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Althea & Oliver

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What if you live for the moment when life goes off the rails—and then one day there’s no one left to help you get it back on track?

Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six; she’s the fist-fighting instigator to his peacemaker, the artist whose vision balances his scientific bent. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. And then Althea makes the worst bad decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. He leaves town for a clinical study in New York, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain, while she gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

Their journey will take them from the rooftops, keg parties, and all-ages shows of their North Carolina hometown to the pool halls, punk houses, and hospitals of New York City before they once more stand together and face their chances. Set in the DIY, mix tape, and zine culture of the mid-1990s, Cristina Moracho’s whip-smart debut is an achingly real story about identity, illness, and love—and why bad decisions sometimes feel so good.

366 pages, Hardcover

First published October 9, 2014

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About the author

Cristina Moracho

4 books106 followers
Cristina Moracho is a novelist and freelance writer/editor. Her debut novel, Althea & Oliver (Viking), will be published this October. She lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where she makes all the bad decisions.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 739 reviews
20 reviews13 followers
July 18, 2018
Trigger Warning

...If you like pretentious asshole hipsters and rapists this book is for you.

Did I just say Rapist? Spoiler Alert - Fuck yes I said rapist! In fact I don't think this is a spoiler, It should be some sort of disclaimer when you start the book that says something along the lines of "Althea makes the worst bad decision ever and that decision is to RAPE her fucking best friend." There is no argument, there is no gray area and I am not using this word lightly. The bad decision mentioned in the blurb that threatens to destroy Althea and Oliver's relationship is actual Rape. And I will continue to capitalize the word because unlike most of the characters in this novel, I think Rape is a serious issue. It's not something that's quickly forgiven with a sojourn to New York city or a quick kiss. It's not something that is pushed under the rug just because you happen to care about the said rapist. And it's definitely not something that should be overlooked when it happens to a guy.

And that brings me to another point - surprise, surprise this book is fucking sexist. Everyone knows that Rape is terrible when it happens to a girl, that's not even a question. But in society when it happens to a guy, as in when a girl rapes a guy, the boy is seen as weak or less of a man for not wanting to have sex. And the fact that we see it that way is a big fucking problem. A HUGE FUCKING PROBLEM! And all this book does is perpetuate that view by down playing what Althea did.

Sorry, I'm ranting. Let's back peddle.

Althea and Oliver have been best friends since they were children but it isn't until junior year that Althea starts falling for him. It also isn't until that year that Oliver starts falling asleep and staying asleep for weeks, sometimes months on end. Oliver has a rare sleep disorder called KLS where he is in perpetual state of sleepiness and grogginess. He sleeps for a majority of the day and then when he wakes up he is never quite himself. And by not quite himself I mean seriously not his fucking self. He's attitude is different, he’s childlike, aggressive, he's intensely hungry and not to mention intensely horny. And when he comes to maybe several weeks later he can’t remember a thing. He basically sleeps or sleepwalks for extensive periods of time with no moments of true waking until it’s over. Althea even gets to witness these scenes - she knows that this is not the real Oliver - not her Oliver.

Yet Althea LURVES Oliver. She doesn’t know who she is without Oliver. She’s not a Fucking human being without Oliver. She’s totally dependent on Oliver. Every thought in her goddamn head revolves around Oliver. It makes her seem shallow and airheaded and it makes for a pretty infuriating read but at the beginning I was on her side. I cheered for this quirky shy girl when her and Oliver finally made out if anything because I wanted her to stop whining about it. But Oliver - for reasons that are never ever truly and fully explained - is just not that into her. Yeah he’s sexually attracted to her but he’ll never love her the way she loves him.

So at this point we should be fucking done with this. Oliver straight up tells her he doesn’t want to have sex with her - and they’re both drunk I might add - and she’s broken hearted but as long as shit can go back to normal it’s all good. But things don’t go back to normal. Oliver falls asleep again and is out for two months. Poor Oliver misses his whole fucking summer. He’s the one we should be feeling sorry for. Not Althea. We should not be going - oh poor Althea left all alone especially after Oliver breaks her heart. Yes, that sucks for her but let’s face it - her issues are NOT the big issues here. But in typical selfish teenager fashion, she makes it all about her. She dyes her hair black and makes herself virtually unrecognizable. *rolls eyes* Seriously dying your fucking hair black? She is the actual biggest cliche I’ve ever read. Ever. And through all that self pity and desperate need to feel wanted and loved and special, Althea Rapes Oliver. Again, there is no gray area, no debate. What Althea does to Oliver is Rape in its most basic definition.

When he is under his two month sleep episode, Althea is asked by Oliver’s mother to babysit him and make sure he doesn’t wander off or get himself killed if he happens to “sleepwalk”/ wake up as not himself. And when Oliver does happen to wake up Althea knows that it is not him that initiates a kiss, she knows that he’s completely out of it as he begins to fumble with his belt buckle and she knows that as they have sex he won’t remember any of this - ever. So basically he’s the equivalent of a incredibly drunk teenager and she’s the sober creep that takes advantage of that. And that is not fucking OKAY.

Months later after Oliver’s been awake for quite sometime, she finally tells him the truth and like any person, male or female, he gets angry. Really fucking angry.
"You stupid bitch, it wasn’t me! You knew it wasn’t me, you knew I wouldn’t remember, how could you let it happen? I didn’t want to, I told you–”
And Althea deserves to be called a bitch. So what if he’s a dude calling a woman a bitch. She fucking deserves it. Especially after she’s say’s this beauty of a line: “You wanted to,” Althea says stridently.


Alright now everyone who’s been to a college freshmen year orientation knows that “You wanted to,” is not an acceptable response when someone explicitly says they didn’t want to have sex. Hello??? That’s why you have to fucking ask.

That my dear Althea is called C-O-N-S-E-N-T.

Oh and one more quote just so I can really drive the point home that Althea is a horrible fucking person and deserves charges pressed against her: “Oh no? You didn’t want to? What did you think happened then? Do you think I forced you? Do you think I held you down and made you do it?”

Let that digest. Now switch the roles. Pretend Oliver or an obnoxious frat boy is the one telling Althea all of these horrible condescending things. Pretend that Althea or any other girl is the victim - a girl who’d gotten passed out drunk at a party and taken advantage of by said guy.

… Yeah, exactly.

But at this point In the story I’m intrigued. I’m willing to look past Althea’s shitt personality and character development and see what happens. Will Oliver get her in trouble? Will he cut her off completely? Will she try to redeem herself - is that even possible in a situation like this? How will she live with herself know that she’s a rapist. And most of all how is the author address the horrible stigmas associated with male rape?

But no, none of these things happen. This questions don’t even get a chance to get fleshed out. And everything just goes down the shithole from here. Christina Moracho never addresses these big issues. In fact its like the book is arguing that what Althea did wasn’t truly Rape - Even though it totally fucking was. Instead she keeps it small scoped and talks about Althea’s nonstop intense feelings for Oliver and her intense nonstop vulnerability now that he’s gone.

Oliver does, however, cut her off though and runs away to a treatment center in NYC to see what can be done about his KLS. Althea like the whiny pathetic bitch she is, follows him, not for moral support, not because she wants him to get better but because she can’t stand not having him by her side 24/7 and believes that a quick apology and the gesture of traveling all the way to New York will make him forgive her and then fall in love with her. Afterall it’s just a mistake. STEALING SOMEONES VIRGINITY WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT IS JUST A MISTAKE GUYS, NO BIG FUCKING DEAL. RIGHT?

What a clueless bitch.

But then even Oliver basically pardons her saying that he doesn’t want to use the word Rape to describe what she did to him.
And then his friend tells him this and Oliver seems to actually consider it :
“You fucked your beautiful best friend. What the hell are you doing here, man? Go find the girl and screw her brains out! And this time you will remember!”

I’m done. I’m fucking done.

But that’s not all folks. Althea gets to NYC just as Oliver falls into a sleep episode and she’s just missed him and can’t apologize (for raping him). And what happens over the course of 100 pages is basically Althea - a seventeen year old girl - lying to her father about where she is and living with asshole hipster twenty year olds and “finding herself.” This is the part where I wanted to shoot myself and then every character in this story. Not only is the RAPE (which I still can’t get over) not really mentioned and glossed over but Althea, a girl with a good father and a home life she describes herself as “kinda rich,” basically lives in borderline poverty for a few weeks. I’m not even mad at the hypocrite vegan hippies. I mean they regularly feed the homeless. You can’t get mad at people who regularly feed the homeless. But Althea is a privileged spoiled white girl with “all the problems in the world” who goes slumming. She’s a sevenfuckingteen years old! Go to fucking school or something!

Not to mention that her father is not even that upset about it - as in not as upset as most parents would be. Like did I miss something about the 90’s? Okay admittedly I was born around the time this book takes place so I know virtually nothing about the teenage subculture but could it have been that risque? I mean come on. Althea and Oliver both have no parental supervision. Sure there parents are mentioned a lot but they’re described as equals. Oliver and Althea both casually swear around their parents - which yeah for some kids is normal but it’s like these parents aren’t really parents. There’s no air of authority to them.

But seriously what the ACTUAL FUCK is this book? It fluctuates between ridiculously unbelievable to straight up ignorant. I don’t know how or why I finished it. Maybe I was just waiting for the author to redeem herself and condemn Althea’s selfish actions. But no, Althea continues to be a sniveling child and a virtually unapologetic rapist until the bitter end.

I will say this though: the writing is excellent. It’s the only thing keeping this from a No Star rating. It truly is gorgeous prose and I really was rooting for this book as I opened the first page and was greeted by witty dialogue and the interesting premise of a KLS sufferer. But beautiful writing can’t stand on it’s own. It needs likable Characters and a good plot to take it somewhere.

Profile Image for Sue.
781 reviews1,590 followers
December 9, 2015
Before I read Althea & Oliver, I have decided that I'm in love with it already. Best-friends turned to lovers (sort of) is my favorite trope ever.

I should have run away when I heard this book is similar to John Green and Rainbow Rowell's work but guess what?!? I am ambitious and thought I would genuinely like it.

The start is really impressive. I love it. Althea and Oliver are such a great characters who have so much chemistry together. Where did it all go wrong?

I think, I will need a strong drink before I start moaning about how problematic this book is.

Here we go.


I'm sure there are handful of problematic things I forgot and can't even be bothered to remember.

The only redeeming quality about this book is the occasional flowery quotes that would certainly be a hit to tumblr and hipsters.
1 review
February 19, 2015
You’re probably under the impression that this is a cool, edgy love story about two best friends falling in love. I know because that’s the assumption I made before starting Althea and Oliver. I was horribly disappointed. I don’t write book reviews, but this book made me so angry I had to.

This book is an unbelievably sexist mess. Moracho tries to make Althea seem like cool, angry, confused badass but only successfully creates a whiney rapist. RAPIST.

Because what’s described in the synopsis as “the worst bad decision ever” is actually a rape. It’s a rape because rape is a word that has a definition (sexual intercourse against a person without that person’s consent) and that definition meets Althea’s actions. Believe me. I checked the dictionary and the criminal code. It fits.

*Serious spoilers start here. But I strongly suggest you don't read this book, so maybe keep reading anyway.

Althea has sex with Oliver during one of his Klein-Levin Syndrome episodes, during which time he wakes up to experience a period of “childlike mental acuity”. He has no self-control, no understanding of his own actions and, later on, has no memory of what’s happened. Althea knows all of this and despite the fact that earlier in the book Oliver tells her that he is “not ready to have sex” has sex with him. Althea is in a position of power over Oliver. It is her responsibility to stop them from having sex.

So regardless of how Oliver and Althea feel about the situation, it is a rape. According to the criminal code, it’s a rape because Oliver did not give consent or permission for the act to take place. This isn’t a grey area, and it isn’t up for debate. And if the roles had been reversed, there wouldn’t have been a debate. Because if Oliver was a girl and Althea was a boy, anyone would say that it was rape.

That’s just the first instance of Moracho’s ridiculous sexism. Later on in the novel there’s a discussion between Oliver and his friend Kentucky, during which Kentucky convinces Oliver that he should feel happy that his beautiful best friend has sex with him, even without his permission. When Oliver first insinuates that it was he who had sex with Althea during one of his episodes, Kentucky is horrified. He can’t even say the word “rape.” But when he finds out Althea had sex with Oliver, well, Oliver should feel so lucky. Who cares if he didn’t consent?

There’s also a part where when confessing to Oliver that they had sex (months later), Althea asks him if he thinks she “held him down and forced him”. She asks if he thinks he didn’t enjoy it. This a misapprehension Moracho perpetuates, even while it seems as if she’s trying to fight back against slut-shaming. (I’m completely against slut-shaming, but rapist-shaming is a completely different matter). Instead she shares a belief that rape only happens when someone is physically bound and unable to fight back. But what about people who are roofied? And what about people who are blackmailed? Even if people who are coerced into sex aren’t rape victims, they’ve at least been subject to some kind of sexual abuse. Moracho also makes it seem like because Oliver can’t have been raped since he physically enjoyed it. That’s ridiculous. Sex is primal and biological; no matter how it’s related to our minds, when a body is sexually stimulated it’s very much likely to become aroused. Rape victims are often stimulated by their abusers, but that doesn’t mean that they were “asking for it”. Also, Oliver’s disorder, Klein-Levin Syndrome, is characterized by periods of hypersexuality. Obviously, he was going to enjoy it.

Althea is an annoying character for a lot of reasons. She’s whiny and she doesn’t care about anyone other than herself. But let’s face it: us teenagers are selfish. Even if Althea’s selfishness is excessive, it helps her seem a little more believable. However, Althea really does take her self-absorption to an extreme level: she abandons her father and doesn’t care about her mother. She lives with a bunch of poor bohemian teenagers without paying rent. And she only cares about what she did to Oliver because it makes him mad at her. Really. That’s the only reason she cares about having sex with him.

Moracho tries to make the reader sympathise with Althea. We’re supposed to feel bad for poor, impulsive, misunderstood Althea, whose best friend doesn’t love her back. We’re supposed to relate to her.

Besides the rape, there’s another pretty bad example of sexism in Althea’s friendship with Coby. I’d already stopped paying much attention to what was happening in the book by the time I got to this part (I was only reading because I was sure that at some point Moracho was going to actually deal with the rape -- that doesn’t happen), but I still don’t see how Althea is justified in beating Coby up. She’s just as guilty as he is in everything they do. And when Coby and Althea have sex, it’s consensual; she actually initiates it. But for whatever reason Althea thinks that she has the right to beat Coby into a bloody pulp. And Althea and Coby’s friends play it off by saying that he probably ‘deserved it’. Now, imagine if Coby beat Althea horribly. Do you think her friends would still say she ‘deserved it’?

The rape is critical to the storyline of the rest of the book. It sets the rest of the events in Althea and Oliver in motion, leading to the end of this book, which is pretty romantic in a modern sense of the word. In that way, I could argue that Moracho romanticises or glorifies rape. That’s up for discussion. What’s not up for discussion is that she most certainly trivialises it. Not only is the rape passed over as largely unimportant, it’s also excused because Althea had been pining after Oliver. So let me ask, if a hot guy is pining after a cute girl, does that make it okay for him to have sex with her without her permission? Moracho excuses, diminishes, trivialises and largely ignores a rape. She also tells jokes with rape as the punch line, such as when Althea sees her “friend” Coby at a Halloween party and asks, “What are you supposed to be? A date rapist?” The irony here is that this scene takes place after Althea rapes Oliver.

I’m not against books that deal with rape or sexism. But I have a HUGE issue with this book because although the rape is what causes Althea and Oliver’s actions leading to the end of the book, it’s almost forgotten by the end. It is at no point discussed or dealt with. And while I know that in real life these things aren’t always dealt with, I don’t believe that Moracho left anything unresolved in an attempt to make the book more believable. And she wasn’t trying to start any kind of discussion or make any kind of “artistic” statement. I believe that she genuinely doesn’t understand the implications of what she’s written. She doesn’t understand that what Althea does to Oliver is rape, even though she’s a girl and he’s a boy. That’s why this book is sexist. That’s why I will strongly encourage anyone NOT to read this book.

I’m all for freedom of expression. But Moracho clearly bit off more than she could chew with this book. No matter how nice the prose is, this book isn’t okay. I’ve seen girls as young as ten or eleven pick it up because the cover is so innocent, and walk away reading it. That terrifies me, because reading other reviews of this book, I see that a lot of people don’t even recognise that the rape is a rape, or how strongly this book plays to a misandrist double-standard. I don’t think that this book should be promoted by bookstores or publishers or book bloggers or anyone else for that matter. It’s not quite Mein Kampf, so it should probably still be sold, but I wouldn’t argue that there should be some kind of disclaimer in it. If Moracho was a responsible author, she’d at least release an author’s note or something. I’m sixteen myself and I can tell you that her prime audience, teenagers, are impressionable. And what’s she doing is propagating dangerous, sexist misapprehensions.

Ask yourself, whether you’re a boy or a girl: How would you feel if someone had sex with you while you were sleeping? And you couldn’t remember it later on.

Do yourself a favour. Don’t read this book.
Profile Image for Kelly (and the Book Boar).
2,479 reviews7,775 followers
December 8, 2017
Find all of my reviews at: https://www.goodreads.com/

Althea & Oliver is a different take on the best friends-to-lovers trope. A very different take. I’m not going to waste any time or words on dealing with anything other than . . . .

The story here is that Althea and Oliver have been best friends since their first game of Candyland when they were six years old. When Oliver develops a strange illness . . . .

A line gets crossed that can never be uncrossed.

Bottom line is: Althea rapes Oliver. There’s no other way to say it. Oliver has a (so far) undiagnosed case of Kleine-Levin Syndrome (a/k/a Sleeping Beauty Syndrome) where he suddenly falls asleep and stays that way for an indefinite period of time. Sometimes he “wakes up” to use the bathroom, or to eat, but he’s never really conscious. Althea has been duped by Oliver before – accompanying him to the Waffle House when she thought he was back, only to have him eat his weight in breakfast and throw an absolute fit before falling asleep again. When Oliver and Althea attend a party which leads to their first make-out session where Oliver says he isn’t ready to take things further, only to once again succumb to one of his spells in short order, Althea knows the hypersexual Oliver she meets when he “wakes up” is simply a doppelganger of sorts. But that doesn’t stop her from having sex with him : (

Upon Oliver’s actual awakening, he can feel something is wrong, and when Althea is forced to confess he doesn’t want anything to do with her. And that is the part where a story that was well on its way to being 5 Stars simply for being such a THINKER of a tale dropped to a mediocre 3 because . . . . .

It got boring. And super unrealistic. I’m not going to even bother talking about it – let’s just say Althea’s time in New York? Ugh.

Since I’m not the target audience for this story, that may strictly be my issue, though. As I said before this still really was a real thinker of a book that should serve to open up the lines of communication regarding grey areas (for lack of a better term) of sexual encounters. At best, Althea taking Oliver’s virginity could be called dubious consent (I don’t even think you could call it that, but I’m willing to play devil’s advocate). But there’s also a question of “what if?” What if Althea said no or tried to stop Oliver because he wasn’t really Oliver and he couldn’t be stopped because he wasn’t really Oliver. She couldn’t do anything to stop him at a restaurant, would she be able to stop him in his bedroom? Obviously we’ll never know the answer since it wasn’t written that way, but it’s a pretty creepy thing to think about that would have changed the story 100%. Would readers be more sympathetic to Althea as a female being raped than they are of Oliver who (even in the book) receives “atta boys” rather than an OHMYGODGOTOTHEPOLICEIMMEDIATELY reaction? And what about Althea’s case of “buyer’s remorse” (again, for lack of a better term) when she decides to have sex with the über creeper Coby only to beat the shit out of him the next day? Althea appeared to be a willing participant – but she was also intoxicated so could she consent? These are topics parents need to be discussing with their children – especially in the current environment today. If it takes something fictional to be a jumping off point for your family’s discussions, this might be a winner.
Profile Image for bec..
142 reviews89 followers
October 22, 2015
I've had time to mull over this book and decided to change my ratings from 2 to 1 star.

I really wished I could have loved this book more. It started out great. Then halfway through Althea began to annoy me. If it wasn't for her I think I would have loved this novel. She was so easily susceptible to peer pressure and that got on my nerves. During the novel people would tell her to do something and then she would think about it for 0.03 seconds before saying yes. Her rash decisions such as lying to her father and going to New York to live with complete strangers meant no sense to me. Like I understand she was trying to find herself but I don't think moving it with a bunch of no-job-drop-out students you just met is a good idea.

It was like the moral of the story was that "If you're friend zoned for life, just run away from home and move in with the first strangers you meet."

I felt that Althea held herself to be self important when basically all she does in the novel is get drunk smoke and complain about basically everything. What I did not find okay was when Oliver pushes her against the car during one of his "episodes" and she does nothing about. Even though he has a condition she didn't even stick up for herself which I found confusing. The rest of the novel I ended up enjoying Oliver's character way more than Althea.

Another problem was their friendship. At first it seemed nice and that they really knew each other but as the story progressed it just became toxic. Sooner or later they began fighting all the time until the end when they reconcile but decide that they're better off friends. Like did I need to waste my time reading a story to find that out?

What really bothered me was the essential scene in the book where Oliver is in one of his experiencing one of his KLS symptoms where he is very off personality and has no control over his body and where Althea who is there to keep watch over him has sex with him in his unaware state where she clearly knows that isn't really him and how beforehand he mentions he doesn't want to have sex with her. Basically rape. Some people may disagree on this point but it the roles were switched everyone would be up and arms which brings me to DOUBLE STANDARDS. Althea is whiny selfish self center girl who only seems to care about herself and takes advantage of people. What really bothered me about this novel is that I thought they would at least address it, but no. Instead you have Althea telling Oliver what happened months afterwards and how he "Wanted to do it." And how she "couldn't stop him if she wanted to." And how "she didn't hold him down and force him."

It just bothered me how the author portrayed the stigma of male rape. And how quickly what Althea did was brushed off.

Just no.

She was the one in the right mindset, he wasn't even aware of his motorskills, what this novel is basically saying is that she had sex with him because she believes that because she has a crush on him and he won't remember it anyway in his altered state that it's okay. I also hated how Oliver's friend tried to justify Althea's actions with how "she's hot." And how Oliver is lucky to have "fucked such a beautiful girl."


The scene near the end where Oliver and Althea have sex bothered me unbelievably. They have sex even though they know it isn't going to work out and she is going to stay there. I was like what's the point. Why does she continue to let herself and Oliver deluded her into thinking that maybe it could work. He knows he couldn't love her the way she wanted to and they could just have a heartfelt conversation and leave it at that.

What also annoyed me was with how Althea beat Colby up near the end. The sex they had was 100% consensual and initiated by Althea but she then for some realizes that she doesn't like and beats him


The fact that this was brushed off made me seethe soo much because aGAIN if the roles were switched the reaction would be much different and no one would say that Althea "had probably deserved it." Like they did to Colby.

What I enjoyed most was when Oliver was in the hospital and Althea wasn't there. You get to see more of him and learn about his illness which I really liked. Seeing him interact with the people at the hospital was also a plus for me.

Garth was very disappointing as a parent to be so oblivious to what is happening to in your daughters life. He doesn't even call her mom to make sure she got there okay he just takes her word for it when she has a tendency for getting into trouble. At least he fits in the typical YA slot for clueless parents.

The ending also bothered me immensely. I felt it was just cut off as if I was watching a program and it just went off air, leaving me to imagine what happens at the end. I did enjoy Oliver's character though I wish there was more chapters about him then the long dragged out chapters from Althea's perspective. A positive for me was how true the author manage to capture the New York feel through new eyes, that I really enjoyed. I also really enjoyed the writing style even though some parts were overly descriptive.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Althea Ann.
2,233 reviews1,046 followers
October 23, 2014
Full disclosure: I read this book because of the title. Yeah, that's my name... and when the blurb told me it was about a punk rock girl moving to New York... I was sold.

Well, it's not, really.
It's about a girl whose best friend from childhood comes down with a rare and life-changing illness. Althea has to face both the difficult time Oliver is having, and the normal strains and stresses about how relationships - and one's sense of self - change as one grows up.

Yes, as part of growing up, Althea kinda-sorta runs away and finds new friends and community in New York. Even though she and her new friends weren't really 'punk' (they're more Brooklyn hipsters, really... I felt like I'd been here 10 years by the time things were like the descriptions here, even though the blurb says it's supposed to be the early 1990s) this was by far my favorite part of the book, and yes, it really did have aspects that I could relate to.
However, that's only the latter part of the book. The larger, first half is all suburban angst and high school drama. It's pretty well done - Althea thinks and acts like a teen, and I found her believable, even though I never had an Oliver that I expected to stay close to for my whole life.

Oliver's plight, meanwhile... well, when I was a kid I went through a phase of reading books about children who go through awful, horrible things: abuse, fatal illnesses, etc. (It started with Torey Hayden's 'One Child' and expanded...) There's a whole genre of these books. I think the appeal is in the exploration of: what's the worst possible thing that could happen to you?
But, I'm long over that phase, and Oliver's illness seemed like a very non-severe and watered-down version of the kind of drama to be found in that genre. It was a little interesting to learn about Kleine-Levin Syndrome, but it didn't totally grab me.

I did, however, really like the ending - I was afraid the book was going to paint itself into a difficult corner, but I thought the resolution was quite satisfying.

I felt like I wasn't exactly the target audience for this book. If I'd read it at a certain point in time when i was younger, I think it would've resonated a lot more - so I would definitely recommend it to 12-16 year olds, especially rebellious ones.

Many thanks to Netgalley for the opportunity to read a copy of this book.

As always, my opinions are solely my own.

PS note on other reviews:
Profile Image for Sara Grochowski.
1,142 reviews566 followers
November 22, 2014
Althea and Oliver have been best friends since age six, their very different personalities somehow balancing and combining to form a whole. Life without the other is unimaginable, until Oliver develops a sleeping illness tears them apart for weeks and months at a time. While Oliver loses chunks of his life to the disorder, Althea is adrift. Confused and angry, she makes an irreversible mistake from which their relationship might never recover. Althea and Oliver is one of those dirty, raw, and honest books that it almost hurts to read. Readers will clearly see that the characters are making mistakes, but are, of course, powerless to stop them. At the same time, it's almost cathartic to see Althea and Oliver fail, fail, then begin again. Not everyone will love this novel,with it's messy characters and imperfect conclusion, but those who do will unabashedly champion it. I'm definitely the latter.
Profile Image for Wendy Darling.
1,633 reviews34k followers
September 7, 2016
2.5 stars I think fans of WHITE LINES or BROOKLYN, BURNING will appreciate the style. I liked the first half better than the second, though I liked the atypical ending. But yeah, regardless of context.
Profile Image for Eunice (nerdytalksbookblog).
407 reviews130 followers
February 24, 2015
This book is anything but typical.

Do not expect the mushy cheesy type. Do not expect swooning and gushing. Do not expect for the typical love story. Expect what real raw love is. Expect the unconventional affection. Expect that reality isn't always as beautiful as you hoped it to be, that reality is reality and most often than not, it is ugly.

From the moment I read the synopsis, about two best friends, one wanting more than friendship and is set in mid 90's with mix tapes and whatnot - I was practically sold! I wanted to read the book, I wanted it so bad. Plus the blurb that said "Althea can't stop falling in love, Oliver can't stop falling asleep." kind of drew me in. This kind of story was what my heart was aching for when I read the synopsis. I just knew there's no way I am going to pass this one up.

I started reading it the 1st of February and it took me 23 freaking days to finish it. I'm not usually like this, but this book was painfully slow. There are parts that just dragged on and on and still the story was never close to resolution. There are parts that weren't necessary at all, the novel could definitely do without it. It was well-written, however the writing style was, kind of hard to get into, there are parts that I had a hard time understanding who was actually being referred to. Take this for an instance, in a paragraph two characters were involved, let's say Valerie and Althea, then the author would use the pronoun she and I was left rereading the whole paragraph as to who that she was referring to. And this didn't happen once, it happened pretty often, I will be left thinking if I kind of lost my comprehending skills along the way - or maybe the fact that the story didn't grip me in ways I expected it to can be considered a factor as to why I had a hard time reading it. Also the book did not really highlight the 90s you can actually mistake it to be set today - it was a let down, really.

Althea and Oliver were not your average teenagers, Oliver had this very odd illness and just wanted for things to go back to normal and Althea was this rebellious girl, who constantly craves for Oliver's attention. Yes, it was as complex as its sounds. I loved Althea's boldness and stubbornness, just as much as I hated Oliver's selfishness. The story weaved through this complicated mess of unrequited love. I would like to commend the author's attempt on veering away from what the majority of people would want to see in a book, The novel offered a new flavor to YA, and I truly admire the author for it. This is a good coming-of-age story. however, as much as I want to force myself into loving it, this book isn't for me.

Will I be reading more of Cristina Moracho's work? Yeah, sure. Maybe I would like to see a first person point of view. Maybe then, I could be comfortable with the writing style. All in all, it's a good book.
Profile Image for Kristen Peppercorn .
558 reviews96 followers
January 26, 2018
This was really good. I loved the writing. It was so rich and beautiful and raw and real. I grew very attached to the two main characters, Althea and Oliver. I liked this much, much more than I was expecting to, thanks to the undeservedly low ratings here on Goodreads. This was a pleasant surprise. I definitely want to read more from this author in the future. A very solid contemporary. 4/5 stars.
Profile Image for Cait.
309 reviews13 followers
December 10, 2014
Let me begin by saying that I understand the complaints against this book. We'll put those out of the way first:

1) Althea and Oliver's relationship is deeply unhealthy. They're overly dependent on one another. They're mean to each other. They're looking too hard for the other to fill all the holes in their lives. Such relationships almost always end in tears.
2) There's a violence to their relationship that is uncomfortable. The language they use with one another can be harsh and the physicality of their fights could certainly be triggering.
3) There is a casual disregard surrounding their discussions of rape. The sex Althea and Oliver have while he's sick is something of a gray area - not-quite-rape because he initiated it, but not fully consensual because he wasn't consciously in control of his actions. Failing to address this in any kind of nuanced way was a missed opportunity by the author.

So, despite those problems, let me explain why this book still gets four stars:

1) Sometimes relationships - especially teenage relationships - are unhealthy. When you're seventeen, sometimes being best friends with someone means that you are horrible to one another and that, despite loving one another as best you know how, despite being each others' almost, your relationship is nothing but emotional volatility. The writing about such a close relationship just heading for a breakdown was unflinching and deeply compelling.
2) Did I like the way Althea and Oliver pushed each other around? No. Was that a reflection of how my best friend and I behaved when we were 17? Yes. Yes, a thousand times yes. I was uncomfortable in these moments in the book in the same way I am uncomfortable remembering my teenage years and the terrible way my friend and I treated one another.
3) Newsflash: teenagers are inappropriate. Or, well, teenagers in the '90's and early 2000's were inappropriate. Maybe the current crop of teenagers is most enlightened than my crowd, but we treated deeply serious matters with casual disregard. We were young, and powerful, and nothing too bad could ever touch us. Was it right? Again, no, but it was how we acted.
4) Not all stories have happy endings, but usually those unhappy endings also aren't about crushing tragedy. I appreciated the unanswered questions, and the conversation Althea and Oliver have about what they'll tell future boyfriends and girlfriends they were to one another.

Althea and Oliver are not role models. But they are nuanced, interesting characters who make an intriguing mix of good and bad decisions.
November 12, 2014
I don’t even know where to start with this… I didn’t think it was a bad story, I just don’t think it was the story for me. I also don’t think it’s a story for most people. The misleading summary is just one of the many issues I had with this book. I was expecting a best friend romance, a somewhat dysfunctional one, but I was expecting a romance nonetheless. This and the fact that this book is set in the 90’s are just a few of the reasons I wanted to read this. While this story was very beautifully written, and it fascinated me most of the time, there were so many issues that I had with this book. This review will be very spoilery. Be warned.

Althea and Oliver have been best friends for years, they’ve done everything together and are pretty much inseparable. But Oliver has a life outside of his friendship with Althea, while Althea pretty much only has Oliver. Sure, she hangs around with his friends, but they aren’t really her friends. While Althea starts to develop feelings for Oliver, Oliver has made it clear that he doesn’t return her feelings and after their one and only kiss, he makes it very clear that he has no intention of taking things any further. During this time, we find out that Oliver has started to have these strange sleeping spells that seem to last longer and longer. Turns out that Oliver has a rare condition called Kleine-Levin Syndrome which causes his to sleep for days, weeks or sometimes even months. During these times of sleep, Oliver sometimes has these times where he is awake but he’s not really himself. He acts irrational sometimes, but sometimes he also acts like himself even though he clearly isn’t ‘all there.’ Other symptoms can include being super hungry and apparently having hypersexuality (being hornier than usual).

During these times when Oliver is sleeping, Althea feels lost. She has no idea who she is without Oliver and the more and more that he sleeps, she has a harder time finding herself. She finds herself acting reckless and making some questionable decisions. Here is where the big conflicting moment comes in. *WARNING, SPOILER* During one of Oliver’s episodes, he finds out that a few weeks before, he and Althea slept together while he was ‘not really himself.’ This being their first time and especially after he makes it very clear that he was only interested in being friends, Oliver is understandably very hurt. And angry. There’s this huge fight between them that has it’s cringe-worthy moments. Now, there’s this debate that this is considered rape, and despite the fact that it is or isn’t, this book doesn’t really address it. A few exchanges from that scene:
“I feel nauseous. I told you, I said I wasn’t ready–”

“You wanted to,” Althea says stridently.

You stupid bitch, it wasn’t me! You knew it wasn’t me, you knew I wouldn’t remember, how could you let it happen? I didn’t want to, I told you–”

“Oh no? You didn’t want to? What did you think happened then? Do you think I forced you? Do you think I held you down and made you do it?”

“You knew it was a big deal to me,” he says. “You knew I never would have wanted it to happen like that. How could you not tell me? You’ve been lying for months.”

It clearly isn’t a black and white scenario, but if this were the other way around, there probably wouldn’t be much of a debate. I’m disappointed that this wasn’t explored more or discussed other than this one conversation/fight. Male rape is not something we hear about a lot and it would have been nice to have it addressed. Moving on. After this fight, Oliver is done with Althea and he decides to go to New York to a medical facility that will study and hopefully treat his Kleine-Levin Syndrome. The rest of the book is spent with Oliver and Althea apart. Oliver is in New York, dealing (or avoiding) with his fallen friendship with Althea, her betrayal and dealing with his disease. Meanwhile, Althea is back home making a mess out of her life. After a few weeks, she decides that she needs to see Oliver so she decides to go to New York to talk to him. She tells her dad that she’s soending some time with her mom in New Mexico but instead she spends her time living in New York with a couple of hipster teenagers. I found it really unbelievable that her dad never even bothered to check in on her with her mom, or that she just met up with these strange kids and started living with them right away.

As you can see, this is most definitely not a romance. Or a story about friendship, really. Althea and Oliver spend more than half of the book apart! There’s no denying that the story is good or that the writing is brilliant, but I just don’t think this book was for me. Even without the whole maybe-rape scene. This book has been getting some really rave reviews but it also seems to be a hit-or-miss kind of book. Unfortunately, I think this is one of those ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ kind of books.

2.5 out of 5 stars!

Read full review & more of my reviews at Mostly YA Book Obsessed

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Profile Image for Kelly.
Author 7 books1,212 followers
March 16, 2014

Althea is a fighter and Oliver is not. Except, when Althea fights it's for her feelings and Oliver can't requite them. They've been best friends for years -- for a decade and some change -- but Oliver doesn't want more and Althea does. For all she pushes, the more he pulls away.

Which is convenient when he begins suffering with a sleeping disorder and is out for weeks at a time. In one of his more lucid moments, Althea . Another period when Oliver awakes, the same thing happens but it's still not becoming what Althea wants it to become, so she goes and tries to make something become what it is she wants with Oliver.

But she can't. She just can't.

When Oliver chooses to participate in a lengthy study for his illness in New York City, he leaves without telling Althea. Because he's angry at her for what happened and he just can't see her. He needs to cut the cord clean. Of course, this won't work for Althea, who finds a way to head to New York City herself and seek him out. But the closer she gets the further away from him she falls. Physically, mentally, and emotionally, they tear further apart.

And Althea has to find a way to make it on her own now, especially as she's been expelled from school and is, presumably, not on her father's best side.

Althea & Oliver is a gritty, grungy novel about best friends who are in a moment of flux in their relationship. Oliver wants more, and Althea wants more, but their wantings of more are different -- Althea wants Oliver all to herself. She wants him wholly and romantically. Oliver wants to break free, to experiment, to get out and about and see the world. He

The arcs of both characters are fascinating. Both Althea and Oliver have to make personal decisions about their futures, but their trajectories are so different, so divergent, it's obvious to readers, even if not to them, that something is amiss in their own relationship. Oliver has to make decisions about his physical health while Althea has to make hers about her emotional well-being. Both need to find their "places," and despite how much they've grown to love and cherish what they are to one another as friends, it might be that friendship which keeps them in a place where they can't make such decisions for themselves.

In the end, things work out exactly as they should.

Set in the late 1990s gritty New York City/Brooklyn world, this will appeal to teen readers who often don't see themselves in fiction. These characters have a lot of freedom, but they're also broke and dirty and raw and rough around the edges. They party -- and that's a big part of the story and a big part of HOW these characters figure themselves out. This is literary YA about two friends who want and desire but those driving forces aren't pushing them towards one another; they're pushing them apart. In many ways, I think this is the kind of book adults will cherish more than adults, as they can look back and identify the choices that they made when they were in Oliver or in Althea's place.

There's an excellent set of lines Althea has that I think cover what's at the heart of the story: there's a moment when she's Althea now and a moment when she thinks she'll wake up outside this box and everything will make perfect sense. What she misses in this is the GETTING THERE part of getting outside the box. It's not about the destination but about the journey to getting there. It's the "coming" part of "coming of age."

This is a smart little book.

Longer review to come.
Profile Image for Patty .
818 reviews370 followers
September 6, 2018
Update: I enjoyed the sneak peek but when I tried to read the book I started to like it less and less. I found both characters very dull and annoying. There’s was nothing happening to keep in interested or invested in these characters so DNF it is!

**I received Sneak Peek: Althea & Oliver from NetGalley via Penguin Young Readers Group (Viking) in exchange for an honest review.**

3 stars - This is based off of what I've read (aka, it's going to change)!!

What a lovely and interesting sneak peek!

Althea and Oliver has definitely sparked my interest. I look forward to picking this up when it releases so I can find out what is happening to Oliver! Althea is an...interesting character that I feel might bother me as this story progresses. I'm hoping she's not going to turn out to be really self-centred. Lastly, I'm curious to see if the author will give us the predictable ending or one that might make me cry...

P.S Amazon & Chapters (Canadian stores) has the release date set to October 14th, while B&N and Amazon have it for October 9th. Jealous...
Profile Image for Tellulah Darling.
Author 10 books377 followers
September 10, 2014
I want to stand on a rooftop with a bullhorn and proclaim my love for this story. Then fling said bullhorn to smithereens on the ground at how this gorgeous tale broke my heart. It's a funny, sweet, sad story about best friends - one of whom wants more and one of whom just wants life to go back to normal. It's about how complicated and wonderful and awful relationships are when the other person knows you better than anyone. I literally just finished and it's all so raw and precious that I can't even talk about it more than that.

Thanks to Viking Juvenile and NetGalley for a copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Esha.
121 reviews
September 3, 2016
Woah isn't the premise exciting! I CALL YOUR BULLSHIT I CALL YOUR BULLSHIT I DO!
I don't even know what I just read. This book is a disaster after the first few chapters. Disaster.
Everything's alright, every thing's merry and then, thunk! everyone becomes an idiot, how convenient
Profile Image for Anncleire.
1,287 reviews98 followers
October 11, 2014
Ringrazio immensamente De Agostini per avermi concesso l’onore e il piacere di leggere in anteprima questo libro in cambio della mia onesta opinione. Non ne sono mai stata più entusiasta.

Recensione anche sul mio blog:

“Althea & Oliver” è il libro d’esordio di Cristina Moracho ed è stato un grande regalo da parte di DeAgostini che lo porta in Italia, nella sua collana Young Adult il 14 ottobre quasi in contemporanea con l’uscita americana. Una storia intensa, speciale, che non mi sarei mai immaginata. Ammetto che ero piuttosto scettica, ma mi sono dovuta ricredere. A volte le storie più belle si nascondo lì dove non ce lo immaginiamo.

La Moracho è stata incredibilmente brava nel prendere una storia comune e trasformarla in qualcosa di straordinario. Non solo perché il libro offre molti spunti di riflessione, ma anche perché non c’è niente di scontato o ripetitivo. Tutto è incredibilmente vero, anche se a volte quasi eccessivamente ingigantito. La narrazione è in terza persona, ma alterna il punto di vista dei due protagonisti. Althea e Oliver sono amici fin da bambini, fin dal momento in cui la madre del ragazzo, Nikki, lo ha portato da Garth, il padre di Althea, per fargli da babysitter. Da allora i due sono inseparabili, due entità della stessa unità. Dove c’è Oliver c’è Althea e dove c’è Althea spunta anche Oliver. E se da bambini è tutto semplice ed esplosivo, alternando giochi inventati e rincorse apocalittiche, da adolescenti le cose iniziano a cambiare, la facilità con cui si interagisce da bambini si perde, nel corpo che cambia, nei battibecchi, nella malattia di Oliver.
Althea è una dura, una di quelle ragazze che vivono in maniera solitaria, con il blocco da disegno in mano e un filtro che passa per i colori, con cui guardare la realtà. Oliver non è solo il suo migliore amico, è il mezzo in cui riesce ad uscire da sé stessa ed interagire con il mondo. Althea è preda dell’istinto e dell’intraprendenza. Non si lascia fermare da niente e vive l’attesa di Oliver come in una veglia, nel seminterrato della sua abitazione preparando dolci e disegnando. Althea è quella strana, quella capace di gesti inconsueti, che si mette alla prova, ma che vive un grande disagio. È spaventata e non sa cosa fare quando perde il suo punto di riferimento più importante. Una specie di trottola impazzita che rimbalza contro i muri.
Oliver è quello ben piantato in terra, il bravo ragazzo, studioso, appassionato, espansivo ed estroverso. Quello che trascina Althea alle feste e che non si lascia fermare da niente. Appassionato di astronomia e fisica, ha grandi progetti e grandi sogni, che sembrano frangersi di fronte ad una malattia rarissima e incurabile, che sembra trascinarlo sul fondo della sua esistenza. Si ritrova a perdere giorni e settimane, con la consapevolezza di perdere anche le persone che ama. Anche lui in un certo modo diventa imprevedibile e non sa cosa fare. Un ragazzo spaventato e irriducibile.
E se inizialmente sembrano irriconoscibili, quasi identici, della stessa altezza e corporatura, lo stesso colore di capelli e atteggiamento, una coppia inossidabile, dopo un po’ ci si accorge che niente è come prima e le differenze emergono, come una immagine sulla pellicola fotografica, perché sono i dettagli a fare la differenza.
Il corollario dei personaggi secondari è fresco e avvincente, a partire da Minty Fresh e da Valerie, con i loro progetti sgangherati per cambiare il mondo, ma che forniscono un pretesto per qualcosa di nuovo e irraggiungibile. Cody con la sua aria strafottente e inquietante, che si prende quello che vuole e il primo a capire tutto. Matilda, perché in fondo non c’è niente di meglio che cambiare scenario. E naturalmente Kentucky e Ethan che offriranno non pochi spunti di riflessione.
È un libro di adolescenti, ma gli adolescenti di oggi, quelli che spezzano i vincoli del sesso e dell’alcol senza tanti problemi, che sembrano parlare con disinvoltura di ubriacature e preservativi, tranne poi pentirsi di scelte da cui non si può tornare indietro. Non si parla di una storia d’amore, ma una storia memorabile di gesti ed eventi che portano tutti in un nuovo anno pieno di possibilità.
Non ci si aspetta di finire in mezzo all’oceano con due ragazzi alle prese con un mondo nuovo.
La famiglia, l’amicizia, l’amore e la salute vengono scandagliati e analizzati, ma non ci sono risposte, solo tante domande che si accavallano. Ma la cosa meravigliosa è questa, questo è un libro sulla vita, con due protagonisti così meravigliosamente imperfetti, che non si può non adorarli. Forse si muovono troppo da adulti, ma alla fine non siamo tutti in un mondo che corre veloce e a cui ci si deve adattare, in cui gli standard si riducono e i diciassettenni devono correre e bruciare le tappe? Può sembrare assurdo, io a diciassette anni ero ancora una bambina ingenua, ma guardo i ragazzi di oggi ed inevitabilmente stanno passi avanti rispetto a dieci anni fa.
L’ambientazione scivola con disinvoltura da Wilmington in North Carolina a New York, in un’affermazione di indipendenza e crescita, ma anche caos difficile da negare. E se all’inizio siamo in una periferia piccola e stretta, ci allarghiamo sui grattaceli e l’immensità della Grande Mela, a passo sostenuto, con la corsa tipica di chi vive in una grande città.

Il particolare da non dimenticare? Un fiammifero…

Una storia matura ed emozionante, un libro intenso, composto da atti necessari ed emozioni autentiche che disegnano la vita di due adolescenti, amici per la pelle, che si abbandonano alla vita e alla scoperta. Perché niente è come sembra e non sempre riusciamo ad ottenere ciò che vogliamo. Uno stile fresco e accattivante ci conducono per mano tra sentimenti e scelte difficili per una storia difficile da dimenticare.
Buona lettura guys!
Profile Image for Allison.
929 reviews61 followers
December 31, 2015
It's probably a bad sign when the book is named after the two main characters and you can't really stand the two main characters.

Althea & Oliver felt really unnatural, while also feeling completely expected.

I felt no genuine connection between our two title characters. They grew up together, became great friends, and have stuck together ever since. Okay. Fair enough. But, if these two are going to be written as best friends, I want to be able to believe it and I couldn't. Despite having some sort of romantic or sexual feelings for one another, it kind of seemed like they couldn't stand each other. I didn't buy this friendship.

Althea was unbearable. I'm not going to gloss over that. She was horrible to read about - and not in a "this character is horrible but they are written so well, I can really respect that" way. I was sick of her complaining about Oliver's illness taking away their together time. I was sick of her lying to her dad. I was sick of her dyed black hair and her smoking and her entire cliched self. Seriously.

Let's not ignore the fact that the driving force behind a lot of what happens in this book is that Althea rapes Oliver. The WORST BAD DECISION EVER. It's rape. Nothing can make me believe that their sexual encounter was not rape. He was sick, in a weird hypersexual state, and could not consent (he can't even remember it happened!) - despite what Althea tries to tell him. The fact that this happens and is never seriously discussed is really, really upsetting to me. At least Oliver got mad about it, I guess?

Then they have sex and it's all fine. End scene.

And, apparently, this book is set in the 1990s? At least that's what the jacket says. Nothing about this book said 90s to me except when the paper said that the Yankees won the World Series. If you are going to set a book partially in New York in the 1990s - fill it with 1990s-related stuff. New York! The 90s! And we get a house. And a hospital. Okay.

The best parts of this book were the parents and Oliver's disorder and Coby. It's rare that parental figures are written well (or written at all) in YA. Althea's dad and Oliver's mom were really cool people. Loved them. Coby was a compelling character. The disorder was interesting to read about.
Profile Image for Gabriela Kozhuharova.
Author 25 books120 followers
August 31, 2015
Ако се съди по анотацията и корицата на "Алтия и Оливър" – малко банална coming of age история за двама най-добри приятели, които израстват заедно и чиито отношения в един момент започват да еволюират в нещо повече. Все пак реших да си я взема, защото е на "Екслибрис", а "Екслибрис" издават от готини до шантави неща, досега не са ме разочаровали. Прецених, че и в тази им селекция ще има нещо необикновено. И точно така се оказа.

Романът си има две лица. От една страна, много нежен, интимен разказ за близостта между двама души и за момента, в който тези души-близнаци започват да се отделят една от друга – кажи-речи разделяне на континенти. От друга страна, доста дива, необуздана изповед за лоши, спонтанни решения и за необмислени постъпки, които или те изкарват от кашата, която представляваш, или те закопават в още по-голяма.

Препъникамъчето в сюжета е, че Оливър се разболява от синдрома на Клайн-Левин, който може да ви е познат и под по-ефектното си название "Синдром на Спящата красавица". Адски рядко заболяване (някъде четох статистика, че засяга около 1000 души в света), което периодично потапя човек в сън за седмици и дори месеци. Сънят е прекъсван от кратки будни епизоди, през които болният се държи като абсолютен изрод, без да помни какви ги е вършил след събуждането си. Много интересно, но мъчително състояние, не толкова физически, колкото емоционално и психически. Още не е открито лечение.

Що се отнася до стила на Кристина Морачо – прочетях романа за ден, течението на историята те понася с лекота. Краят е малко в нищото – няма разплетени възли, няма чудодейно решение на проблемите, няма категоричен завършек, който да те успокои за бъдещето на героите. Задават се много въпроси, но се налага сам да съчиниш отговорите им.

Впечатляващо е, че "Алтия и Оливър" е дебютен роман за Морачо. Остана ми глад за още нейни истории – дано продължи да пише, струва си да се види какво ще сътвори и занапред.
Profile Image for Dianne.
320 reviews154 followers
October 17, 2016
*Also posted at Oops! I Read A Book Again*

So much ache. So much love. To quote the book:

"It feels good, and it still hurts."

That's exactly how I felt. I'm so glad I read the book and it blew me away but it really broke me too at five in the morning when I finished it. Cristina Moracho, you owe me a night's sleep (But who cares? Definitely not me.) but I'd gladly give it to you all if you keep on writing books like this.

Grittily beautiful - that's how I'd describe this under the radar gem (well, it's under the radar with bloggers and readers but it's actually critically acclaimed). The characters are messy and real and raw and this is how I like my contemporary novels. To all those people who look down on YA as sub-par, read this book and go cry in the corner because you haven't been more wrong in your life.

I've always found the prose lush and vividly nostalgic, coupled with such complex characters with equally complex relationships. I found myself relating to a whole new bunch of topics with each re-read. (Fact: I re-read it at least twice a year.) My favorite books tend to do that: make me interpret them differently every time I read them.

"Her entire body can feel Oliver's approach, like he's a magnet and she's a collection of iron fillings that needs him to hold her together."

Althea & Oliver focuses on the titular characters, best friends since forever and now in high school. It starts with Althea rushing to get Oliver home, who has this sleep syndrome where he ends up sleeping for days (literally, even if he wakes up to eat, he's not really awake) and being a ravenous eater all the time. He's like in a coma but not really. No one knows what it is and this time around, when Oliver sleeps, he ends up sleeping for weeks. He sleeps most of summer. We then read about how Althea has been in love with Oliver for so long but he's just not into her that way. The pining in this book, while not front and center, was gripping. I could feel how much Althea wants and wants and wants but she also knows that she'll remain just as Oliver's best friend and nothing more. I remember feeling so sad because I know the feeling all too well (HA!) and I could relate.

"There are days that I remember, totally ordinary days when I was so happy just to be driving around in the car with you, just to have you there, and everything you said was funny and everything I said was clever and every song that came on the radio was exactly the song I wanted to hear. And on days like that I felt so fucking lucky just to have someone to feel that way about, just to feel that way at all, it didn't even matter if you feel the same way."


Without her best friend Oliver to go with to parties and to spend time with, Althea ends up spending her summer with Coby, who's not exactly nice. She dyes her blond hair black and she ends up kind of a different person when Oliver wakes up, or so he thinks. Althea and Oliver get into a huge fight because of something Althea did just before Oliver goes to New York; he's enrolled in a study about his disease. (It's Kleine-Levin syndrome, a rare sleep disorder characterized by persistent episodic hypersomnia, and cognitive and mood changes.) He thinks this is a perfect way to get away from Althea and he doesn't tell her where he's going. Althea only finds out that he's in New York from their friends and she ends up going after him. She finds the hospital he's in, only to be told that Oliver's asleep.

HAHAHA I think I already told most of the story but not really too. I fail, guys. Sorry. I don't know how much to say though so I don't know what to cut out heh

"The electricity he felt on the street last night returns, that sense of possibility that only happens when you strip away everything familiar."

I love how the setting, mid-1990s, felt like another character in this novel. You would think that only non-contemporary books would have to make the world it revolves in as rich and deep like a character but this contemporary book does it. I also remember pausing a lot of times while reading Althea & Oliver because I just had to marvel at Cristina Moracho's prose. It is indeed lovely and beautiful and it sounds like waves softly crashing on the shore and I would like to build a house by the shore just so I can hear it all the time.

“Her forehead creases with the effort of finding the right word, and when she’s got it, she nods to herself, like it was so obvious. “I’ll say,” she finally says, “that you were my favorite”. “Your favorite what?” “That’s it,” she says. “Just my favorite”."


At the end of the day, Althea & Oliver was a coming-of-age story of both Althea and Oliver, and while hard-earned, felt natural and totally not rushed or obvious. I love the ending, seriously. This is one of my most favorite endings in all of coming-of-age novels I've read because it packed that punch of hurt mixed in with hope. It was everything.

"There's only one way to go now: forward, into the unknown. Welcome to the jungle."

Go to the jungle, my friends. Go read this book.
Profile Image for Lisa.
222 reviews3 followers
May 31, 2016
Trigger warning: This book contains sexual assault and an abusive relationship between friends


I was excited to read this book because it was supposed to be a coming of age story about punk rockers. Instead I got a friendship story about two kids in North Carolina that reminded me of Dawson's Creek. Althea & Oliver are an unlikely pair, like Joey and Dawson, that have been inseparable since they were six. Like Joey and Dawson both have feelings for each other they don't know how to deal with...seems tame enough. However, in this story Oliver has a disease (Kleine-Levin Syndrome) that renders him unconscious for large periods of time, only waking to eat and use the bathroom and it's during one of these periods that Althea rapes him.

This is where the book becomes problematic, because no one is willing to call it rape. Oliver gets upset when he finds out what happened, because before his episode, he kissed Althea, but told her he wasn't ready when she asked him to come to her room. However, he's not willing to call it rape either, though, but his anger at Althea and his words clearly show he feels violated, because not only was the boy not conscious of his actions when it happened, he specifically told her he wasn't ready for it before it did happen. Althea was worried it would never happen if she didn't take matters into her own hands, but so what if it had never happened? That wasn't her decision to make. You can't just MAKE someone do something because YOU want them to. People aren't toys. Then when Oliver goes off to participate in a study and tells his new friend, Will, about what happened, Will acts like he's crazy. I mean why wouldn't you want to screw your beautiful best friend? He tells him to find her and do it again! At this Oliver's anger magically disappears. Althea on the other hand feels bad, but for selfish reasons. She's upset Oliver doesn't remember the incident and she's upset that Oliver is mad at her, because after all, he "wanted" it. She goes to New York to apologize to Oliver because she's afraid of losing him, but when she finally gets the chance she's flippant about it and after talking to his friend, Will, Oliver is dismissive because what guy wants to admit out loud that he was raped? I mean he "wanted" it anyway, right? So who cares how it happened...WTF!

I kept hoping that Althea would redeem herself, but here's what I got from the end of the book instead.

Althea shrugs - Sorry I raped you
Oliver - No worries, it wasn't really rape or at least I'm not ready to call it that and deal with my trauma yet or ever, because you're my best friend. Let's have consensual sex this time so I can pretend like the other unmentionable thing never happened.
Althea - Ok (they have sex, but it's not at all like last time. Althea liked last time better, but it's nice to see recognition in his eyes this time).
Althea - Our relationship is officially over now. I've got my eye on that Ethan guy. Have a nice life/See you when I see ya.
Oliver - Ok. Now I can pretend that nothing f**d up ever happened and we just went our separate ways after our relationship came to it's inevitable conclusion once we had consensual sex. See ya.

I feel disappointed and gross for having invested my time in what is essentially Althea's story since Oliver is asleep for large chunks of it.People aren't perfect, I get that. People make mistakes - I understand that, too. However, part of growing up is owning your mistakes and taking responsibility for them, rather that sweeping them under the rug. I know she's only 17, but I was hoping for just a hint of that from Althea since what she did was pretty f**d up. Instead by the end of the book I just got a sense that Althea who was already self-involved, was becoming even more self-involved...and yeah, finding yourself is part of growing up, but so is realizing how your actions affect others and that the world doesn't revolve around you/people aren't always going to do what you want them to. Ugh!

One star because the writing is good and perhaps it will lead to discussions about consent.

Profile Image for Estelle.
877 reviews80 followers
December 22, 2014
Review originally posted on Rather Be Reading Blog

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Althea & Oliver is probably the YA that the naysayers don’t realize exists. It’s literary, it’s layered in its storylines and the emotions build up in all of them, and not even close to fluffy. In fact, I would call the general feeling of this book melancholy.

If you haven’t guessed from the above description, Althea & Oliver is not exactly a story you are going to fly through. I was unsure if I was actually liking what I was reading for a long time. How can you like a girl doting over her best friend? What if that best friend is basically disappearing for weeks out of time because of some mysterious illness? I mean, there’s nothing truly happy here. But I was intrigued by Oliver’s strange health issues and I was hooked by the friendship between the two. Oliver and Althea maintained an intimacy that you don’t find a lot in young adult books. Sure, feelings beyond platonic were swirling around there but you can’t deny their closeness — how their families knew each other so well, how they always seemed to be stuck together, and how they accepted each other, faults and all.

I love how Moracho gave these characters room to grow beyond each other. Things happen, Oliver is off to New York, and Althea is acting out back in North Carolina. She makes the decision to lie to her dad and head to New York and talk to Oliver, and a major detour changes the course of the story. This is a tough one to review, friends, because so much happens that you need to discover for yourself. But what happens when you are so dependent on a friend and they can’t be there for you anymore? Do you continue to push this closeness or do you let the wind take you? Do you take this opportunity to get to know yourself without the other person? Will both of you ever be ready to take your relationship to the next level at the same time?

So much about Althea & Oliver felt more mature than a lot of other young adult books I read. I couldn’t help thinking it was the lack of technology in the story because it was set in the 90s. There was nothing keeping anyone together when they were apart except for some stray phone calls. Both Althea’s dad and Oliver’s mom allowed their kids to be very independent. These details definitely allowed the characters to do their own thing but it also didn’t disqualify their parents from the story either. (Big thumbs up.)

These two characters certainly hit rock bottom in two very different ways, and it was so emotional and heartbreaking and authentic how they climbed out of these holes and figured out next steps. I wouldn’t even say this book is about coming to clear conclusions but making the right decisions for right now, and keeping the future open. It’s so scary to jump into the unknown and this feeling is basically the theme of being a junior in high school. Moracho nailed it, making my heart swell and burst so many times.

I cannot wait to see what she is writing much, and I look forward to more thoughtful, and engulfing young adult books like this one.
Profile Image for Courtney.
956 reviews21 followers
December 16, 2014
Althea and Oliver have been best friends ever since Althea moved in down the street from Oliver at the tender young age of six. Now in their senior year of high school, they are still inseparable, but complications are arising in their usually-easy friendship. Althea is starting to develop a romantic interest in Oliver. Oliver, while not adverse to the prospect of advancing his relationship with Althea, is busy dealing with a strange illness that causes him to fall asleep for weeks, even months, on end. Althea has been helping him through many of his episodes, but finds herself flailing in the meantime. She literally doesn't know how to live her life without Oliver by her side. Oliver, on the other hand, is profoundly disturbed by the fact that he is missing vast chunks of his life. Even when he wakes up in the midst of a sleeping episode, he has no recollection of what has happened during his semi-conscious state. Right before one of Oliver's episodes, he and Althea finally become physical. Then, of course, he loses consciousness and they are unable to even discuss what has just happened or what the next step will be. While Oliver is out, Althea does something that she knows she will regret, something that might ruin her relationship with Oliver forever. When Oliver eventually finds out, he is furious and attempts to cut Althea out of his life altogether. He decides to participate in a two-month sleep study in New York for those who have the same disease: Kleine Levin Syndrome, or KLS. When Althea figures out that Oliver has left town, she packs up her old Camry and heads off to New York to apologize and attempt to salvage her friendship.
Althea and Oliver's story is completely unique. It's easy to go into this book thinking that you know where it will end up, but this story never seems to go quite where you think it will. It's not exactly a romance or a love story, but there's a ton of heart. Althea isn't always the most likeable of characters, but she's absolutely relatable and her growth as a person is one of the highlights of this fantastic novel. Oliver's development comes in fits and spurts, as could be expected for someone who literally loses months of his life at a time. The impact that Oliver's illness has on Althea is almost as heartbreaking as its effect on Oliver, though I would hesitate to say that the novel is about Oliver's KLS. In fact, it takes over half of the book to even get Oliver to the sleep study. In the meantime, Althea is learning to live her life on her own terms and not as Oliver's counterpart. In New York, she makes friends of her own for the first time in her life and begins to realize that it might be possible for her to exist outside of Oliver's shadow. Oliver begins to learn how to move forward in spite of an exceedingly uncertain future. Moracho takes some major risks with both of these characters, but they come out all the more realistic for it. Nothing is sugar-coated here. Althea and Oliver's relationship is consuming, messy and complicated, much like real-life. Their story is simultaneously a train-wreck and a heartfelt bildungsroman. It's not for every reader, but for the right readers, it's utterly perfect.
Profile Image for Debbie Gascoyne.
605 reviews25 followers
August 7, 2015
I see a lot of dissent amongst reviewers of this book - some love it; some hate it. I don't have a lot of sympathy with those who dismiss it because the incident that is the catalyst for the central conflict is "just wrong." It is wrong, but I don't think there's any claim by the author/narrator, or by any of the characters, that it was anything but wrong. It also, if you allow yourself to think about it, opens up some extremely interesting ethical questions. I think it's somewhat short-sighted to think that the protagonist of a young adult novel isn't allowed to do something pretty awful and stupid without condemning the whole book.

That said, I share the mixed feelings of other reviewers. There's a lot to like here. The writing is stellar. Althea is a very interesting and complex character. Most of the minor characters are interesting - Althea's father and Oliver's mother are both well-meaning but their own flaws prevent them from always doing what might be best for their offspring.

I don't think Moracho succeeded in bringing Oliver as clearly to life (perhaps because he's asleep through a lot of the book). I also felt that the resolution, although quite satisfying in one way, was reached too easily. It was almost miraculous the way Althea managed to survive in New York (did anyone else wonder how she found Oliver's hospital so easily? you'd think it was the only one). There are silly details like the fact that she just walks in and buys booze - she's what, fifteen? Where the drinking age is 21? In some ways, it felt a bit like a teenage "cool" fantasy - life with little parental intervention, booze, drugs, cigarettes, lots of time for angst but no genuine or realistic problems (like getting arrested, or beaten up, or worse).

So overall, well executed but falls short in close examination of some of the details. However, Althea was a character whom I enjoyed spending time with.
Profile Image for Lenora.
28 reviews3 followers
March 10, 2015
I was really really REALLY hoping this book would be good. The plot seemed to me like a best-friends-fall-in-love kind of plot. However, this really was not the case. To me, the characters were shallow and I didn't really get into them or experience how they were feeling like I usually do in other books. It seemed like what they had for each other was more lust than love. The author kept saying Althea was in love with Oliver, but she didn't really show the readers how much. I did not like Althea very much if you can tell. I couldn't identify with her at all. She was too spontaneous and reluctant to break the rules. She never thought anything through and she was kind of selfish. I didn't really get into Oliver's character either because he was asleep half the time! Ugh.

Another thing that made this book particularly frustrating was the content. Althea and Oliver and their friends drink a lot, do drugs, and smoke. Althea had no self respect or respect for anyone else (*cough* Oliver). She, let's just say, made choices that I couldn't find myself making. There were so many F-bombs in this book I couldn't even keep track. I am a teenager and these things frustrated me. All of these things bothered me to the point where it made the book boring. In fact, I found myself skimming through most of the book because it was just so incredibly boring. I would definitely not recommend this book to anyone. I really really REALLY did not like this book. But, I did give it 2 stars because I know the author meant well.
Profile Image for Marissa (Rae Gun Ramblings).
593 reviews72 followers
November 8, 2015
This book is about rape and is NOT shown in a bad let alone serious light. It happens early on so I don't think it's a spoiler. For a book that is marketed to young adults I'm honestly horrified. I was SO disturbed by the character's actions and reflections on the rape. Let's be clear people GIRLS CAN RAPE BOYS. YOu're completely screwed up and sexist if you think otherwise. It might be harder to do but the author sets up a scenario in which one character has sex with another who is UNABLE TO CONSENT and UNAWARE OF HIS BEHAVIOR. That my friends is rape.

If this were a book about a drunk girl who's best friend had sex with her while she was far gone people would be up in arms. THe whole "you wanted to" is even in there. Yuck yuck yuck. I just feel dirty recalling thing. But really how did this get published? Shame on you all for perpetuating such a screwed up attitude towards rape and boy's sexual rights. Yuck again.

I tried to keep reading assuming that it would get better, that she would feel remorse that the side characters would criticize her but no it's all fine and dandy and the rape victim oh he's being ridiculous feeling violated when he finally finds out. WHAT THE HECK?!

Besides the bad bad bad bad content, the characters were kind of annoying. Very trying too hard.

I read A LOT Of it but when it seemed like there was not going to be any remorse and I was thoroughly disturbed I checked out the other reviews to fine nope it doesn't get better it just gets worse and I decided I would NOT be torturing myself with this ignorant propaganda any longer.
Profile Image for Sabi.
918 reviews206 followers
August 10, 2021
One of the worst books I've ever read. Period.


I don't write bad reviews because I know how much effort goes to publish one but this one.... man, it was so bad at so many places.

It started on a nice note but then just got boring and boring page by page. Not one of the but maybe the worst book is more upto the alley for me.

The story, its about two friends who everybody knows are going to end up together, in the novel, they take some decisions which many of the people see as their emotional journey but to me, well, it was a boring 300 hundred something journey that I wouldn't recommend anyone.

I liked the story about Oliver though, I guess if the author changed some paths on his health condition portrayal, then it could've been a completely different story that I would have liked to experience.
Profile Image for Sian Lile-Pastore.
1,230 reviews154 followers
December 12, 2015
Aw, lovely and felt like real life. A sweet (yet grungy) story of two teenagers who are best friends and then kinda fall in love, oh and one of them has a sleep disorder. Reminded me a little of Nick and Nora.
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