Oh god. Why is it so difficult to find a sexy summer romance that isn't annoying or laden with cliched characters?
I didn't finish Nowhere But Here - aOh god. Why is it so difficult to find a sexy summer romance that isn't annoying or laden with cliched characters?
I didn't finish Nowhere But Here - and feel free to judge me for writing a little review anyway - but I just couldn't make it through all the constant irritations.
The female MC (Emily) is a bland "good girl" from the right side of town and she comes into Oz's "bad boy" life and turns his head away from the slutty, trashy girls he's used to sleeping with and forgetting about. Because Emily is mysterious and classy, not obvious and sexual like all those other girls who show their midriffs, god forbid!
Annoyance #1 : Slut-shaming "Trash bitch woman wears skintight jeans, a tank top that exposes her midriff and, holy mother of God, flip-flops."
Annoyance #2 : Cliches and stereotypes The bikers that Oz hangs out with must be the most cliched, one-dimensional bikers ever. Oz is openly described as a "bad boy". Emily is good and boring and I don't understand why anyone would care about her...
Annoyance #3 : The Collide "She steps back and nearly knocks into me. I sidestep her, but I collided with someone else." This happens in so many romance novels. The author thinks "how can I make Ms Good Girl meet Mr Bad Boy? I know...BAM!" They collide with one another. Because a handshake is so passé (and it's convenient).
"You watch the world. I'm not even sure you live in it."
It's so weird how nearly every 2015 YA book that promises fast-paced action and/or fantasy t"You watch the world. I'm not even sure you live in it."
It's so weird how nearly every 2015 YA book that promises fast-paced action and/or fantasy turns into a story about that guy (or guys) with the beautiful eyes, and yet most YA books pitched as cutesy summer romances turn out to be powerful and moving coming-of-age stories. Between Us and the Moon is just that.
This is a story about Sarah - the baby of the family, who everyone calls "Bean". Her older sister, Scarlett, is the beautiful one, the popular one, the one who rebels and goes to parties; their parents don't even ask Sarah where she's going when she leaves the house because they know how sensible she is. They know she only wants to study comets and stars, and apply for a scholarship.
Except there's a different side to Sarah. One that is growing up in her sister's shadow. One that hurts inside when her aunt buys Scarlett beautiful slinky gowns and buys her pink frills instead. Like many teenagers, she's torn between the pull of who she is and the need to be someone likable and desirable. I thought it was an exceptionally honest portrait of a confused, scared, selfish teenage girl, right from the very first chapter.
“I want to be able to care about clothes and boys, but be good at science, too. I want to be both."
The book opens with Sarah being dumped by her boyfriend, Tucker. Following the advice of her amazing, gay, hippie grandmother, Sarah decides that she does not need this stupid boy and will continue applying for her scholarship and being awesome (hell yeah!). But, of course, she's an insecure teenager and things aren't quite so simple. She wants to understand why her sister is this popular goddess and no one looks twice at her. And to understand that, she does what she does best - a science experiment.
“Scarlett does and says specific things that make people want to be around her all the time. Just like Becky. There has to be a direct correlation between Scarlett’s specific behaviour and style to the response of acceptance and popularity.”
I know some readers won't like that Sarah essentially tries to change who she is and wear different clothes because she gets dumped by a guy - I respect that - but I also think there's an important lesson to be learned here, in the end. I remember a little something about trying to become someone else to fit in back in high school, so this book made me a little nostalgic and sad. Sarah was selfish at times but I sympathized with her and felt her sadness and frustration at every turn.
Between Us and the Moon does have a romance that is central to the story, but I think it acts as the stage on which the author plays out the themes of growing up and learning to accept who you are. I personally didn't get as much of a sense of the "forbidden" from Sarah's relationship with Andrew. She's sixteen and he's nineteen (nearly twenty), which might cause issues with maturity but is still completely legal in the U.K. Though while that didn't come across, I enjoyed reading about them together.
My favourite thing about the book was Sarah's growth. Both her personal growth and the development of her relationships with her family members. So many lessons to be learned. Her family has to see her in a new light, as she grows up, and she also has to realize that there's more to them than she first thought. There were some really great family dynamics that left me feeling quite emotional at times.
“Well, that’s growing up, isn’t it?” my dad said. “You don’t always have to know. And things aren’t always fair. You just have to keep moving forward“Well, that’s growing up, isn’t it?” my dad said. “You don’t always have to know. And things aren’t always fair. You just have to keep moving forward. A step in one direction.”
Yet another book that has me wondering just what is going on in the book marketing/design world. With a title like Emmy & Oliver and the heart-shaped finger prints on the cover, pretty much everyone will pick this book up thinking they know exactly what they're going to get - a cute romance.
In reality, this book is not a romance. Maybe it's 25% romance at the very most. Rather, Emmy & Oliver is a coming-of-age story about friendships, family, growing up, life in a small town and learning to be something on your own, separate from your friends and family. To call this a romance would grossly oversimplify a quiet, moving and funny story about all these important things.
Emmy and Oliver were childhood best friends until Oliver's father kidnapped him as a kid. The kidnapping shakes their entire small town and we see the lasting effect it has on everyone else - from the friends Oliver left behind to the parents who become extremely overprotective of their own kids. Then, ten years later, Oliver is found and returned home. Emmy is unsure whether she wants to rebuild what they once had, or even if it's possible, but she is curious about the person who has returned and how much of her old friend lingers beneath the surface.
This is such a sensitive and thoughtful story about many different relationships. There's something about the way Benway handles her characterization that makes us care about every individual in this book. Forget Emmy and Oliver for a second, we also see Emmy's relationship with her two other friends - Caroline and Drew - through some of the best-written dialogue I've read in a long time. And we get a glimpse into the complex relationship Emmy has with her overprotective parents; both her love for them and her frustration with them.
Honestly, I loved these characters and the dynamic between them. I think Emmy & Oliver is all the more powerful because it feels so real and honest. The people in this book feel both unique and universal at the same time. It is not cheesy, there are no sex gods or instaromances of any kind, it channels some feminist vibes, and friendship is put before anything else. Very highly recommended.