I loved this book. I couldn't put it down. The ending left me wonderfully satisfied, but wanting for more.
Throughout the book, I laughed aloud, and I...moreI loved this book. I couldn't put it down. The ending left me wonderfully satisfied, but wanting for more.
Throughout the book, I laughed aloud, and I wept. Oh, how I wept. I wouldn't call it sad, though, but poignant, and so very real.
When I first picked up Marcelo, I didn't know the main character had Asperger's Syndrome. I had heard good things about the book, but no specifics. When the Asperger's element became apparent within the first chapter, I put the book down. I didn't want to read an "autism book."
The book sat on my nightstand for a few days before the good things I'd heard about the it, and the fact that Cheryl Klein edited it, won out. (I've enjoyed everything that Cheryl Klein has brought to the world, so I decided I should trust her.)
The story, a coming-of-age of sorts, chronicles the summer that Marcelo works as a clerk in his father's Boston law firm. It is not an "autism book" at all. It's a story about a teenage boy and the adventures and struggles he has as he navigates a tense father-son relationship, the ugliness of the cut-throat corporate environment, first love, and real human suffering. Marcelo is startlingly realistic, and his life and character, though certainly impacted by Asperger's Syndrome, is so much more than that. Marcelo is the character; the syndrome is simply part of the background.
As a writer, I am awed by Stork's ability to create such a realistic character and to grapple with the weighty questions of God and human suffering without cliches or trite answers or heavyhandedness. As a reader, I blush as Marcelo wades into his first romance, with all its awkwardness and tenderness. What fun!
I appreciate a book about a character rather than a syndrome. He is a person, not a diagnosis. This is so important. Mr. Stork, thank you for Marcelo in the Real World. Dear reader, if you haven't read it yet, I recommend that you do.
*Four of us reviewed Where She Went in a conversational style.*
Frankie: First of all—if you haven't read IF I STAY, leave now! Because th...more*Four of us reviewed Where She Went in a conversational style.*
Frankie: First of all—if you haven't read IF I STAY, leave now! Because though we won't be spoilerific ... the summary of WHERE SHE WENT spoils the end of IF I STAY. So you’ve been warned. And how could you have not read IF I STAY yet? Go read it! The book is amazing!
Sara: Also, this book lives up to all the hype it’s received!
Donna: I love that it's a contemporary, character-driven novel that sucks you in as much as a plot-driven paranormal/dystopian spectacular.
Janine: I couldn't put it down.
Sara: I really loved that Gayle gave us a look into his mind.
Frankie: Being in Adam's head was everything I dreamed it would be and more.
Donna: It made WHERE SHE WENT so distinct from IF I STAY.
Sara: And yet connected them so much.
Donna: It was such a different kind of story, but they both had life or death stakes. Mia's was literal, but Adam's was metaphorical.
Sara: Mia and Adam's voice are both unique and yet weirdly similar. I think it might have be the undercurrent of music that ran through their minds constantly.
Frankie: They are two such well developed and well matched characters. I have NO idea how Gayle was able to do that. Just get so completely into his head and bring him to life.
ON WORSHIPPING GAYLE:
Janine: I'm awed by how wonderfully and believable emotional it is. I was right there, in their hearts and in their heads. I cried. I laughed. I felt tortured.
Sara: And how to even begin to imagine what the mind of someone who'd gone through that experience would look like.
Frankie: I'm in awe.
Donna: ::bows down to Gayle Forman::
Sara: Yes. Annnd, fin. This book is so good there are no words for it.
Frankie: Gayle Forman is our goddess. All you can do is read it again.
Janine: And again.
Sara: And again.
ON THE CONNECTION BETWEEN MIA AND ADAM:
Donna: I love that both Adam and Mia are lost in their own way. And they're trying to find their way back to themselves. And to each other. It really does make the books connect.
Janine: And makes the reading of them painfully frustrating--in the best way.
Frankie: And I loved how Mia became a complete mystery in this book
Donna: Yes! I mean, in IF I STAY, we had raw Mia. At her most vulnerable time. And now it's like, who is she? What happened to her? WHERE DID SHE GO? hehe
Frankie: I felt just like Adam--we were in her head for IF I STAY, we knew her, like Adam did. But in WHERE SHE WENT...it was like...SOS Mia!
Sara: I worried a little about that at first--because Mia had drawn me in so much during IF I STAY, I thought, how could I possibly connect as much with Adam? But I did.
Frankie: Easy! Adam is her other half. You connect with her, you connect with him
ON THE REALISTIC PORTRAYAL OF EPIC LOVE:
Sara: I loved the portrayal of high school/young romance in both of these books. It was intense and beautiful, but felt realistic at the same time.
Donna: Epic and realistic.
Frankie: And Adam was SUCH a guy—I mean boy! He would hate it if I called him that.
Sara: Haha, true.
Frankie: But there was never a moment where I didn’t believe he was real and a boy!
ON THE EMOTIONAL EPICNESS OF THIS BOOK:
Frankie: How emotional was this book?
Janine: It's cathartic.
Donna: SUCH an emotional hook!
Sara: I may have cried in public.
Donna: I read it in one sitting.
Janine: I skipped church to finish it.
Frankie: I cried in public and in private. It was un-put-down-able.
Sara: I found myself ignoring my real-job duties and sneaking it out of my desk.
Frankie: You can't read a Gayle book unless you have several hours set aside.
ON MUSIC AND LYRICS:
Sara: I LOVE the music in this book.
Frankie: I wish I could go see Adam's band perform.
Janine: Or Mia!
Donna: I never played a musical instrument in my life, but I could FEEL that music, feel their passion for it.
Sara: The whole book was musical--the writing, the rhythm, and it was just such a beautiful foil for the two characters. It was like a second language in the book.
IN WHICH WE CRACK AND TURN INTO BLUBBERING FANGIRLS:
Frankie: There really isn't more to say without spoiling what happens, and you do NOT want to be spoiled.
Sara: Just let it be known that it's beautiful and intense and AWESOME.
Frankie: Just trust us--this book delivers on all fronts.
Janine: You won't be disappointed.
Donna: I just wanted to hug this book. It felt so RIGHT to have a sequel.
Sara: They're like two peas in a pod. WSW and IIS!
Frankie: Kissing? Language? Tension? Lyricism? Rhythm? Pacing? Romance? Emotion? Development? Plotting? It ALL wins!
Donna: And WHERE SHE WENT feels complete too. It really is the perfect complement, the way I wish all sequels are.
Janine: It stands on its own.
Sara: It was it's own story, but still further fleshed out Mia's story. The sum is definitely WAY greater than the parts.
Donna: YES! Gayle ended IF I STAY so that you don't HAVE to read WHERE SHE WENT.... but you really, really should.
Sara: I was 100% satisfied with IIS and 100% with WHERE SHE WENT. Which just means I was 200% with both.
Donna: In conclusion: READ IT!!!
Frankie: A lot!
Sara: When it comes out. (April 5th!)
Frankie: And also get the audio. Because its the same narrator who did Cole in LINGER, and he's HOT.
Donna: Smokin’ hot voice—agreed! Alright, thank you, Gayle! Way to set the sequel bar super epically high!
Donna: This is a first for us, but we figured – a...more* Four-person, conversational, spoiler-free review! *
Janine: We're so excited to Gchat review LINGER!
Donna: This is a first for us, but we figured – an awesome book with four narrators (Grace, Sam, Isabel, and Cole) deserves four reviewers!
Frankie: Why don't we start with our newest member of the pack: Cole! He’s sexy.
Sara: I love Cole! He's a different sexy than Sam.
Frankie: And the anti-Sam.
Donna: Cole is a Maggie bad boy. Meaning, he has significant depth and is redeemable.
Janine: And mysterious.
Frankie: Though Cole and Sam have a similar arc, don't you think? They both need to be saved and both are trying to hold onto one form -- Cole-Wolf, Sam-Human.
Sara: That's a good point, Frankie -- the two sets of stories -- Grace/Sam and Isabel/Cole -- feel very different when you read them, but they actually kind of mirror each other. And I have to say, while I love Grace and Sam, I really dug the whole Isabel/Cole thing.
Frankie: Which is what made them work so well, and kept the entire text fresh.
Donna: Yes! SUCH chemistry. Maggie gave us the passionate, will they/won't they, new couple chemistry, AND the Sam and Grace steady, established love chemistry.
Sara: And it was nice getting inside Isabel's head. She was really engaging as a secondary character in SHIVER and I liked having her come to the forefront in LINGER.
Donna: Isabel intrigued me. Falling for a wolf after her brother died trying to un-become one? Complicated. Plus, Isabel's dad keeps trying to kill Cole...
Sara: OMG, Isabel's dad. Her dad is like the Professor Umbridge of Mercy Falls.
Janine: Cole and Isabel are raw and their histories are so loaded. Makes for great tension! And I love tension. Not to mention their complicated motivations.
Donna: Their story was woven very well into the Sam and Grace storyline though, with them dealing with Sam’s permanent human-ness and Grace’s hidden illness. It flowed naturally.
Sara: Yeah, and it was nice to have more people for Grace and Sam to interact with.
Donna: Expanding their world.
Sara: It made Sam and Grace’s relationship less insular and more real. Something else I liked about LINGER was the chance to get to know Sam more. We really only knew him as NotWolfSam in SHIVER, whereas now we're really getting to know him as HumanSam.
Janine: Very true. How about we switch from discussing characters to pacing?
Sara: I thought the story was paced well. I was dubious of four narrators at first, I have to say. But I think it really pulled the story along.
Janine: That's very serious and literary analysis-y of you, Sara. :)
Frankie: It did, and what Maggie does well with the multiple narrative structure is calls off all bets on who is around at the end. With a first person narrator, you kind of know they live.
Donna: True, I never once got bored with middle novel syndrome. Though LINGER definitely acts as a bridge between SHIVER and FOREVER, it has its own plot.
Frankie: One you had to race to the end for! And that ending....OH!
Sara: The ending was so crazy! We can't say too much, obviously. But the pages...they were a'turning!
Frankie: I know! No spoilers, but...WOW! The end makes me cry—I’ve read LINGER twice...and it gets me every time.
Donna: Final thoughts?
Frankie: LINGER was fabulous. Can we have a copy of FOREVER, now?
Janine: Please? With nachos on the side?
Sara: I cried like a baby at the end of LINGER. I cried so much I had to text Frankie about it. It was pretty intense.
Janine: So was the ending!
Donna: I didn't anticipate it, but when I looked back on the book, it made sense, and it was building throughout.
Frankie: Ok everyone say one word that sums up LINGER. Go!
Donna: LINGERing! Ok, I cheated. Uh, lyrical!
Frankie: I was waiting for someone to say that. Longing.
Frankie: Way to break away from our use of alliteration. But nice word choice!
Donna: And on that lintense note, you need to go out and buy LINGER! The FNC agrees – it’s lawesome!
When we love a book so much we sleep with it under our pillows at night, the First Novels Club decides to do a co-review. In the case of ANNA AND THE...moreWhen we love a book so much we sleep with it under our pillows at night, the First Novels Club decides to do a co-review. In the case of ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS, we couldn't stop fighting over it, so we had to do a quad-review!
Frankie: This review is easy: I LOVE IT I LOVE IT I LOVE IT
Janine: I couldn't put it down. And when I had to, I couldn't think about anything else but picking it up again. And I want to go to Paris. And I want to study French. And I want to eat macaroons and sandwiches with drippy Fontina cheese. And maybe even wear uncomfortable shoes. And any book you can say all that about--including that it makes you WANT to STUDY something, must be pretty good.
Donna: I read ANNA in one sitting --- and it's not a short book!
Sara: No! But it doesn't feel long.
Janine: It flies by--which is the only sad thing about--that it ends. :(
Sara: Can you believe this was Stephanie’s debut?
Janine: Um...no. I cannot believe that. It is so perfectly paced and the tension is so just right.
Donna: It kinda makes me hope there are like 17 imperfect novels in a Perkins house drawer somewhere. Because there has to be SOME explanation for this. Let's talk about the details of ANNA --- Anna is an American teen who gets sent to a Parisian boarding school. Sounds pretty tame. The brilliance is in the execution.
Sara: Like the characters. Anna is anything but boring.
Janine: I agree with Sara--but she's also so normal. Ya know? In a writerly sense, she is very realistically written. In a character sense, she's a normal highschool girl with her own interests, opinions, quirks and insecurities. I LOVE that. She just felt so real.
Sara: I thought Anna was a lovely balance between shy and outgoing--It would be really easy to write a wallflower character, considering the crazy circumstances she's put into. But Perkins let Anna's personality shine through on every page.
Frankie: Yes! And she was so relatable--I can't think of one moment or feeling she experience that I couldn't relate directly to my own life
Donna: And she was someone I wanted to be FRIENDS with. Whereas many YA characters that I love, I know I'd never be friends with them in real life. I love the development of friendships and relationships in the novel. Because Anna joins in with an established group of friends in Paris. And though she becomes one of them, she still feels separate.
Frankie: Yeah, what made Etienne and Anna's relationship work so well and feel so tense was because they really were friends, within a larger group.
Sara: In fact, there's even some tension between her and other group members.
Janine: Which I think is a very real part of highschool. The push-pull of friends, the tension of girls liking boys who like a different girl, and vice-versa.
Frankie: You don't always know who to trust, sometimes you feel like your friends don't like you and it's all in your head--she totally captured that. But in Paris!
Donna: As silly as it sounds, you really feel like Anna enters a world that has already fully been existing before she came on the scene. That's strong world-building.
Sara: Definitely. I love how Paris becomes more than a setting, it's almost a character too.
Janine: She really captured the essence of Paris, I think, without being too or over descriptive. I really felt like I was there, but it was truly a feeling, not an image in my head. It was a taste in my mouth. Every page FEELS like Paris.
Donna: Anyone can research details of a city (she hadn't even BEEN there when she wrote this!), but she got the heart of the city -- from the perspective of an outsider who becomes an insider. What I also loved was that, though Anna was in Paris, it wasn't like her pre-Paris life ceased to exist. She still had complications at home, and when she went home for break, life hadn't stopped without her.
Frankie: Oh yes, that feeling of coming home again after you've been away--and you're heart and soul feel like they're somewhere else and nothing feels right anymore! The aspects of adjusting to international life--and life back home--were very realistic.
Janine: It's very disorienting, and I could relate to what Anna was experiencing. How you think your home life was on pause for the past three months because you weren't there.
Sara: Can I say how much I love that a) Anna has interests outside of pining over a boy and b) that college was totally brushed over and not a big deal?
Donna: The novel really was about her YEAR in Paris, not just the OMG CUTE BOY part of her year. Like Frankie said, she and Etienne were real friends.
Janine: And that Anna, as much as we loved her from the beginning, she really does grow as a character from beginning to end, and Paris and Etienne were a part of that growth.
Frankie: I want to go to the Stephanie Perkins School of Writing.
Janine: I was relieved to learn there will be more of them, and I like that they will be companion books rather than sequels.