“Finding Audrey” by Sophie Kinsella

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Title: Finding Audrey

Author: Sophie Kinsella

Published by: Delacorte Press

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Comedy

In-Series/Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Rating:★★★★☆

Intro:

My dark glasses are on, my hands are jammed in the pockets of my hoodie, and I’ve pulled the hood up for extra protection. I haven’t raised my gaze from the pavement, but that’s OK. Most people walk along in their own worlds anyway. As I reach the town centre the crowds become denser and the shop fronts are bright and noisy and with every step I have a stronger desire to run, but I don’t. I push on. It’s like climbing a mountain, I tell myself. Your body doesn’t want to do it, but you make it. And then, at last, I’ve made it to Starbucks. As I approach the familiar facade I feel kind of exhausted, but I’m giddy too. I’m here. I’m here! I push the door open and there’s Linus, sitting at a table near the entrance. He’s wearing jeans and a grey t-shirt and he looks hot, I notice before I can stop myself. Not that this is a date. I mean, obviously it’s not a date. But even so… 

Audrey loves her family, even if they are a bit off-the-wall. When Audrey develops an anxiety disorder as a result of an unpleasant incident, her family is there to help. Audrey now wears dark glasses whenever she feels the need to protect herself, but she’s also making slow but steady progress with Dr. Sarah. Then Audrey meets Linus, her brother’s gaming teammate, and she is energized. She can talk through her fears with Linus in a way she’s never been able to do with anyone before. As their friendship deepens and her recovery gains momentum, a sweet romantic connection develops, one that helps not just Audrey but also her entire family. With her genuine gift for comic writing, Sophie Kinsella blends comedy, romance, and psychological insight in this contemporary YA novel sure to inspire and delight.

My Review: 

I decided to carry this book with me, last minute, on the train ride from Pennsylvania to Washington D.C. In the span of 5 hours, I had completed the entire novel and was left feeling inspired and re-energized. Sophie Kinsella is known for her lighthearted, witty writing and this novel was no exception — it combined that humor with a serious issue like mental health in a way I never would’ve expected.

I began with quite the negative mindset, reluctant to read any further if the novel proved to be like the rest written about the same topic — girl-has-mental-health-issue, girl-meets-boy, girl-falls-in-love, girl-becomes-all-better — but I was met with a nice surprise as Audrey’s tale was one of real depth and emotion. It was a story about a 14-year-old girl facing the harsh realities of living with anxiety.

It’s absolutely essential, I think, in any art form, whether it be a movie or a book — for the artist to understand the concept they’re trying to portray. It was evident that Sophie Kinsella had done her research before she began to write about a sensitive issue that so many people are affected by today. The accuracy in her wording when it came to describing what anxiety feels like is something I truly applaud. See for yourself:

“Eye contact is a big deal. It’s the biggest deal. Just the thought makes me sick, right down to my core. I know in my rational head that that eyes are not frightening. They’re tiny little harmless blobs of jelly. They’re, like, a minuscule fraction of our whole body area. We all have them. So why should they bother me? But I’ve had a lot of time to think about this, and if you ask me, most people underestimate eyes. For a start, they’re powerful… They’re like vortexes, too. They’re infinite. You look someone straight in the eye and your whole soul can be sucked out in a nanosecond. That’s what it feels like. Other people’s eyes are limitless and that’s what scares me.”

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The family dynamic was another thing I loved — a real family; a mixture of sugar and salt, perfect in their imperfections. Audrey’s interactions with them were hilarious — but don’t take my word for it, because I laugh at literally everything 😉  You have her anti-video-games mother, her clueless but cute father, her lovable little brother, and her video-game-obsessed brother. They understood Audrey’s situation, and respected her feelings — never once choosing to blame her for anything. That kind of love will always have my utmost admiration.

And of course, we have Linus. I was a little wary when he came into the picture, fearing that the book would take a turn for the worst if it made him out to be “Audrey’s savior”, but he wasn’t, and that wasn’t the path it took at all. He wasn’t the cure to Audrey’s illness, just a person who understood her and helped her through it. In the end, Audrey helped Audrey, Audrey found Audrey — her boyfriend, family, and therapist simply aided her in that journey. Their interactions, both in-person and over text/handwritten notes, were so innocent and beautiful. This book is filled with them, and I’m sure the average teenager will be able to relate to their modern love story.

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If you’re looking for a quick but fulfilling read to keep you warm and entertained this holiday season, I highly recommend this gem of a book. It’s charming in its hilarity and truly rewarding in its realistic take on mental health and to be honest, life itself. Audrey isn’t 100% okay in the end, and that’s fine, if you think about it. Like Elizabeth Kubler-Ross puts it, “I’m not okay, you’re not okay, and that’s okay.”

Favorite Quotes:

“The trouble is, depression doesn’t come with handy symptoms like spots and a temperature, so you don’t realize it at first. You keep saying ‘I’m fine’ to people when you’re not fine. You think you should be fine. You keep saying to yourself: “Why aren’t I fine?”

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“It’s all my fault, my stupid, stupid fault… My thoughts are speeding up and my pace is speeding up too, and I’m pulling at my arms, pulling at the flesh of my forearms, trying to…I don’t know.. I don’t understand it. I glance in the mirror and flinch at my own wild stare. I can feel a weird sparking all over my body, like I’m more alive than I should be, like my body is over-loaded with life force. Can you have too much life stuffed into one body? Because that’s what this feels like. And everything’s too fast. My heart, my thoughts, my feet, my clawing arms…”

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“I guess Mum was right about the jagged graphs thing. We’re all on one. Even Frank. Even Mum. Even Felix. I think what I’ve realized is, life is all about climbing up, slipping down, and picking yourself up again. And it doesn’t matter if you slip down. As long as you’re kind of heading more or less upwards. That’s all that you can hope for. More or less upwards.”

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“The more you engage with the outside world, the more you’ll be able to turn down the volume on those worries. You’ll see that they’re unfounded. You’ll see that the world is a very busy and varied place and most people have the attention span of a gnat. They’ve already forgotten what happened. They don’t think about it. There will have been five more sensations since your incident.”

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“It won’t be forever. You’ll be in the dark for as long as it takes and then you’ll come out.”

*DISCLAIMER* If you have not read this book yet, I’d really recommend not going through the comments section in case there’s a spoiler. You can always come back here later to discuss after you’ve read the book! (Or contact me if you want to talk about it beforehand)

“Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell

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Title: Fangirl

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Published by: St. Martin’s Griffin

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

In-Series/Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Rating: ★★★★★

Intro:

A coming-of-age tale of fan fiction, family and first love. Cath is a Simon Snow fan. Okay, the whole world is a Simon Snow fan… But for Cath, being a fan is her life – and she’s really good at it. She and her twin sister, Wren, ensconced themselves in the Simon Snow series when they were just kids; it’s what got them through their mother leaving. Reading. Rereading. Hanging out in Simon Snow forums, writing Simon Snow fan fiction, and dressing up like the characters for every movie premiere. Cath’s sister has mostly grown away from fandom, but Cath can’t let go. She doesn’t want to. Now that they’re going to college, Wren has told Cath she doesn’t want to be roommates. Cath is on her own, completely outside of her comfort zone. She’s got a surly roommate with a charming, always-around boyfriend, a fiction-writing professor who thinks fan fiction is the end of the civilized world, a handsome classmate who only wants to talk about words… And she can’t stop worrying about her dad, who’s loving and fragile and has never really been alone. For Cath, the question is: Can she do this? Can she make it without Wren holding her hand? Is she ready to start living her own life? Writing her own stories? And does she even want to move on if it means leaving Simon Snow behind?

My Review:

I loved this novel SO MUCH, there are literally no words. My experience reading it went a little bit like this:

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My favorite types of books are the ones that speak directly to you; the ones that resonate so deeply within your psyche that you feel as though you’re actually learning things about yourself in the process. I am a “fangirl” – which is why the title of this book immediately caught my eye. I’d never read anything about a fandom before. I was curious as to how the whole fandom/online world was going to be portrayed in a book, so I bought myself a copy and started reading the minute I got home.

I was hooked. Fangirl was so different from all the other books I’d read; and it was my first time reading one of Rainbow Rowell’s novels. I can honestly say, after I finished it, she became one of my favorite authors. I loved that there was nothing over-the-top within the whole plot – there was no heavy drama – the story simply thrived in its delicate simplicity, and offered power through its unique relatability.

Simon Snow, the fictional character that Cath, the main character in this book, is so passionate about, reminded me a lot of Harry Potter. I think Rainbow Rowell (ugh I never get tired of saying her name. I mean how cool is the name “Rainbow”? Am I right??) intended it to be that way – the whole “Simon Snow” world was supposed to remind you of Harry, Ron, Hermione and their wizarding world. Since I’m a massive Harry Potter fan, I deeply connected with Cath and her passion for these characters – I knew exactly what she was going through.

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If you’re someone who’s stayed up reading into the early hours of the morning; or binge-watching your favorite Netflix show and finishing a season in a day; or dressing up as your favorite fictional character on Halloween or for Comic Con; or waiting in the line of a bookstore on the day of the release of the next book in a series… you will be able to relate as well.

Whether you find yourself in the insecure girl who’s afraid of life; the happy-go-lucky guy always ready with a smile; the self-centered sister; the deceitful friend; the emotionally disabled dad; the outspoken, honest roommate; the talented but uncertain writer; the intellectual or the one who falls short; the life of the party or the one hiding in the shadows — there are bits and pieces of everyone scattered throughout this story; representing all the highs and lows that make us exactly who we are. The writing was phenomenal – it was fluid and natural; the dialogue was effortlessly funny and witty; and there were pockets of insight that were never thrown in your face, but hidden, waiting for the right moment to present themselves. Although this story was a fun read, there was a subtle coat of reality – and that’s what made me fall in love with it. It portrayed broken families, feelings of not being good enough, smart enough, pretty enough… perfectly.

I’m sure you’ve heard this quote before: “That moment when you finish a book, look around, and realize that everyone is just carrying on with their lives as though you didn’t just experience emotional trauma at the hands of a paperback” – that was definitely me after reading this book. I loved it, and was heartbroken when it was over.

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I could honestly blab on forever and ever about how GREAT this book was, but I doubt that would make for a decent review :p Fangirls and Fanboys of the world, read this book. I can guarantee you will find yourself within its pages and realize you aren’t that crazy after all, and you most certainly do not have to apologize for being passionate about something you love.

Favorite Quotes:

“I don’t trust anybody. Not anybody. And the more that I care about someone, the more sure I am they’re going to get tired of me and take off.”

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“In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.)”

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“Seriously. Look at you. You’ve got your shit together, you’re not scared of anything. I’m scared of everything. And I’m crazy. Like maybe you think I’m a little crazy, but I only ever let people see the tip of my crazy iceberg. Underneath this veneer of slightly crazy and socially inept, I’m a complete disaster.”

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“It’s just… everything. There are too many people. And I don’t fit in. I don’t know how to be. Nothing that I’m good at is the sort of thing that matters there. Being smart doesn’t matter—and being good with words. And when those things do matter, it’s only because people want something from me. Not because they want me.”

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“She didn’t have words for what Levi was. He was a cave painting. He was the red balloon. ‘You’re magic.’ she said.”

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“Sometimes writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can’t quite keep up with gravity.”

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“To really be a nerd, she’d decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one.”

*DISCLAIMER* If you have not read this book yet, I’d really recommend not going through the comments section in case there’s a spoiler. You can always come back here later to discuss after you’ve read the book! (Or contact me if you want to talk about it beforehand)

“Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell

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Title: Eleanor & Park

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Published by: St. Martin’s Griffin

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance

In-Series/Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Rating: ★★★★★

Intro:

Two misfits. One extraordinary love. Eleanor… Red hair, wrong clothes. Standing behind him until he turns his head. Lying beside him until he wakes up. Making everyone else seem drabber and flatter and never good enough…Eleanor. Park… He knows she’ll love a song before he plays it for her. He laughs at her jokes before she ever gets to the punch line. There’s a place on his chest, just below his throat, that makes her want to keep promises…Park. Set over the course of one school year, this is the story of two star-crossed sixteen-year-olds — smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try.

My Review:

“She never looked nice. She looked like art, and art wasn’t supposed to look nice; it was supposed to make you feel something.”

I strongly believe that nobody should write about teenagers if they themselves don’t remember what it was like to be young and in love. Rainbow Rowell remembers. She captured falling in love for the first time beautifully through this book – from the excitement and exhilaration, the pain and the joy, the heartbreak and the anger, to the frustration and longing that comes with it. I’m kind of bias when it comes to Rainbow Rowell, though, because I love ALL her books – she just has such a unique writing style and she knows how to tell a good story.

The book starts out with Eleanor, the new girl in school, getting on the bus for the first time and having nowhere and nobody to sit with. When no one steps up to help her out, a certain boy caves in and scoots over in his seat so she can sit down. And thus begins the ride on one hell of a rollercoaster. I absolutely loved the dual point of view throughout the book – being in both Park and Eleanor’s heads was very enjoyable, needless to say. These characters are so tragically wounded yet beautifully flawed. They’re so different, but so similar. Eleanor comes from a broken home – quite literally, in the sense. Park, on the other hand, has grown up surrounded by loving family and friends. You’d think that if these two separate worlds collided, there’d be an explosion of some sort and you wouldn’t be able to make out the outcome through the chaos. But it’s actually the opposite – these two worlds… this unlikely pairing find themselves falling hard for one another; and along with it, a bond like no other is formed. I think it’s very rare for a high school romance to become something more; let alone go on to become a rare and beautiful thing that lasts forever. Eleanor and Park are the exception – it seems to me like this high school love story is one that will continue through the years, and will only grow stronger with time.

Most love stories tend to have a similar vibe – perfect guy, perfect girl, perfect love, and perfect world. That wasn’t the case with Eleanor & Park. Eleanor and Park are exceptionally ordinary. They aren’t perfect in any way shape or form, but that’s exactly what made this story come to life. It’s relatable, applicable to our own lives. If you’re looking for a light, intriguing, pull-at-your-heartstrings-and-leave-you-happy-crying kinda book to read, I’d definitely recommend this one!

Favorite Quotes:

“Holding Eleanor’s hand was like holding a butterfly. Or a heartbeat. Like holding something complete, and completely alive.”

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“…I love your name. I don’t want to cheat myself out of a single syllable.”

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“I want everyone to meet you. You’re my favorite person of all time.”

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“You think that holding someone hard will bring them closer. You think that you can hold them so hard that you’ll still feel them, embossed on you, when you pull away.”

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“What are the chances you’d ever meet someone like that? he wondered. Someone you could love forever, someone who would forever love you back? And what did you do when that person was born half a world away? The math seemed impossible.”

*Note: My favorite Eleanor & Park fan-art, which can also be found in the Exclusive Collector’s Edition:

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*DISCLAIMER* If you have not read this book yet, I’d really recommend not going through the comments section in case there’s a spoiler. You can always come back here later to discuss after you’ve read the book! (Or contact me if you want to talk about it beforehand)

“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” by Stephen Chbosky

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Title: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author: Stephen Chbosky

Published by: Pocket Books

Genres: Young Adult, Epistolary

In-Series/Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Rating: ★★★★★

Intro:

Charlie is a freshman. And while he’s not the biggest geek in the school, he is by no means popular. Shy, introspective, intelligent beyond his years yet socially awkward, he is a wallflower, caught between trying to live his life and trying to run from it. Charlie is attempting to navigate his way through uncharted territory: the world of first dates and mix tapes, family dramas and new friends; the world of sex, drugs, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, when all one requires is that perfect song on that perfect drive to feel infinite. But he can’t stay on the sideline forever. Standing on the fringes of life offers a unique perspective. But there comes a time to see what it looks like from the dance floor. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a deeply affecting coming-of-age story that will spirit you back to those wild and poignant roller-coaster days known as growing up.

My Review:

Do you want to know why I picked up this book and decided to read it in the first place? It wasn’t because it was about to become a movie, or because “everyone was reading it.” It was because the word “wallflower” caught my attention.

Urban Dictionary defines “wallflower” as a type of loner; seemingly shy folks who no one really knows… often some of the most interesting people if one actually talks to them. Take a moment to really think about that. Would you say you’re a wallflower? Are you the person at a party who prefers to stay in the shadows, just observing your surroundings? Are you a person who takes everything in, and really appreciates life for what it is? Are you the person who brings a book with you everywhere you go, and no matter what’s happening around you, you just read and read to your heart’s content? Are you are introvert? Are you happy being independent, by yourself? But at the same time, do you crave attention; hopeful that maybe, just maybe, someone will someday come up to you and decide you’re worth knowing?

I remember flipping through this book and stopping when I found this quote:

“So, this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

Do you ever feel like you have everything you could ever need, and yet there’s something missing? And it doesn’t have to be a mundane thing — it could be something you’re searching for inside, to truly make you happy and whole. That’s what that quote means to me.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is one of those books that hit home with me. It was insightful and poignant, and for the most part, I felt like I was the one writing the letters inside the book. I connected to Charlie (the main character) in ways I can’t even begin to explain. Charlie’s outlook on life, throughout the book, was so pure and so innocent. It absolutely broke my heart, because I remember seeing the world that way once. Charlie wasn’t a normal kid. He was suffering from depression, especially after the death of his favorite aunt. And he was entering high school — a world that can either break you down or build you up. Charlie tried his best to “participate” and interact with everyone around him. He started hanging out with Patrick and Sam (both seniors) who opened his eyes to a lot of things Charlie wasn’t used to seeing. His letters, throughout the book, mirror his experiences during his first year of high school.

While the story doesn’t have a “thriller-like” pacing — because first off, it isn’t supposed to be “exciting” — I was sucked into Charlie’s head; sharing his first kiss, his feelings towards his new friends, and his feelings towards literature and music. He was so naïve about so many things; and his bluntness honestly made me laugh-out-loud at times. While Charlie isn’t exactly a “role-model” for the younger generation, he does prove that being different is okay; and friends come in all kinds of packages. I’d hand this book to any teenager, really; because I know there’s some part of them that would be able to relate to Charlie’s character, and they’d definitely learn a thing or two about life and all it has to offer.

Favorite Quotes:

“And in that moment, I swear we were infinite.”

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“So, I guess we are who we are for alot of reasons. And maybe we’ll never know most of them. But even if we don’t have the power to choose where we come from, we can still choose where we go from there. We can still do things. And we can try to feel okay about them.”

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“I am very interested and fascinated how everyone loves each other, but no one really likes each other.”

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“It’s just that I don’t want to be somebody’s crush. If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am. And I don’t want them to carry it around inside. I want them to show me, so I can feel it too.”

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“I don’t know if you’ve ever felt like that. That you wanted to sleep for a thousand years. Or just not exist. Or just not be aware that you do exist. Or something like that. I think wanting that is very morbid, but I want it when I get like this. That’s why I’m trying not to think. I just want it all to stop spinning.”

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“This moment will be just another story someday.”

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“He’s a wallflower. You see things. You keep quiet about them. And you understand.”

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“It’s much easier to not know things sometimes. Things change and friends leave. And life doesn’t stop for anybody. I wanted to laugh. Or maybe get mad. Or maybe shrug at how strange everybody was, especially me. I think the idea is that every person has to live for his or her own life and than make the choice to share it with other people. You can’t just sit their and put everybody’s lives ahead of yours and think that counts as love. You just can’t. You have to do things. I’m going to do what I want to do. I’m going to be who I really am. And I’m going to figure out what that is. And we could all sit around and wonder and feel bad about each other and blame a lot of people for what they did or didn’t do or what they didn’t know. I don’t know. I guess there could always be someone to blame. It’s just different. Maybe it’s good to put things in perspective, but sometimes, I think that the only perspective is to really be there. Because it’s okay to feel things. I was really there. And that was enough to make me feel infinite. I feel infinite.”

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“And if somebody else has it much worse, that doesn’t really change the fact that you have what you have. Good and bad.”

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“I am both happy and sad at the same time, and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.”

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“Enjoy it. Because it’s happening.”

*Note: The Perks of Being a Wallflower was adapted into a coming-of-age drama film in 2012, and was written and adapted by the author himself, Stephen Chbosky. It stars Logan Lerman as Charlie, as well Emma Watson, Ezra Miller, and Mae Whitman.

loved the film. I thought it was beautiful and heartbreaking, just like the novel. Watch the trailer here:

*DISCLAIMER* If you have not read this book yet, I’d really recommend not going through the comments section in case there’s a spoiler. You can always come back here later to discuss after you’ve read the book! (Or contact me if you want to talk about it beforehand)

“My Life Next Door” by Huntley Fitzpatrick

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Title: My Life Next Door

Author: Huntley Fitzpatrick

Published by: Penguin Young Readers Group

Genres: Young Adult Romance, Contemporary

In-Series/Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Rating: ★★★★★

 

Intro:

“One thing my mother never knew, and would disapprove of most of all, was that I watched the Garretts. All the time.”

The Garretts are everything the Reeds are not. Loud, messy, affectionate. And every day from her rooftop perch, Samantha Reed wishes she was one of them… until one summer evening, Jase Garrett climbs up next to her and changes everything. As the two fall fiercely for each other, stumbling through the awkwardness and awesomeness of first love, Jase’s family embraces Samantha — even as she keeps him a secret from her own. Then something unthinkable happens, and the bottom drops out of Samantha’s world. She’s suddenly faced with an impossible decision. Which perfect family will save her? Or is it time she saved herself? A transporting debut about family, friendship, first romance, and how to be true to one person you love without betraying another.

 

My Review:

After I finished reading Allegiant, I was in mourning for days. I needed a contemporary novel — a happy novel with no death and destruction — to cheer me up, and that’s how I came across My Life Next Door.

Where can I even start with how much I adored this book?! It completely took me by surprise. Let me tell you one thing — this isn’t your average contemporary novel. It’s not a book you’re just gonna read and forget about later — it’ll stick with you; probably forever. It’s sweet and romantic and funny and BRILLIANT.

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I loved every single character. They were so brilliantly, perfectly, and wonderfully written; they almost felt real. What I loved most about this book was the character development — we have Sam, who grows up with the pressure to be perfect from a strict mother; Jase, the boy next door who (trust me) has the key to your heart; and the entire Garrett family, made up of eight children and two lovely parents. The Garretts are loud, fun, hilarious, and SO adorable; like a family straight out of a magazine. This book doesn’t just focus on the growing romance between Jase and Sam. It’s much more than that.

It’s a story about growing up, making one’s own decisions, the importance of family, and living life without regret. That being said, this book is terrific. Huntley Fitzpatrick truly is talented. I laughed, cried, and remained blissfully happy after reading this. Go out and borrow it / buy it / download it — you’ll fall in love just like I did; I guarantee it!

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Favorite Quotes:

“You’re walking along on this path, dazzled by how perfect it is, how great you feel, and then just a few forks in the road and you are lost in a place so bad you never could have imagined it.”

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“He instantly covers my fingers with his own, giving me his slow, intoxicating smile. I feel a pang, as though I’m handing over a part of myself I’ve never offered before.”

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“They say you never know what you would do in a hypothetical situation. We’d all like to think we’d be one of the people who gave up their lifejackets and waved a stoic good-bye from the slanting deck of the titanic, someone who jumped in front of a bullet for a stranger, or turned and raced back up the stairs of one of the towers, in search of someone who needed help rather than our own security. But you just don’t know for sure if, when things fall apart, you’ll think safety first, or if safety will be the last thing on your mind.”

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“No, because of instinct. You can tell who to trust. People can, just like animals. We don’t listen as well as they do, always, but it’s still there. That prickling feeling when something’s not right. That calm feeling when it is.”

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“The Garretts were my bedtime story, long before I ever thought I’d be part of the story myself.”

 

*DISCLAIMER* If you have not read this book yet, I’d really recommend not going through the comments section in case there’s a spoiler. You can always come back here later to discuss after you’ve read the book! (Or contact me if you want to talk about it beforehand)

“We Were Liars” by E. Lockhart

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Title: We Were Liars

Author: E. Lockhart

Published by: Delacorte Press

Genres: Young Adult Fiction, Mystery, Contemporary

In-Series/Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Rating: ★★★★☆

 

Intro:

A beautiful and distinguished family. A private island. A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy. A group of four friends — the Liars — whose friendship turns destructive. A revolution. An accident. A secret. Lies upon lies. True love. The truth. We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart. Read it. And if anyone asks you how it ends, just lie. 

 

My Review: 

I read this book about a month ago and I still can’t get it out of my head. It messes with your mind, in a good or bad way, I don’t know. That’s up to you, I suppose.

I picked up this contemporary over the summer because of all the hype it was getting, but I knew nothing about the book whatsoever. And that’s exactly the way it should be — you should go into this book knowing nothing, especially not knowing how it ends. Because trust me, if you know the whole story, there is no point in reading it at all.

E. Lockhart crafts the mystery and suspense in this book in such a way that I could not put it down until I was finished. The possibilities of what happened, what could happen, etc. ate away at me every night before I went to sleep. Most of the reviews I’ve read on this book have said that they figured out the twist far before the book ended, some even as early as into page three; and usually, I’m good at that too — figuring stuff out when it comes to mystery novels. But this one… wow. It caught me completely off guard. My reaction was basically

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The writing, while I’m sure it’s not for everyone, was very unique, and I found it intriguing. (Some of the metaphors caught me completely off guard, though) You’ve probably noticed I’ve been very vague in this review; I haven’t talked about the characters or the gist of the plot, like I do in all of my other book reviews… and that’s for a good reason. Like I said, you should go into this book knowing very little. And when you’re finished… come back here and discuss, discuss, discuss. I want to know your thoughts, your theories. Until then, happy reading!

 

Favorite Quotes:

“But the thing that makes me really messed up is the contradiction: when I’m not hating myself, I feel righteous and victimized. Like the world is so unfair.”

~

“She confused being spartan with being charitable, and gave away her possessions without truly doing good with them.
She confused being sick with being brave, and suffered agonies while imagining she merited praise for it.
She confused wit with intelligence, and made people laugh rather than lightening their hearts or making them think.”

~

“Someone once wrote that a novel should deliver a series of small astonishments. I get the same thing spending an hour with you.”

~

“He was contemplation and enthusiasm. Ambition and strong coffee. I could have looked at him forever.”

 

*Side note: This would make an amazing movie. And to be honest, I’d go watch it in theaters just to see the reactions of people who haven’t read the book.

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*DISCLAIMER* If you have not read this book yet, I’d really recommend not going through the comments section in case there’s a spoiler. You can always come back here later to discuss after you’ve read the book! (Or contact me if you want to talk about it beforehand)

“Paper Towns” by John Green

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Title: Paper Towns

Author: John Green

Published by: Dutton Books

Genres: Young Adult, Mystery, Romance, Contemporary

In-Series/Stand Alone: Stand Alone

Rating: ★★★★☆

Intro:

“Margo always loved mysteries. And in everything that came afterward, I could never stop thinking that maybe she loved mysteries so much that she became one.”

Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life — dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge — he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues — and they’re for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew…

My Review:

“She was not a miracle. She was not an adventure. She was not a fine and precious thing. She was a girl.”

John Green, I must confess — you did a great job not making me cry. I mean, I was a bit emotional towards the end of Paper Towns, but at least I wasn’t in post-Green depression like I am after reading most of your other books (ahem, TFIOS and Looking For Alaska, this one’s for you). Jokes aside, the main reason I love John Green novels is because they’re all so truthful. I’m always left thinking about all the important themes his books discuss, or revolve around. John writes about stuff that matters: stuff that teens, or anyone, really, can relate to.

Without giving too much away — Paper Towns starts off with an introduction to four integral characters — three best friends named Quentin Jacobsen (our main character, who’s POV the story is told in), Ben Starling, and Radar Lincoln; and of course, the mystery-girl, Margo Roth Spiegelman. Quentin has known Margo, his next door neighbor, since they were kids and has spent his entire life loving her from afar. After their exhilarating adventure driving around town one night, he finds she has disappeared the next morning. And so begins the extraordinary journey Quentin and his friends embark upon to find Margo and bring her home.

This story was honestly heartwarming. Needless to say, I instantly fell in love with (most) of the characters, especially Ben Starling (who is my hero). The dialogue and conversation between characters is ridiculously funny and engaging, but at times also intellectual and meaningful. Also, I must say — John made me terribly happy to be a girl by the end of this novel, because if everything that goes through Quentin and Ben and Radar’s minds are any indication of the thought process of an average, straight, horny teenage boy, I’d be in need of serious therapy. I laughed out loud at least 50 times throughout this novel (or maybe more, no joke), but also found myself putting the book down and absorbing what I’d just read. There are some really great quotes that leave you pondering some very important themes concerning life, the people around you, and your inner-self. The only reason I’ve given Paper Towns 4 stars instead of 5 is because it was a bit dragging at times — not too much to make you feel ridiculously bored, but just a little. Unlike many people, I found the ending okay. While it may be true that it was a bit rushed, I felt like it gave the characters the closure they deserved, and left the reader with a bittersweet feeling, which can either be a good or bad thing, depending on how you perceive it.

Favorite Quotes:

“The way I figure it, everyone gets a miracle. Like, I will probably never be struck by lightening, or win a Nobel Prize, or become the dictator of a small nation in the Pacific Islands, or contract terminal ear cancer, or spontaneously combust. But if you consider all the unlikely things together, at least one of them will probably happen to each of us. I could have seen it rain frogs. I could have stepped foot on Mars. I could have been eaten by a whale. I could have married the Queen of England or survived months at sea. But my miracle was different. My miracle was this: out of all the houses in all the subdivisions in all of Florida, I ended up living next door to Margo Roth Spiegelman.”

~

“What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person.”

~

“That’s always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they’re pretty. It’s like picking your breakfeast cereals based on color instead of taste.”

~

“It is so hard to leave—until you leave. And then it is the easiest goddamned thing in the world.”

~

“Did you know that for pretty much the entire history of the human species, the average life span was less than thirty years? You could count on ten years or so of real adulthood, right? There was no planning for retirement, There was no planning for a career. There was no planning. No time for plannning. No time for a future. But then the life spans started getting longer, and people started having more and more future. And now life has become the future. Every moment of your life is lived for the future–you go to high school so you can go to college so you can get a good job so you can get a nice house so you can afford to send your kids to college so they can get a good job so they can get a nice house so they can afford to send their kids to college.”

~

“It is easy to forget how full the world is of people, full to bursting, and each of them imaginable and consistently mis-imagined.”

~

“Maybe all the strings inside him broke.”

~

“At some point, you gotta stop looking up at the sky, or one of these days you’ll look back down and see that you floated away, too.”

~

“It was nice – in the dark and the quiet… and her eyes looking back, like there was something in me worth seeing.”

~

“The town was paper, but the memories were not.”

I have not seen the movie adaptation yet, but when I do, I may or may not post a review comparing it to the book. We’ll see 🙂 Cara Delevingne and Nat Wolff star as Margo Roth Spiegelman and Quentin Jacobsen. If you’re interested, watch the trailer below:

*DISCLAIMER* If you have not read this book yet, I’d really recommend not going through the comments section in case there’s a spoiler. You can always come back here later to discuss after you’ve read the book! (Or contact me if you want to talk about it beforehand)