2.5 stars Entertaining, but this one tackles a few too many topics (view spoiler)[new girl trying to fit in, gang rape of a 14-year-old, physical abus2.5 stars Entertaining, but this one tackles a few too many topics (view spoiler)[new girl trying to fit in, gang rape of a 14-year-old, physical abuse, is the wealthy fiancé the right relationship, superficial mother, mass shooting at high school, career maneuverings, etc, etc (hide spoiler)] and doesn't really resolve any of them in a satisfactory manner. Liked the arch narrative voice (even with the over-emphasis on material goods...we get it, she's seeking security) but I think this needed more cohesion and streamlining, as well as better pacing and build-up of tension in the second half. The payoff is also far too predictable and underwhelming.
I'd check out a future book by this author, though.["br"]>["br"]>...more
2.5 stars Love the narrative voice, and the idea of a book about blending a family (including the girl's recently out father and his new boyfriend). T2.5 stars Love the narrative voice, and the idea of a book about blending a family (including the girl's recently out father and his new boyfriend). There are a few sweet moments, and some touching, if brief, memories of a mom who has passed away.
But Stewart seems really young--so much so that this reads almost more like middle grade, except that there are some unpleasant things that happen later on which would make this inappropriate for a younger age group. He's nerdy and endearing, but he feels very much like a character--his perspective doesn't feel like a thirteen-year-old boy's at all.
I also really, really disliked Ashley, the other POV. I'm pretty patient with YA characters, and obviously her parents' divorce is hard on her. But she is a selfish, shallow brat, plain and simple, and the very few redeeming things she eventually does aren't enough to negate all the terrible, mean-spirited, and dumb things she says and does throughout the rest of the book. I guess she's supposed to be a Cher-from-Clueless type character, but this misses the mark in making her at all sympathetic or interesting.
I'm kind of annoyed at two serious moments that feel jarring in this type of lighthearted narrative, too. (view spoiler)[Rape comes up twice, as does someone taking compromising photos on a cell phone. (hide spoiler)] And actually, there's another thing--a hate crime directed towards Ashley's father. We move past these incidents too quickly and without enough thought for the physical and emotional consequences. I expect more out of any book, let alone a book written for young readers.
So--a very mixed bag for me. I'm not the audience for this book, but beyond that, I'm not really sure who the audience would really be.
An review copy was provided by the publisher.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
Astonishing. After reading Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland, I was curious why the third victim featured in it so little, although all of the gAstonishing. After reading Hope: A Memoir of Survival in Cleveland, I was curious why the third victim featured in it so little, although all of the girls seem to be on good terms and wish each other well. In reading this, it's clear that the perpetrator's first victim had already suffered so much before she ever even got into the car with Ariel Castro (bitter poverty, abuse, homelessness, having her son taken by CPS), and that she was isolated from the other girls and treated very differently. It makes total sense to me that she chose to write her own story, and I hope that she and her son have the chance to connect sometime when he's older.
I have such admiration for how resilient all three of these girls are, and how incredibly open and generous and forgiving they all seem to be towards each other and towards what happened to them. The fact that these horrific things happen are just--unimaginable to me, but hearing these stories of survival are both touching and awe-inspiring.
A note the writing: it's remarkably concise and clear-headed, as well as riveting. Both this book and HOPE are well-structured and written, in a way that many of these memoirs are not, so hat tip to both sets of collaborators on helping these girls tell their stories. ...more
Wow. I'm glad this wasn't the first Julie James book I read, because it's apparently one of her earliest ones and the difference in the maturity/qualiWow. I'm glad this wasn't the first Julie James book I read, because it's apparently one of her earliest ones and the difference in the maturity/quality of her writing is surprising. All the previous books I've read by this author have been smart and flirty, but what I read of this one felt like a huge cliche. The heroine is unprofessional and uppity, and the guy is a Hollywood stereotype and a huge jerk. (To be fair, I almost never like Hollywood stories because they are usually so uninformed and cliched. But still.)
DNF after a few of their painfully unimaginative interactions. I couldn't take any more.
P.S. Wow, look at all the high ratings for this one, though! Color me surprised. Her other books are among the best contemporary romances out there, and they're so much better than this....more
Every time I read stories like these, I'm so in awe of the resiliency of the human spirit. These girls were treated like animals, and yet just two yeaEvery time I read stories like these, I'm so in awe of the resiliency of the human spirit. These girls were treated like animals, and yet just two years after their ordeal ended, they seem remarkably grounded and happy and sure of themselves. I hope the rest of their lives are filled with joy--they've more than earned it.
A note on the writing: I have to say that the actual book is very well put together, too. The girls' two voices are distinct and their diary entries/narration are compelling. The writers who helped them with this project did a great job with the structure of the overall book (unlike A Stolen Life, for example) to help us see the timeline and to provide important context. ...more