In the wake of sudden tragedy, twin sisters uncover a secret that rips open their world. Katherine Rothschild explores the pain and power of forgiveness in a stunning debut novel that will shatter your heart and piece it back together, one truth at a time.
Sixteen-year-old Sabine Braxton doesn’t have much in common with her identical twin, Blythe. When their father dies from an unexpected illness, each copes with the loss in her own way—Sabine by “poeting” (an uncontrollable quirk of bursting into poetry at inappropriate moments) and Blythe by obsessing over getting into MIT, their father’s alma mater. Neither can offer each other much support . . . at least not until their emotionally detached mother moves them into a ramshackle Bay Area mansion owned by a stranger named Charlie.
Soon, the sisters unite in a mission to figure out who Charlie is and why he seems to know everything about them. They make a life-changing discovery: their parents were hiding secrets about their sexual identities. The revelation unravels Sabine’s world, while practical Blythe seems to take everything in stride. Once again at odds with her sister, Sabine chooses to learn all she can about the father she never knew. Ultimately, she must decide if she can embrace his last wish for a family legacy--even if it means accepting a new idea of what it means to be a family.
I had high expectations for Wider than the Sky because of the description, some positive reviews and the gorgeous cover (yes, I know, don't judge a book by its cover- but you cannot tell me that this one isn't stunning.) Unfortunately it was quite disappointing and let me down on almost all fronts.
Before we get into that, here is a quick summary of the story. Wider than the Sky follows Sabine and her twin Blythe, who have to move to a new town after their father mysteriously dies. It goes through their transition to a new school, discovering the truth about the father, and subsequently, themselves.
One of the things I was most excited with this book was its discussion of complex themes and diversity typically neglected in YA. It talks about polyamory, HIV/AIDS and queerness. I have admittedly read very few books covering such themes, so was interested to see what this book had to say. Unfortunately, particularly for the HIV aspect, the themes were not dissected to the level I would have liked. Instead, I thought the representation was overly simplistic and slightly generalising. It is not my place to say whether it was good or not, but I definitely felt that the book barely skimmed the surface and possibly even dances the line of being harmful.
Even if the themes of a book are lacking, the plot and characters often have the potential to make up for that. However, I also found both of those aspects to be wanting. The plot, aka the romance, was a case of severe insta love, fuelled by many conveniences and not much chemistry. I honestly think it would have been better as a friendship- and would definitely have caused less drama. But what would a YA contemporary be without a love triangle, right? The dynamics between all three in the triangle felt dysfunctional and messy, and made it really hard for me to root for the main romance.
As for the characters, I had conflicted emotions. At times I liked our protagonist, but at others she was completely insufferable. I understand that characters are meant to be flawed, but she was just straight up selfish, mean and unsympathetic that it made it difficult to enjoy the process of reading her perspective.
I almost wish I had DNF'ed this book because my enjoyment pretty steadily decreased after the midpoint, but felt that since I was sent this for review I was obligated to finish it. Unhealthy? maybe but let's not linger on that.
For some positives, the writing was well done! Especially for a debut I was impressed with the skill of the dialogue, descriptions and general structure. If you think you can get past unlikeable characters and a weaker romance, and appreciate this for what it is, I would recommend it! However, I think that unfortunately that might be the minority in this case.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an eArc via Eldelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review.
3.5 stars ⭐
Release date: January 19 This book is out now!
I have such mixed feelings about this book. I think I was expecting a very different story from what I got, but that was not necessarily a negative outcome.
Sabine is a sixteen-year-old girl whose father died from an unexpected, mysterious ilness. Along with her twin sister, Blythe, she has to deal with the aftermath of his death, including moving to a new town and school and living in a mansion owned by a stranger named Charlie.
When I first read the synopsis on Goodreads, I thought this story was going to have a focus on sibling relationships and on the two sisters discovering what happened with their dad and more about his "secret" life, which I was very excited about. In reality, although Blythe is featured in the story and they end up finding out the cause of their father's death, I wouldn't say that's the main focus of this story. It is more about a girl navigating her life, dealing with the emotions that come with grief, falling in love and making new friends.
I have to say this book was very entertaining to read. The more I read, the more I wanted to read. So, I definitely can't say that it isn't an engaging story, at least for me.
When it comes to the characters, I've seen a lot of reviewers complain about the main character and, despite seeing where they're coming from (I will touch on that later in my review), I was able to understand some of the motivations behind a few of her actions even if I wouldn't have done the same as her in certain situations. I kind of liked the love interest, he was a decent person if you ignore a couple of his actions.
In addition, there's polyamory and AIDS/HIV representation which I had never seen or heard about the former in a young adult novel which I believe is very valuable because, in my view, it should be normalised so people in these type of relationships don't have to deal with stigma and harmful stereotypes.
On the other hand, I have some critiques to make.
First of all, the romance is basically insta-love, which is a trope I really dislike. It also comes with many moments that result in the MC and the love interest ending up conveniently together. There's a useless love triangle as well which I can see bothering a lot of readers.
A very important aspect that I need to mention more in depth is the polyamory, AIDS/HIV and bisexual representation which I think can all be considered harmful. In my opinion, this novel, in a way, perpetuates some stereotypes bisexuals have to deal with on a daily basis. For example, that they sleep around a lot, that they are cheaters and have multiple partners without it being fully agreed upon by both parties, etc. Regarding the polyamory representation, I won't expand why I see it as possibly damaging since I am not an own-voices reviewer for it, but I would love to know the opinions of people who are when this novel comes out. I believe that the conversation about AIDS/HIV could have been much more expanded upon and better handled.
Finally, adressing the protagonist once again, as I've previously stated, she definitely comes across as very selfish and that was at times frustrating to read, especially because she makes some very downright stupid decisions. Moreover, her "poeting", in other words, randomly quoting lines of poetry, even during inappropriate times, quickly became annoying as well as the overuse of the expression "hope bird".
Overall, I don't regret giving this book a change and I undoubtedly see the potential in this author. The way I see it, Wider Than the Sky is a solid debut book, and one I would recommend if the story sounds appealing to you (but bear in mind what I've stated in this review before you pick it up). I will probably try Katherine Rothschild future works.
I hate writing negative reviews, especially for queer books and books by debut authors, but this one was such a disappointment. It follows Sabine as her, her twin sister Blythe, and their mother leave everything behind to move into a ramshackle old mansion with a stranger named Charlie, who just happened to show up in the hospital room when their dad died. Sabine, curious to find out what’s been going on, does some snooping and finds more secrets than she bargained for.
I had such high hopes for this book – the main character has a bisexual dad, polyamorous parents and it discusses HIV (although, despite whoever shelved it as sapphic on Goodreads – it definitely isn’t), which are three things you rarely see in books, particularly in YA. Plus, the premise sounds interesting – the main character is obsessed with poetry, and their father’s legacy sounds so intriguing – but sadly it completely missed the mark for me.
I’m going to start with one of the biggest disappointments of the book for me – the main character, Sabine. Her ‘poeting’, aka randomly spouting lines of poetry, often at inappropriate moments, but always related to the situation at hand, was fun and quirky at first, but soon lost its merit, and it often felt harsh and stand-offish when she began quoting Dickinson right after she had been very rude to her best friend. Speaking of being rude to her best friend, Sabine was just a horrible person. I like unlikeable protagonists and I can appreciate a horrible villain, but Sabine was something else completely (this is where it’s gonna get spoilery). Sabine and her family move into Charlie’s crumbling mansion, that he’s had part of it redone for them, and she is constantly so horrible to him. Her mum never told her what was going on, despite Charlie encouraging her to tell Sabine and her sister, but instead of confronting her mum about it, she decided to steal Charlie’s possessions, break into his house and just make life miserable for him. The house was being re-modeled into a temporary safe-house for LGBT people, which was something that Sabine soon finds out, was both Charlie and her dad’s dream. This particularly makes sense when Sabine finds out that her dad is bisexual and was in a polyamorous relationship with both Charlie and her mother, and that her dad died from an HIV-related illness. But Sabine hates this idea, and is so extremely selfish about her whole situation, going so far as to do everything in her power to stop the project from continuing and causing all of them to almost go without a home. But it’s not after hearing that how her dad died, or from seeing the work Charlie does to help those living with HIV/AIDS, or after visiting an HIV/AIDS memorial that Sabine decides to change her mind and help Charlie with the house, no, it’s after (and I’m seriously not exaggerating here, if it weren’t an ARC I’d include the whole quote) she finds out that her best friend (that Sabine had previously potentially got into a very dangerous situation) isn’t allowed to use her sewing machine in her gran’s house that she realises people may need somewhere else to stay. Yes, really. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg – she’s horrible to her twin sister, her supposed boyfriend and her best friend multiple times throughout and somehow ends up on good terms with them all by the end.
The synopsis also suggests that Sabine’s twin, Blythe, might play a bigger role in the story than she did – what with her supposed obsession with her father’s alma matter. But we barely see any of her in the book, and what we do see of her has…you guessed it…nothing to do with whatever it was their dad did.
But it gets worse. Although I am neither bisexual nor poly, the representation of both of these identities felt like a combination of just about every stereotype in the book. Throughout the book, after Sabine finds out her dad was in a polyamorous relationship, she blows the whole situation out of proportion. Her mum was supposedly not happy with the whole situation but would rather marry Sabine’s dad while he was also with Charlie or not marry him at all, and it’s quite often hinted at throughout the book by both Sabine and her mother, that her dad was selfish, didn’t love them and that Sabine’s mum was almost forced into having their marriage this way – yet it was all consensual and there was no cheating at all. It was not an accurate representation of the loving, communicative poly relationships I have seen – and I think the bisexual rep and the HIV rep was even more damaging.
Near the end of the book Sabine confronts Charlie and asks if it was because of him that her dad died of his HIV related illness (first of all, big yikes) and Charlie tells her that when her dad was younger he slept around a lot because he lived in the South, which wasn’t very accepting, and so was looking for that acceptance elsewhere, playing into the stereotype that both bisexual people, and people with HIV/AIDS, are promiscuous and sleep around a lot. There is absolutely no work done in this book to combat the harmful stereotypes around these communities, which would have been so important to see in a YA book that is obviously marketed towards younger readers, but instead it continued to perpetrate these ideas. There is also no discussion on the fact that it is not just queer people who contract HIV/AIDS, and so, inadvertently (at least I hope it’s not on purpose), plays into that extremely dangerous stereotype too. I am well aware that this is still an unfinished ARC and that these portrayals may change by the final copy, but judging by how they impact the plot, I would guess there would only be minor changes.
Although this book was not the greatest, to say the least, I did really enjoy myself when I started reading this book, and strangely enough I think it got me out of my reading slump (here’s hoping). I can see how this book would appeal to younger readers and the author’s writing style is really beautiful, so I am interested to read her future work. But, overall, this is not a book that I would recommend, particularly if you’re looking for good bisexual/polyamorous/HIV rep (but if you are looking for that give me a shout!).
Thanks to Edelweiss and Soho Press for an eARC copy in return for an honest review
The gorgeous cover is what tricked me into requesting and reading this book. Going into this I expected a story of grief, hope, and acceptance. I thought I would get poignancy and a new favorite book. I hate to write such a poor review because this book touches on the LQBTQ community and polyamorous representation and I feel like that is rarely touched in YA novels.
Our main character Sabine is the worst. Her father dies and she and her family moves from Southern California to the Bay Area. At her new school, she only cares about Kai, the cute boy in school. Keep in mind her father JUST died. Keep in mind her new friend Emma already told her she is actually already into Kai. She finds out her father was in a polyamorous relationship - married to her mother and dating Charlie. Instead of trying to understand her father and get to know Charlie, she is homophobic and judgmental and annoying. She makes Charlie’s life miserable and thinks she is so quirky and cute but she is SO selfish. Like I said, this is targeted towards YA so I think that this plays into harmful stereotypes and doesn’t give solutions on how to oppose or fight this.
Sabine also quotes poetry randomly and I think it came off as pretentious because she thinks that only she knows who Emily Dickinson is. If anyone else expresses interest in poetry, she is shook to the core. I feel like her quoting was some sort of compulsion and that should have been addressed correctly if it was supposed to be a mental health representation. It was a little unclear to me but it just rubbed me the wrong way. Also, Blythe is Sabine’s twin sister and she barely played a role in the book. I thought their sisterhood relationship would be explored and how they come to terms with their dads death. Blythe was a much better person than Sabine. I unfortunately did not enjoy this book even a little bit.
Thank you to both Netgalley and Edelweiss for the advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
After the death of their father, twins Sabine and Blythe find themselves transplanted into an old mansion with their mom and their dad's friend, Charlie. Hoping to solve the mystery of why Charlie is living with them and why their mom won't give them the whole truth of their dad's death and why they're living with a stranger in a house, Sabine delves into the history of a dad she thought she knew.
There was a lot to process in this book with some heavy topics: Homelessness, AIDS/HIV/ polyamorous relationships, bisexuality, and trauma. Now, putting that many sensitive themes in a book can be tricky, and even though I feel like some of them were glossed over and handled "too quickly" I think this book had good intentions.
I wasn't connecting well with Sabine. She has a character arc that spells growth for her character, but after I finished it, I tried to justify the things that she did, but I had a very hard time. She was mean and just as much of a liar as her mother and Charlie. She almost ruined a person's life, broke into an apartment, and was downright horrible to a man she hardly knew. Now, I understand that grief can do horrible things to a person, but she seemed entirely selfish about the entire thing and almost devoid of emotion. Even after finding out how her dad died, she did not take the time to educate herself on the cause, and did not try to understand much about who her dad was, and come to terms with it in a realistic way.
Lots of other things bothered me. Sabine's mom and the way she talked about the poly relationship felt weird. She made it sound like she did not like it at all, and was almost forced to deal with it for the sake of being with Sabine's dad. Let's not get started on the way the book portrayed the twins' dad. It felt so much like he did not care for his daughters at all, and couldn't wait until they went away to college to leave his wife of seventeen odd years to be with his boyfriend. It all sounded really really really awful. If I were Sabine, I would be crushed with no amount of convincing me otherwise.
I'm rambling, but I'm on a roll.
The small portion of the book where they discuss AIDS/HIV really made me turn my head. Charlie hints that Sabine's dad contracted the virus before he was with him, and got the virus from sleeping with multiple partners. The entire thing felt cringy and hinted that bisexual people slept around to experiment with their sexuality and that only queer people contracted HIV. I may be reading too much into it, but just a few one-liners contradicting my feelings would have helped. In the end, it felt very harmful.
Overall, it was a fast and well-paced read, but not one for readers looking for realistic poly and queer reps.
I want to thank NetGalley & Soho Press for providing me with a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
I appreciate so much many of the discussions that this book has and tries to have, as well as the amount of diversity since it shows polyamorous relationships and bisexual characters, on the other hand, the execution doesn't seem to be successful, it felt quite messy and the actions of the characters are simply rude and inappropriate. I cannot speak for own-voices readers so I will not, I will just give my opinion as always from my point of view when reading the book, which doesn't represent the whole truth.
In this story, we follow the identical twin sisters Sabine & Blythe, and we see them go through difficult times after the death of their father, each trying to handle the loss as much as possible. But everything begins to change when her mother decides to move into a Bay Area mansion owned by a man named Charlie. The girls embark on this mission to discover who this mysterious man really is, who seems to know everything about them and that's how they discover that Charlie was their father's boyfriend and her mother seems to know everything about it. As the sisters try to assimilate this new information, Sabine decides to learn everything she can about this side of her father that she didn't know and must decide if she decided to embrace the last legacy of her last wish for her family legacy.
I think the idea of this book is SO solid and so interesting, just by reading the synopsis you can realize that there are thousands of paths that the author may have decided to take on such an intense plot, but the one that was taken and how it was executed didn't work for me. I do appreciate the representations even though I feel that there's perhaps a bit of a stereotype regarding bisexuality, I cannot speak for own-voices readers, but I needed to convey this as I wouldn't want any of my beloved bisexual readers to feel hurt when encountering situations inappropriate perhaps in this book. The discussion of polyamory is interesting, yet the last word will always be for those who can really see themselves reflected in the story. There are a couple of twists that didn't quite convince me, as well as the choices the characters took, especially Sabine, didn't resonate with me. I can't give too many details because of spoilers, but I think sometimes her POVs and her pain lead her to say painful things or to make harsh and hasty decisions. It's not my character style at all.
This book discusses HIV, a highly sensitive subject that must be treated with the respect it deserves, so I think it's interesting to note that it's one of the topics to be discussed in the book and that it's discussed due to the weight it has
The romance shown in this book is a complete disaster, I don't want to delve too deeply into this topic, as I don't really have anything positive to share, but basically, I think the characters are both too annoying and pretentious, and I also think that there's no chemistry between any of them, to be honest.
I think that one of the weakest points of the book is that I think I've understood the message that the author wants to convey with it, but at the same time, I don't think it has been successful. In fact, from my point of view, Sabine's character doesn't learn anything, and I think showing growth in the main character is important, so having a character that is literally the same at the end as when it started is tiring and disappointing. One would expect a maturation in her character due to all the situations she has to face, and I understand that she can be somewhat cruel at the beginning because I can come to understand that in her ignorance she doesn't understand when she's being hurtful, and although I see her questioning things, I don't see her learning from her mistakes. If you have a character who must learn from her mistakes because she simply doesn't have good or positive actions towards those things in which she has excelled in the past, it doesn't serve me to have a character that questions things in her mind but doesn't transform them into actions, you know? There's SO MUCH more that could have been done with such a rich plot idea, I'm sad to say, but I think it lost track of the true meaning of this story, or at least what I understood the ending might have been.
I felt absolutely tired of the attitudes of the characters, especially of Sabina, who has a very particular way of showing that something matters to her, her emotions are always transformed into rebellious and selfish actions. I didn't like this character, and you know that when that happens to me in such a strong way, I usually cannot fully enjoy the intensity of the book.
To end with something positive about the book, I can say that the writing style is very beautiful, I don't know if I want to read more of the author, being honest because I don't know if her stories and her creations would resonate with me, but I do believe that her future stories can be recommended since their style has a very special tone.
I'm so sorry to have brought you a more negative than positive review but you know that no matter what I'll always be honest with you regarding my feelings and thoughts. I want to clarify that the fact that I didn't like it, doesn't mean that you cannot like it, but as a reader, I couldn't recommend it, there's a lot to work on in terms of misplaced stereotypes, to work on those characters, especially on their growth and maturation throughout the story & last but not least, needs more work in terms of direction and impact. I was looking for a lot when I get into this book, and I absolutely adore the cover as well as the author's style, but it just didn't work for me.
First Thoughts 01/23/21
In many ways I appreciate what the book tries to do, but on the other hand I couldn't connect with the main character, especially because of her selfish attitudes, don't get me wrong I don't mind having an unlovable character, but there are some moments that can be too rude and pass some lines. I understand the author's point of view and I like the diversity it shows in familiar terms, but the execution of the story didn't quite hit the mark for me.
As far as 2021 releases go, Wider than the Sky was my first big disappointment of the year, and the only one of the bunch I cannot justify recommending to anybody. I still plan on writing a full review on everything wrong with this novel, but for now I’m going to stick with my most important points.
We follow twins Sabine and Blythe during the aftermath of the death of their father after a mysterious illness. Each cope with the loss in their own way: Sabine by “poeting” (an uncontrollable quirk of bursting into poetry at inappropriate moments), and Blythe by obsessing over getting into MIT, their fathers alma mater. They come together in the search for answers about their dad’s life and his death: what mystery illness did he die of, who is the family friend Charlie and what does this mean for their family? The story is mainly told through the eyes of Sabine, which was probably my prime reason for disliking the book the way I did. I couldn’t stand Sabine. She is selfish, juvenile and shallow, and the way her “grief” is written is a joke to any teen who’s lost a parent. In fact, there’s barely any grieving done in this book: the author just glosses right over the death of a parent (!) like it’s nothing, so the characters can focus on their shallow lives, their petty insta-love romances and the “mystery” of their dads life, which can’t be called a mystery to anyone with half a brain to work with. On top of that, the representation in this novel is god-awful: shallow, oversimplistic and teeming with stereotypes.
Had this book been marketed as a YA-contemporary romance, I might have given it a pass with a 2-star rating as it “wasn’t for me”. Yet as its marketing focussed so heavily on the representation, grief and mental-health aspects, I can’t let it slide that easily. 1-star: would recommend you steer clear.
ARC kindly provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
What a book!
This book really packed a punch and twisted my soul. It was beautiful, poignant and elegant in its prose, the characters all were complex and well written and the writing was poetic and read well on the page. I genuinely did enjoy myself when I was reading this contemporary novel and I believe that it has something special that would make people want to pick it up and read it.
Wider than the Sky follows twin sisters Blythe and Sabine who, after the death of their father, move into a stranger's home. It seems that their mother knows this man and he had a close connection to their father as well. However, as the two sleuth more into Charlie's life, they uncover secrets that threaten to shatter their world as they know it.
This book really centred on Sabine's journey and her acceptance of her father, Charlie and the people around her. It was a story about self-growth and learning to embrace the changes around you. Sabine was very complex and she grew from anger to eventual acceptance of her circumstances. Her relationships with others, especially Emma, developed throughout the duration of the novel. I also enjoyed the fact that at the start of the book, the writing demonstrated whether a person was "good" or "bad" according to Sabine. It was only through the development of the storyline in which these descriptions have changed as Sabine's own perceptions of others have changed as well. It was a subtle technique that really made this book successful.
But it wasn't just that. Wider than the Sky was also about our perceived conceptions of home and family. This book explored that well through the use of poetry and song lyrics in particularly from The Cure. The idea of "poeting" was genius as well and the connection between lyrics and poetry contemplated each other perfectly in the final scenes.
The only reason why I am rating this the way I am is simply to do with the almost insta-lovey connection between two of the characters but other than that, it was a great story with a lot of heart. I definitely recommend.
***Thanks to NetGalley for providing me a complimentary copy of WIDER THAN THE SKY by Katherine Field Rothschild in exchange for my honest review.***
After Sabine’s father dies unexpectedly of an “infection” she, her identical twin Blythe and their mother move to a run down mansion owned by their dad and his “friend” Charlie. Together the twins grieve separately and apart as they adjust to their new surroundings and their new found knowledge about who their dad really was.
I have mixed feelings about WIDER THAN THE SKY. First the good. I loved debut writer Katherine Field Rothschild writes beautifully. Sabine quotes poetry spontaneously, mostly Emily Dickinson, which was both strange and unique. I liked that the twins had different, fully fleshed non stereotypical personalities.
What I didn’t like was that the bisexual dad was polyamorous and in a marriage where his wife wasn’t, but was okay with his relationship with Charlie and that he was going to leave to be with Charlie when the twins were in college. I didn’t think this was good representation for bisexuality or polyamory. The bisexual people I know are monogamous and to show otherwise for an often misunderstood population is a disservice. I don’t know any polyamorous folks, that I’m aware of, but my understanding is it’s usually not just one half of the couple in healthy relationships. I read another ARC with polyamory that showed better representation.
Though pacing was spotty and at times the plot dragged, WIDER THAN THE SKY is a solid debut.
"But maybe there was no safety in loving anyone. There was always risk, always the chance of loss--sooner or later."
"But maybe love wasn't keeping everything neat and tidy and perfect. Maybe it was leaving rooom for mess. Maybe it was leaving room for people who needed a place to fit in."
Somehow, I was scared and hesitant to start this book, mainly because I don't usually read stories about forgiveness, loss and grief as it affects my emotions and makes me depressed for a time.
Dealing with grief and loss, then suddenly learned one of the people you cherished the most had a double-life. A life you can't believe existed. A life that maybe, just maybe, make you think the life led by that person with you was a lie. That everything was a lie. Then, changes started happening. Changes that you can't accept and just want to hold on to your past, to hold on to something you're neither sure is reality or illusion as long as everything will go back to the way it was before. A change that will have no turning back.
When I learned the real person that Sabine's dad had been, my heart also broke with Sabine's and Blyhte's heart. I kept thinking how would I be able to accept that fact had it happened to me. I wouldn't know how to deal with it either. I wouldn't know what to do either. I wouldn't want changes either. (But I wouldn't do what Sabine did though).
If stories about forgiveness and grief are not your cup of tea, this will not be a light read for you. On the other side, if that genre is something you can handle very well, this will be light for you then.
Thank you to the publisher Soho Teen and Netgalley for this ARC. My wish was granted. This review is based in an advance reader's copy, so there might be some changes in the published book. Will try to read the published one and give it a review too.) )
The premise of this book is pretty unique, especially in a YA story so I was excited to jump in. The book follows Sabine, who's father has passed away suddenly and as a result she, her twin, and her mom have to move in with a mysterious stranger named Charlie. The twist is that Charlie was her father's lover, he was bisexual and in a polyamorous relationship with his wife and Charlie. I'm not bisexual or polyamorous so I can't speak to the accuracy, but it didn't paint the adults in a good light. I had hoped the unique relationship would be presented in a positive light, but it just made it seem like their father couldn't be faithful and everyone kept secrets that hurt others.
I found all the characters unlikeable, so I struggled enjoying the story. I completely understand Sabine and Blythe's sadness and anger, they just lost their father then learned that he was lying to them for their entire lives. Plus they were uprooted and are forced to live with their father's lover, that's a lot to take in. Unfortunately, Blythe isn't there for her sister, dismissing her compulsion as 'crazy' and telling her that she's going to college and not looking back. Sabine makes several bad choices out of selfishness and hurts others without much consideration. I also found her poeting annoying and the repeat of Hope Bird got old quick.
I didn't think Sabine and Kai should have been together, they both lied and he had the gall to let Emma kiss him and hang over him and tell Sabine that he didn't like Emma and she had nothing to worry about! That is not someone I'd want to trust, let alone date. I wish Sabine could have realized that and stopped going after him.
The ending was hopeful and I was glad that Sabine stopped sabotaging everything and made up with her family. This book just wasn't for me, but I'm interested to see what else the author writes.
I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
I received an advanced copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest review. Thank you so much to Soho Teen for providing this galley!
I make it a point to always remember my age when I review a YA novel. At 22-years-old, I am decidedly not the target audience for Young Adult novels, and age is something that I believe should be at the forefront of reviewers’ and bloggers’ minds when they read, assess, and critically engage with Young Adult novels. As a result, I’m pretty forgiving. When I find a character overdramatic, selfish, ignorant, etc., I try to remember their age and how I acted at 15/16/17. But sometimes, the problem extends far beyond a reality factor and seeps over into issues of character development. And one of my major issues with Wider than the Sky, I believe, lies with development.
Over the course of Wider than the Sky, I saw little to no change in Sabine’s character. Her “poeting” (in which she randomly bursts into verbal recitations of poetry when overwhelmed, and which she more than once refers to as a type of disease or abnormality rather than, say, a tic) became very old very quickly, and she was clearly meant to be a “quirky” girl with her fascination for nice boots and the staunch belief that she was not like the other girls she went to school with, and neither were her friends. And for about 240/280 pages, she didn’t change her tune at all. She made decisions that were selfish and harmful, and even when other characters pointed out that she was being selfish and harmful, I never got the sense that she truly understood that she had been doing something wrong. And on top of that, way too much girl-on-girl hate for me to feel comfortable with seeing, even in a sixteen-year-old character. Her actions had serious repercussions, and rather than face them, every character forgave her time and again and almost immediately, completely unrealistically.
And while this book appeared to be about Sabine’s healing process on the surface, her personal development, grief, hurt, forgiveness, and healing took up very little textual space. This book was far more concerned about Sabine’s developing romantic relationship, and there were times it was easy to completely forget that the basis of this novel had been her father’s death in the first place. She was so caught up in schemes, destruction, and her own self that you forgot you weren’t just supposed to be reading a contemporary romance novel with a splash of sisterly love—and then a brief mention of her father, his life, and his death would re-appear. Which brings me to my major, massive criticism: the HIV/AIDS and polyamory representation.
I’ve read numerous books, YA and non-YA, that deal with the AIDS crisis or HIV/AIDS; I’ve consumed a lot of media about it. Even those works that simply touched on it handled it better than Wider than the Sky, in my opinion. Not only did it take a surprisingly long time to come into play, considering the synopsis mentions it, but I was so disappointed by its use here. Sabine and Blythe’s father’s death from an HIV-related infection became the backdrop for an average, standard YA contemporary romance. HIV/AIDS became just a thing present in this book, and I don’t believe this was appropriate within this specific text, seeing as Sabine and Blythe had no idea about their father’s HIV status, his bisexuality, or his polyamorous relationship prior to his death. It should have been comprehensively dealt with, and it just simply was not. And up until the end, every time that it was touched on, it was met with an outright refusal from Sabine not just to understand her father, but to understand the general issues that LGBTQ+ communities and especially HIV+ individuals face. It got under my skin and bordered on cruel.
I don’t think I’ve ever read about polyamorous relationships. They’re certainly not often the subject matter of YA novels. But the way polyamory was portrayed here, even to my limited knowledge, stood out as harmful. At one point, Sabine calls her father a “lothario,” a word I had to look up and then was promptly shocked to see had any real estate here. She saw her father as promiscuous, as not a real or true father because of his relationship; her mother played the part of victim, not willing participant in this marriage. When Sabine did begin to turn a corner, then, I had a hard time believing she had really come to her senses about her father’s life. I didn’t want to extend understanding to her because I didn’t see that she was truly reaching an understanding. She just suddenly decided to accept monumental change in her life, and suddenly decided to forgive her father, despite how consistently and swiftly she refused to do so previously. It felt disingenuous, like she just changed for the sake of sudden and final growth. It was absurdly frustrating and did a complete disservice to the real issues on display.
Despite this being a smooth read and fairly well-written in terms of style and voice, the issues of representation here were too egregious for me to move past. It impacted my entire reading experience, lingered at the back of my every thought. I don’t think this book sent a responsible message about HIV/AIDS and polyamory, not one that reflected real understanding, and it would be irresponsible of me not to denounce it. While I don’t relish going in on a book like this, especially a debut, I cannot in good conscience choose to overlook the extent of these issues to praise a sweet romance, the bits I enjoyed, or the love of poetry that this story was infused with.
Following her father's unexpected death, Sabine's life was uprooted. Relocated from her childhood home to a crumbling mansion was jarring enough, but learning about her father's "other life" shook her foundation to its core. Sabine made some questionable decisions while she struggled with these changes and her grief, but would she be able to undo some of the damage she had done?
I have a penchant for grief books, and therefore, was eager to read Wider Than the Sky. I really don't have an opinion on the father's secret. I think the disclosure of his secret was added to the synopsis after I first found this book, and I will admit it is something I personally would find a bit shocking, but this story, for me, was about Sabine's grief.
Not only had Sabine lost her beloved father, but she learned he was leading a life, separate from her, her sister, and her mother. This distorted what she knew about him, and I found her confused emotions understandable. I don't believe it was a reaction to what she learned, but rather that these secrets existed in the first place, and I sympathized with her need to come to terms with it all.
I cannot say that I wasn't frustrated with Sabine's decisions though. They were reckless and sort of destructive, but I was happy she learned from her mistakes and made an effort to make amends. I appreciated that she was young, had experienced a significant loss, and really didn't have much support. Therefore, it was not difficult for me to forgive her impulsive behavior.
I also have to mention, that I thought there was some really beautiful prose in this book. It wasn't out of the blue either, as Sabine was a lover of poetry, known to randomly spout it in bursts she called "poeting". It was fitting that her narrative had that sort of quality to it. All the Dickinson, The Cure, and the poetry mashup were things I greatly enjoyed as well.
Overall, I thought this was a beautiful exploration of grief. There were tears, and I was touched.
First, I would like to thank the author, publisher, and Netgalley for giving me the chance to read and review this book. While an egalley was provided for me, my thoughts and opinions are my own.
This books covers a lot of sensitive topics that don't often make their way into YA (polyamory, HIV/AIDs, bisexuality, homelessness, and other sorts of trauma. However, I don't know if I can say this was well-balanced. While I can't comment on the exact rep for most of these topics (except for perhaps bisexuality, which wasn't really a focus), it generally seemed like the book was trying to do too much, and wasn't able to give any one topic the space it needed. I also don't think Sabine was the sort of character to handle being in this type of story, as she was a very selfish character and the spotlight was mostly focused on her grief and trauma after learning her father had another lover. Her disgust with being lied too wasn't distinctly separated from the fact her father was queer (poly + bi), and it felt uncomfortable sometimes. While I don't think this was the intention, more space could've been given to showing that Sabine didn't have an issue with her father's queerness, but an issue with his lies. This was the general idea, but some comments just felt off. But in general, there was just too much going on and too little room to properly give those topics the space they needed to be discussed.
Unfortunately, the story beyond these issues isn't much better. Sabine is cruel, using harsh methods to get what she wants while acting innocent and kind. She gets a friend forcibly removed from their house and separated from their father, and she also is the reason that her family is evicted from the house they are renovating as a safe haven for LGBTQ+ people (under the pretense of wanting to go back home/have a home to herself/not wanting to stay in that house with her father's lover). She consistently places the needs of herself over those around her, and I don't think the book properly punishes her for those choices. She very quickly makes amends to those she hurt, and all seems fine in the end. (These also characters also all have very strong faults that they often apologize for, only to continue doing. So it's not even that I felt the side characters were compelling). I'm also unsure if Sabine's compulsive poetry was meant to be a representation of compulsions and/or tics, because it was never really truly explained. It may have been a side effect of the trauma of losing her father, but it was half explained that she had been doing for a while. It was only ever named here and there as some 'literary disorder/tic/compulsion', and I just don't know if this is supposed to be more of quirky trait of the character or representation. It felt off to me.
The romance also felt quite toxic, yet seemed to be held up as Sabine's great love. Sabine literally enacted revenge against Kai's best friend because she was trying to 'steal him', and Kai let the best friend be led on/didn't push off her advances even though he was with Sabine and didn't care for his friend like that. It just didn't seem like a good relationship at all, or that there was even any chemistry beyond the fact that he was the only one that didn't mock Sabine's poetry.
Overall, I feel like this book just didn't have the space to fully deal with everything it brought up, and it made the book feel weak and shallow, and possibly even harmful in it's generalizing representation.
Thank you to Netgalley and Soho Press for the advanced reader's copy, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
Polyamory, HIV and discussions about safe sex with a positive partner, wrapped up in an emotional storyline.
This had a lot of things I really liked, but just didn’t catch me how I’d hoped.
Sabine has dealt with the unexpected loss of her father, a move to a new town, and things seem to be going downhill from there. She’s made a cool friend and found a new crush, only to realize he’s her new BFF’s crush too. The man her mother has moved them in with is suspicious to her, and Sabine is determined to find out who he really is. She’s also dealing with “poeting”, when she’s anxious she spouts off lines of poetry compulsively. The town doesn’t want to put through the permit on their house, and Sabine doesn’t blame them - she’s convinced if she can sabotage her mother & Charlie’s efforts, she won’t need to live there anymore.
This reminded me a little of Hot Dog Girl, in that Sabine takes questionable action to try to get something done herself, and she doesn’t seem to get many consequences. She’s obviously confused and scared, and I can see why, but she doesn’t treat the people around her (family, friends) very nicely at all.
I loved the diverse characters, and I’d definitely read more from this author in the future.
No one has been able to tell Sabine why her dad died, or why Charlie, a man who claims to have known him but she's never met, suddenly appeared the day he died- or why they had to move in with Charlie, in a house that mysteriously has both his and her mom's names on the lease. All Sabine wants to do is go back home and remember her dad as he was. But what if she didn't know her dad?
I spent the majority of this book really angry, honestly. I'm not a fan of the characters, the romance, the theme, or the representation shown here, and besides a pretty cover the promise of two twins uncovering a family secret, there was nothing for me here.
It does still get points from me for the following- having a Hawaiian love interest, being the only YA I've read so (unfortunately) that's dealt with , though that's more a remark on the industry than on it being any good, and the fact that some of my complaints are really things that teens, aka, the target audience wouldn't dislike. This feels like a much younger YA, so I can't judge it fairly in that way, as a reader. I also did like the tension of the mystery of who Charlie was and how it was dealt with in the matter of sneaking around, I just really didn't like how it panned out.
However, I really didn't enjoy this book personally. And, most of the reason why falls under "spoiler" territory. So, if you want to read the book, I don't want to ruin it for you, if you happen to be someone who would like it. What I can say without ruining any plot twists or mysteries is that I hated Sabine. She is over written and her "poeting" is incredibly distracting, unrealistic, and pretentious. I really hated her love interest for the same reason. He seemed alright at first, but he's given too many quip-ish lines and long lines of quotations and high brow ideas about grief. They're just not characters I feel connected to or feel real in any way.
The love triangle is also steeped entirely in miscommunication and a downright refusal to be honest with each other, and it's so exhausting. It does not make me care at all about the characters or their feelings. Love triangles have to be done really well for me to feel invested in them at all, and this one was not, at all. Instead it was someone feeling conflicted and going "oh no am I a bad person/friend?" while then refusing to do anything about that.
Now into spoiler territory.
I didn't like this book, and my experience was finely tinted with rage about representation and how much I disliked Sabine.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
I had high expectations for this one since the premise sounded so interesting, but it fell flat to me and I had a hard time finishing it.
The book follows Sabine and her twin sister Blythe, who after their father dies, move to a different house with their mother and a stranger named Charlie.
You're probably expecting to read about both of them, right? Wrong. Sabine is the only narrating voice; Blythe rarely gets mentioned, she's just described as "the twin sister". She doesn't have a personality or plays a role in the story. If Sabine was an only child, nothing would have changed.
Furthermore, Sabine is so unlikeable. She's selfish and childish and I would have expected her behaviour from a 13-year-old not a 16-year-old. As soon as she finds out that her dad was bisexual and had a polyamorous relationship with both Charlie and her mother, she he does everything in her power to bring misery to the people around her. First to her mother and Charlie, by trying to cover the house they're living in fines. Second, to her friend Emma, who is living at Kai's to escape from her abusive grandmother. Since Sabine is jealous of the connection Emma and Kai has, she reports her to social services so Emma has to go back to her grandmother's. I found her "poeting" very weird, I think the author wanted to make her quirky as a John Green character, but she just spouted random poetry lines at the most inappropriate times and it was fun at first, but it grew old soon. She comes around in the final chapters only because she alienated everyone around her, not because she truly understood she did something bad.
I loved the writing style so I'm interested to read the author's future works but this is not a book I would recommend.
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for allowing me to read an early copy.
Thank you so much, Soho Press and Soho Teen, for granting me this wish!
Sabine and her twin Blythe don't have much in common with one other. Blythe loves hoodies and jeans, she's more practical, while Sabine prefers poetry and design and when their father suddenly dies from an unexpected illness, each copes in her own way. Blythe by obsessing over getting into MIT, their father alma mater and Sabine by "poeting", a quirk of bursting into poetry at inappropriate moments. Their world is ripped open again when their mother moves them all to a ramsackle mansion with a stranged named Charlie. Soon the sisters discover the truth about Charlie, who was their father's lover and that their father died of an HIV-related infection. Everything changes. While Blythe seems to react reasonably well with these changes, moving into another school, into another house renovating it to fulfill their father's dream of a healing place for the LGBTQIA+ community, Sabine struggles and tries to know more about the father she thought she knew, uncovering truths and secrets. And maybe finding the way to accept another person in her family and forgive.
Wider than the sky is a moving and intense debut novel by Katherine Rothschild. The story is skillfully written, told by Sabine's POV and the reader gets into her feelings and struggles right away. It's impossible not to be moved by her sudden tragedy, Sabine's pain and changes. Uprooted, angry, upset, Sabine struggles with a new house, new school, an emotionally detatched mother, a stranger, new friends and maybe love, too. Sabine and Blythe are very different from one other and, after their father's death not only they react differently, but seems to grow apart, following different plans and ideas about their house and home.
The way the author dealt with delicate themes like a loss of a parent, grief and changes is brilliant. Sabine's wonderful and moving journey into understanding her father, uncovering her family's secret and finding the truth and forgiveness is the novel's cornerstone and it's really inspiring. Sabine's passion for Emily Dickinson is captivating and I loved how each chapter is named after a bit of a poem. I enjoyed reading this book and I loved the characterization and the way the author talked about moving on, love, friendship and future..
Thanks to NetGalley and Soho Teen for this arc, which I received in exchange for an honest review. I'll post that review upon publication.
There is a lot happening in this quick YA read.
At the start of the novel, twins Sabine and Blythe experience a tragedy that upends their lives, resulting in a big move, a whole lot of questions, and ultimately some surprising answers. Despite twinning, Sabine takes center stage in this one. Her friendships, a possible romance, and her reactions to unexpected insight into a close family member's life are all at the forefront. Despite being at the center of the novel, Sabine is not as developed as I'd like. What readers DO know about her is that she participates in an act she calls "poeting," which is a kind of spontaneous effusion of lines penned by Emily Dickinson. For me, this was sweet in intent, but also a bit irritating and at times goofy (like _So I Married an Axe Murderer_ but without the drink, charm, mic, or stage). Maybe, as a person who has been teaching college-level literature courses for well over a decade, the quaintness of this is just...too improbable? I struggled with the possession by Dickinson - and with the amount of surface-level plotting happening - overall.
Rothschild has a lot going on here, and that includes the promise of more great books. I'll be excited to see some more focused character development and less +kitchen sink happening in the upcoming installments.
Although the target audience are teens, every parent should read this book to understand the impact our actions, and inactions, have on our children. The main character, Sabine's journey to forgiveness was believable and true to life. Great character development, touching and uplifting.
I had some issues with the way this book portrayed HIV, bisexuality, and polyamory. So the dad was bisexual and had HIV, but the mom says he took drugs that prevented him from transmitting to her. So that implies his viral load was undetectable and he was on antiretrovirals. If that's the case, it seems unlikely that he would die due to HIV related complications at a relatively young age. He got MRSA, which can kill someone, but it seemed questionable to attribute this death to HIV. It would have been nice, when the mom said he was on medication to prevent transmission to her, to have also plugged that she was on PrEP. She also said she got tested a week after he died which "confirms" she doesn't have it. I don't know why she needed to get tested right after he died, if she'd known about it for a while. (Like yes, you should get tested, but it implied that his death was an impetus rather than routine checkup). And depending on the test she took, it can take between 18 days to 3 months for a test to show positive. So a test can't 100% confirm negative status until later. So while none of the HIV info was necessarily wrong, by not delving further into the science, the inferences promote misinformation and contradict each other. HIV+ people who are on their meds are not a ticking time bomb.
While there are bisexual people who are polyamorous, by not deeply exploring the parents' polyam relationship, its presentation felt a little cause and effect. Because he was bi, he couldn't be satisfied with just her. The relationship also felt unhealthy. The mother comes off as putting up with the dad's polyamory rather than embracing its lifestyle. Felt less like polyamory and more like the dad has two partners, and the two partners must deal with it to have him. (Which was powerfully and complexly explored in Elizabeth Acevedo's "Clap When You Land.") And while it may be awkward to explain to your kids, it felt even more awkward to move into a new house with a "friend of your dad's" sans explanation, and then very soon after for the mom to disappear for a week, leaving the two girls in a strange man's home. And it seems odd for the whole family to permanently move into the dad's BF's home when the mom does not reciprocate the same relationship with the BF. Temporarily? Sure. But why would you permanently move in with a person you don't feel a similar connection to? That needed more exploring. Also, after learning the bi/poly secret, the protagonist's conclusion is "my dad didn't love me." That just didn't track to me. I could understand "my dad didn't love my mom, my parents' marriage was a sham." But to make it about herself didn't make sense to me.
Sabine, the protagonist, also has a "compulsion" to spout snippets of Emily Dickinson poetry whenever she is upset or super in love (both occur very often). It's a physical compulsion. Like, she has to hold onto a table or her sister has to grip her shoulder to stop herself from spouting it. And even then, that doesn't always work. It almost seemed like a form of Tourette's. But it wasn't? The possibility of Tourette's is never mentioned. I would have thought at some point they would talk to a doctor or therapist about it.
Sabine does not simply make bad choices. She has deep-rooted issues around trust and jealousy, that are not just unhealthy, they are downright dangerous to others. Her turnaround/forgiveness comes too quick, too easy for what she did.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
First of all thanks to Netgalley for providing me with this ARC, in exchange for an honest review.
I have decided to give this book 2.5/3 stars.
Now as the synopsis states this book follows Sabine’s story. Sabine and her identical twin, Blythe, are going through a hard situation as her lives change drastically after their father’s death. They have to move, new house, now school, they now live with a man named Charlie who they simply don’t know.
So, at the beginning I was pretty much liking the book. In fact the only problem I had was that I could sense too much drama related to the teenage-highschool part of the plot, although I still found other issues. Starting with the good things I truly think, that the whole basis of the idea are pretty original and to be honest I think this book had SO MUCH POTENTIAL, just not used correctly. I loved how Sabine’s interest in poetry line up with the prose, and how this was her way of expression too, still at the end this got lost and she didn’t do poetry at all… I loved the topics that are treated in the story, because I know the author really tried to give us a wonderful story based in diversity, family, mourning, coping with change, etc. How the different characters cope with their lost, specially the twins and how they are supported (or not) by their family is a pretty amazing topic. I did empathize with their feelings and truly the moment I picked the book I couldn’t put it down even if I wanted.
To my perspective the problems begin to appear when Sabine and Blythe find out the truth about their father, his death, the house and confront Charlie and their mother. I didn’t like Sabine’s reaction, however this didn’t particularly bother me, because I can see how all humans don’t all react the same way to certain situations. What did bother me is how selfish Sabine is regarding all this, how she doesn’t stop to think a single second before doing things that are going to have a huge impact in many people. I initially attributed this to how she is struggling with her mental health and she doesn’t really have anyone being truly supportive of her or just even trying to help her. Nonetheless we do have to remark that our own problems don’t justify our terrible actions and how they may hurt others. Sabine makes very poor decisions, and she doesn’t really suffer the consequences of her actions, at least not in the severity she should. The main problem to me in this aspect is that Sabine didn’t have a good support mechanism, characters such as her mother, Charlie or even Blythe didn’t have the development to help makes this happen or to portray correctly that this wasn’t happening. This point in particular shows how mental health topics weren’t developed as much, never is maybe therapy mentioned (and knowing all the change and stuff they are going through it probably should have).
On the other side even if this book is shelved as LGBTQIA+ this topic isn’t as important as it should’ve been. I do think that the way bisexuality is portrayed isn’t really accurate and may even reinforced hurtful stereotypes. The same happens regarding polyamorous relationships, since Sabine’s mother mentions more than once that she apparently didn’t want to be in one at all. Again this ends up not being accurate enough and reproducing harmful stereotypes about this communities, instead of raising awareness to wards normalizing them.
Also I personally think that the whole drama building up related to Kai, Emma and also Nate is unnecessary. I think the relationships, specially Sabine and Kai’s, progress to fast. Most of this characters development lacked a little bit for my liking really, specially Nate’s, but Kai didn’t have any really memorable traits either. I do appreciate that Emma didn’t end up simply being the characters opponent in getting the love interest. Anyhow I do think this drama may be attractive to most readers.
So all in all, I do think this book had so much potential, it’s basis is wonderful, just wasn’t well executed.
Arc provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
DNF @ 35%
When tragedy strikes in the form of their father's sudden passing, twin sisters, Sabine and Blythe are thrusts into a world turned upside down. When they move into an old mansion owned by a mysterious stranger, Charlie, they discover secrets of their late father, threatening to overturn their already shaky lives. Wider Than the Sky is a story of family, grief and finding your footing again.
First off, it's not the book; it's me. Last year, I came to terms that I'm not into YA contemporaries anymore and this is just proof of it. There was nothing wrong with the story but the book is filled with the quintessential YA tropes; quirky protagonist, moving to a new town, falling in love with a hot guy, family drama, etc. And given that I've read many YA contemporaries that follow a similar formula, I quickly lost interest. Some of the aspects that this book tries to subvert are its inclusion of LGBT+ and polyamory themes. But other than that, it feels like a typical YA contemporary that I would like to move on to books more suited to my current taste. 2021 is the year of DNFing books that don't captivate or intrigue me enough to continue.
This book managed to make me cry the whole way through, my little heart was shattered.
It dealt with loss, grief, family, relationships and so much more. The characters weren't perfect, but they found their way in the end. And what a beautiful message it had: family is often so imperfect and so nontraditional, but you can make it what you want it to be.
I have to admit, though, I was quite frustrated with some decisions at times. I get that they're portrayed as imperfect humans, and I loved that, but some decisions were just very irksome. I get that miscommunication is a thing, but maybe it was too much at some points.
Other than that, I really enjoyed this ride. The focus on family dynamics and LGBTQ+ themes was such a very necessary conversation.
Thank you to Soho Teen/Soho Press and NetGalley for providing me with an excerpt in exchange for an honest review.
This is going to be a spoiler-y review a little bit so warning for that for those who have not read this book. Also, I'm not a teenager nor did I go through a teenager phase cause I spent it being depressed, suicidal and having to grow up faster than expect so I feel like my criticisms of the character's behaviour may be misguided because I personally didn't understand them.
The book itself has a beautiful cover and the premise sounds promising and incredibly interesting. Sabine and Blythe have their father pass away, they have to move soon after their father's death and meets a man that they assume is their mother's new lover when in reality, it was their father's boyfriend. And they learn that their father was in a polyamorous relationship. And that he had HIV and died from complications from it. After this you see more about the sisters or to be more factual - Sabine. I personally thought the book was going to be more amount the twins learning this about their father and then learning more about Charlie, the father's boyfriend and learning more about their father and more. Instead we learned about Sabine, a irresponsible, selfish and rude person. Without spoiling the entire book, she attempts to ruin her family , breaks a few crimes or two for her own selfish gain (and not in good way!) and continuously is rude as all hell to everyone around her. Blythe tries to tell her sister that perhaps she should talk to Charlie or talk to her mum about some things cause Blythe throughout the entire book wasn't mad, she just wanted a few answers and it sounds like it happened all off-screen. Sabine on the other hand, all of her problems could've been solved if she confronted her mother for answers. The thing is, I love characters who are complicated, who seem like assholes but there's a reason for that. I love characters that do things where it's questionable but they take responsibility for their actions and apologize appropriately. Sabine on the other hand, she sabotages her relationship (which personally I couldn't care less about but also me vs heterosexual relationships? Don't go well together) and a friendship at the same time and her apology seemed...mediocre if that makes sense? Everything she had done in the book was for selfish gains and although I understand that with the instant and huge change she had gone through, it wasn't an excuse to treat everyone around her in an awful manner.
There's also the fact that it's written that the mother wasn't 100% okay with the polyamorous factor of the relationship which I would say is...the most important part of having a poly relationship. The writing itself I don't think I had too many issues with aside from the bisexual rep seemed a bit iffy but I'm not bisexual so I can't speak for them. There is the fact that the father has the role of being promiscuous so that's how he got to have HIV and they played him being bisexual into the promiscuous idea as well. That part itself made me feel iffy as well.
The biggest issue I had with this book was honestly the main character. I didn't have a prominent issue with the writing or with anything else aside from what I've mentioned. The main character was too selfish and too unlikable for me which ultimately ruined the book for me. Hopefully someone else can enjoy this book more as it sadly didn't meet my needs.
I thought this book had a great idea, but fell a little short in terms of execution. I wish there was less time on the love triangle and more time on Sabines grief/dealing with her fathers sexuality. This is the first time I’ve seen poly representation, and it seemed like a burden on his wife rather than something she loves. I also think this book has quite a couple YA love tropes that were predictable. I did love pall the poetry!
there was a lot going on here, and i think too much of the plot got lost. between the new house, the romance, emma's storyline, the family dynamics, there was just too much going on for me. i think the first 20 pages and the last 30 pages were the strongest, and everything else was just kind of smashed together in the middle