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Words and Their Meanings

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  571 ratings  ·  122 reviews
Anna O’Mally doesn’t believe in the five stages of grief. Her way of dealing with death equates to daily bouts of coffin yoga and fake-tattooing Patti Smith quotes onto her arms. Once a talented writer, Anna no longer believes words matter, until shocking discoveries– in the form of origami cranes– force her to redefine family and love.

As Anna goes in search of the truth,
360 pages
Published September 8th 2014 by Flux (first published September 1st 2014)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  571 ratings  ·  122 reviews

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Jul 31, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This book had perfect timing.

This book was too overwhelming to read in a day.

This book was too tender to feel all at once.

And yet, it wasn’t bleak, it was fervent.

It’s hard sometimes to be pushed by a book. You don’t want to believe the heat of your own nerves. But this book is unfathomable. I was moved more than any book I’ve read this year and I think this book is categorized YA. However, it’s one of those books that will sit in every section of the bookstore. It actually aches to know that be
Apr 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow! I don't know what else to say except wow! This book was incredible! Amazing characters with depth. Grief and love beyond measure. This story moves so fast and moves the reader so strongly that it is hard to put down. You will love Anna and her story. You will grieve for her, cheer for her and miss her when this wonderful book ends. Read this book! ...more
Jul 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
13+ Underage drinking, some language.

Content Warning: deals with death of close family member

Contemporary Fiction.

It’s coming up on the one year anniversary of her uncle’s death, and Anna still hasn’t worked through her grief in a healthy way. Joe was more than an uncle to her. He was practically her brother, and he was one of the most enthusiastic supporters of her writing. His death takes away so many things from Anna, but it also helps her recognize some truths about life and herself.

This is
PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

365 days ago Annie O'Malley's bruncle (brother/uncle), Joe, died and the guilt from killing him only adds to her grief. She promises her estranged parents, grandfather and therapist that she'll start living again on day 366, although after killing Joe, she believes she doesn't deserve happiness. Annie begins dating a coworker and socializing with her best friend again. Will a second tragedy make her a murder again?

Ten pages into WORDS AND THEIR MEANINGS my stomach flipped in excitement as
How come this has such less number of ratings and reviews whereas lousy ass books get millions?

More people should know about this book.

The writing, the characters, the plot; so pure, so raw.

And the male protagonist made me swoon. It's been long.
Feb 25, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed
"Because here's a universal truth: You never feel more aware of what it means to be alive than when you're falling in love. Or dying."

"I'm not hung up on anybody's idea of who I should be."

"The very second I laid eyes on her. I knew the world had shifted. Powerful love does this to us. It shifts our gears and makes us understand words like 'sacrifice' and 'presence' and 'hope' in ways you can't yet know."
Jordan Davidson
Jul 05, 2015 rated it did not like it
Maybe everyone else read a different version of this book than I did...

I guess I can see why others might've liked this. The writing style wasn't too shabby and the narrative coasted along nicely enough. This is definitely an easy book to read, and something about it compels you to finish it. That's about all the good things I can say about it, though.

The main character was borderline-psychotic. She was self-centered, angsty, and woebegone to the point where when she is FINALLY called out for b
Shawna Briseno
Apr 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
ARC provided by NetGalley:
I really enjoyed this first book from Kate Bassett. The story centers on Anna, a teenager who is having trouble getting over the death of her beloved uncle a year earlier. She copes by doing daily "coffin yoga", channeling her inner Patti Smith through her dress and hairstyle, and writing favorite Patti quotes on her arm every day. Her family is concerned, to put it mildly, but they have turmoil of their own to cope with. Little sis Bea likes to hide in random places, m
Sara Grochowski
Grief and guilt are powerful forces. Powerful enough to transform how you see the world, and, even, how the world sees you. Anna O’ Malley has been transformed by these forces, touched by death and plagued by her belief that it was her doing. Once a talented and promising writer, she now devotes herself to coffin yoga and selecting the perfect Patti Smith quote to inscribe on her skin. It’s Mateo, a boy who sees the real Anna, despite the guilt and grief that consume her, who slowly leads her ba ...more
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Wow. Just wow.
This is the kind of book you buy to have on your bookshelf.
It's timeless.
It's sad and thoughtful and so well done.
It has so much to relate to, for everyone.
It's not just about grieving someone you love, it's about loss and betrayal and friendship and relationships and family. All in one fantastically written book.
I'm in love <3
Dec 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michelle Wrona
This review can also be found on A Thousand Lives Lived, check it out for more reviews!

Every once in a while us humans are prone to be lurking for something tragic and heartbreaking. I find that it's human nature that we always will be longing for something that's hurtful and upsetting, although we don't want it to happen to us. It's a temptation to want raw and enforcing objectives that will hurt our minds until we're incapable of reading these kinds of books any longer. After hearing about thi
Mar 14, 2019 rated it did not like it
This book sucked. Sucked sucked sucked sucked sucked sucked. It didn't even suck, like, air or something normal. No, it sucked death. This is literally a quote:

"I can't hold my breath for the whole nineteen minutes. I made it to three minutes once, but then I passed out. Instead, I have to settle for statue stillness and bulging my eyes wide enough to hurt. Coffin yoga has a lot of rules, but I think that the no-blinking part is most important. Pupils should show during the open casket experienc
“It's only been a year and some change since Joe. And now, here I am again, waiting, trying to stop hoping. And drowning in what I could have done to save someone I love.”

Words and their Meanings is a tough book to read. It's a kind of story that pleads silently for any comforting gesture but lashes out at the slightest of touch. It has sucker punched me in all my vulnerable places and I have no idea how I've survived it. Reading this book trapped me in an awful, depressing bubble that I don
My Summary: Anna was once a talented writer with a bright future ahead of her. With dozens of awards and publications under her belt, it once seemed like Anna was all set to pursue her dream career as an author.

But that was before: before Joe died, taking with him everything good Anna had ever seen in the world and leaving behind secrets that suggested she barely knew him. With everything crumbling around her, Anna shuts down completely.

After almost a year of this, her parents present her with a
Amber Whitlock
Aug 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
I liked SO many things about this book. I highlighted more than I EVER have in a book before—amazing quotes! Kate Bassett has an incredible gift. Words and Their Meanings is so well written—I can’t even get over it. This book has the potential to be a runaway bestseller in the YA Fiction market, and I’m sure it will have movie buzz in the future. Anna is a main character in every sense—she’s the star player and other lives revolve around her, but not in typical fashion. Anna is dark, emotional, ...more
Sep 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Kate Bassett

Publication Date
September 8, 2014

When Joe died, so did Anna's words. The grief was too great to move forward, so Anna focused on "coffin yoga" and the life and style of Patti Smith until her parents gave her the ultimatum: begin to crawl out from underneath the grief and get a summer job or spend the summer at BrightLight, a spiritual summer camp. Origami cranes and an intriguing co-worker slowly show Anna what family and love really mean.

High Points
Bassett's imagery a
Sarah Elizabeth
(Source: I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis. Thanks to Flux and NetGalley.)
17-year-old Anna is trying to come to terms with her uncle’s death, but she’s having a hard time of it.
How did Joe die? Was it really Anna’s fault? And what secrets will she uncover whilst trying to unravel the mystery?

This was an okay story about grief, but I preferred the mystery element to the rest of the story.

Anna was an okay character, it was clear that she grieving over her un
May 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2014
Anna had an uncle who was raised as a brother to her, and she idolized him. In the year since his death, for which she blames herself, she has practiced “coffin yoga” by lying still every morning and by turning herself into Patti Smith. There is a mystery aspect to the story as she realizes that she didn’t know everything about her cousin, and there is a nice romance (that I did not totally buy even though the character was sweet). I enjoyed the story until the end, when something is revealed ab ...more
Anna O'Mally, a 17-year-old writer with promise, who is struggling with grief and adolescent angst as she mourns the death of her bruncle and the divorce of her parents. The cast of characters includes Anna's younger sister Bea, who likes hiding; Nat, her BFF; Anna's parents and her maternal grandfather. Mateo provides an intriguing first-love interest.

I love the character development of all the characters featured in this story. Every player has some back story to which we are privileged. The m
Molly Deininger
Jun 09, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I saw this book compared to Jandy Nelson's work and knew I had to read it. My response? This book fucking wishes.

I hated this pretentious bullshit and I'm pretty sure I haven't read a more unlikable protagonist in ages, and I've read a lot of bad books this year. Not only did I hate it, but it was also boring. It took me weeks to get through and it is not a long book.

I'm truly perplexed by all the good reviews for this book. If you want to see YA grief done right, pick up Jandy Nelson or a hand
Nov 02, 2014 rated it liked it
This was a really interesting read – very dark for your typical YA, but I think it needed to be dark. Centering on Anna, the story explores loss and grieving and the sort of larger truth that all of us can have very different experiences of the same person. A year after her older brother/uncle’s death, Anna begins to uncover secrets and hidden facets of his life she never knew about. Add in larger family drama, a bestie, and possible love interest and you get a complex and maturely conceived nov ...more
Dec 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing
To be honest, I read so many YA novels in 2014 about death (John Green's THE FAULT LIES IN OUR STARS, for one) that I wasn't looking forward to reading one more. But from author Kate Bassett's first words I wanted to wrap them around the main character Anna (and me) like a holy comforter and cocoon with her this whole ride until she (we) emerged whole on the other side. Beautiful, beautiful writing. Deep. It made me feel so inadequate as a writer, as if I should never write another word because ...more
Romily Bernard
Nov 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
One of the best portrayals of loss I've ever read. Highly recommend ...more
May 28, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was an absolutely beautiful book. The writing was gorgeous and the story was heartbreaking.

I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.
Caroline Rose
So, so wonderful. Watch out, world!
Harleen Apolla
Mar 31, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: owned
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
KELLY Wilson
May 15, 2019 rated it really liked it
Although this is a YA novel (the main character as an angsty teen is kind of a giveaway), there are so many adult themes and difficulties that I felt young and old at once while reading it. Anna's beloved "Bruncle" Joe died, and she feels responsible. With a bit of stereotypical selfishness, she feels that all the people in her life are a reflection of her and her actions, yet her honesty, quirkiness, and creativity far outweigh the dramatic outbursts and angst. I loved her grandfather the best. ...more
Nov 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"In the long run, you need to understand that people--even the best people--are always more and less than we imagine."

"I think about how we are fragile. How we are all made of secrets and secret keepers. Every connection shapes us, and we then shape others, and it makes our stories rich and jagged and full of pain and full of love. And it matters. All of it."

"Everyone gets one last line. But first lines, stories of love and loss and hope floating on backs of paper cranes? We choose how many of t
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