Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the e-ARC!
No one looks forward to Miranda Kenneally's books more than me. I love her writing, because it'Thanks to Netgalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the e-ARC!
No one looks forward to Miranda Kenneally's books more than me. I love her writing, because it's light-hearted in its simplicity, but her stories also contain deep, meaningful messages at the same time. There are lessons to be learned but I never feel as though her characters are embarking on philosophical, John Green-inspired journeys. What I love the most about Miranda's characters is that they are all developed, and they act like teenagers. They make mistakes, they learn from those mistakes by acknowledging and rectifying them, and in doing so, teach me some lessons as well. I don't think I've really read a contemporary novel that evokes that kind of response while still maintaining light-heartedness and humour.
Defending Taylor does not disappoint in that respect. Taylor, our protagonist, lies to protect her ex-boyfriend, (view spoiler)[who was dealing prescription drugs (hide spoiler)] because she knows he is less privileged than her and as a result, is kicked out of her prestigious private school and sent to Hundred Oaks, while also facing consequences such as her parents' disappointment (to such an extent that her father excludes her from his campaign advertisements, which just about gutted me), and ruining her chances of getting into good schools (like Yale). I have to say, I actually liked reading this part of the novel as much as the romance. It was heartbreaking to witness Taylor be rejected by so many people, including her new soccer team, considering how much of a free spirit she appeared to be, but I think that was the point. I liked that I felt like I was growing with Taylor as she learned to reconcile with her new fate, take chances, and (eventually) tell the truth.
The reason I docked .5 stars is because at some point, it felt as if Taylor was living the most tragic life - her parents seemed very unsupportive and the words read like a sob story. The stoty before and after that point weren't as melodramatic. Later on I think it righted itself, but I have to say I wasn't enjoying the extreme angst about halfway through. I also need to add that while everything eventually got better, as Taylor's parents had genuine conversations with her and she sought to mend fences with her brother and Ezra (and just about everybody), I didn't really appreciate that even though Taylor explicitly mentioned to her father that she didn't like working so hard that she lost sleep, he didn't acknowledge that enough. I know this would be one of the "characters make mistakes" thing I was referring to earlier, but in all honesty, I wish Taylor would have stressed that more, or that her father would have apologized for it. I kind of think Taylor spent the entire novel being on the brunt end of the stick that she was taken advantage of.
I have to mention the romance, because what is a Miranda Kenneally novel without it? You guys. I have never (with VERY FEW EXCLUSIONS) read a romance with the love interest as great as this author's. I think I tweeted to Miranda at one point that she could write about a leather pant-wearing guy with anklets who recites fables religiously and I would love him eternally. And Ezra is no different (minus all the details I just mentioned). I like that Miranda forgoes all the tropes you EXPECT to actually read (e.g. extremely swoony man who's broody but also hot, is skilled in such-and-such trade!) but don't see, and delivers on tropes that are even better (case in point: Ezra, Taylor's brother's best friend, a - REALISTICALLY IMPERFECT MAN! - who actually makes conversation, buys doughnuts and coffee, and is a good guy). Honestly, I can't even rank the love interests in order of my favourites at this point. They're all so good.
Defending Taylor is an all-around amazing book, with plenty of life lessons, strong female friendships, and romance galore. I can't wait for Miranda's next book. I think it's about swimming? Or speedos? Doesn't matter.
4.5 out of 5 stars!["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
It's pretty disappointing that I had to rate it this low, considering how many weeks it took for me to pick it up, followed by a pretty good premise.It's pretty disappointing that I had to rate it this low, considering how many weeks it took for me to pick it up, followed by a pretty good premise. The writing was well done. I could see that the author clearly gave the plot a lot of thought, and I think the concept was complex enough to appear enthralling, but not too confusing or boring. By this I'm referring to the emphasis she put on holding breath underwater (and I can see a lot of symbolic connections between this and all the angst in the book, but that's just the English major in me talking).
What disappointed me was that I lost intrigue in the story after the events just got angstier and more miserable. Don't get me wrong; I love a good angst story and an "it hurts so good" novel gets me out of a slump when not much else can, but this story was just entwined in angst, to the point where it didn't seem realistic enough for a fictional story. It all seemed very cliché after a while: the creative, artsy teacher who just "understands" your situation, the outcast best friends (whose characters we never really get to see develop, like Del's), seedy motels. And I felt like a lot of things were left unanswered when I'd actually like to know why. Would we ever hear of Evan's (that was his name, right?) little brother again? What about the abusive ex's mother? I don't even know much about the male protagonist other than that he had blonde hair (I think), was well-humoured (at, like, random points before the whole prison break fiasco), and that his firefighting ambition somehow connected to his destiny to save what's-her-name from the police who tracked and caught up to them at a river, where the many years he'd spent learning to hold his breath underwater for an exact amount of time turned out to be quite useful, because, oh, right! (view spoiler)[He was supposed to pretend to die while taking the blame for killing the aforementioned abusive ex, while she would claim her freedom, and later they would meet up, change their names, and live happily ever after in a freaking houseboat. (hide spoiler)]
I don't feel like I know who Evan is, and it seems pretty unrealistic that Jo would accept his "dreams" as is without much skepticism, and follow him across the U.S. in pursuit of it. Not to mention, the prison break? That was completely skimmed over. Do you realize how much effort it takes to "bust out", even from a minimum security prison? If recent events in Mexico haven't proven that, then Prison Break should. AND, needless to say, I found the whole "male saviour" idea pretty typical and disappointing. While I see Scott's efforts to maintain Jo's character as strong in her vulnerability and outward demeanor, I found that this was overshadowed by Evan's need to put her out of harm's way by keeping her out of the loop and basically stringing her along on his quest to find the "center", and he being the one to save their asses in the end.
So yeah. The writing was great, it had me hooked for a while, but the lack of character development and many plot holes made me dock a few stars.["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
I wasn't actually going to read this book, because after all the terrible things I'd read (view spoiler)[ about Atticus (hide spoiler)], I didn't wantI wasn't actually going to read this book, because after all the terrible things I'd read (view spoiler)[ about Atticus (hide spoiler)], I didn't want to ruin the childish innocence that was To Kill A Mockingbird, which is my all-time favourite novel. My sister's friend bought the book as a present, though, so I was kind of obliged to read it.
I would save you the trouble of reading it, but I think everyone's curiousity would stop them from skipping it. But I don't think it's really worth it. It did ruin TKAM for me, a lot. As in, I don't know if I can go back to re-reading TKAM without thinking that the events in this book are inevitable. To make myself feel better, I keep telling myself that Harper Lee wrote this book before TKAM, and thus... nothing is real. ["br"]>["br"]>...more
One of my favourite school reads! (Considering how many papers and discussions I had to write up on it.)
There are so many conclusions you can draw froOne of my favourite school reads! (Considering how many papers and discussions I had to write up on it.)
There are so many conclusions you can draw from this novel. So. Many. It was so intriguing to analyze this, and the story itself is heartbreaking. It crosses a lot of subjects: colonialism, mental health, the depiction of black women, and personal growth. Give it a try when you want to divert from entertainment for a while and take on something more serious....more
I had to read this as part of my English class's material in freshman year of university, and I loved it a lot. I didn't cover all the stories; I onlyI had to read this as part of my English class's material in freshman year of university, and I loved it a lot. I didn't cover all the stories; I only read "A Temporary Matter", "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine", "A Real Durwan", "Mrs. Sen's", and "The Third and Final Continent" and loved all of them. I have to say, "When Mr. Pirzada Came to Dine" and "Mrs. Sen's" are my favourite stories of the collection (which may have to do with a personal connection to the stories, as they all cover issues faced by South East Asian men and women, but still). "WMPCTD" also touches on concepts like diaspora and the importance of learning these types of histories - it cultivated an interest in me to learn my own background as a Bengali girl, which I'd formerly taken for granted. Highly recommend....more