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
I feel like I don't even need to review this. I mean, everybody knows the amaziness that is Harry Potter. And if you don't, what's wrong with you???
II feel like I don't even need to review this. I mean, everybody knows the amaziness that is Harry Potter. And if you don't, what's wrong with you???
I recently became a part of a HP book club. A group of girls who get together, read about 5 chapters at a time, and then discuss in depth every part of the book. This wasn't my second, or even third time rereading HP (however, it was my first time reading the British version), but even though it wasn't new material, rereading it with a group just opens your eyes to so much more.
What's sold to us as a children's book is actually layers and layers of different emotions. The magical/fantasy element help keep it light and exciting but underneath is loneliness and pain - and not just with Harry.
JK Rowling really hit the mark here. She's able to write a book full of rich characters surrounded by extraordinary things. And she also manages to capture adolescence at its core. ...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.
I was a little worried that I wasn't going to fall in love with this series. I mean, I liked the first one but it wasn't anything that really stood ouI was a little worried that I wasn't going to fall in love with this series. I mean, I liked the first one but it wasn't anything that really stood out to me. But what it did do was get me interested in the follow-up. And let me tell you, the follow-up was worth it!
Bailey Hartwell is the Princess of the Boardwalk. Everyone knows her and everyone loves her. With her family owned inn doing well and her love life secured, Bailey is on top of the world. That is until she walks in on her boyfriend screwing someone else. Suddenly Bailey's world is turned upside down and she begins questioning everything in life and panicking about her future. She doesn't want to end up all alone and feels like she's running out of time.
Vaughn Tremaine left the big city craving the small town life, which is why he set up shop in Hartwell. At first, the town wasn't so sure about this outsider, but over time he's started to warm up to the locals. All except Bailey. And the last thing Vaughn expected was to fall for the one woman who despises him. But when Bailey encounters heartbreak, Vaughn steps up in a way no one, even Vaughn, expects.
What I loved about this book was the progression of Bailey and Vaughn's relationship. It wasn't something that they both just suddenly knew, it was something that had been simmering for a long time until something happened and it blew up. Their banter, their loyalty, and their support of each other just surrounded them and made them that much more stronger.
The town of Hartwell is just adorable. The side characters fill the pages and I want to know more about them and just more about this town. Young created a real community with real problems and feelings and you find yourself wanting these people to succeed in their goals.
Side note, do we know if there's a book 3? I really want Jack's story!
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ...more
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.