Maja (The Nocturnal Library)'s Reviews > The Catastrophic History of You and Me

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
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Confession time: I was pretty sure I would love this book even before it showed up in my mailbox. I loved the title, I liked the cover, and the description sounded really interesting. What I didn’t know, however, was that I wasn’t just signing up for a fun read, I was signing up for heartbreak and some really huge, eye opening lessons. Don’t get me wrong: The Catastrophic History of You and Me is often laugh-out-loud funny, but that’s not nearly all it is.

Brie Eagan’s life was perfect: she had a great family, her three best friends and the most wonderful boyfriend a girl could wish for. At least that’s what she thought. But days before her sweet sixteen, her boyfriend Jacob uttered four horrible words that killed Brie on the spot: I don’t love you. It would seem that a young and perfectly healthy person really can die of a broken heart. It didn’t matter that Brie’s father is a famous cardiologist. It didn’t matter that she had so many other things to be happy about. The shock and the hurt of Jacob’s words were too much for Brie’s heart to handle.

At the beginning of our story, Brie opens her eyes to discover that she’s indeed dead, and currently existing in her own version of afterlife, which just happens to be her family’s favorite pizza place. Her company is even more surprising, especially the boy dressed exactly like Tom Cruise in Top Gun. His name is Patrick and he immediately jumps at the chance to be Brie’s guide through afterlife, or at least this part of it. He is kind, thoughtful and the closest thing to an angel Brie is likely to meet. As the two of them go back to observe the aftermath of her death, Brie is forced to accept that her life wasn’t nearly as perfect as she thought it was and slowly fight her way through five stages of grief.
Here’s just a small taste of denial:
This is all just a bad dream, I told myself. I’m totally in bed, totally safe, totally snuggled. Hamloaf’s next to me. Jack’s down the hall. Everything is okay.
But still, why the crazy nightmare? I must have eaten something funky. Or maybe I have a history test coming up. Or I’d forgotten to floss.

In my experience, books that strike me the most are the ones that successfully mix humor and tragedy. One of the recent stellar examples is Looking for Alaska. Jess Rothenberg does this extraordinarily well. She knows when to lighten the mood with a joke, and when to stop with the humor entirely. She knows exactly how much tragedy her reader can take and when it’s time to water it down with one of Patrick’s nicknames for Brie or something similar. It is a valuable skill, and one that pretty much guarantees that I’ll read her next novel, and the one after that.

Here’s another thing I should mention, one I’m pretty sure some of my friends will appreciate. (I won’t be naming names, though.) Seeing as Patrick had died in the 80s and he’s dressed according to the fashion of 1983 or so, every chapter is titled after a song, a huge part of them from the 80s, and there is a four-page long playlist at the end of the book. I played most of them while reading this book and felt like a lost time traveler most of the time – but in a very good way.

An advanced copy of this book was kindly provided by the publisher, Puffin/Razorbill UK for review purposes.

For this review and more, please visit The Nocturnal Library
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Reading Progress

02/03/2012 page 21
5.0% "Simply adorable so far. I can't stop smiling." 2 comments
02/06/2012 page 162
41.0% ""Turns out, hell is not so much a burning, scalding pit of fire and misery. It's actually much, much worse than that. Hell is when people you love the most reach right into your soul and rip it out of you. And they do it because they can.""

Comments <span class="smallText"> (showing 1-19 of 19) </span> <span class="smallText">(19 new)</span>

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Aly (Fantasy4eva) expecting this soon. looking much more forward to it now, will be looking out for your review ;)

Eunice I just read the blurb and it does sound really interesting and adorable. I'll be looking forward for you review. :))

Mimi Valentine YAY! I'm really glad you're liking this one so far, Maja! :) <3 I'll be in line to read your review! ;)

message 4: by [deleted user] (new)

oh, its so nice to hear this book has something more to it. Like you I assumed it was just a fun contemp. book. Now I'm more excited for it

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) No, there's actually quite a beautiful story underneath the humor. :)

message 6: by Kayla (new)

Kayla This review makes me want to read this book! Will add to my Amazon list now...

message 7: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Another beautiful review, Maja. Even when I don't think it is a book I will necessarily read, I love reading your reviews of them.

message 8: by Jasprit (new) - added it

Jasprit I saw this in the bookshop the other day but walked straight past I think I might go back and pick it up now after your wonderful review :)

message 9: by Limonessa (new) - added it

Limonessa can't wait to look at that playlist... is there any Nick Kamen, Rick Astley and Samantha Fox in there?

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Jasprit and Kayla, go for it, ladies.
Stephen, that means so much coming from a great and dedicated reviewer such as yourself.

Lisa, no Rick Astley, thank good. Sinead O'Connor!

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) That is my sole purpose in life, my wonderful friend. You just wait til I review the one I'm reading now, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. :D Better request it while you can still get it for free.

message 12: by Maja (The Nocturnal Library) (last edited Feb 07, 2012 11:50AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) I went a little wild on Netgalley myself just now. I better get Struck or I'll be really unhappy with them. :D

message 13: by Reynje (new)

Reynje Okay, I need this book now. It wasn't even on my radar until your review :)

message 14: by Arlene (new)

Arlene Starting this one on the weekend. So glad you liked it. Awesome, awesome review Maja!

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Reynje, I may or may not be dancing the Macarena. *wistles innocently*
Arlene, thank you, darling. I do believe that this is really an Arlene book. Fingers crossed that I'm not wrong.

message 16: by Arlene (new)

Arlene Oh I'm excited. :D

message 17: by Reynje (new)

Reynje I love it when you do the Macarena ;D

Maja (The Nocturnal Library) Well, it IS the best dance ever after all. So classy.

Nijhum I love this book!!! The book is heartbreaking romantic intensive and funny I love the way Jess rothenberg mixes tragedy and humour together.

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