3.5 stars Seriously, how cute is this book? It makes you remember feeling shy and giggly and melty-puddly around the guy you like. *sigh*
It took me a3.5 stars Seriously, how cute is this book? It makes you remember feeling shy and giggly and melty-puddly around the guy you like. *sigh*
It took me a bit to get into the story and I didn't love the music-heavy playlist conceit, though the latter was obviously the pitch that got the book sold. (view spoiler)[I was also a bit upset over the way June repeatedly put down other characters' ignorance or lack of smarts, both internally and verbally. Denigrating someone's intelligence is one of the worst things you can do in my book, and while one sexist pig of a character in particular deserved to be put in his place, I was still bothered by the number of times this issue came up, and not just with him. But I'm glad that later on, June comes to see partially why he behaved that way, and that her expectations of other people were challenged. (hide spoiler)] I'm never crazy about books set up around prom either (I genuinely didn't care about it in high school and I still don't!), but I know it's a big thing to a lot of kids so I'll tolerate the cheesiness because it's written so sincerely and with such good humor.
I enjoyed everything else so thoroughly. The book is diverse and sex-positive. The school routine feels solid and real. June and her affectionate, razzy friendship with her gay BFF Shaun gave me warm fuzzies. Oliver's girlfriend isn't a stereotypical bitch. June's girlfriends are so fun and funny, and it all feels so comfortable and familiar, like you were hanging out with TV characters you've been watching for years. Everyone has agency, everyone is memorable. (view spoiler)[I didn't love Itch, but hey, neither did June. I did love the whole way their break-up unfolded, though, especially the very end. (hide spoiler)]
The book also portrays another notable thing exceptionally well. One of the most fundamentally life-changing things occurs when you're a teenager: the realization that your parents aren't necessarily who you thought they were. The maelstrom of complicated feelings that arise from that aren't to be taken lightly, and in the context of this romance, it's handled with just the right touch.
And all that is before we even talk about Oliver and June. Guuuuys. They are so flipping cute! Because they're both with other people in the beginning and they're forced to spend time together, they have to learn about each other slowly and become friends first. They know each other before anything ever happens, and it's so ooey-gooey good watching them fall for each other.
Technically speaking, there were a few minor things that I think might've been smoothed out or fleshed out a bit more; the whole issue with why June's not driving, for example, and a few other random bits like suddenly finding out she volunteers with animals late in the book.
But the book is a really well-crafted contemporary otherwise. The characters are believable, all of them evolve in their story arcs, and the author made me care about what happens to everyone. And it's cuuute. So cute.
Excited to see what this author, who is a writer for GREY'S ANATOMY, does next. I might have to try watching that show after all.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
(view spoiler)[HAVE I MENTIONED HOW CUTE THIS BOOK IS? <3 <3 <3 <3 (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
A lot of good thrillers came out in 2015, but it looks like 2016 is the year of the obscure, "literary," incredibly dull thriller. I don't mind introsA lot of good thrillers came out in 2015, but it looks like 2016 is the year of the obscure, "literary," incredibly dull thriller. I don't mind introspective or slow-moving stories at all, but the characters need to be interesting, and I shouldn't keep thinking of the word "plodding" as I slog through the plot.
Sometimes whole chapters/several chapters would pass by with little to no dialogue, with painfully uninspired prose. Then something disastrous would happen, but so suddenly and out of the blue (and with so little reaction) that I often had to reread to make sure I understood what had just happened. This is a pretty run-of-the-mill crazy ex psychological thriller (view spoiler)[hah hah hah, "thriller" (hide spoiler)], except that it's boring and lacking in any kind of suspense, with some vague, might-as-well-be-non-existent supernatural (or is it?) bits thrown in to distract you.
Added to this are what seem to be pretensions of deeper themes and very little characterization to speak of. Frankly, I think the little girl's Hurt Sheep plushie garners the most feeling. (view spoiler)[Which says a lot, considering the husband seems to be some kind of devil? But trust me, that's not nearly as interesting as it sounds. (hide spoiler)]
Audiobook narrated by Ryan Gesell and Michael Crouch (along with an author's note), who do an excellent job of portraying LBook 3 for GLBT Book Month.
Audiobook narrated by Ryan Gesell and Michael Crouch (along with an author's note), who do an excellent job of portraying Lily and Dunkin. This is a pretty straightforward story; it's kind of cute at first, and transgender rep is definitely very much needed, particularly in MG. (I'm also curious about how some of the bipolar symptoms manifest, which I wasn't familiar with before.)
But neither kid's story ended up being as insightful or emotional or compelling as I'd hoped, and somehow the voice never struck me as sounding hugely authentic. Sometimes the voice sounded true, particularly in Dunkin's humor, but I was very conscious of the adult writing the story in other parts. It's not even being spoiled by books like George, which was written by a transgender person; there are plenty of middle grade books written by adults that didn't strike me this way. There was also a bit of a tonal disconnect for me--the kids are in seventh grade, which I think is usually younger YA age? But the language and plot and emotions and characters made it feel like a middle grade book (which also seemed to e how it's marketed). Aside from a couple of different elements that could've been tweaked, it sits firmly in grade school in my mind.
It's a very positive book, and it's a positive thing that it exists and perhaps might be of some help to a child going through similar experiences. I especially appreciated the frank discussion of hormones and other particulars that you don't always see, and any book that might open a kid's heart to empathy and compassion is something I'm all for. But if you've read a fair amount of glbt lit, or even a lot of contemporary fiction for kids, this might not be a book that leaves a huge impact.
An audio review copy was provided by the publisher....more