anonymous, adjective The couple is anonymous. There are no names provided, but the gender of the narrator is male.
concept, noun Written as a series of e...moreanonymous, adjective The couple is anonymous. There are no names provided, but the gender of the narrator is male.
concept, noun Written as a series of entries in a dictionary, The Lover’s Dictionary is completely original.
depiction, noun A nameless couple’s entire relationship is represented in its entirety throughout the novel. Sometimes the entries are a few words, and other times you’ll find yourself getting a larger glimpse into their lives via a longer story.
discouraging, verb The truth is that this couple’s relationship wasn’t easy, perfect, or simple. It was multi-faceted and complicated. The reality was much more like a real-life relationship. Sometimes books can overly romanticize relationships, but this one was raw, gritty, and truthful.
disorderly, adjective Because the story is alphabetized by the words Levithan chose, the story is sometimes confusing because the events are not in sequential order.
gloomy, adjective This is how I felt after I finished the book. See: discouraging. As things weren’t perfect, I wasn’t sure how things actually would have progressed with this couple. I felt the weight of the imperfections.
intervals, noun The story is told in small snippets and isn’t a continuous, chronological story. Often there would be bits of the story that would fit a specific word, and later we’d see the continuation of the story much later on in the The Lover’s Dictionary.
point of view, noun The entire story is told from the male’s perspective in the relationship. He constantly fights the battle waging in his mind of whether he’s truly happy with this girl or if he’s settling. He wonders if she’s too good for him. I wished at times that I would have known both sides of the story, especially when a few key events unraveled.
resolution, noun There was a hint as to what happens to these two lovers at the end of the book, but I didn’t feel like I walked away with as much as I wanted. I didn’t know if their story would continue.
summation, noun While I was certainly glad to have read The Lover’s Dictionary, I think I expected it to be much more light-hearted. I admire Levithan’s brilliance at putting so much effort into how he told the couple’s story. Just from writing this post, I can see how much effort and work it would have taken to write a succinct story.(less)
I was so hopeful that And Then Things Fall Apart was going to be a sweet, fun read. It sounded like...more[Review originally published on Rather Be Reading!]
I was so hopeful that And Then Things Fall Apart was going to be a sweet, fun read. It sounded like Keek was going through a lot and I was ready to go all Jersey Shore with a fist pump in celebration of another contemporary young adult book. I wish I could say that And Then Things Fell Apart lived up to my expectations.
Keek was a whiny fifteen-year-old character. She complained about absolutely everything. In the beginning, I gave her a lot of leeway because I understood she was dealing with tons of drama (i.e. a cheating dad, a runaway mother, and the chicken pox). And let’s face it – some (if not most) fifteen-year-olds are self-centered and annoying. Keek thought her world was ending because she’d gotten the chicken pox and she was upset her boyfriend hadn’t called her. She was hallucinating because of the fevers and often didn’t make much sense. She repeated herself endlessly. I sometimes found myself skipping over bits of text because she was saying the. exact. same. thing. again.
Keek is obsessed with two things, both of which I didn’t understand one bit. She is crazy about Sylvia Plath’s book The Bell Jar. She reads it constantly, references it multiple times on nearly every other page, and compares her situation to the characters. For someone who wasn’t familiar with the book, it was hard to care about that portion of the story. A lot of explaining was necessary to draw the parallel between Plath’s book and Keek’s life, but it didn’t really seem fitting when such an immature character was explaining the depths of Plath’s work.
Her second obsession: losing her virginity. I didn’t grasp why she “just wanted to get it over with.” This was where I felt most disconnected — Keek seemed so childish and young in many ways, but she was absorbed with Plath’s work and wanting to lose her virginity. Her actions and behavior didn’t convince me she was mature enough to understand or even begin to comprehend either of those two things. Her father had also just been outed for cheating on her mom; I didn’t believe someone in her position would treat something like their virginity so flippantly after finding out such devastating news.
The reader is very much inside Keek’s mind during the entire book. She’s solitary and alone because she’s sick, has few friends, and her boyfriend is MIA. Although I thought the concept for the book was fun, I found that there was only so much development that Tibensky could do with a sick character. She has rare conversations with her grandmother and she doesn’t communicate with her mom or dad. Due to the lack of dialogue, the story progressed slowly. I found it less believable that Keek would have matured in the ways that she did because she didn’t have anyone to guide her to a better understanding of all that was happening.
One of my least favorite parts of the book was the poetry. Keek is learning how to type and chooses to write poems. I didn’t feel like they blended into the story well. They didn’t add anything that gave me insight into Keek’s character and ultimately, I didn’t find they were necessary. I skipped over the poetry toward the end of the book because I felt like much of it became a filler.
Overall, I didn’t love And Then Things Fall Apart. I was on such a roll for great 2012 books, but this one didn’t cut it for me.(less)
In June 2011, I read Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I was on a huge dystopian kick and didn’t fall in love w...moreReview Originally Posted on Rather Be Reading.
In June 2011, I read Delirium by Lauren Oliver. I was on a huge dystopian kick and didn’t fall in love with Oliver’s work in the same way everyone else proclaimed to. Since then, I was hesitant to pick up Before I Fall. What if it was something I just didn’t enjoy? Or maybe Oliver’s writing just didn’t resonate with me?
I have to say, dear readers, that I am humbled to admit I was grasping for more and left in awe after reading this book.
I finished Before I Fall with tear-stained cheeks. I was choking back more tears. I stayed up until almost 2AM to finish this book, and couldn’t stop thinking. It’s like I could not turn my brain off. It made me think so much about how our decisions, even the most mundane, can impact someone else’s life so deeply.
When I was first introduced to Sam and her posse of best friends, I couldn’t stand them. They epitomized the term mean girls. They were obsessed with Sam losing her virginity that night to her “perfect” boyfriend. They were fixated on calling one another sluts and were so drunk and wasted. They were a huge turn off, to say the least. I didn’t know how Oliver would turn Sam into a likable character because she was beyond pathetic.
It was a gutsy move on Oliver’s behalf to make the characters so unlikable. However, the progression of the story was beautiful. It took time before Sam understood that each day she would wake up and relive the previous day over again. When things began to click in her head that what she did could alter how other people’s days would go, I wanted to jump up and down. Slowly I began to understand how little Sam really thought for herself, how intimidated she was by the thought of not being popular, and how her idea of perfect was shaped by her best friend Lindsey.
There was a lot of brokenness and hurt in Before I Fall, and much of it stemmed from Lindsey. She intentionally made life a living hell for Juliet. Sam’s clique called her Psycho and they hated her something fierce. Anna was another girl Lindsey antagonized and defamed. The questions that were always in my mind (and eventually in Sam’s) were why does Lindsey despise these girls so much? What happened?
Sam has to come to terms with the unpopular girl she used to be. A boy named Kent was a huge part of her life before Lindsey adopted her into the popular crowd. There were scenes with Kent that broke my heart and I cried big, sloppy tears. I was crushed by the idea of falling in love with someone and not being able to ever be with them. Kent has a deep love for Sam. He wants to be her protector. He, in all his nerdy gloriousness, is what every girl wants in a guy. He’s so dedicated to Sam, and in the beginning of the book I didn’t get it. I thought he was a weird, creepy geek that drooled over pretty, popular Sam. I loved that I came to know Kent’s true character in the same way that Sam did, slowly and tenderly.
I can’t express in words how much I feel impacted by this book. Usually I pick up another book almost immediately after I’ve finished one. I’ve waited more than 24 hours because I’m still letting things settle after finishing Before I Fall. There are two takeaways I have after reading this book:
1. I have now re-read Delirium (and Pandemonium) because I think I may have just read it at the wrong time. I read it right after Divergent, another dystopia I loved, and I unrightfully compared these two books. Lesson learned: don’t read two like books back to back.
2. The choices we make, no matter how big or small or how right or wrong they seem, still affect other people. I should remember Sam’s transition from selfish to selfless and pay more attention to how what I’m doing affects those around me.
Please, if you haven’t read Before I Fall, stop what you’re doing right this second and start reading it. I guarantee you won’t regret your decision and you will feel like you learned a huge life lesson when you’ve read the last page.(less)
Kelly is addicted to alcohol and cocaine. It all started with vodka and orange juice.
Christopher is addicted to methamphetamine. His life is perfect a...moreKelly is addicted to alcohol and cocaine. It all started with vodka and orange juice.
Christopher is addicted to methamphetamine. His life is perfect and he’s a Christian and there’s no way he’s supposed to have wound up in rehab.
Jason drinks anything he can get his hands on. Who cares if he has a bad attitude and temper? He’s just following in his dad’s footsteps.
Olivia is wealthy and perfect. There’s no way she deserves to be in rehab. She’s only been taking prescription diet pills.
Eva’s dad doesn’t notice her anymore since her mom died. So what if she has to do pot and take prescription pain meds to fit in with her new “friends”?
Sounds like a peachy evening read, huh? My husband looked at me like I was crazy when I described Clean to him. He asked why I’d want to read something like this. I’m just going to fess up and be completely, utterly honest with you for a minute. I’m shaking as I type this.
I was Olivia. Go ahead – glance back up there so you can see what she was addicted to. Prescription diet pills. Mine weren’t prescription and I certainly wasn’t wealthy, but I was the high school girl who “filled out” a lot faster than all the other girls. I took diet pills and dropped weight really quickly. I didn’t eat (or barely ate), ran a lot, played every sport, and remember what it was like to feel super dizzy and push my way through it because I needed to be skinny.
That’s why I read books like this. To keep me real and honest.
This book wasn’t easy for me to read at all. I had a good friend to pass away in 2011 from anorexia. Not only did Olivia’s story choke me up because I personally connected with her desire to be perfect, but I LOST SOMEONE to that very same disease. Everywhere around us, people are struggling and hurting.
Every one of these kids in rehab had different struggles. We got to know all five of them from their point of view during journals or group sessions, though the majority of the story was told from Kelly and Christopher’s perspective. Reed is a beautiful author. There were a lot of bad, terrible things brought about in Clean, but she eloquently dealt with each of them. She never made me feel hatred toward any of the characters, but I also didn’t sympathize and accept their choices either. There’s a fine balance when telling a story such as this one, but I honestly don’t think that anyone could have done it any better than Reed.
If you are a fan of Laurie Halse Anderson, you will love Clean. I haven’t yet read Reed’s other book, Beautiful, but I will as soon as I can get my hands on it. She has a new novel, Crazy, coming out in June 2012.
Let’s take a moment to characterize a few Hollywood starlets that have made magazine covers in the last...more[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
Let’s take a moment to characterize a few Hollywood starlets that have made magazine covers in the last 10-ish years for their terrible choices:
She SHAVED HER HEAD. By herself. She accidentally married someone in Vegas. Then there was the marriage to KFed. (Oops, she got married again?!) She had a couple kids. She flashed her underwear (or lack thereof) a whole lotta times.
And then she made a comeback and has lived a relatively “normal” life.
She’s gotten in more car accidents than one can keep up with. (How does she still have a license?) Someone could diagram her privates blindfolded because she’s so not careful when getting out of cars. She’s always in trouble for drinking and drugs. Always. As in, hello, jail time.
LiLo has not learned her lesson yet. The girl is still gettin’ in trouble.
So why am I giving you a breakdown of two Hollywood troublemakers? Because I need you to relate when I explain that Lexington, the main character in 52 Reasons to Hate My Father, is a Hollywood drama-seeker. She’s Lindsay and Britney’s bookish cousin. She’s spoiled, bratty, and overly obnoxious in the beginning of the book. All she wants is to inherit money from her dad when she turns 18 so she can live a comfortable, posh life and never have to depend on him again.
The problem with this flawless (*eye roll*) plan?
She can’t stay out of trouble. After she crashes her brand new, very expensive car into a convenience store, her dad makes her work 52 jobs – one for each week of the year – in order to gain her inheritance. Oh, poor Lexington.
I greatly admire Brody’s ability to turn unlikeable Lexi into a character I could relate to. She wasn’t someone I would even want to know in the beginning of 52 Reasons. Her attitude was very woe-is-me despite all the amazing things she had in her life. The one downfall was the lack of a relationship she had with her father. All of her magazine headlines were a cry for his attention. I appreciated the complexity of Lexi and her father’s relationship; I mostly thought the book would be a humorous display of Lexi’s failed attempts to work normal jobs.
While Lexi certainly didn’t fail to deliver lighthearted, funny moments, the jobs didn’t outweigh the underlying story of the abandonment Lexi felt after her mother died. Lexi learned to keep most people at a distance, except for her two best friends. While I didn’t trust that they would stick around when things got tough for Lexi, I was happily surprised that they weren’t the shallow girls I anticipated they would be.
There is a bit of a love interest, though I’ll be honest and say the relationship between Luke and Lexi doesn’t take center stage. Luke is hired by Lexi’s father to make sure she actually completes each of the jobs. Immediately, there air is thick between Luke and Lexi because she feels he’s her babysitter and he thinks she’s a spoiled brat. They say opposites attract, and boy, these two are certainly different in every way.
I hope you’ll enjoy 52 Reasons to Hate My Father as much as I did. I’m very much looking forward to checking out more of Brody’s work. (Isn’t that the best feeling when an author you like has more books to keep ya reading?!)(less)
Ever since I read Harry Potter, I’ve wished I had the opportunity to go to a boarding school when I was...more[Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading]
Ever since I read Harry Potter, I’ve wished I had the opportunity to go to a boarding school when I was growing up. My little hometown didn’t have anything more than our tiny public school, but I yearned for the strong friendships, the lifelong bonds, and the living away from home experience. (I suppose this is what a lot of people gain by living on campus during college, too, but alas, I didn’t do that either.)
When I saw Viola in Reel Life at my library, I read “boarding school” on the flap and immediately added it to the stack of books in my arms. Viola’s parents are being sent to Afghanistan to to film a documentary; she has no choice but to go to the all girls boarding school her mother attended in South Bend, Indiana while they’re away. Viola, too, loves making films and feels the Midwest won’t be very inspiring considering she’s a NYC girl. How could things compare?
Viola leaves her best friend, Andrew, behind in New York. As a way to stay connected with him, she decides to film pieces of her life so he can join in her misery. She makes little to no effort to mesh with her three new roommates and chooses to be withdrawn and mopey until they confront her. I greatly admired these three girls, Marisol, Romy, and Suzanne, for reaching out to Viola to prove that the experience didn’t have to be as gruesome as she was allowing it to be. They force her to become more involved so she can walk away after the year is over with new friendships and outlooks.
While I overlooked the fact that Viola was only a Freshman when I checked this out, a much younger character than I typically read about, I did enjoy that the focus of Viola in Reel Life was different because of her age. The story was much more about friendship (than romance) and Viola, an only child, stripping away her independency to rely on new friends with very different upbringings and backgrounds. She had a lot to learn about herself, but she gained a new perspective: circumstances are what you make of them. You have to sieze the day and make the best of things.
Viola’s new friends became a sounding board for her as she navigated choppy waters when her friendship with Andrew became strained (oddly enough, right around the time she begins mentioning her first crush). They were her support group when her parents couldn’t make it home for the holidays. They became her film crew when Viola decided to enter a competition. The camaraderie was a definite strength for Viola in Reel Life and I happily reflected back on my days as a mere high school Freshman.
I wasn’t aware Viola was part of a series. I haven’t yet read the follow-up novel, Viola in the Spotlight, but I’ll be placing it on reserve at my library when I need a change of pace and want to take things back to basics — strong friendships, loving families, and innocent, first love.(less)