I've debated on what I should write in this review space. Usually I'm a pretty sarcastic person, flinging jokes left and right to entertain during wha...moreI've debated on what I should write in this review space. Usually I'm a pretty sarcastic person, flinging jokes left and right to entertain during what could be a really dull review. But for this, I'm less inclined to since I'm close to the source material, witnessed the production of this book and contributed two pieces.
This is a non-profit book, so none of the contributors are making any money from this production. You can buy it for $.99 (it's the lowest price LuLu let us set it) or you can read it for free here.
So I'll just ramble about my Random Off Topic Feelings.
I've been dealing with Goodreads/author drama for two years now. And I remember when I first joined Goodreads, I didn't know that authors were even on this site, let alone reading reviews. My thought was, "WHY? Why would a person want to read my insignificant thoughts on their book?" At the time, my reviews existed only to entertain myself and my very small group of friends. It was fun and exciting to find people who loved to read as much as I did, so it's no surprise that Goodreads quickly became my favorite Internet place to visit. But then the drama started, and little by little I found my joy for reviewing dwindling.
I don't review or read as much as I used to, which has me feeling some kind of way. I'm ashamed to admit that I've struggled writing reviews. I second guess words or phrases. Will the author flip out over this one star review? Will the author send his/her band of loyal fans to downvote my review on Amazon? Is this review too controversial? Will someone accuse me of bullying someone? It's maddening. It's gotten to the point where I cringe sometimes when I see a notification on certain reviews. There were already too many fucking people in my review space... and now there's Goodreads too.
I won't lie that I feel personally betrayed and hurt by how Goodreads has done a few things. Some of that stems from things that aren't publicly known (and they'll stay that way, so don't even begin to ask me) and some of it from the part of me that is just fed up with being singled out. It's happened a little too often for my liking this year and I'm just so over the bullshit.
This is getting rather depressing, so I'll make my point. Seeing the production of this book has reminded me why I love the people on Goodreads when I was starting to forget. To see first hand the determination and dedication from people who I've followed and admired for years was incredible. Their drive and motivation to continue on and power through when I felt my own waning is inspiring. These are my people with their flaws, controversies, passion, sophistication, crude humor, sarcasm, irrelevance, brilliance. In true Pitch Perfect flavor:
I don't think I've ever read a story about cheaters. I'm not sure if this was a conscious decision or if it was for fear of it remi...moreActual rating: 3.5
I don't think I've ever read a story about cheaters. I'm not sure if this was a conscious decision or if it was for fear of it reminding me of that corny reality TV show that's somehow STILL airing. (WHY? TELL ME WHY.) Plus, there's always the issue of actually sympathizing with the cheater, not an easy feat. But While You're Away surprised me. I was able to connect and understand the main character, Sarah Westlake, and her reasons for her infidelity. That doesn't mean I'm agreeing with her decision at all, far from it. (I want you all to know that I just resisted a Cheater-Cheater-Pumpkin-Eater reference despite it's non-relevenace.)
What I liked best about While You're Away is Sarah's down to earth voice. She reminds me of my teen self in some ways with her shyness and social awkwardness. At least one of those blasted traits has lingered with me through adulthood, proving that some things never change, but I digress. Sarah's perfect boyfriend, Dave, is the opposite. He's outgoing, a flirt and everywhere he goes, he feeds off of a crowd's energy. This works well for his and Sarah's band, Dasa, but often leaves Sarah lonely and put-out from seeing him flirt with so many girls. That doesn't discount Sarah's love for Dave because she does genuinely care for him as he does her. However, it gives Dave's character a flaw in his seemingly perfection. Sarah doesn't blame her infidelity on him, which I was happy to see, but you can tell that this factor of lack of attention does play into it.
Then we have bad boy Will. He's new, thrilling and completely off-limits to Sarah. Not only does she have sweet and caring Dave, but Will is also taken. Yet through one weird moment at a party, in Sarah's loneliness, she ends up making out with Will and later hiding it from Dave. And while she does feel bad about the betrayal, a part of her is intrigued with the connection she felt with Will.
Finally, I really enjoyed the Holbrook's writing style as I am a sucker for pretty writing. It's not flowery or poetic in the way you'd find Lauren DeStefano's or Tahereh Mafi's. It's more straightforward realism with Sarah's conflicted feelings particularly when Holbrook describes her feelings about Will and why she's so drawn to explore the connection further.
"I felt split in pieces, and none of them matched. It turned out that it was possible to feel guilty and elated at the same time. To be ashamed and emboldened at once. Though it had been wrong to even try it, I wanted another taste of Will."
If there were one thing I would have loved more of, it's more back story between Dave and Sarah. We are shown how they met and why they decided to start Dasa, but the reader is primarily introduced right into the infidelity scene. Though, it's entirely possible that more will be revealed as this story wears on since there are a total of six pieces. I usually prefer reading a book from cover to cover, without interruption, but I do think in this case, it works out well when you're able to leave readers on small cliffs like this gem:
"This felt like the beginning of something. A seduction that dared me to imagine what might come next. I felt like I'd been waiting for this. Needing it, even without knowing."
Because of this, I'm left internally cringing at Sarah and Will's choices, secretly rooting them on and shaking my head at the can of worms they're opening. It's funny how that happened. When did I become both the demon and the angel on Sarah's shoulder? So I think it goes without saying that I'll be continuing. Like Sarah, I'm in too deep to stop at just part 1.
e-ARC was received from the publisher via NetGalley. Thank you!