I really enjoyed this book, mostly because Eleanor is an incredibly complex character whom I can relate to on so many levels that it's kinda scary. I...moreI really enjoyed this book, mostly because Eleanor is an incredibly complex character whom I can relate to on so many levels that it's kinda scary. I also loved that this book is full of COLOR, and the adult characters are just as complex and well-rounded as the teens. I swear the breakfast table eyeliner scene came straight out of my family playbook, and I still remember going through my dad's vinyl collection like it was a spiritual experience.
What I don't love about this book is Park. I'm getting really tired of the self-aware, sexually evolved, hipster love interest who put up with a girl who treat him like crap because she doesn't want to be loved. Park was just a little too perfect, his only fault being that he loved Eleanor a little too much (their desperate need for each other was at times rather creepy, as in Bella/Edward creepy). Seriously, what teenage boy loves only the music and comics that will eventually turned into cultural icons? Watchmen, Vans and The Smiths? I know that people like to read books that push the boundaries of reality, because really, who would want to read a book about a guy who leaves a girl because he gets bullies for liking her and it's too hard to get past her emotional walls. And no child of the 80's wants to admit they loved Rick Springfield more than Elvis Costello. We all want to read about characters who always manage to say the right things at all the right moments, but there needs to be some balance. I want to know how Eleanor changes Park, why she's a good match for him, and not some cop-out sudden realization a third of the way through the book that he needs to stop worrying so much about what his less-evolved peers think.
Maybe I've lost my romantic streak in my old age, but I did not drink the Park Kool-Aid.(less)
The beginning was a bit rough with some really cliche descriptions and romantic troupes, but the characters were engaging, the issues felt authentic,...moreThe beginning was a bit rough with some really cliche descriptions and romantic troupes, but the characters were engaging, the issues felt authentic, and even the premise of a guy who can't say no to a dare was kind of fun. Plus, there's baseball. 'Nough said.(less)
I kind of want to give this book two different ratings, so instead I split the difference.
The "read it in the context of its time" me wanted to give i...moreI kind of want to give this book two different ratings, so instead I split the difference.
The "read it in the context of its time" me wanted to give it five stars, because this book really was monumental back in 1942. It was pretty much the first young adult book ever published, and it tackled totally new issues for it's day peer pressure, first love and family dynamics from a teen perspective. The voice is all young adult with the internal angst and self doubt. It's also thanks to this book that a lot of the YA fiction published today is in first-person present. Want to know who started that trend? Maureen Daly, that's who.
The "modern reader looking for a book that means something" me wanted to give this book three starts. This book has...issues, and not in a good "issue book" kind of way. The internal dialogue is kind of all over the place, it never fully explores anything of substance, and the pacing is almost agonizingly slow compared to books currently being published. The descriptive language seems forced, and I didn't really see much of a change in the character by the end. But surprisingly, I really liked the ending--not your typical summer romance novel.
So if you're going to read this book, be prepared to spend a little time on it so you can absorb it in it's full historical context. But even as a "modern reader," it's worth a look.(less)
The premise of this book is wonderful, and the story is pretty moving as well. While a duel third-person close POV is fairly standard for a romance no...moreThe premise of this book is wonderful, and the story is pretty moving as well. While a duel third-person close POV is fairly standard for a romance novel, this one adds a third POV, which I thought was a great choice as Bailey's voice (the only non-romantic lead) kind of makes the story. But the author chose an incredibly difficult narrative perspective. She shifts between childhood, adolescence and adulthood in a nonlinear plot, and she gets mired in the character development somewhere in the teenage years. I didn't buy Fern as an overly innocent teenage ugly duckling. The time shifting got confusing as the date-stamps weren't consistently used. I also had issues with the four friends seemingly instantaneous decision to join the military, blindly following Ambrose into a hell hole.
But there was really a beauty to this story in its non-traditional, pseudo-new adult genera, which I'm generally not a fan of. It dealt really well with PTSD and showed that romantic love won't heal everything. Ambrose faces a crisis of character without being the "perfect" male lead, and he deals with his issues with a therapist. (Halleluiah, someone in a romance novel actually talking to a professional to deal with their issues.) There's talk about faith and death without it being too in-your-face. It tackles some tough emotional issues and faces them head on.
I might have given this book three stars, but it was impressive for a basically self-published book. There was an editor and an agent listed in the acknowledgements, but you could tell this wasn't a big-budge job (no main-stream publisher would confuse an n-dash for an m-dash when formatting a book, and there were enough grammatical errors that I can't believe more than one person edited it). So I gave it an extra star for the potential I see in Amy Harmon's writing. I expect she'll write some wonderful things in the future.
P.S. It kind of annoyed me at how cluelessly Mormon the author is. The preacher's wife uses the term "tender mercies of the Lord," which is not a phrase used in mainstream Christianity but has become a bit of a catch-phrase in Mormon culture. Also, the romantic leads who mysteriously avoid having sex before they're actually married? Another Mormon Mom cop-out. (less)
Perkins' books leave me completely contented and totally mushy. And I'm not a mushy person--I don't get all warm and fuzzy from a good romance. So why...morePerkins' books leave me completely contented and totally mushy. And I'm not a mushy person--I don't get all warm and fuzzy from a good romance. So why I love these books so much is a bit of a mystery. Maybe it's because they're all at once funny and meaningful, totally real and a little magical, typically romantic and full of longing. They capture what it's like to be a teenager in love while possessing a depth of character that leaves you knowing not only that the characters have become something better but also gives you hope that you can be something more in the end as well.(less)
There was nothing that made this book really special to capture my interest. I probably would have put it down after the first 60 pages if I hadn't be...moreThere was nothing that made this book really special to capture my interest. I probably would have put it down after the first 60 pages if I hadn't been listening to Katherine Kellgren read it. It was like a watered-down romance novel.(less)
Cancer may be fatal, but it’s not a flaw. This book annoyed me to no end. Talk about a manic-pixy-fairy girl and a tall-dark-and-handsome boy who say...moreCancer may be fatal, but it’s not a flaw. This book annoyed me to no end. Talk about a manic-pixy-fairy girl and a tall-dark-and-handsome boy who say all the right things and feel all the right emotions and are just quirky enough to be endearing and totally unrealistic. Hazel talks about a character’s “fatal flaw,” and unfortunately, the main character and romantic interest’s fatal flaws are completely superficial. Gus’s biggest flaw is that he’s a terrible driver with a hero complex, and Hazel’s flaw is that she can’t see her own beauty and won’t let herself love a guy who loves her because she thinks she’s “a grenade.” Sure, these kids have to deal with huge issues, such as their own mortality and living with constant pain, but I’ve known kids with terminal diseases before—deeply loved them and been torn apart by their deaths—but I’m also hyper aware of what pain and stress does to a teenager’s personality—and it’s not a pretty thing. The irony is that Green actually has the main characters talk about the postmortem saintly status of children who die young, but he himself is horribly guilty of reinforcing the same view. I felt like this book was doing a total disservice to teens with terminal illness by not allowing the characters to be real kids. And I don’t care how intelligent you are, missing three years of school because you’re receiving medical treatment will not make you some kind of literary savant. If you look past the emotional manipulation that is this book, you find hipster adults stuck inside teenagers’ bodies (see the dinner in Amsterdam scene) without any real substance who are completely defined by their circumstances rather than who they become in the end. Green’s a great writer, there’s no doubt about that, but can’t authors create beautiful sentences and substantive characters at the same time?(less)
When Cassie's grandfather tells her to not go gently, she knows he is telling her more than a line from a forbidden poem. So when she is matched with...moreWhen Cassie's grandfather tells her to not go gently, she knows he is telling her more than a line from a forbidden poem. So when she is matched with her childhood friend Xander but finds herself falling in love with the outcast Ky, she wonders if this is her moment to do something more, to fight for what she wants.
This book is perfect for people wanting a romantic version of The Hunger Games as it focuses on the relationships rather than the political working of the futuristic Society. While I really liked Cassie, Ky and Xander, I felt the story moved a little too slow and was a little hallow for the premise. But the ending gives hope for more to come.(less)
How long do first impressions last? Luckily for Dash and Lily, first impressions are rewritable. In an adventure full of missed opportunities and misu...moreHow long do first impressions last? Luckily for Dash and Lily, first impressions are rewritable. In an adventure full of missed opportunities and misunderstandings, Dash and Lily break all the rules about friendship and love and acceptance.
This book is an example of the whole being greater than its parts. When I first met Dash, I was disappointed by his bah-humbugness, and Lily was so lovable, she was, well, quite annoying. Dash was just a little too metrosexual and Lily was just a little too childish for me to ever believe them as real people let alone romantic leads. But I kept reading because a book beginning in The Strand with a Moleskine Notebook has to be a good, right? And somewhere between an ugly Beatles Muppet and a missing majorette boot, I was introduced to this secondary cast of characters I began to love, so I had to love Dash and Lily because Aunt Ida and Mark and Sofia and Boomer love them. Through them, I began to see that Lily's perpetual positivity hides her fear of loneliness and Dash's snarl is only temporary until he can find fanciful.
As it turns out, this novel is the anti-fairy tale. It's an exploration of a slow-burning love that grows by choice instead of lust. The characters have this wholesome innocence (a description I never expected to use about a Cohn/Levithan novel) overshadowed only by their desire to live life. While I still don't like the melodramatic baby-catching scene (it reminded me a little too much of Will Grayson Will Grayson), and I felt this book digressed from the rawness of Nick Norah's Infinite Playlist and the fullness of characters in Naomi and Ely's No Kiss List (in part because the Dasha and Lily are younger characters), the romance and truthfulness of this novel stole my heart. Unlike most romantic comedies, I found myself wondering if they would ever come together in the end and if this mismatched pair would ever realize that together, they are greater than their parts.(less)
I love Nick Hornby. He has an amazing writing style that is the perfect balance of dialogue, narrative and insight. I come away from his books a littl...moreI love Nick Hornby. He has an amazing writing style that is the perfect balance of dialogue, narrative and insight. I come away from his books a little in love with all the characters and feeling totally satisfied.(less)