This book was fascinating, and it made me ugly cry. Everything started moving a little too quickly, in my opinion, as the book neared the end. I stillThis book was fascinating, and it made me ugly cry. Everything started moving a little too quickly, in my opinion, as the book neared the end. I still have some uncertainties about everything in this world, but perhaps they'll be fleshed out in the second book. I would like to think that it was a little confusing and quick, because that is how it must have felt to the main character as well, that the author merely intended for the audience to not have more information than the main character/narrator.
In a genre of repeated material, I found this to be original. I liked the voice of the main character. I liked the family unit. I liked the love interest. I liked the whole book, with the possible exception of the sprint to the finish line. I'm looking forward to reading it again and reading the next book.
Excerpt "This is not, like, Little Women. Beth and her nice, invalid Beth-ness have always made me puke. The way people imagined she wasn't dying. The way she blatantly was. In that kind of story, the moment someone decides to wrap you in blankets and you accidentally smile weakly, you're dead.
Hence, I try not to smile weakly, even if I feel weak, which I sometimes secretly or unsecretly do. I don't want to make myself into a catastrophic blanket-y invalid.
Bang, bang, you're dead. Close your eyes and go to bed.
Side note: invalid. Whoever invented that word, and made it the same word as not-valid? That person sucked."
"My thing is a Mystery and not just a Mystery, but Bermuda—no sun, only Triangle.
I take handfuls of drugs every morning, even though no one is entirely sure what the thing that's wrong with me actually is. I'm rare like that.
Rare, like bloodworm and tests and things reaching down my throat. Rare like MRIs and X-rays and sonograms and swabs and never any clear diagnosis.
Rare, like my disease is standing onstage in a tuxedo belting out a torch song that has a chorus along the lines of 'Baby, you're the only one for me.' And then the disease just stands there, waiting for me to walk into its arms and give up resisting."
"Maybe I sound like I'm exaggerating. No. My disease is so rare it's named Azaray Syndrome.
After me, Aza Ray Boyle.
Which is perverse. I don't want a doppelgänger in disease form, some weird medical case immortality, which means medical students'll be saying my name for the next hundred years. No one asked ME when the lab published a paper in Nature and gave this disease my name. I would've said no. I'd like to have named my disease myself: the Jackass, or maybe something ugly, such as Elmer or Clive."
"Aza. For years, I thought that if I had to be a palindrome, make me kuulilennuteetunneliluuk. Which is the Estonian word for the part of the gun a bullet whizzes through on its way to kill you.
If you're gonna go there,e go there all the way. Right?
Instead, I'm the alphabet. Depending on your worldview and knowledge of the history of the alphabet, there could also be a silent & in there. The ampersand used to be the twenty-seventh letter. You'd recite your alphabet and at the end, you'd say X, Y, Z, &. So if you're doing my name, it's an alphabet loop, and that means that between Z and A, you get to add in an & too. Az(&)a.
There's an awesome thing about having that & in my name, as follows: the symbol itself is the Latin word for 'and,' as in et, with its two letters twisted together. So there's an invisible extraterrestrial in my name."
"I'd like my parents to not have to be constantly thinking about me and my issues. I have a vision of my mom and dad at a beach, drinking things with umbrellas in them.
We've never been to a beach. They've never been on a vacation by themselves, because: me.
So now I'm thinking halfheartedly about hitchhiking to some other city. Or stealing the car and driving there. I maybe-semi-kind-of-know how to drive. I learned three months ago, my dad beside me in the passenger seat, and my mom in the backseat, and both of them swearing they trusted me, even as I crashed into our garbage cans.
My Mom: 'Don't worry. Nobody ever died at two miles an hour.' My Dad: 'Snails?' My Mom: 'Lemurs.' My Dad: 'Shrews. Wait. How fast do shrews move?' My Mom: 'Shrews move incredibly fast. They're predators. They take emergency ten-second naps, and the rest of the time, they hunt. You lose.' My Dad (grinning): 'You win.' Me: 'Um. Should I start the car again?'"
"For a long time, we're watching a blank screen. We can see a little bit of something glowing—squid bait.
I think of the note.
I want to say me too.
I want to say I know.
I want to say I can read the gaps in your sentences. I can read the space between your letters. I know your language. It's my language too.
"'I want to go back to what we were doing before,' I say. 'It was me who screwed that up.'
I'm forced to blurt out the rest as fast as I can.
His shoulders relax. His face softens. 'You think you hold horrors for me . . . ,' he says, which is what he always says when I utter anything in this category.
'But you hold no horrors,' I say, which is the correct response.'"
"I look out. It's starting to snow, completely wrong, right after that rain; it's only November. The back lawn is covered already, a thin dusting of it, and it's the kind of glowing darkish afternoon that snow makes happen. Like the snow is the surface of the moon. Like we're here, and at the same time, in outer space. Which of course, we are. We're all untethered, all flying around in the dark, the same as Mars and Venus, the same as the stars.
I'm definitely not going to cry.
The window creaks.
I think about celestial junk. Maybe every planet in this solar system is discarded by giant hands. Each star a crumpled ball of paper, a love letter lit on fire, a smoldering bit of cigarette ash."
"On a middle-of-the-night internet wander, I found something from 475 BC, a Greek cosmologist called Anaxagoras. At that point, math hadn't thought up the concept of nothing. There was no zero. Hence, Anaxagoras had extensive ideas about the thing that was missing, the something that wasn't.
This is what Anaxagoras said about lost: What is cannot not be. Coming-to-be and perishing are customarily believed in incorrectly by the Greeks, since nothing comes-to-be or perishes, but rather it is mingled together out of things that are, and is separated again. Thus they would be correct to call coming-to-be "being mingled together' and perishing being separated.
That was the first time something felt accurate when it comes to me and Aza. I tried to explain to Carol and Eve that Aza being lost wasn't just her being gone, but ME being gone too, that I was half-dead along with her. This created concerns that I might be planning to perish."
"Yeah, welcome to Aza, age five.
Jason Kerwin: file under Done.
Aza Ray Boyle: file under Everything.
I chased after her, and recited the alphabet backward in a frenzy, but I never thought she'd listen. She's the only person who's ever made me feel so far behind.
Again she looked at me, this time with maybe pity, so I tried the Greek alphabet. It wasn't as though I could read Greek—I was little—but Carol had taught me the phonetic version, and I'd memorized the letters like I was memorizing a song. I thought I saw a spark of interest in her eyes, but she just sighed, tore another piece of paper out of her notebook, and started snipping."...more
Meh. It was okay. There were some things I liked about the book: I liked that it tackled dealing with your parents' divorce, parents' remarrying otherMeh. It was okay. There were some things I liked about the book: I liked that it tackled dealing with your parents' divorce, parents' remarrying others, recovering from sexual assault, and the learning disability dyscalculia. I appreciate books that teach me about something new while entertaining me, and I had certainly never heard of dyscalculia before.
BUT the romance was not that impressive in my opinion. It was essentially lust at first sight. And his reason for not liking Monica was that she knew about his disability. ("Mike and Pete both think I'm crazy for not hooking up with her. I can't explain it to them. Once a girl knows your worst weakness and how to exploit it, being attracted to her flies by the wayside.") This reasoning didn't work for me, because Chloe does learn about his disability, and he's still attracted to her. AND, in my opinion, real love is all about knowing the other person's greatest weaknesses and loving that person anyway and simultaneously letting someone know your greatest weaknesses, trusting them, being vulnerable.
Also, I thought the relationship went too quickly. Yes, I realize that I am a prude by modern standards, but I really felt like they fell in love and had sex too quickly. I don't think that sex is a good idea for teenagers, again my personal opinion, but I did appreciate that this author at least had them be responsible. Instead of writing the lie that things just "got heated up" and they "stopped thinking" and things "just happened," it was all planned out and consequences acknowledged and planned for. So, if you're going write a bad example, at least be responsible about it. Thank you.
I really liked the review another goodreads user wrote. I don't think I can link to it, but the reviewer's user name is Joshua Gabriel.
So, I did like learning more about dyscalculia. The effects of the divorce and remarrying were interesting. The portrayal of the sexual assault and its aftermath were enlightening as well. It was just the romance that I wasn't quite onboard with. Also, more profanity than I like....more
The historical fiction aspect of this book was interesting. The main characters were real people, the main life events in the book actually happened iThe historical fiction aspect of this book was interesting. The main characters were real people, the main life events in the book actually happened in their lives, and then all of the reasoning and details were invented by the author to flesh out the story.
I found it interesting. I was amazed at all of the affairs and flirting between married people. So much for the "good old days" when people valued their marriages. I guess scandal has always been around!
I didn't understand why Caty grew up to be such a mean mother, and I didn't feel like the author gave much explanation except for at one point, later in the book, General Wayne mentioned that Nathaniel expected Caty to be much more mature than she was capable of being. But even living with that failed expectation doesn't explain not being a loving mother. Or maybe she was, and that is just what was typical of the time. The men were depicted as such saintly fathers though.
The prologue confused me, because it appears to have only occurred the morning before Chapter One. A prologue makes me think that it is greatly separated in time or perhaps won't be relevant until much later in the book. It just felt like a first chapter to me.
Also, the book's summary gives no hint that the first fourth of the novel is about Caty. I was a little confused for a bit, because I expected the main character to be the daughter, Cornelia, but it doesn't switch to her for a while. Cornelia's mother was Caty, and Caty's aunt was Caty, so I went back and read the back cover summary twice, trying to figure out how what it said matched up with what I was reading.
There was no swearing that I remember, no violence. There are affairs, but absolutely no details other than knowing or wondering whether it was real or imagined.
"We women always have the right to flirt. If it is kept a harmless pastime. Men expect it from us. Done properly, it gives us power, and Lord knows we have little of that. It is even our responsibility as a hostess. But it must be learned to be done properly."
"I was to remain friends with Lucy Knox most of my life, and as I did not know I helped her, she did not know she helped me that evening.
I learned that once I started speaking to her I never minded at all that she was so fat. I learned that sometimes all you have to do to be a comfort to someone is to speak to them in their moment of anguish, to listen to them."
"'You're needed remember? You're supposed to give your mother comfort.' 'I don't even have any for myself,' I said. 'That's what being a grownup is all about. Giving what you don't have enough of yourself.'"
"The general, my husband, has headed up many battles, planned many attacks, worked with many men of all stripes. He told me, in confidence, that he thinks that you and your mother do not see eye to eye on many matters. He asked me to tell you that he never got on with his mother, either. But that attempts can still be made to surmount the difficulties, that you must always remember that she is your mother. That love is not necessary for this battle called life, but respect is necessary for every invasion."
"She was found dead in a hotel room, with her dead baby, a pair of forceps, and a probe lying near her bed."
from the Author's Note "Women did not have it easy in that era. Their presence in the home, their behavior and labor were most important to the survival of their family. They were totally dependent upon their husband, his demands, those of the family, and the social strictures. If they married well and the man was 'of good parts,' they could be happy. If they married poor or if their husband was mean, they were destined to be miserable. In either case their fate was to have many children, and the wear and tear on their bodies could, and often did, kill them."...more
I really enjoyed the friendships in this book. I really liked how the romance unfolded. I found her parents' relationship, specifically the dad's explI really enjoyed the friendships in this book. I really liked how the romance unfolded. I found her parents' relationship, specifically the dad's explanation of their divorce, very interesting.
I think the content was clean.
"My mother had always been strict, but she reacted to Aaron's death with even more rules—as if by controlling my life, she could protect me from harm. She constantly encouraged me to be social, but she reinforced a ridiculous curfew. She asked if I wanted to talk, but if I did, she wound up telling me what to do, when all I'd wanted was someone to listen."
"This was not the first time Tessa had sworn to me that everything would work out. After Aaron's funeral, I went to change into my pajamas when it hit me that the funeral wasn't happening. It had happened. There was nothing left to do. There was only his unending absence. I fell to my knees on the carpet in my half-unzipped black dress, hysterical, and Tessa pulled me into her arms. As I sobbed, she repeated, over and over, the same words in a rhythmic way that somehow calmed me: It will not always feel like this. I promise. It will get easier. You will not always feel this way, Paige. I promise. She never tried to rationalize my pain or fix it. But she planted this idea, that someday it might ease."
"I needed all three girls that night, steeling me. They'd always been my closest friends, but after Aaron died, I folded myself into them completely. We camped out at Tessa's for weekends at a time, with rented movies and Morgan-made snacks. They were normal when I wanted to be normal, and they held me when I wanted to cry. When it all closes in, there are only two kinds of people: best friends and everyone else."
"There was silence between us for a moment, and my mind went totally blank. I couldn't think of anything except for the phrase: Think of something to say. Think of something to say.
'Hot dogs are so good,' I said, after what felt like minutes. What. Did. I. Just. Say? I could almost hear a studio audience laughing uncomfortably.
'Oh, totally.' Ryan nodded, as if what I said was a legitimate contribution to the conversation. 'Perfect game-day food.'
I was talking to Ryan Chase about hot dogs. Hot dogs. I assured myself it was better than nothing, but I had to think of something. Okay, I told myself. I don't have to craft deeply meaningful banter here. I just have to string together words. Any words.
"I mean you're always preparing yourself for the think that is most likely to happen, instead of hoping for the thing that you want most to happen."
"On the way home, I felt grateful for my mom in a way that I never had before. She made an honest effort to hear me and to understand where I was coming from."
"Morgan was right. If you're lucky, relationships—with family or friends or boyfriends—are limitless. There's no maximum on how much you can love each other. The problem is, there's also no limit to how much you can hurt each other."
"I was happiest to stay in my pajamas in front of the TV, lost in loving Lucy and her squawky antics. I used to think rematching and rereading were embarrassingly boring pastimes. But there is something to be said for how comforting it is to already know what happens. There is no such luxury in real life."...more
I don't usually like this genre, because I think they don't make sense and have too many holes, but this author did a really good job with this book!I don't usually like this genre, because I think they don't make sense and have too many holes, but this author did a really good job with this book! Satisfying, suspenseful, mysterious....more
This book was not what I expected. There ended up being a story line regarding eating disorders. I thought it was handled well. Not your typical ChrisThis book was not what I expected. There ended up being a story line regarding eating disorders. I thought it was handled well. Not your typical Christian fiction....more
This book had a lot more "sex" than I expect from Libby Oram. Now, to clarify, there was no actual sex in the book or details, but the entire point ofThis book had a lot more "sex" than I expect from Libby Oram. Now, to clarify, there was no actual sex in the book or details, but the entire point of the book is that Libby's last romantic relationship was based entirely on sex rather than respect, love, kindness, etc. So, obviously sex has to be mentioned. There is a lot of discussion of hook-up culture as well.
The main character is in a bad relationship where her boyfriend doesn't want her in his life except as a booty call essentially, and the book is trying to break her addiction of her boyfriend....more