Jesus, this is a hard book to rate. I could probably justify any star-rating I choose to give it. In many ways, it was like a drive-by smack in the fa...moreJesus, this is a hard book to rate. I could probably justify any star-rating I choose to give it. In many ways, it was like a drive-by smack in the face. Shocking, painful, and it leaves you feeling bewildered, while at the same time forcing you to acknowledge your own being.
This is quite a powerful book about loss and the search for answers to impossible questions. At times it was quite uncomfortable to read, for it was filled with such raw emotion and honesty, but at the same time, it was too intense to leave alone for long.
About a year ago, my grandfather, whom I was quite close to, died of a brain aneurism, which was both unexpected and a long time coming. My family and I spent the next fews days just rehashing the event over and over again, also dissecting all the ways my grandfather seemed unhealthy in his last few weeks, from forgetting his car keys to complaining of a cramp in his sides. Next to my grandmother, I was the most inconsolable. I believe "crazy raging vindictive bitch" would be the best way to describe how I was feeling in the following weeks. I was angry at everyone. If they weren't crying, I wasn't happy because I wanted everyone to visibly feel as devastatingly miserable as I was. I also engaged in a myriad of irrational, self-destructive behavior like driving our mini-van into a stone wall (the reason as to why I don't have my license as of yet) and toppling over a refrigerator (the reason why my grandmother has a new fridge)….yeah, I was not pleasant. I can't even imagine how I would react if it was my father, a father who had just committed suicide. So I could relate to Eddie for the most part.
This isn't a book that one has fun reading. I'm not even sure if I liked it, but I am sure that I loved it (does that make sense?). The characters, even the narrator, were tremendously flawed, and at times infuriating. It was hard to predict their response to anything, but that is one reason I liked these characters so much, even the douche bag. They were too complex to love or hate holistically.
I am warning you now. There are no definite endings or answers in this book. But I think that only adds to the novel. Grief can never be summarized or summed up.
And I loved the prose. It was lyrical and sparse. Exactly what I like.
I will definitely be reading more of Courtney Summer's novels. (less)
I always knew you had it in you, Caletti. I've read a few books of yours, and while they were good, certainly more substantial than most YA literature...moreI always knew you had it in you, Caletti. I've read a few books of yours, and while they were good, certainly more substantial than most YA literature, there has always been something missing. I think, whatever that is, you've found it.
Clara is at the age when she is supposed to spending time with her friends in the last summer before college and her future starts. Instead, her and her father have packed their bags and are leaving town to spend the summer in small coastal town where no one knows who they are. A place where no one can find them.
Clara is escaping from her ex-boyfriend, Christian, an intense, needy boy who just isn't able to let her ago. After nearly two years of jealous accusations, futile discussions, criticisms, and endless and insistent reassurances, Clara has decided she has had enough, although Christian is determined to do anything to make her stay.
I loved this book because it featured an abusive relationship in a realistic light. These relationships are not romantic. They are unhealthy and tragic and just wrong. What I loved about Clara is that she understood that. Once she saw Christian for what he was - a psychologically disturbed young man, she was scared, and rightfully so. And she wasn't weak for falling for him in the first place. Perhaps as a reader, we were able to look into her life, as she did in retrospect, and pick out all the clues and warning signs, but I don't think anyone should blame her or assign guilt. I just like how the relationship and its aftermath was portrayed. Realistically, yet somehow sympathetically. I've never been in anything close to such a destructive romance, but I was still able to relate to Clara perfectly. I understand that it was not her fault, it was something that happened to her, and she was brave to handle it as she did. Quite a refreshing outlook in comparison to other YA novels that portray abusive (because either emotionally or physically, it is abusive) relationships as romantic, can't-live-without-you, I-know-what's-best-for-you, let-me-watch-you-while-you-sleep love.
I also love the relationship between Clara and her father. I wish I had such an awesome relationship with my father. They were open with each other, had good witty banter, were friends but it was still clear it was a father/daughter relationship. Kind of like the relationship between Lorelai and Rory Gilmore. Clara's father was an influential and active part of Clara's life, and was his own character with his own complexities. Unlike most YA novels, he is not just a plot device.
One thing I've loved about every Caletti novel I've read is the writing. I just think she is spectacular. Although some of her syntax may be clumsy, her prose is overall lyrical and very, very truthful. Every chapter is like a goldmine, with little nuggets of awesome found everywhere. She has a way of taking the most ordinary, every day things and relating it to the meaning of the universe or something. People have a way of not noticing ordinary things, just because we become so accustomed to them. Caletti has a habit of pointing out the overlooked things, and casting them in a new, sometimes bittersweet, light.
I also loved the footnotes. They were so cute. And often very, very funny. Clara is quirky, charming, and real.
The only aspect of the novel that didn't exactly hit home with me was the rather optimistic relationship between Clara and Finn. It was cute and all, but perhaps a bit too fast and unrealistic. I think perhaps it sends the wrong message that in order to get over one relationship, one must enter a new one. I didn't think it was necessary to the story, and the book would have been just as powerful if they had stayed friends.
This book is surprisingly tense. It had me turning the pages long after I should have stopped. I was just racing for the relief of all that tension. The novel felt like all along it was building towards something that would culminate in one big dramatic explosion. That didn't happen. I would even venture to say the ending was a tad bit melodramatic. But I don't think that is a bad thing. If anything, it only adds to how true this book is. Real life is not a movie or a story. Life doesn't end after the final scene of the film or the final chapter of a novel. It's an ongoing reel, full of ups and downs. It doesn't have one big moment. It's all one big moment.
Overall, a powerful, truthful novel. Caletti has climbed her way to a well-deserved spot amongst my favorite authors. God, I hope this book is a commercial success. It needs to be.
Thank you, Simon & Schuster Galleygrab for providing me with an ARC copy :) It has been greatly appreciated.
Andi Alpers, a troubled Brooklyn teen, is always one step away from the edge. The only thing keeping her going over is her love of music, but even tha...moreAndi Alpers, a troubled Brooklyn teen, is always one step away from the edge. The only thing keeping her going over is her love of music, but even that doesn't seem enough at times. Two years ago her younger brother, the glue keeping her family together, died. Now her mother, a talented French painter, is suffering from a psychotic break down, and her father, a workaholic scientist, refuses to acknowledge his old family while he lives a new life. Andi is content with flunking out of her prestigious liberal high school, but her father, in a rare burst of parental concern, forces her to come with him to Paris so she can focus on working on a project that might save her grade. Her father is called to Paris because a colleague of his, a famous historian, needs his help in identifying a shriveled up heart encased in crystal that might just belong to the young Louis XVII, the son of King Louis XVI, who was guillotined in the French Revolution. While shifting through some artifacts, Andi discovers the long-hidden journal of Alexandrine, an aspiring actress and companion to young Louis, who is struggling to save herself and her charge. Whilst reading this diary, the fates of the two young women are woven together, and Andi will come to discover that internal revolutions are just as affecting as external ones.
I loved this book. It was lovely. The writing was beautiful, lyrical, and intricate. Andi was intriguing and relatable. Sometimes her constant negative attitude, especially towards the beginning, could become bothersome, but she was extremely interesting. Her sarcastic comments were often funny, and she had a lot going on underneath the surface. Her feelings, as well as her love for music, seemed to transcend the page. I loved Alexandrine too. Although she was in the book less than Andi, her role in it was just as vital. One thing I loved about this story was how everything connected. I could mentally see the puzzle pieces coming together, and it was a thrill to watch everything unfold. Also, I learned a buttload about the French Revolution, but it never seemed like I was reading a text book. I can tell Ms. Donnelly did her research, and it was very in-depth and well-done.
The only thing I did not like were the hints of the supernatural. To explain myself without giving away to much of the plot, I will say that this book is a lot like the movie Happy Feet. I do not mean to allude that there were dancing penguins in the streets of Paris. But, you know how towards the end of the movie, the plot does a complete 360, and the film is no longer about cute tap-dancing birds, but rather some heavy-handed environmental message? This book is kind of like that. Towards the end, it took a really sharp turn, and I'm not sure whether what happened was real or not. I mean, I guess it worked, but it shook me out of the story for a little bit. That's what kept me from giving this novel 5 stars.
Anyway, I recommend this book. I recommend it to fans of A Northern Light. I recommend it to fans of historical-fiction. I recommend it to those interested in a more personal look at the French Revolution. I recommend it to music lovers. And I recommend it for anyone looking for a satisfying, thought-provoking read.
An awesome read that will stay with me. I have a feeling it will help me when my history class studies the French Revolution next month. (less)
I am pretty much the last person in my group of friends to review this book, which is ironic because I was the first one to finish it. But I'm lazy so...moreI am pretty much the last person in my group of friends to review this book, which is ironic because I was the first one to finish it. But I'm lazy so here I am with nothing to say.
Um.....I was expecting more. The writing was good and Seth was funny and real and yada yada yada but I wanted it to be darker. Is that a sick thing to say? That I wanted this kid to be more screwed up? But its true. I kind of felt like this novel was a well-written anti-climax.
If I had been home long enough, I would have read this book in one sitting. But then again, maybe not.
I had to keep putting the book down because it...moreIf I had been home long enough, I would have read this book in one sitting. But then again, maybe not.
I had to keep putting the book down because it would get so intense. I felt hyper-aware of people watching me read this book, and I dreaded the question "Whats that book about?". My friend did ask me that, and when I told her, she said "But they're not really brother and sister, right?" Her face looked horrified. And I understand that. I have a younger brother and EEEEEEEEEEWWWWWW times a million. Yucky Yucky poo poo.
But disgust was only one of the various emotions I felt while reading this book. And despite everything, you do route for Maya and Lochan to somehow find a way to be together. The character development of the book was just plain awesome, as was the writing. Just read the first couple sentences:
"I gaze out at the small, crisp, burned-out black husks scattered across the chipped white paint of the windowsills. It is hard to believe that they were ever alive . I wonder what it would be like to be shut up in this airless glass box, slowly baked for two long months by the relentless sun, able to see the outdoors- the wind shaking the green trees right there in front of you- hurling yourself again and again at the invisible wall that seals you off from everything that is real and alive and necessary until you succumb: scorched, exhausted, overwhelmed by the impossibility of the task."
I read that and was like "Daaaaamn."
I connected to all the characters, including the little kiddos. I loved them and could imagine them as real people. I wanted to punch the mother and much more that I cannot say because I am a lady.. I am going to make a terrible parents shelf in her honor.
And I didn't cry while reading the book. I cried afterward. It was just an emotional journey, and any book that can make me feel like that is a good book in my opinion.
I wouldn't have picked this book up under normal circumstances. But everyone I talk to here on Goodreads adores it, so I felt compelled to give it a shot. And I'm glad I did. (less)
Even though I have A MASSIVE AMOUNT OF HOMEWORK to get done, I knew I wasn't going to be able to focus on anything until I finished this book.
This bo...moreEven though I have A MASSIVE AMOUNT OF HOMEWORK to get done, I knew I wasn't going to be able to focus on anything until I finished this book.
This book is about Amy Curry, who's life has recently went very much downhill. Her father died in a car accident, her mother packed up everything to go to Connecticut, and her twin brother is in rehab. Amy, who was left behind in California to finish her junior year, isn't too happy about having to go cross country in the family car, driven by a boy she's never met. The aforementioned boy is Roger, a college kid who is still hung up on his ex. Although Amy's mother has the trip very carefully laid out, Roger and Amy can't help but make some very unexpected stops along the way. It turns out this trip might be exactly what they both need.
I was really surprised about how much I love this book. It seemed to be so unassuming but soon enough I was sucked in like this *makes whooshing noises*. I just couldn't put it down. I don't know what it was that made this book so absorbing. Was it the excellent writing? The spot-on characters? The quirky humor? The slow-building romance? Amy's travel journal and all the bits and scraps they pick up on the way? I would have to say all of it. I really can't think of anything I didn't like about it, which is rare because I'm usually such a whiner.
There is something appealing about spending a week or so with a stranger, going to places neither of you have ever been. This is now something I want to experience. I need to now find myself a cute college boy, and somehow convince him to go on a cross-country road trip. Shouldn't be too hard (TWSS).
Anyway, this book was cute, but not in a sappy gooey way, but a indie film kind of way. I really need to expand on my adjectives. I am rambling a bit, so I would suggest you abort reading this review now, if you haven't already. This is also one of those books where I want more (transcontinental road trip, anyone?), but I'm glad there is no sequel. A sequel would ruin it. And if I see one, I shall be very upset. But perhaps something similar from Ms. Matson would be nice.
Oh, and Ms. Matson, has very good taste in music, if I may say so, assuming Roger is anything to go by. Okay, I really should stop typing now, as I am afraid I shall embarrass myself if I don't cease shortly. I talk fancy-ish sometimes.
Amy is going to Connecticut! That's where I live! She is right, though. It really is quite pretty, although we don't have much to do. And we don't have any cool food chains. McDonald's and Dunkin Donuts is pretty much it. We have casinos though, and lots of cows, and our state insect is the praying mantis. Did you know they are the only insect who can turn their head? I learned that from a Snapple cap. And we have Benedict Arnold. He's a traitor, though, so we don't like to claim him much.
Everything changed on that rainy March night seven months ago. Willow's parents were tipsy and asked her to drive home, a decision that would cost the...moreEverything changed on that rainy March night seven months ago. Willow's parents were tipsy and asked her to drive home, a decision that would cost them their lives. Ever since then, Willow has felt disconnected from the world. Her only reprieve is in mutilating her own body, one cut at a time. But everything changes when she meets Guy, the only one with whom she can possibly share her secret.
I did not like Willow. Not the book, the character. She was a whiny little biotch. I understand that I probably should pity her, her being responsible for her parents deaths and all, but she makes it so damn hard. It's not the cutting that makes her so unlikable. Even though I am not a cutter myself, I understand the concept and have friends who indulge in it. It's just her view of the world. She expected the whole damn universe to revolve around her. She whined about people being inconsiderate around her and about how no one "got her". But Willow was always wrong about others. She judged them before they could judge her. I didn't understand her logic most of the time. And I hate how she would always go "well, I killed my parents." You're not the only who has ever lost anyone, Willow. You are not the only person in the world who is grieving. I just wanted her to get over herself. Though admittedly, I did like her considerably more by the novel's end.
Based on the character of Willow alone, this book would have gotten two stars. Thankfully, the intense writing and topic made me really like it. The writing flowed really well, and its interesting how this book was in third person instead of the expected first person. Of course, cutting is an always disturbing, intriguing topic, as much as you wish that it wasn't.
And Guy might have been too perfect, but he was sweet and sensitive without being gay (glances at her copy of Shiver). But I felt sorry for the poor guy (hehe, pun). He was stuck with Willow. And I also liked David and all the literary references.
One more thing that didn't quite fly with me was the end. A spoiler is coming up, so AVERT YOUR EYES. Okay, so teenage sex. It happens a lot. A lot a lot. So why encourage it? "Guy, we need to sleep together because I'm sad." "Okay then." *they do it* "Okay, I'm all better." "Okay, then." Just a little bit of WTF.
Overall, parts of this book and others parts I didn't like at all (aka Willow). But it is a good book, no doubt about that. It has a powerful, intense theme that I'm sure teenagers (especially cutters looking to relate) will eat up. (less)
I'm not a big fan of verse novels. The only exception was Sold by Patricia McCormick. That is, until now. I still don't like the fact that this book w...moreI'm not a big fan of verse novels. The only exception was Sold by Patricia McCormick. That is, until now. I still don't like the fact that this book was written in free verse, but I was able to get past that and enjoy the story underneath.
Glimpse is about 12-year-old Hope and what happened after she found her older sister, Liz, in the bathroom with a gun in her hand. Liz becomes virtually silent and is sent off to a mental care facility. Meanwhile, Hope is trying to cope with things back home. Her mother isn't the best role model around. She's selfish and turn tricks to bring in cash. Hope suspects that her mother knows something as to why Liz almost killed herself that night, and resolves to bring Liz back to a safe home.
I definitely got caught up in the story. The mother is probably one of the worst fictional parents I ever encountered. I wanted to go in there and call DCF myself. I was just amazed at the atmosphere. At first I thought the book took place a few decades ago in the South, but I came to discover it took place in modern-day Florida. It made me realize how poverty and ill-treatment can really isolate someone.
The big secret as to why Liz was suicidal is pretty easy for the reader to figure out, but that doesn't lessen the emotional impact. Poor Hope and poor Liz.
I don't see why this book had to be in verse, though. Is it because they are in style? That the author thinks it makes the work seem more emotional? Original? I would have enjoyed it more if it was written in prose. But it was a quick, emotional read, nonetheless. (less)
I really did love this book. So, to clarify, I would rate it 4.5 stars if I could.
It's about Jordan, an average teenager with divorced parents. She l...moreI really did love this book. So, to clarify, I would rate it 4.5 stars if I could.
It's about Jordan, an average teenager with divorced parents. She lives with her father, a predictable optometrist because her mother is too eccentric for her tastes. Her summer after her junior year was off to a normal start- a best friend, dumb job, and a new love interest- but then came Gayle D'Angelo. Gayle D'Angelo is her father's new girlfriend.....who happens to be married. But Jordan's father no longer listens to reason as he becomes more and more obsessed with Gayle. Jordan's normal summer ends up having an explosive ending.
I loved the writing. Seriously, it was great. Deb Caletti's writing is so detailed and intricate, she brings tiny details to mind that only contribute to overall story and character development.
The plot was slowish, but you know from page one that something horribly violent will happen. First off, because the narrator tell you, and also because its terribly hinted at and you would have to be stupid not to get it. Still, there was something tense about this book. While it wasn't thrilling, it was gripping. I think the best part of the book was easily the writing.
The main characters, especially Jordan, were well-drawn. It was like they were real people. The minor characters also had the same flair, but had less screen time. The thing about such interesting characters, is that you actually want to see them. But in the story, they just popped in and out, quick as a flash. Like Big Mama. I wanted to see more of her. And Jackson. I would have loved to see that budding romance.
Jordan was a real teenager. She wasn't some saint girl. She wasn't a rebel without a cause. She took notice of the world, and messed up a lot, and was likable. One of her mistakes was Kale. I hated Kale. He is the King of Douches. I wanted to crawl into the book and pop him one. I just didn't understand why Jordan still kept going out with him even though she clearly couldn't tolerate him. It just made me frustrated. I guess that makes the mark of a real character, though.
Overall, I really liked this book. Every time I read a Deb Caletti book, they just keep getting better and better. (less)
It's Kind of a Funny Story is about 15-yr-old New Yorker, Craig Gilner. Craig is highly ambitious, spending his entire middle school career studying t...moreIt's Kind of a Funny Story is about 15-yr-old New Yorker, Craig Gilner. Craig is highly ambitious, spending his entire middle school career studying to get into an elite high school. Once there, Craig realizes maybe he isn't so smart after all. He has to work twice as hard as his classmates just to get by. All this pressure causes Craig to suffer from depression, preventing him from sleeping or eating. On a particularly bad night after Craig stops taking his medication, he nearly kills himself, deciding to call the suicide hotline at the last moment. From there, Craig spends the next five days in a mental hospital, possibly the most influential five days of his life. He learns to eat and sleep again, he creates friendships, discovers a passion for drawing, and he finally confronts the reason as to why he is so unhappy.
I loved this book. For a book about depression, it was amazingly light-hearted. The tone was clever and humorous and very real. The cast of the novel was original and entertaining. Craig himself was a brilliant character. I don't have depression, yet could sympathize with Craig on so many levels. Craig is a teenage boy, and acts like one. He makes mistakes, but every now and then has a moment of insightful clarity.
The topic of depression and mental illness was treated carefully. These people were messed up, but never seemed inhuman. All of them were very real. While the plot wasn't suspenseful, it was gripping and had me flipping the pages without hesitation.
The only thing I found doubtful was Craig's miraculous recovery. Maybe with some that may be the case, but not many. It would have been difficult if they book ended any other way however, so I'm not too upset about it.
It's Kind of a Funny Story was a truthful and funny story about depression I won't soon forget. (less)
Originally, I wasn't too interested in this book. From the plot description, it looked pretty cliched.
This book is about 16 year old Sydney Biggs. Af...moreOriginally, I wasn't too interested in this book. From the plot description, it looked pretty cliched.
This book is about 16 year old Sydney Biggs. After getting into some trouble, Sydney's parents send her off on a six-week canoeing trip for the summer in the Canadian wilderness. Sydney's best friend, the rich and beautiful Natalia, is also going, but Sydney isn't all too happy about that, because with Natalia there, Sydney must constantly face an awful truth: she is pregnant. Over the course of the summer, Sydney must decide what to do about the baby, whether it means losing her best friend or her future.
Surprisingly, I adored this book. The first few chapters were meh, but once Syndey got to camp, I couldn't put the book down. I absolutely loved the complex and lively cast of characters, and the setting was a nice change. It was decently written and pretty realistic. I think de Gramont perfectly captured the troubles of a pregnant teen and brought up some interesting points. I didn't find it predictable and Sydney's decision surprised me.
I really enjoyed this book. I'll be looking forward to reading more from this author in the future. If I could, I would give it 4.5 stars. (less)