Jennie Yabroff's debut novel touches on the meaning of friendship, loss, and mental illness. All of her life, Tess has known she was different. She waJennie Yabroff's debut novel touches on the meaning of friendship, loss, and mental illness. All of her life, Tess has known she was different. She was an outcast, a freak and she had one friend, Tabitha. After visiting her Grandmother over summer, Tess comes back to find that Tabitha has changed. She's no longer the frizzy haired, sister outcast that she was before. This new version of Tabitha is skinnier, tanner, and dresses like the popular girls at school. Not only that, she's dropped Tess in favor of those horrible popular girls. Feeling abandoned and alone, Tess dives further into herself. You see, no one but Tabitha knows what Tess has to deal with at home. Her mother is suffering from mental illness and her erratic behavior had Tess & her father constantly on high alert. Being able to escape to Tabitha's was Tess's only lifeline. Now she has no one. And then Tabitha dies.
Tess was a little hard for me to like. She's very abrasive and sometimes just not very nice. While complaining that she was alone and an outcast, she also made no effort to break out of that shell, at least not until forced to. She ran very hot and cold which is why for a majority of the book, I thought that Tess also suffered from some sort of mental illness. But all of this added up to a teenage girl who was dealing with things out of her control and was handling it the only way she knew how. Internally.
Yabroff does a good job setting the high school scene. For a lot of people, memories from high school are not pleasant ones. The hierarchy's of the popular crowd down to the shunned are very distinctly defined. But Yabroff also emphasizes that what you are in high school doesn't necessarily define you. And I think that's a very important message.
I love a good mystery and so the circumstances surrounding Tabitha's death were intriguing and I found myself trying to solve the case before the secret was revealed. I thought I had it, but then was completely wrong.
However, there was one thing that just didn't sit well with me and that was the magical realism aspect. At first, I thought it was there for a different reason and I was all proud of myself for figuring out what the author was doing, but then I was wrong. And it was just an aspect that was never really explained in way that, for me, fit the story. It seemed to take it from this serious topic and move it into some parallel fantasy. I don't know. I saw some other reviews where people really liked that part, but it just didn't do it for me. Hence, the 3 Stars.
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ...more
Well wasn't this an awesome surprise. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe came highly recommended to me by a few of my friends anWell wasn't this an awesome surprise. Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe came highly recommended to me by a few of my friends and now having read it, I can see why.
15 year olds Ari and Dante meet one summer at the local swimming pool when Dante offers to teach Ari how to swim. This sparks a friendship that goes through many ups and downs and revelations. Despite their opposite personalities - Ari is quiet and reserved, choosing to be alone over other people while Ari is talkative, friendly, and curious; the two become inseparable until Dante's father gets offered a job in Chicago for the next school year. Before Dante leaves, there is an accident that forever changes the tone of their friendship and sends Ari on a downward spiral of confusion where he is constantly questioning who he is and what he wants.
What I loved about this book was the realness of the characters. Ari, the youngest of 3 siblings who are much older than him, lives in the shadows. His father, a war vet, is quiet, never talking about the demons that haunt him leaving Ari to feel this gap between them that he can't quite bridge. The fact that his older brother is in prison doesn't help either. His parents never talk about him and Ari feels like he's a stranger - there's this emptiness in his heart where his brother should be but he just can't fill it. This leaves him stuck in his own head. When you live in a house where people don't discuss feelings and secrets are hidden, that passes to the children. When Ari meets Dante, he doesn't quite know how to react to Dante's openness.
Another thing that really stood out to me was the parents. Most YA books either don't feature the parents or they show them in a harsh light. Here, both sets of parents were present. Even though Ari's dad had trouble communicating, when the time came, he was there for his son. He showed other ways of caring even if he couldn't talk about it. And Ari's mom was a constant source of love and support. Then there was Dante's family. They shared the openness of their son. They welcomed Ari into their homes and hearts without question. Both sets cared and actually parented. I feel this is just so missed in YA and I loved all of the family interactions. Actually, the one time I teared up was during a conversation between Ari and his dad.
This story is about two boys figuring out who they are and what they wanted in a time where life is it's most confusing. Despite it's slow start, this one sucked me into their lives and I know they will stay with me for years to come.
Fun fact: I kept forgetting this was set in the 80's.
Hailed as being a cross between Black Swan and Fight Club, Lost Girls is a game of catching up. A game of cat andThe only rule is there are no rules
Hailed as being a cross between Black Swan and Fight Club, Lost Girls is a game of catching up. A game of cat and mouse. Rachel goes to sleep and wakes up on the side of the road a year later. She has no memory of the last year or where she's been for the past two weeks. She also doesn't recognize herself in the mirror. Gone is the Taylor Swift loving preppy ballerina and in her place is this blond haired punk rock rave girl. Her best friend is no longer her best friend. Her new group of friends is a ragtag team she never would have dreamed up. And she's suddenly dating her long time crush. Oh and she can fight.
Not really knowing anything about this book going in, I was intrigued by the story. A girl wakes up a year later with no memory of where she's been - see, I interpreted that as her having been gone for an entire year when in fact she was only gone for two weeks. Something happened in those two weeks that caused her memory to black out the past year. Over the course of the book, we get the pieces and slowly start putting together the mystery of Rachel's past.
So, did I like it? I think so. It definitely kept me interested because I really wanted to know what happened to Rachel. Did I feel satisfied with the outcome? I don't know. It wasn't what I expected and I think it threw me off a bit, but it was different. Here's where I got to hand it to Destefano, it was unique. Rachel had a relationship with her parents and brother - something that is rare in YA. It showcased fiercely protective people - both friends and family. And it showed a different side of "bad girl".
I decided on 3 stars because something was a little off. I didn't connect with any of the characters emotionally. Having everything told in a Memento type fashion (starting at the end and rewinding) may not have been the best choice for this. I feel like a lot of character development was lost because we only got to know people through flashbacks. It was hard for me to understand Rachel's new friendships because we never saw them. It's hard to root for things when you don't experience them. But I would recommend it for people who are looking for something different in YA.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ...more
I went into this book knowing that it dealt with very harsh subject matter. Depression and suicides are nothing to be taken lightly so I was interesteI went into this book knowing that it dealt with very harsh subject matter. Depression and suicides are nothing to be taken lightly so I was interested in how Chapman would present this. And while I didn't agree with the actions of certain people in the book, there was a good amount of realism present.
The book opens with Ellery about to kill herself. She has everything planned out - right down to hiring the cleaning service to take care of the mess so her mother doesn't have to. But when the shotgun doesn't go off (the first six times or so of trying), she gets frustrated and goes to return it. Only she doesn't return it to Walmart where they sell guns, but tries to return it at K-Mart. Even with a receipt showing it was purchased and despite her protests that she was just trying to return a defective gun but just got the stores mixed up, Ellery is still an underage girl with a gun. Obviously security takes notice. The security guard just happens to be someone from Ellery's school, and thus begins her relationship with Colter.
I felt that the author portrayed Ellery's pain as a very tangible thing. I saw some other reviews where people complained that Ellery's was too stuck in one moment and her reason for not living was stuck and repetitive. Since we were reading from her point of view, it made sense to me that she would keep reliving the night her life changed. Guilt and grief are two separate terrible things and can eat away at people if they are not dealt with. I think we were supposed to feel frustrated with her because we could see all of the reasons for her to live, but she could not.
I absolutely adored Colter. He sees that something is wrong with Ellery and tries to show her what to live for. Despite the tragedies in his past, he was focused on moving forward and was trying to understand why Ellery couldn't.
There were a couple of issues that I had and they were why I couldn't give this story 5 stars. First was the amount of metaphors the author uses. There were times where I forgot what the sentence was describing because of how many metaphors were being used. There were just too many. This was something I noticed right off the bat and just knew it was going to bother me if it persisted.
The second issue was how other people dealt with Ellery's depression. It's pretty obvious that she was not okay. Even her faking it was bad. But no did anything. I loved Colter, but when you know someone has planned to kill themselves, you tell someone. You try to get that person professional help. There were two suicidal people in this book, both with noticeable tendencies and nobody did anything about either. When Ellery finds out a classmate is also suicidal, she decides that while she doesn't want him to die, she won't tell anyone because then he might tell her secret and she's also kind of fascinated with how he's going to do it. It was a little disturbing.
This book reminds me a lot of Thirteen Reasons Why in different ways. Suicide awareness is something that needs to be focused on more. I do wish that this book portrayed how to help someone a littler better than just using the love angle, but it was still a powerful book and the ending seemed to be going in that direction.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Well, I didn't like this one as much as I liked the first one. I don't know, this is a hard series for me to rate. On one hand, I absolutely love theWell, I didn't like this one as much as I liked the first one. I don't know, this is a hard series for me to rate. On one hand, I absolutely love the undertones of the plot that the author sneaks in there. And then there's the snark, and if you know anything about me, you know that I love love love snark. But then there's the story itself and the snark overload to the point that I just want Isis to shut up. Ughhh...so frustrating.
Forget Me Always begins with Isis having selective amnesia. She remembers everything about her past except anything surrounding Jack. It's almost like her brain was just like, 'nope, not going there'. While in the hospital, Isis befriends the mysterious Sophie and the events surrounding Jack's past all start to fall into place.
For a work of contemporary fiction to make sense, the events in the book need to seem as if they would happen in real life. They need to be believable actions. Most of what happened in this book just didn't seem plausible and that alone kept taking me out of the story. It was drama with a capitol D. There were too many subplots that when tied together either left so much information out that it didn't make sense or just jumbled up together and were forgotten. It's almost like Wolf forgot what story she wanted to tell: love, mystery, self-actualization, comedy...
But again, what kept me going and what I loved from the first book is Isis's pain. Not in the way of, I want her to hurt forever. But more in the way of how constant bullying and torment can take effect on a person. I want to see her heal and that's the story that I am interested in. To stop putting up this comedic front because that's not who she is. Yes, I do believe that Isis has snark and humor within her, but the way it's showcased now is very much obviously a front.
The one thing Wolf does exceptionally well is write emotional pain. You almost don't see it in the first book because of the humor, but it makes its presence known here in the second. With all of our characters heading out to college, I'm interested in knowing how all of the events in book 2 will effect each of them and how will they heal. Will they heal?
Book two's always tend to be the bridge from here to there in a trilogy. Well, this one kept me interested so I guess it did it's job.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
It's a word we all know. Hell, we've probably called ourselves that before, let alone other people. It's a harsh word, a demeaning word. And it'sUgly
It's a word we all know. Hell, we've probably called ourselves that before, let alone other people. It's a harsh word, a demeaning word. And it's a word that's defined Isis Black's existence.
Love Me Never was definitely different from most contemporary YA's. Despite the blatant humor that cycles throughout the book, it's overall theme was predominately dark. When we meet Isis, she's pretty much the new girl at her high school. We can tell something happened in her past, but it's definitely under lockdown. It isn't until she immerses herself in a game of war with Jack Hunter that little trickles of who she used to be start slipping through the cracks.
Isis is a hard character to get to know. Because of this, I had a hard time relating to her in the beginning. Her humor was extremely over the top and at times, annoying. She was rude and crass and just didn't know when to stop talking. Her childish antics did nothing to endear her to me at all either. But as the story went on, it became something more, and for this, I applaud the author because I understood what she was trying to do.
Some people are just funny, that's who they are. Jokes come naturally to them and people want to be around them. Isis is not that person. And what we learn as the book goes on is that her humor is a mask. Isis is broken. Completely. Fake it til you make it.
Why three stars? Mostly because a lot of the scenarios weren't very believable. The acts of the high school director, for one. Jack's "job" as another. But Wolf did draw me in enough to have me wanting to read the second book. I want the whole stories of both Isis and Jack. I'm hoping Wolf continues on the dark themed path because, let's face it, high school isn't sunshine and rainbows....more