Should I break out in song and dance to “Baa, Baa, Black Sheep?” One lonely star. I’m just as surprised as you are, considering I just KNEW going into Eleanor & Park that I would love it, love it, love it. What reason would I have to believe otherwise? Almost all of my friends loved this book and have sworn fealty to the Goddess of Feels and Might, Rainbow Rowell. And I get it because she is a pretty awesome person and I think she is totally lovely. So trust me when I say I REALLY wanted to love this book. In fact, I am blindsided that I didn’t, saddened that I can’t join the Eleanor & Park Kool Kidz Fan Club and disappointed at such a disjointed reading experience.
Random Reasons Why I Didn’t Like This Book:
1. The Romance
My main issue stems from the romance between Eleanor and Park.
What the hell am I? I thought. Too old to be a real teenager, too young to drink. Old enough to die in a war, fuck grown men, and be completely confused about what I was doing with my life.
One of the most important points I see argued when it comes to the classification of New Adult novels is, where does it fit? The debate seems to be evenly spit with each side categorizing it as either YA or Adult with a smaller portion claiming it is of its own category. And I get, because it is a hard to place, especially when YA itself frequently blurs the lines. In the case of Unteachable, however, I think the above quote really nails down what some are trying to say. There is a time in our lives when people feel neither teenaged or adult, neither fully grown or child-like. Certain privileges are afforded to you, while others remain outside your grasp.
I don’t think I’ve ever read a story about cheaters. I’m not sure if this was a conscious decision or if it was for fear of it reminding me of that corny reality TV show that’s somehow STILL airing. (WHY? TELL ME WHY.) Plus, there’s always the issue of actually sympathizing with the cheater, not an easy feat. But While You’re Away surprised me. I was able to connect and understand the main character, Sarah Westlake, and her reasons for her infidelity. That doesn’t mean I’m agreeing with her decision at all, far from it. (I want you all to know that I just resisted a Cheater-Cheater-Pumpkin-Eater reference despite it’s non-relevenace.)
What I liked best about While You’re Away is Sarah’s down to earth voice. She reminds me of my teen self in some ways with her shyness and social awkwardness. At least one of those blasted traits has lingered with me through adulthood, proving that some things never change, but I digress.
Before I begin, a hearty THANK YOU to Christina over at A Reader of Fictions who sent me with this book.
How to Love made me me feel the whole rainbow of feels, Katie Cotugno’s writing is gorgeous. She captures the poignant details of a moment with prose that reads like poetry and wraps itself around your heart, tugging it back and forth.
The hideous thing is this: I want to forgive him. Even after everything, I do. A baby before my seventeenth birthday and a future as lonely as the surface of the moon and still the sight of him feels like a homecoming, like a song I used to know but somehow forgot.
Don’t lie, that gave you feels.
The story is told in alternating timelines that work like chocolate and peanut butter. Before tells the story of how Reena and Sawyer fell in love and the After shows Sawyer’s return and the shockwaves he sends through the life Reena put together in his wake.
My situation with Freakboy was pretty dire. Since I am pretty sensitive these days to issues of equality, I had already decided that a book about a gender fluid person had better be damn good or I was going to go berserker on its ass. I already had a GIF lined up, too! The perfect GIF! And unless this book treated the topic beautifully and with a great deal of love, I was ready to whip it out and beat the book with it.
I’m sure most other bloggers can sympathize with the delight beheld in finding the perfect GIF for how you feel.
Unfortunately, Kristin Elizabeth Clark cheated me from being able to use this GIF. I loved Freakboy. Loved it with a passion. The heart strings were tugged at, I held back what I suspected might be tears (we refer to them as leaking feels around here), and I was gripped with the story and characters.
Sometimes when I hear of professional critics or other authors looking down on the YA genre, I can’t help but to shake my head and pity them. “The Young Adult genre is for kids!” they cry. “There’s no depth!” they exclaim. And then I read a book like Fault Line and it’s clear that those people have no idea what they’re talking about. What other genre is able to connect so deeply with people of all ages? What other genre can push the limits as much as YA does and have us re-evaluate the way we see the world through the eyes our childhood we may have long moved past?
Fault Line is not an easy book to read. It’s raw, gritty and dark, but it’s important. It doesn’t tell a new story or one we’re unfamiliar with. It highlights a situation in a way that really forces the reader to address the effects of how our society has dealt with rape and how it continues to shape how we view the victim.
This book, you guys, my god. I want to marry this book. I want to have children with it, I want to grow old and die with it wrapped lovingly in my arms knowing that we’ve had a long and happy life together. After reading Eleanor & Park, I pre-ordered this book knowing that there was pretty much no way I wouldn’t like it. I thought I was prepared. Much like Jon Snow, I knew nothing.
If you don’t wish to read a lengthy testament to the glories of Fangirl, allow me to sum up my feelings on this book in a gif:
I basically did that exact thing over and over again while reading.
Rainbow Rowell is clearly some wondrous sort of word wizard. She writes with exquisite precision, every word feels exactly right and placed just so for maximum impact. She captures life and people with such pinpoint accuracy, from the mundane everyday concerns we all deal with, to the delightfully bizarre thoughts that float through all of our heads.
Recently, I’ve been reading really depressing books that have both horrified and fascinated me. But out of all of them, Charm and Strange and now Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock takes the cake for tackling tough, taboo issues. In this case, suicide. Now, the last suicide book I’ve read was Thirteen Reasons Why and this book can easily be compared to that. But instead of the story being told from tapes from the deceased and another MC, Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock is told play-by-play from Leonard himself. His voice is real, broken, hurt, confused and relatable. He wants to be seen, remembered. He wants people to acknowledge his existence. So on his 18th birthday he takes his grandfather’s war gun trophy and sets out to kill his former best friend and himself.
When we are introduced to Leonard, he immediately fills the reader in on his plans, though the ultimate reason why is revealed along the course of his day as he gives away personal items or gifts to four people he regularly interacts with.
One of the best possible ways to read a book is to go in blind, having no clue what it’s about. If you do, the plot twists are even more shocking, the revelations are unexpected and everything completely blind-sides you. It’s a perfect literary ride. In this case, I read Gated’s blurb and had a good idea what it was about, or, at least, I thought I did. Before I started reading this book, I actually thought it was a dystopian novel. The blurb immediately struck me as a story featuring a corrupt society and a girl trying to break free. In this case, I was only partially right because this novel is about a girl trying to escape a corrupt society, but in Gated her small community is being controlled by a sociopathic cult leader. Intriguing? You can bet on it.
Gated builds its anticipation slowly, introducing us to the protagonist, Lyla, whose family, in the wake of 9/11, suffers a tragedy leaving them broken and emotionally vulnerable to the charismatic Pioneer.
I spent an entire year mentally preparing myself for The Fault in Our Stars. I read some terrible books, awesome books and your classic “meh” books. And whenever I’d go to decide which book I wanted to read next, I’d glance at The Fault in Our Stars’ spine and simply turn my head away. To be completely honest, I don’t think I have ever truly went out of my way to avoid a book like this and it’s unlike me to do so. I usually tackle things head on, showing no fear, but with this book I had to approach things differently due to its subject matter. But then Jenn from The Bawdy Book Blog threw this in as a review suggestion, because obviously I needed some John Green edumacation. And I’m so happy someone finally pushed me to read this book because it did not disappoint. Well, not exactly…
It’s easy to see why John Green has the following he does.