Author: Michael Thomas Ford
Publication Date: 10/1/08
Blurb (GR): I'm not crazy. I don't see what the big deal is about what happened. But apparently someone does think it's a big deal because here I am. I bet it was my mother. She always overreacts.
Fifteen-year-old Jeff wakes up on New Year's Day to find himself in the hospital. Make that the psychiatric ward. With the nutjobs. Clearly, this is all a huge mistake. Forget about the bandages on his wrists and the notes on his chart. Forget about his problems with his best friend, Allie, and her boyfriend, Burke. Jeff's perfectly fine, perfectly normal, not like the other kids in the hospital with him. Now they've got problems. But a funny thing happens as his forty-five-day sentence drags on—the crazies start to seem less crazy.
Compelling, witty, and refreshingly real, Suicide Notes is a darkly humorous novel from award-winning author Michael Thomas Ford that examines that fuzzy line between "normal" and the rest of us.
It feels a little weird to say that I felt a book about a 45-day program in a juvenile psychiatric unit was really funny. But it was—in parts. This book, written in journal entries from day one of the program until the last day, focuses on Jeff’s evaluation of why he tried to kill himself. His voice is reminiscent of Holden Caulfield, only he doesn’t call everyone phonies—just whackjobs.
Jeff introduces us to the other young adults in the unit, some of whom come and go during his stay. He also has to see a psychiatrist during his time in the program, the delightful Dr. Katzrupus. (or Cat Poop, as Jeff dubs him) At first, I felt like we weren’t getting to know each supporting character well enough but isn’t that the point? I mean, Jeff is in this program solely to figure out what his issues are. These are his journal entries we are reading. And it all felt real—I felt anxious with him, sad for him, mortified with him, and so hopeful that maybe it would all work out. The relationship he had with his sister made me laugh the most, though.
While this book definitely deals with a lot of morbid topics, the feel is decidedly optimistic for the most part. I enjoyed the fact that Jeff was very matter-of-fact about most things and the conversations he had with people didn’t really tiptoe around the serious stuff. His doctor/patient relationship with Dr. Katzrupus was a highlight as well.
I’d definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a male voice in the female-saturated YA world. Though I hope this wouldn’t affect anyone’s choice to read a book or not, there are some M/M sexual scenes. Just putting that out there. I’ll definitely read more from this author.
Looking For Alibrandi
Author: Melina Marchetta
Publication Date: 1992
For as long as Josephine Alibrandi can remember, it’s just been her, her mom, and her grandmother. Now it’s her final year at a wealthy Catholic high school. The nuns couldn’t be any stricter—but that doesn’t seem to stop all kinds of men from coming into her life.
Caught between the old-world values of her Italian grandmother, the nononsense wisdom of her mom, and the boys who continue to mystify her, Josephine is on the ride of her life. This will be the year she falls in love, the year she discovers the secrets of her family’s past—and the year she sets herself free.
Told with unmatched depth and humor, this novel—which swept the pool of Australian literary awards and became a major motion picture—is one to laugh through and cry with, to cherish and remember.
When I was in school, we routinely had to complete projects about our heritage. People asked (and still ask) “what are you?” meaning what is your nationality. A lot of these projects ended up with discussions about why third or fourth generation Americans still call themselves Irish, Italian, Korean, Filipino, Greek, etc. instead of saying they are American first. My blood is pretty watered down at this point—Irish, Swedish, German, Spanish…but it really doesn’t matter. I’m sure kids in other primarily immigrant countries had to do the same kinds of projects/presentations. I identify most with the mish-mash of cultural traditions that my immediate family celebrates and those of my dearest friends than those of any specific country from which my ancestors hailed. Sometimes I wish I was full-blooded something, or at least enough that I could be part of an ethnic community but until American Mutt becomes an ethnic category I think I’m out of luck. It is fun to go crazytime on St. Patrick’s Day, make Pepparkakor, and put sauerkraut on tons of stuff though. As much as I couldn’t connect with Josie’s Italian culture, I totally understood the Catholic school and community situation. It’s a close-knit community and everyone knows everyone else’s business. This is especially true when people have a lot of siblings. (Josie was perhaps lucky in that regard) And feeling guilty about everything? GUILTY! Anyway, I totally understood Josie’s confusion about her identity and her and several other characters’ confusion about their futures.
I kept putting this book off because it was the last contemporary YA Marchetta book that I’d yet to read, and I’ve been told many times that it was probably her weakest book. (which to me meant that it would still be better than 98% of the YA out there) Turns out I think it was my favorite Melina Marchetta reading experience to date. The narrator for the audiobook was perfect. I watched the movie the other day and I almost wished (slash actually did wish) that some of the characters had the narrator’s voice instead of the actors’ voices. I wish I could take back watching the movie because it felt trivial compared the book. I suppose that is what I truly enjoyed most about the book, though—Josie was living everyday life and getting up to no good with her friends, seeing a boy her family might disapprove of, and feuding with a girl at school but all the while she was thinking of her cultural identity, what she would do in the future, how people’s individual life choices affect where their paths go, and about the difference between sadness and pure despair. (I absolutely bawled during the death and funeral scenes)
I think I felt a real affinity to Josie as a student-- our experiences weren’t that far off. All-girl’s Catholic school. Uniforms. Nuns. She is much more of an overachiever than I was. I never cut school but I used to leave early when I had free periods to hang out at my sister’s apartment and play cards and watch movies. (oooo, rebel.) Anyway, I’m sure you all don’t give a crap about my high school antics and really, if you aren’t already reading Melina Marchetta’s books, I don’t know what I could do to persuade you. I could tell you that her books are beautifully written, that each one of them is emotional in a different way, that her characters are multidimensional, that she understands families and friendships more than most authors, and that each one of her books is a favorite of mine. All of that is true, and if you haven’t already started reading her back catalog, you are truly missing out. But if you’re still reading this I bet you’re my friend and you already have read one or more of her books. That’s one of the reasons you are awesome. (Yeah, you.)
Feeling Sorry For Celia
Author: Jaclyn Moriarty
Publication Date: 1/10/02
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Life is pretty complicated for Elizabeth Clarry. Her best friend Celia keeps disappearing, her absent father suddenly reappears, and her communication with her mother consists entirely of wacky notes left on the fridge. On top of everything else, because her English teacher wants to rekindle the "Joy of the Envelope," a Complete and Utter Stranger knows more about Elizabeth than anyone else.
But Elizabeth is on the verge of some major changes. She may lose her best friend, find a wonderful new friend, kiss the sexiest guy alive, and run in a marathon.
So much can happen in the time it takes to write a letter...
A #1 bestseller in Australia, this fabulous debut is a funny, touching, revealing story written entirely in the form of letters, messages, postcards—and bizarre missives from imaginary organizations like The Cold Hard Truth Association.Feeling Sorry for Celia
captures, with rare acuity, female friendship and the bonding and parting that occurs as we grow. Jaclyn Moriarty's hilariously candid novel shows that the roller coaster ride of being a teenager is every bit as fun as we remember—and every bit as harrowing.
HERE IS A REVIEW!!!! RIGHT HERE ON YOUR COMPUTER SCREEN!!!
Like the other Jaclyn Moriarty
book I read recently (Finding Cassie Crazy
), this is written in epistolary format and includes letters, the backs of postcards, and random notes. The notes from Elizabeth’s mother were probably my favorite bits as they all started in a similar way to how I started this review (HERE IS A NOTE!!! RIGHT NEXT TO THE REFRIGERATOR!!! ) and her mother would give her topics to think on and/or discuss—what she thinks of purple nail polish, what a catchy slogan could be for a product, or thoughts on socks. (I have a lot of thoughts on socks and have, on numerous occasions, been accused (rightly) of stealing socks from my roommates. I practice the old “sibling rule” that if you leave it in my room, it becomes mine.) Liz’s mother cracked me up--“I hope you feel better today. Please ring me at work if you are dead."
Because I read one other Ashbury High book before this one, I can’t help but compare and I enjoyed Finding Cassie Crazy
more. The humor was more consistent and I found myself more invested in each of the relationships. The tone here felt more serious and, while I did find much of it humorous, those moments were further apart. (how many times can I say the word ‘more’?) Rather than focusing on a group of friends and their pen pals, Feeling Sorry for Celia
catalogs the formation of one friendship (Liz and her pen pal Christina) while Liz is simultaneously having trouble in her relationship with her best friend Celia. I had a hard time with Celia’s character because she was flighty and (overly) adventurous. I see how Celia’s home situation contributed to her wanderlust but it doesn’t mean that I think she’s a good friend to Liz. The developing friendship between Liz and Christina was lovely, as they both supported each other from the get-go and actually cared what was going on in the other’s life. Celia seemed like one of those friends you dread calling because they will just ramble on about their life and never ask you about how you’re doing.
My friend and I were talking the other day about authors we adore enough to read everything they ever write. I think Jaclyn Moriarty is a kindred spirit. (Anne with an ‘e’ would definitely think so) She is funny, her characters are endearing, and she is successful at wring epistolary YA. Keep doing it, JM, and I will keep buying and reading everything you write. In fact, I have the two remaining Ashbury/Brookfield books already lined up.3.5/5 stars
Author: Cat Patrick
Publication Date: 6/7/11
Publisher: Little Brown
Blurb (GR): Each night when 16 year-old London Lane goes to sleep, her whole world disappears. In the morning, all that's left is a note telling her about a day she can't remember. The whole scenario doesn't exactly make high school or dating that hot guy whose name she can't seem to recall any easier. But when London starts experiencing disturbing visions she can't make sense of, she realizes it's time to learn a little more about the past she keeps forgetting-before it destroys her future.
Part psychological drama, part romance, and part mystery, this thought-provoking novel will inspire readers to consider the what-if's in their own lives and recognize the power they have to control their destinies
London’s mother and best friend know of her memory situation but there is no mention of anyone else knowing—do her peers her teachers know? I feel it is unbelievable if they don’t. There is no way that someone can write notes for their entire life and keep them detailed enough to pass as a normal in everyday life. Right? Think of all the details. Updating herself on every day of her life every single morning? I’m skeptical. Another point that creeped me out a bit was London’s relationship with Luke. If every day is the first day you are meeting someone, it is beyond creepy that you would ever sleep with him. Or love him. Sure, I can see London trusting herself in her notes but she really had no reason to because she repeatedly wrote what she wanted
next-day London to know, not what actually happened or what she needed to know. Neither Luke nor London are having a normal relationship here and I didn’t find myself rooting for either of them.
The mystery element of this book builds slowly and then just punches you in the face at the end. In a bad way. I know I would’ve enjoyed this book more if the unraveling was simpler. (click to see the spoilers through my Goodreads review)
And I know that television shows exaggerate the amount of evidence that DNA and bodies can confirm but (also, spoiler on Goodreads review)
All in all, I still thought this book was an okay read. The problems I had were all plot and character related rather than dealing with the writing style. I’ll read more of this author's works.3/5 stars
You had me, Cat Patrick. You had me for a significant portion of this novel. Then you totally lost me. You did, however, inspire me to read up on short-term memory loss. For those of you wondering what the heck that has to with anything, this book’s main character is a teenage girl who “resets” every morning around 4am. Each night, she writes notes for herself of things she needs to read for school, what she should wear tomorrow, and any developments with family and friends. The entire book keeps the reader wondering what the impetus for the memory loss was and whether London Lane (yes) will be able to regain some of her lost memories.
A Monster Calls
Author: Patrick Ness (from an idea by Siobhan Dowd), illus. by Jim Kay
Publication Date: 9/15/11
Publisher: CandlewickBlurb (GR):
This is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss. The monster showed up just after midnight. As they do. But it isn’t the monster Conor’s been expecting. He’s been expecting the one from his nightmare, the nightmare he’s had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming. . . .
This monster, though, is something different. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor.
It wants the truth.
Patrick Ness spins a tale from the final story idea of Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer prevented her from writing it herself. Darkly mischievous and painfully funny, A Monster Calls is an extraordinarily moving novel about coming to terms with loss from two of our finest writers for young adults.Review:
Last Fourth of July, I played a party game called Time’s Up
with some friends. The gist of the game is that everyone has a partner and you start with a certain number of cards as a group—say 40. Each one has a different movie/television show/book title on it and you use the same cards for the entire game so if you have great recall, the game is much easier. In the first round, you try to get your partner to guess the title by describing the movie without using specific words. (like Taboo
) The second round involves trying to get your partner to guess the movie by saying one
word. The third round is charades. This game is hilariously fun because I get to watch people try to act out Bridge on the River Kwai
and to see what the one word they’d pick is to sum something up. So many books are utterly forgettable. I read too much to remember all the details of everything over time. I reached 1,000 books read last week and so what if somewhere around 150 of those are children’s books, it is still a milestone. 1,000 books further down the line, I’ll still remember A Monster Calls
. While it would be a completely useless one word sum-up for the party board game, the one word for this book is beautiful because it is just that, inside and out.
I think it is lovely that Patrick Ness
took a story idea from an author we lost too early, Siobhan Dowd
. I’d read reviews of A Monster Calls
before going into it so I knew what I was getting into, but in case you don’t, this is about a boy dealing with losing his mother to cancer. I have not experienced the loss of a parent but this book did not feel emotionally manipulative to me, and from what I’ve taken away from other reviews, the feelings reflected by Conor ring true for at least a large portion of people who have gone through that nightmare themselves. No part of the book felt cliché to me either, which I frankly found surprising. There is an absolute skill to taking a heavier theme, writing a book for children or young adults, and making it not only accessible but I daresay appealing
to adults. I’ve never read anything Ness has written beyond this but I definitely will be doing so. He isn’t condescending to children. He doesn’t tell saccharine fairy tales, and I loved that. I guessed what the monster was there for all along but that takes nothing away from the book and the way the yew tree was brought into the story, through references and illustrations by Jim Kay
was perfect. On Kay’s website, he discusses the cover image and says,
“I have very fond childhood memories of being in the back seat of a car watching fields and farmland rush by. During the hour of twilight, the familiar objects began to lose their definition, became dark, anonymous forms. The countryside at night through the window of a car was both frightening and compelling; the everyday merged with the unknown, and this is how Patrick’s story felt to me.” (1
You and me, both, Mr. Kay. The eerie artwork paired perfectly with Conor's story. The whole book felt like he was stuck in an in-between place, which I suppose he was. Those aren't places I like to spend a lot of time but every once in a while...
I won a signed copy of this from my friend Jo
's blog, Wear the Old Coat
. It was definitely a prized treasure of mine from the moment I unwrapped the parcel.5/5 stars
Sisters in Sanity
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication Date: 9/1/07
"Where are they taking me?"
"It's for your own good, Brit," Dad said.
I was shoved into a small, stuffy room, and the door was locked behind me. I waited for my dad to realize he'd made a terrible mistake and come get me.
But he didn't.
For sixteen-year-old Brit Hemphill, it's hard to know who she can trust. Convinced she's out of control, her father has sentenced her to Red Rock: a center for supposedly rebellious teens, where the therapy consists of name-calling and the girls who get privileges are the ones who rat out their peers.
But then Brit meets V, Bebe, Martha, and Cassie—four girls who keep her from going over the edge. Together, they'll hold on to their sanity and their sisterhood despite the bleak Red Rock reality. Review:
Sometimes I am just not excited to read a book. (What up, book club?) I knew of Gayle Forman
from her book If I Stay
, which I wrote a gushing review of a few months back. A few of us decided to read this lesser-known work of hers together this week. I was excited to read the book because of the author and because I was reading it with friends…but not so excited about the subject matter. I assumed that this was rather well-worn territory, what with Girl Interrupted
and all. Also, I wasn’t in the mood for a depressing book. Sisters in Sanity
surprised me in a good way, and I definitely recommend it to those who are interested in YA books related to mental health issues/treatment.
Brit Hemphill lives with her father and her stepmonster. Her mother isn’t in the picture and I don’t want to spoil where she is so I’ll leave it at that. Her parents owned a coffeehouse in Portland during her formative years so she rubbed elbows with all sorts of famous musicians and took up the guitar, teaching herself how to play for the most part. Because of her mother’s absence and her father’s relationship (and subsequent child), Brit spends as much time out of the house as possible, mostly playing and touring with her band. When her father and stepmother make her go on a family vacation to the Grand Canyon, Brit is angry she’ll miss a gig but obliges. Only she isn’t going to the Grand Canyon—her dad is dropping her off at a juvenile rehabilitation center because she is “out of control.”
Anger. That’s the emotion I felt for most of the book, not sadness. I was livid with Brit’s father. Absolutely wanted (and still want) to punch that man in the face. How could he do that to his child?
I was expecting the novel to follow the Girl, Interrupted storyline and, for the most part, it did. I was pleasantly surprised, however, at the supporting cast of characters (who were far more balanced than those with Susanna Kaysen) and the relationship between Brit and Jed, her bandmate. His letters and the description of the time they spent together were both lovely and I loved the story behind the firefly references.
The writing flowed really well and all three of us that read it finished it in a day. (as far as I know) I did feel that the ending wrapped things up just a bit too perfectly, then again I am a fan of leaving things hanging—well, if it is realistic. 3.25/5 stars
Before I Die
Author: Jenny Downham
Publication Date: 4/5/07
Publisher: David Fickling Books
Tessa has just months to live. Fighting back against hospital visits, endless tests, drugs with excruciating side-effects, Tessa compiles a list. It’s her To Do Before I Die list. And number one is Sex. Released from the constraints of ‘normal’ life, Tessa tastes new experiences to make her feel alive while her failing body struggles to keep up. Tessa’s feelings, her relationships with her father and brother, her estranged mother, her best friend, and her new boyfriend, all are painfully crystallised in the precious weeks before Tessa’s time finally runs out.Review:
Tessa has been treated for leukemia for the past four years. Now, since her treatment options have been exhausted, she is spending her last few months completing a list of things she wants to do before she dies. The list includes some predictable items (breaking a few laws, driving, having sex) and a few curveballs (experiencing love, getting her parents back together) but most of the book is dedicated to Tessa’s experiences as she attempts to finish her list and come to terms with her death.
Have you ever seen that Dane Cook standup bit where he talks about how we cry? He starts off talking about how you just start out crying and then it goes downhill from there as we imagine all the worst things possible to make us cry even harder. I’m not advocating Dane Cook’s standup (I’m much more of a Jim Gaffigan girl) but I always laugh at Cook’s crying bit because he’s pretty spot-on. I read the first 50 pages of this when I was PMSing and I was like “This is so awful! It must be so terrible for Tessa and her family. She’ll never get to do x. She’ll never get to do y. Oh my God, it must be terrible for these families. Losing a child is horrible. This is awful for her brother. What if I lost MY brother? What if I died? What if one of my siblings died? I miss my grandparents. I can’t believe I wasn’t more there for my friend when she lost x. What will I do when I lose my parents?!” and by this point I can’t even open my eyes. So, yeah, I put this one back down for a week. Aaaand, when I picked it back up, I was able to complete most of the book with a straight face. (until the ending, when I totally lost it again) But the point is that I was mostly crying because I exacerbated the situation by my own volition. You might not cry in this one.
The writing in this one is pretty solid but I’m a little ashamed to say that Tessa is a frustrating character. She has a right to be selfish but she goes beyond that--she is often unnecessarily mean at times, mostly to her father. Her mother, on the other hand, deserves all the meanness Tessa could dish out to her. (which, sadly, doesn’t really happen) It takes a certain type of horribleness to abandon your sick child. It’s hard to know what to do when people are sick, or how to help your friends when they are losing or have lost someone. We are all pretty much winging it. But just being there is often enough—and Tessa’s mother couldn’t even be present for years of her daughter’s illness. She can join the father from another recent read of mine, Sisters in Sanity
, in the Awful YA Parent Club.
I felt like the most interesting part of the book had nothing to do with Tessa’s list or her budding love. I most enjoyed her interactions with her brother. The factoids they shared and the frank discussions about what happens when you die were so interesting to me—I’m still thinking about the way the author described being buried under an apple blossom tree. (I loved that bit) And I also really enjoyed Tessa’s notes to her family and Zoey. These arent’ really spoilers, in case anyone is wondering…
I have no clue who I would recommend this to. My Goodreads friends are all over the ratings scale and I’m staking my flag down in the 3-star zone. I guess if you “enjoy” books about death and dying, or if you are looking for a cry, this might be a good pick for you. I mean, sometimes I watch Little Women just to cry when Beth dies. We’re all a little messed up—at least, I hope it’s not just me.
Author: Tabitha Suzuma
Publication Date: 6/28/11
Publisher: Simon PulseBlurb (GR):
Seventeen-year-old Lochan and sixteen-year-old Maya have always felt more like friends than siblings. Together they have stepped in for their alcoholic, wayward mother to take care of their three younger siblings. As defacto parents to the little ones, Lochan and Maya have had to grow up fast. And the stress of their lives—and the way they understand each other so completely—has also also brought them closer than two siblings would ordinarily be. So close, in fact, that they have fallen in love. Their clandestine romance quickly blooms into deep, desperate love. They know their relationship is wrong and cannot possibly continue. And yet, they cannot stop what feels so incredibly right. As the novel careens toward an explosive and shocking finale, only one thing is certain: a love this devastating has no happy ending.Review:
I was talking to Lyndsey
about how it feels to have a brother and the best example I could come up with is this: It feels like that force when you try to put two similar magnetic poles together, but right at that moment when it starts to push away. The love I have for my brother is so strong but he repulses me at the same time. I mean, he’s great as an adult but he is the same kid who once filled his Skeletor action figure with urine and sprayed all 3 of his sisters with it. He is the same brother who once fed 4-year old Flann a concoction of mostly Tabasco sauce while we were being babysat. (My mother made him drink it when she came home, FYI) He is the same brother who used to put his stuffed Hulk Hogan resting above his doorframe so if we tried to come in, it’d fall on us. And he is the same kid that said, “Polly want a cracker?” like a parrot all the way from Texas to Seattle on a road trip. (according to my mother) How anyone could ever be attracted to their sibling is beyond me. I do understand that it happens, usually in highly stressful family situations, but I just couldn’t get over my repulsion while I was reading Forbidden
. I wonder what the correlation is between people who enjoyed this book and whether or not they have brothers. Oh, I guess I was assuming that everyone who would read this review would already know what this book is about. If you don’t, SURPRISE! It’s about incest. (well, really it is about being in a terrible family situation)
This is written in first-person present, which really isn’t my favorite style, but I couldn’t get over the following:
“Summer gives way to autumn. The air turns sharper, the days grow shorter, gray clouds and persistent drizzle alternating with cold blue skies and bracing winds. Willa loses her third tooth, Tiffin attempts to cut his own hair when a supply teacher mistakes him for a girl…” What
is this? Most of the book reads like personal journal entries from Lochan and Maya’s present alternating perspectives but every once in a while there would be sections of text that were reflections on long periods of time. Overall, I thought the dual perspectives were successful but who writes their present thoughts like this?Dear diary,
Winter approaches faster than usual this year. Crisp, frigid air creeps into town with snowstorms right behind it. I made chicken casserole for dinner tonight. I cooked the chicken too long so it was a bit dry.
A bit jarring, eh? That’s an extreme example of what I am talking about but you get the point.
I want to make a comment on the names in this book but can someone named Flannery actually do that with a straight face? I’m not even going to tell you my other family members’ names—let’s just say it would be the pot calling the kettle black on this one. (though we DO all have Irish names so at least there’s a theme!) Willa, Tiffin, Kit, Maya, and Lochan? It reminded me of that quote from Baby Mama when the one mother reminds her kids that they have a playdate later with Wingspan and Banjo.
I found the whole story a bit predictable but was it entertaining? Definitely. And the sex scenes were really well-done, even though it makes me feel really creepy and dirty to say so. I have absolutely no idea what makes people love or hate this—my Goodreads friends are all over the spectrum and not in a predictable way. If you can stomach reading about an incestuous relationship, give it a go. It is worth the read but it was just a 2.5-3 for me.
Thanks for sending me a copy, Arlene:) 3.5/5 stars
Where She Went
Author: Gayle Forman
Publication Date: 4/25/11
Publisher: Dutton JuvenileBlurb (GR):
It's been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam's life forever.
Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard's rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia's home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future - and each other.
Told from Adam's point of view in the spare, lyrical prose that defined If I Stay
, Where She Went
explores the devastation of grief, the promise of new hope, and the flame of rekindled romance.Review:
My heart gushed rivers of love when I reviewed If I Stay
. I listened to the audiobook and just adored it because it felt like Gayle Forman
tapped into my heartbeat and the rhythm beat right through to the end. I put off reading Where She Went
because I wasn’t ready for another heartache. As it turns out, this is a rare instance where the sequel (or companion) has an entirely different tone than its predecessor. Rightly so, as Where She Went
is told from Adam Wilde’s point of view, whereas If I Stay
was primarily about Mia, his ex-girlfriend. In regards to spoilers, it is near impossible to have anything to say about this book without spoilering things about the first, but I think WSW can stand on its own even if you do
know the setup. That said, I’m not going to use spoiler html on anything related to If I Stay
. Since Mia decided to come out of her comatose state, she’s been studying at Juilliard. Adam’s band, Shooting Star, shot to the top of the charts and he is recognized everywhere he goes. The band’s two albums are filled with songs Adam wrote, and it should come as no surprise who served as the inspiration for all the lyrics. While he is dating a famous actress and has achieved so much musical success, Adam is disillusioned with life and the way Mia left things when she cut him off cold. Before he embarks on a world tour, he goes to one of Mia’s cello performances and gets the chance to speak with her afterward. Cue the life and relationship analysis…
Several reviewers have mentioned that this book wasn’t as enjoyable as it could’ve been because Adam seems overly angst-ridden for nearly the entire thing. Sure, I can see that. The whole thing just felt over-the-top, I agree, but I just loved the two of them together so I wanted
to think their relationship could define Adam’s whole being, his anger, his disillusionment. I wanted
to believe that he was missing his perfect complement. It was so interesting to me because the first book felt like an exercise in grief at the time I listened to it. I see now that, just like in life, the time right after a death is surreal. It doesn’t hit home for everyone at the same time. That
book is about losing someone. (or many someones) This book is about the actual recognition of loss and the crisis that follows, whether it be from the end of a life or the end of a meaningful relationship. As someone who has seen what a terrible breakup can do to a person, it didn’t feel like Adam’s actions were beyond the realm of possibility. True, he was sometimes a prick. True, it didn’t seem like he tried to move on. I was just rooting for him to get his own life back together. Where She Went
reads like a novella. I watched as the percentage completed on my Kindle just flew by. For me, there were a few negative points—the lyrics at the beginning of each chapter (not because they were awful, only because it is cliché) and Mia, for starters. She came off as self-involved and I didn’t enjoy how aloof she seemed. I felt like I was holding my breath through a tunnel until the two of them actually start talking about something real
. After that point, it was a much more comfortable read, despite the plot remaining heavy.
I was both happy and disappointed at the conclusion of Where She Went.
I have to spoiler it and, for that, I apologize. **SPOILERS**I don’t think I’m encouraged by Adam and Mia getting back together right away. Mia has had 3 years to build up a life for herself. She said herself that Juilliard was more than she ever thought it could be. She thought of Adam but he didn’t define her. Adam, on the other hand, spent the last three years missing her, writing songs about her, and taking antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills to compensate for the void. He never had that time after the breakup to actually figure out who he is. They get back together—great, except I am still unsure how much he understands about himself. He seemed so willing to just give everything up for her…and I kind of believe he would do just that if she asked him. That’s depressing.**END SPOILERS**
Many people loved Adam in If I Stay
and if you were one of them, I’m fairly confident you’ll enjoy this one as well. Forman does a good job of creating a realistic male voice and painting raw emotions on the page. And to the rest of you, if you can handle the angst and the foreverlove foreverandalways, give it a try. Hey, at least there’s not a love triangle.
I loved this video. The author gives a tour of many of the sites from Mia and Adam's whirlwind NYC adventure.
Gone (Dream Catcher, #3)
Author: Lisa McMann
Publication Date: 2/9/10
Publisher: Simon Pulse (audio publisher: Brilliance Audio)
Blurb (GR): Janie thought she knew what her future held. And she thought she’d made her peace with it. But she can’t handle dragging Cabel down with her. She knows he will stay with her, despite what she sees in his dreams. He’s amazing. And she’s a train wreck. Janie sees only one way to give him the life he deserves: She has to disappear. And it’s going to kill them both.
Then a stranger enters her life — and everything unravels. The future Janie once faced now has an ominous twist, and her choices are more dire than she’d ever thought possible. She alone must decide between the lesser of two evils. And time is running out. . . .
Now, I'm not saying that length and quality are completely connected. (they're definitely not) All I am saying here is that the entire Dream Catcher series is shorter than many adult novels and is half the length of some middle grade series. There just isn't much going on--and there wasn't enough substance for me. Sure, I enjoyed the writing. Sure, I thought the story was interesting. But when it came to writing a review, I felt like there just wasn't enough
. This series is the first where I just do not understand the 5-star reviews. The gushing love out of every bodily crevice. (I take it back. I also don't really understand Mortal Instruments, Twilight, and a few others) Perhaps people just fell in love with the writing style and I missed out on it with the audiobooks. However, I read the last section of the first book (Wake
) and didn't love that.
I doubt anyone will be reading this review that hasn't read the preceding two books but here is a recap of the series in three sentences: In book one, Janey, who lives with her alcoholic mother, figures out that she falls into people's dreams and falls for a neighbor boy who is actually (SPOILERa narc for the copsEND SPOILER)
and she helps solve a drug ring. In book two, Janey and Cabel help figure out which teacher at school is sleeping with students and Janey comes to know more about the ramifications of her "gift." Book three just wraps things up...I guess. I just finished it yesterday and I had to actually think hard
about what actually happened plot-wise. Not much. I feel like a total jerk. The second book definitely has the most going for it--substance and story-wise.
Anyway, if you are at all curious about the series, I'd recommend it. It takes a nanosecond to read all three and they are enjoyable. Just don't be expecting anything earth-shattering. 3/5 stars