can only express by hurling the book at your best friend and telling her to read it so you can commiserate together. There are how many words in the English language, and I can’t string any together?

Hayley hasn’t had an easy life. Her mother died when Hayley was very young; her father never speaks of her. While her father was off at war, she was raised by her Grandmother for a while, and then when she died, Trish entered the picture. And then, a few years later, left the picture. That’s when Hayley and her father started traveling the country. Sometimes her dad would feel like settling down, so they’d stop for a while.

Hayley’s father is completely ravaged by PTSD. It’s never mentioned what war he was in, but if the story parallels real life, then it’d be The War on Terror. (Which is, of course, still going on.) He’s afraid of bridges. He’s afraid of toll booths. He’s afraid of himself.

I really liked that the story gave us flashbacks from his perspective, even though the book is told from Hayley’s. It really helps you to understand what he’s dealing with. We see Hayley struggling, trying to hold the two of them together, but you don’t really understand how bad it is until you can get inside his head. You learn why he’s afraid of bridges. Why he’s afraid of himself.

Her father doesn’t cope with therapy and prescription drugs, though. He copes with weed and alcohol and other sorts of destructive behavior. Arrested again? Time to put life back in the semi. But Hayley’s senior year is coming, and as absent-minded as he can be, he does still want the best for his family. They move into the old family home and Hayley starts attending school like a normal girl.

As main of a character as Finn is, their love story is very secondary to the story, I think. Obviously, the real story is between her and her dad. Finn is her helper, her lover, her confidante. I liked that about the story, though. It’s realistic. So many authors seem to think introducing another romantic lead instantly solves every problem the other main character could ever have. But that’s not true, as we know from real life. Her moments with him are sharp and crisp, creating good memories to replace the bad ones that she won’t allow herself to remember. But sometimes the poison still slips through…

I’d like to expand on a quote I listed above, because I think it’s my favorite section of the book (and made me cry):

Is there anything worse than watching your father cry? He’s supposed to be the grown-up, the all-powerful grown-up, especially if he’s a soldier. When I was a kid, I watched him work out, scaling walls, lifting guys bigger than he was, running miles in the heat wearing full gear and carrying extra ammo. My dad was a superhero who made the world safe. He went overseas with his troops and chased the bad guys out of the mountains so that little kids over there could go to school and to the library and use the playground the way I did at home. The first time I saw him cry wasn’t so bad because he still had metal rods sticking into his leg. He was in pain. I understood that. After they pulled out the rods, after Trish left, I’d wake up at night hearing him sob, sniff like a child, like me, tears coming fast and mixing with snot. He’d try to keep quiet, but sometimes the sadness came over him loud as a thunderstorm. Scared the shit out of me, like riding a roller coaster and feeling your seat belt snap just as the track turns you upside down.

My father wasn’t in the military, but he was a “military brat” (as they’re called), and I have much the same feelings about him as Hayley does, I think. He was always a pillar of strength, not emotion. But when he’d snap, it was as though the world’s largest rubber band had been twisting and twisting and finally it couldn’t hold itself together and would just explode. It doesn’t matter, though. You still love him. You still hope. You get scared for yourself and then… you get scared for him. You hope he’ll change. You hope he’ll get better.

When the story ends, everything isn’t wrapped up, which I like. Everything isn’t magically fixed. Hayley is still afraid of drowning. Her father is still afraid of bridges. But you’re left with an imprint of hope, that the worst has passed: things can only get better from here.

Rating: ★★★★½

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Review: Uses For Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt

Title: Uses For Boys
Author: Erica Lorraine Scheidt
Genre: YA Fiction
ISBN: 1-25-00071-19
Published: January 2013, St. Martin’s Griffin

usesforboys
Main Characters: Anna, her mother, Toy

Synopsis: Anna is alone. She has a mother, sort of. She has no father. She never has. She’s trying to grow up on her own, desperately searching for a place to belong or some sort of sign that she’s on the right path, that where she is now is where she’s supposed to be. Every time she makes a new decision– a new apartment, a new friend, a new boy– she hopes it’s the one that will finally make her life make sense. “Tell me again,” she says. Will she ever find a reason to smile?

Memorable Quotes:

  • Nobody wants to be in the lying house. The stepbrothers stay away. They go to their mother’s. They stay with friends. Their rooms are empty. My mom and the stepdad leave early to go to work. They come home late. They come in after I’m supposed to be asleep. They lean and laugh in the hall, bumping into things. They speak too loudly. My mom opens the door and asks why I left the TV on, why all the lights are on. Her voice is strange. Then she walks away leaving the door open and I hear them leaning and bumping in their room.
  • It’s still hot when the school year starts. All the kids already know each other and I am too something for them. Too quiet or strange. Too sad, one girl says.
  • She thinks each Charlie or James or Michael is unique. She forgets the things she says about this one are the same as the things she said about that one. She believes that each one is the one and she says each name like it’s the only man’s name she’s ever said. Tonight she says James like it’s a magic word. She’s going to stay with James, she says.
  • Joey changed everything for me, I want to tell her. I’m not alone. The place where my hand fits in his, that place, that feeling? I belong there.
  • Toy is the star of her stories. Events orbit her like a constellation.
  • She’s wearing high-heeled burgundy shoes with straps around the ankle and there’s a streak of orangey makeup on her collar. I wonder if she’s getting old and if this is what it’s going to be like. Bits of her coming off on her clothes.
  • She has dreadlocks and I think, I always think this when I see girls with dreadlocks, that she knows something about herself that I don’t know about myself.
  • “I couldn’t figure out,” I’d say, “why the boys in my life were nothing like the boys in yours.”

Review: This book reminds me of the way I felt when I was a teenager. Our situations were nothing alike, but I can identify with the overall feeling– not knowing where you’re going, where you belong, if you’re lovable. The early teenage years are a tough few for everyone, I think. Hell, those are themes I still battle with. Anna clearly struggles with depression, and she does tend towards destructive behavior (for a sixteen year old), such as drinking and sex with strangers. I feel like a lot of adults don’t realize that sometimes kids really, really struggle. That depression isn’t just something that adults face. That just because they look good on the outside doesn’t mean they don’t spend their time fighting off demons. It’s always refreshing to see such things explored in novels because it tells me that some people do get it.

This story is beautifully written. You get right into Anna’s head, no holds barred. You see the world straight through her eyes. You hear the stories she makes up in her head, longing to share them with other people. You see the way she looks at Toy, wanting to become her. The way she sees Sam’s family, the way they love each other so purely. I love the descriptions, the way Anna’s always looking at people, trying to figure out what they have that she doesn’t. Contentment. She says at one point, “At the cafe I stare in people’s faces and they catch me, watching. I’m looking for something. Someone. Some sign that I’ve changed.” It’s always jarring to me to read something that so closely identifies the feelings you struggled with in your youth. My entire experience could be summed up with that quote.

Anna, I think, just wants security. Not in the form of doors and locks, but in the knowledge that she is loved, that all the stories she’s heard all her life aren’t just fairy tales, that she can be safe in someone’s arms. Of course, real life intervenes, and it takes a couple of tries to get it right. (Again, something everyone can identify with.)

Thank you to the lovely Sophie for recommending this book to me!

Rating: ★★★★½

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