Sarah J. Maas-t Read Now.

“Libraries were full of ideas–perhaps the most dangerous and powerful of all weapons.”

 

      I don’t like reading high fantasy. Never have and (I thought) I never would. Don’t get me wrong, I love watching Game of Thrones, loved all of the Lord of the Rings movies, but somehow I could never get into reading high fantasy. *drum roll please* Until now! Sort of. I am a fan of Sarah J. Maas’ “Court of Thorn and Roses” book — I breezed through it which is rare for me since it’s not contemporary romance YA. I did the same thing with her first novel in the “Throne of Glass” series. Oh, boy was it good! I can see why some of my co-workers gave it a 5-star rating on Goodreads. It’s steamy when it needs to be but also jam packed with action and adventure. What a ride!

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This book deserves b&w because it makes it all the more menacing. Go, Celeana!

      “Throne of Glass” begins with an introduction to our main character, Celeana (‘sell-lay-nah’ according to Sarah J Maas’ own blog). She is this badass ex-assassin who we learn was the best in Adarlan even though she is only 18. Hello, strong female heroine! She was adopted by an assassin at an early age in order to save her from something much worse than killing people (yikes) but unfortunately she has been locked away for a year in a prison of sorts. She is finally released but only because she is asked to compete in this Hunger Games-type competition. She needs to compete against twenty-three other killers, thieves, and warriors in order to gain her freedom and serve as the King’s Champion. She doesn’t particularly want to serve the King but the pot is sweetened when she bargains with Chaol (I pronounce it like Kale but apparently it should be ‘kay-all’) and gets the time down to 4 years before freedom. Did I mention that Chaol is super hot and dreamy? Oh yeah and Celeana is naturally hot too. Even though she is all grimy from not showering in a year, her beauty can still shine through. Damn. If I go 3 days I think I would be ignored by everyone around me.

 

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You know it’s high fantasy when there’s a drawn map in the beginning.

      This premise alone had me intrigued, despite not loving the genre. It also helped that I enjoy Maas’ writing style before picking this one up. One thing that I particularly like is that it’s not told in first person. I find that most YA is told in that perspective, perhaps because it seems more relatable? Sometimes I think that her romance scenes could be a bit better but then I have to remind myself that I’m not there for the romance aspects, rather to see this girl kick ass and show everyone around her that age ain’t nothing but a number (RIP Aaliyah :().

      I highly recommend this book, especially to those who already love high fantasy. This book is evidence that YA books do not have to be read just by teens. I do however recommend that this book not be ready by young teens. As in maybe keep the 11 and 12 year olds away from this one. Actually, scratch that. I used to sneak Harlequin romances behind my mom’s back when I was that age. I turned out fine. I think (I hope?). 5 out of 5 stars for this lovely book!

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My first DNF. (The horror!)

For those of you who aren’t involved with Goodreads (or use it as often as I do!) you may or may not be familiar with the term “DNF”. It’s an acronym for “did not finish” meaning that the book you read was not your cup of tea. I’ve had quite a few DNFs in my time and “Bloodlines” by Richelle Mead is the most recent.

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Photo via Goodreads.com

What I need to clarify is that “Bloodlines” isn’t a bad book, it’s just not one that I felt I could get into in this moment. Perhaps it’s because it is a vampire book and I don’t think I’ve liked a vampire book since the craze circa 2005 (thanks, “Twilight”) or it might be because of the way it’s written, but I could not finish it.

Funny enough, I was never able to get into her Vampire Academy series so I think this might be just a writing style preference. It has a really high Goodreads rating and I received many a praises from my co-workers. It’s a bit unfortunate that I couldn’t get past the first few chapters!

It’s too bad too because I feel like Sydney is a tough character and that doesn’t always happen in YA books. You often get the “cutesy” heroines who step into a role instead of working hard towards it like Sydney. I wish I had more to say about this one but I’m hoping that you can encourage me to keep reading it! A 4.22 rating on Goodreads is quite high, especially for a book with so many ratings and reviews. Let me know in the comments if you’ve read this one and if you had troubles getting into it as well. Adios, readers!

 

 

 

 

Laughing at my old reviews.

Hiya! A short post this week but one that made me giggle. So I haven’t really gotten into book reviewing in a while but I decided to look at my past Goodreads reviews to reflect a bit.

There weren’t very many but LOL they make me laugh. I can still hear my voice in them but it just doesn’t sound as authentic. Maybe I’m wrong. But here’s a look at two of my longer reviews from books I’ve read in the past.

We will start off with my review of “The Fault in Our Stars”. See below.

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What I find funny about this is that I never actually re-read the book. I saw the movie, cried, and then promptly forgot about it. But I can remember loving it! I guess I got distracted by other really great books. What’s nice about looking back on reviews is that they become reminders of happy book memories. It’s so easy to forget what happens in a book and the emotions you feel (especially when you read so many!) and being able to look back allows me to feel like I’m re-reading the book all over. The feelings of a good book will still resonate.

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I completely forgot about this book! Safe to say it was probably because I gave it such a low rating. Once again, I like looking back because I remember how frustrated I was with “Any & Roger’s Epic Detour”. I also love that I mention Sarah Dessen because hello, she’s the best.

This post was a bit more self-indulgent than others (sue me) but the reason for this was important. It was a reminder that I am doing something with these book reviews, that is, I’m writing down memories that will serve as happy reminders. Even if no one reads these reviews, I can be sure that they are helping me store my thoughts and giving more purpose to my reading.

Thanks again and until next time!

 

 

 

 

“Memory of Light” pt. 2

 “It’s hard to accept that depression is an illness, that moping around from day to day with no will for so many years is not my fault.”

   I’m back! And not in the way I suspected I would. Last post I gushed about the halfway point of “The Memory of Light” and was concerned about the way it was going to end. Because the book until the halfway point was very real and gritty, I thought there would be more devastation in terms of one or more characters’ fates. I was wrong! And a bit disappointed by this.

     Now, I don’t want you to think that I wanted to be upset and have a character killed off but it felt almost natural. With so much going on and the characters’ deteriorating mental health, I felt like a quick turnaround for the better wouldn’t have been authentic. But unfortunately that was the case.

     All of the ends that were loose were nearly tied up and everyone was hunky dory. This isn’t realistic, I mean neither would death, but something more needed to happen. I think. I’m actually a bit confused because as much as I felt let down by the end, I still loved the book! I wonder if I ask too much sometimes — not all novels can be perfect and I shouldn’t have that expectation. All in all, it got knocked down from a solid 5 out of 5 stars to a 4 out of 5 star rating because of the neat ending.

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Via Goodreads.com

     What I think I need to focus on, instead of the plot, is how well “The Memory of Light” captured depression. It made a point of showing that depression isn’t just being “sad”, it’s not having a reason for your feelings and not knowing how to explain them because it just happens. Sometimes you’re just tired — tired of pretending, tired of your life, just freaking tired of everything. Stork clearly understands what he was talking about and his experience translated well into the novel. I love that there are books like this for teens (or anyone really) as it becomes a piece of comfort; validating your feelings.

“Swimming and roses and writing.”

“How do you distinguish between an untrue message dictated by depression and a true one that comes from the bottom of your soul?”

     I’m not sure the last time I was so affected by a book, let alone a book I haven’t even finished reading. You heard me — I’m reviewing a book that I’m halfway through. Not because I can’t finish it, but because I think it deserves a part one and part two. Mainly due to the fact that I can sense the final half of this book will need a whole review itself.

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A quote from the “Perks of Being a Wallflower” film. Themes match up quite a bit with “The Memory of Light”. Via Tumblr.

     “The Memory of Light” was recommended to me earlier in the year and it’s been on my to-read shelf ever since. I cried right away, I’m talking just after reading the preface, not even the first chapter. And I subsequently continued to cry throughout the first half. This book begins with Vicky’s unsuccessful suicide attempt which inevitably leads to her psychiatric treatment. I had a hard time picking out quotes to use for this half-review because there were so many relevant ones that affected me so deeply. Although I have never suffered from depression myself, I know people who have, and her thoughts and feelings (sometimes lack thereof) really resonated. Her family keeps asking her why she did it, as if there is a concrete explanation. X happened so Y was the result. But there aren’t always black and white answers when dealing with depression which is something that Vicky slowly learns is ok. She verbalizes this to Meg when she admits that her wanting to commit suicide “wasn’t because of Jaime”, a boy who liked her. “It wasn’t anything. It was everything,” all at the same time. These words, although simple, have great meaning. Depression isn’t one feeling, it can be many, it can be none, it can be freaking anything that casts a cloud over your life. Explanations aren’t always provided and the fact that this novel points this out is what makes it so beautiful. I have read YA in the past that glazes over depression; YA that uses depression as a plot tool to bring two characters together romantically. It’s never realistic and romanticizes this serious and painful disease. “The Memory of Light” speaks the truth and the author, having had depression, creates a story based on the reality of dealing with this disease. It’s never sugarcoated and this is so important. This book in a sense is like the support system Vicky finds in her new friends; it is a support system in itself for the reader who may or may not be battling their own demons. It validates their feelings while also helping them confront their own emotions and perhaps even find a way to cope.

     I’m excited to continue reading this novel but I’m also fearful. I can see Meg and Gabriel slipping away. I can tell their own mental health is deteriorating and I’m scared for them. If this were a regular novel, I would assume they would conquer their battles but because this is an honest account, I can’t see this happening. Life isn’t always perfect and it doesn’t always have a happy ending, unfortunately. I think this is proof of how invested I am in these characters. I want them to live so desperately; they have become a part of me and that’s all I can ask for when reading a book. I recommend this book more than I could ever recommend a book. Please, please read.

 

“‘Swimming and roses and writing. That’s three things.’  I don’t understand. ‘To live for,’ he says.” 

Casually (but not so casually) fangirling.

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

     For the past week a co-worker of mine has been raving about Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park, a novel that I can remember liking, but not being as thrilled as everyone else about it. Just for the sake of me now being a devoted Rainbow Rowell fan, I’ll chock it up to my mood at the time. My co-worker’s love for Eleanor & Park sparked something in me.I decided to pick-up Fangirl instead of doing an E&P re-read and all I can say is wowowowowowwow. What is this beautiful book and how has it not been a staple in my life? I laughed, I cried, I was anxious along with Cath, and then felt every other emotion in between. 5 out of 5 bright and shiny stars. I can’t wait to gush about it!

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     Fangirl touches upon one of the most emotional times in a teen’s life — the transition from high school to college. Nothing too crazy happens in this novel and that’s why I absolutely loved it. It’s simply an honest account of life. In the beginning, Cath gets a wakeup call when her twin sister Wren tells her that she doesn’t want to share a dorm room with her because “the whole point of college is meeting new people”. We learn quickly that Cath has anxiety and it’s triggered by this sudden change. She feels abandoned, misplaced, and alone. These initial feelings of anxiety end up frequenting the novel in a beautiful, honest way. Cath often holes up in her room eating protein bars so she can avoid people and this resonated with me, as I’m sure it did with others. Social anxiety comes in all sorts of forms and it’s wonderful to have a character experience these emotions because they are real and valid. Boy oh boy does Rainbow Rowell create deep, meaningful, and well-thought out characters. Don’t even get me started on Levi because I will talk (write?) your ear (eyes?) off. I feel like I could do a review on him alone.

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A bunch of my own fangirly things. It would take too much time to explain them so TL;DR: “Friends”, “Buffy”, “The Breakfast Club”, Jane Eyre, Jane Austen, and a trashy romance novel scented candle.

     The rise and fall of this novel wasn’t the same as most and I was shocked that it managed to keep me so engrossed. Normally the climax in a book, especially one with a bit of romance, is *shocking*. Something truly horrible happens to break the couple up but I was pleasantly surprised that this didn’t happen in Fangirl. Instead, there was a steady rise and fall of plot, with only small peaks. It mimicked real life so perfectly that I felt as if I was a part of Cath’s life for a small moment in time. And it ended. Without a ribbon tying up all of the loose ends and letting you know that Cath grew up to become xyz. It just stopped but you still felt like you were along for the ride. Perfect.

     The only thing I am ashamed at myself for doing is skimming past the fan fiction. I know that was a huge part of the story and I’m a bad, bad reader for doing it but I couldn’t help but want to read more about Cath. Now, I understand that the Simon Snow fan fiction is a part of Cath, a way for her to breathe, but it didn’t draw me in enough to want to continue reading. I probably should re-read immediately so I can get those last bits in… 😉

     What a lovely book. I am better for reading it and sometimes that’s all you need from. Definitely fangirled over this one. (Lame)

Officially Deveaux-ted to the Arcana Chronicles.

“Don’t you see? […] It might not be my way, but I can hunt. I’m hunting you.”    

     Yesssss. Finally. It happened. I liked a book! I feel like I’ve been in a YA reading slump lately (excluding Sarah Dessen, of course) and have been really let down by some of my picks. Apparently the problem was that I was picking these books out myself. Bad sorta-but-not-at-all librarian. I took a colleague’s advice this time and decided to pick up one of her favourite YAs that I avoided because of the font on the cover. Yes, I typed that correctly: font. It’s weird, I’m aware, but based on the font style it seemed like it would be way too heavy on the romantic fantasy. Something I’ve never really enjoyed until now, apparently. Thank goodness my coworker called me out on my judgey book ways because Poison Princess rocked! It wasn’t perfect by any means but holy moly it left me wanting more. I’ve already put the second book on hold and was even considering buying the eBook version because I can’t wait until work/the library tomorrow.

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Look at Jackson’s smolder. How intense. Not how I pictured him to look, especially since he looks about 35 and not 18.

     Kresley Cole’s Poison Princess had the good kind of suspense. The kind that had me questioning everything throughout; wondering if the people closest to Evie were really there to help. The story has two points of view, Arthur’s and Evie’s, but Arthur’s voice only appears 3 or 4 times which I found to be enough. I’d get lost in Evie’s story then brought back to reality with Arthur’s chapters, almost like the way Evie would get sucked in and out of her visions. Admittedly, there were times when Evie annoyed me (just a smidge) but I’d like to think that it was done purposefully to show her growth as a character. By the end of the book she was so badass that I forgot Jackson Deveaux, her broody love interest, even existed. I seriously felt the urge to shout “girl power” à la the Spice Girls in the final scene. Hit the road Jack and don’tcha come back ‘cause Evie doesn’t need your help.

     The only true fault I had with this book is one that I have with virtually every apocalyptic story and it has to do with the characters’ hygiene. All I can think about is how with so little water, Jackson still manages to find the time to shave. In particular, Evie notes that Jackson “hadn’t shaved in a few days” but how or why does he feel the need to shave at all when he’s running away from zombie-type people and cannibals? In fact, how do these characters even want to kiss each other, what with all that bad breath floating around. Ah well. It’s one thing that will never go away — I guess it’s not exactly *sexy* to talk about their rotting teeth, scraggly beards and awful B.O.

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Don’t worry, I’m not spoiling anything. That’s chapter one. (Read it).

     In terms of character development, you know how I feel about Evie *fist bump* but Jackson was an interesting character as well. I feel like there’s still a lot more to learn about him and I hope we find out what it is later in the series. He calms Evie in a way no one else can and I feel like this has to be supernatural in nature. What is his story or his family history for that matter? Who is his father?! He can’t just be a human boy who she is falling for. I won’t believe it! Especially since he briefly mentioned something about his grandma being a witch doctor. Interesting indeed. I love that this book has brought forth so many questions. It’s refreshing in a world of books like The Natural History of Us that make the reader ask all of the wrong questions. PS. I’m dying to talk about the ending but I don’t want to spoil it because wowowow so many more questions. Read this book and talk about it with me, please!

     All in all, I’m giving this a solid 4 out of 5 stars. I’m happy I picked it up and discovered a genre which I’ve never really had positive things to say about. It was otherworldly, literally, and I loved it. Bring on the next Arcana! Huzzah! (I know that exclamation seems misplaced but it felt necessary. Don’t ask questions).

Under the lights of my book interrogation.

“Gunner and Brady were the safe-and-happy part of my past that I often dreamed about at night when I needed to escape my reality.”

     The best way to describe my feelings towards Abbi Glines’ books are to equate them to McDonald’s. It’s not good for you (you’re aware) but you still get it anyway, knowing very well that you feel like crap five minutes after eating it. With Abbi Glines, I know what I’m getting into — I’ve never felt good about myself for reading them — yet I still do despite the inevitable negativity that follows when I reach the end.

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Dear Kami Garcia, this book was not tender, honest, or achingly real.

     Take for instance the quote that I opened this review with from Under the Lights. Most of her books are fueled by some sort of love triangle (i.e. Gunner and Brady in this one) or something that keeps the main heroine away from the rough and edgy guy that she shouldn’t be with even though her body tells her she should. Luckily, Under the Lights had both of these, phew! Progression, am I right? Ugh. I fault myself though for sticking through this entire book even though there were so many things that enraged me.

     Willa is beautiful, I’m talking all the guys are losing their minds over her, which is fine and dandy I guess, just a bit unfortunate. I understand that some like to live vicariously through the characters they read but for me, I prefer the less-than-perfect heroine. The one that might not be the most beautiful but is still deserving of love and/or even discovers how to love herself in spite of her flaws. I can’t fault Abbi Glines for my personal preference but what makes me mad about this is the way the characters in her novel treat beautiful people. As if they are on some sort of pedestal because of this even though they’re actually awful human beings. Maybe that’s real life and I’m naive but it infuriates me to read something that further promotes this kind of genetic hierarchy.

     I also find fault in the slut shaming and sexism that frequent her novels, especially in Under the Lights. Willa is “not like every other girl”. Now get ready for this… She eats in front of Gunner! Wow. Mind blown. The best part is that Gunner is shocked that a girl ate in front of him because “most didn’t eat in front of [him] at all, or in front of any guys for that matter”. I would find this problematic in any book but it’s much, much worse in a book that is supposed to appeal to a younger crowd. This is not what life is and no, you shouldn’t have to feel like you have to hide a basic human need (in this case, eating) to impress people. I guess in a backwards way this is what the book tries to say, that Gunner likes Willa because of this, it just has a funny way of showing it.

     Overall, the worst part of this book is the excessive slut shaming of other minor characters which in turn is supposed to build Willa up to be the perfect girl. She doesn’t drink, she’s beautiful and eats whatever she wants, but most importantly, she isn’t the kind of girl that sleeps around. One of my favourite things about YA books is that they can be progressive and speak to the current generation of readers, often having themes that would be considered taboo in adult material. Yet, Under the Lights does the opposite of this — it promotes a culture of shaming women for their sexual activity but praising guys for doing the exact same thing. Kimmie, a minor character in the novel is shamed because she’s an “easy lay” but is “clingy”. All of the guys have “learned [their] lesson” about sleeping with her but Gunner “can’t seem to shake her”. Even Willa wonders “what it was about [Kimmie] that kept drawing [Gunner] back in”. I wish I could say something more about Kimmie’s personality but the only information, in summary, is that she’s a slut so she’s not worthy of having a backstory. Dislike, dislike, dislike. This is so unhealthy, especially in this generation when younger people are fighting back against social norms regarding sexuality. Let Kimmie be her own woman, is that too much to ask?! This, unfortunately, is just one example of the many sexist things that happen in the novel.

     Despite having such strong opinions about this book, I still managed to finish it and I find this odd. What exactly drew me in and kept my attention? Was it just because I found so many things wrong with it and that it baffled me? This has over 3000 reviews on Goodreads with (at this time) 3.82 out of 5 stars. To put it in perspective, The Catcher in the Rye has 3.78 out of 5 stars. I’ll let you sit with that.

The natural history of me being let down by a book.

     Ah, contemporary YA fiction. After coming off of my Sarah Dessen high, I craved more. So I scrolled through the new YA releases and stumbled upon The Natural History of Us. Since I have a tendency to judge a book by its cover (sue me), I picked this one up without reading the back. But don’t fret, I read the back after I checked it out (I’m not completely insane) and felt like it was going to be an innocent YA romance that would give me all the feels. Throw in flashback chapters and I figured I would be hooked. Well, that’s what I assumed would happen with Rachel Harris’ book but alas, I was wrong.

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See, look how pretty! How deceiving.

     The Natural History of Us begins with Peyton cryptically describing rodeo, how it used to be her entire life and how “awesome” she was at it but of course, that all ended with an accident. Dun, dun, dun, daaaaa. It’s a mystery, for now. Cue my eyes rolling right out of their sockets. I’m all for leaving the reader in suspense, in fact that’s what can make a good novel, but this was unnecessary. In fact, it seemed like Peyton’s “mystery” was more of an emotional crutch that the story used to create a false sense of substance. As an author, if you give your character an illness, don’t just *poof* magically think that it gives depth to flat character development. It felt glazed over at times and we didn’t get to hear her internal struggle as much as I would have liked. It didn’t seem realistic that Peyton, after having to re-learn all fine motor skills, would not be more conscious of her movements and the way people perceived her. Instead, it was more like this: “LOL remember when I couldn’t move or talk for months? That’s in the past. Time to fall in love and watch baseball! *skips off into the distance*”. Give me the grit along with the cheese, please.

     The one saving grace was this line (and yes, admittedly just this):

“I’m discombobulated. Before dinner = fully combobulated. Now = completely and totally without combobs.”

This line a) made me laugh,  b) summed up my entire high school experience (it’s not  just me that can relate to this, right?) , and c) made me actually like Peyton for a split second. I wish this awkwardness was seen throughout the book.  

     The other major problem for me was that the characters felt like immature adults. This rubbed me the wrong way on more than one occasion, especially during the times that Peyton and Justin spoke because they didn’t banter like high school students, they were flirting like adults. I question what pimply 14 year-old would respond to a girl with a smirk saying “that was, hands down, the sexiest thing I’ve ever heard”. Buddy. How many sexy things have you actually heard in your life? You are 14 not 34. I can’t.

     I admit this review was harsh but I couldn’t help myself. Overall these characters seemed misplaced and I almost felt like Harris wanted to write a new-adult romance but her publisher pushed her to write for the more popular genre. I would have truly enjoyed this book if it flashed back and forth between Peyton and Justin meeting in high school to them crossing paths as 20-somethings. We are told that Peyton has changed since her freshman year but imagine the actual changes she would have gone through after graduating. I like this book more. Please write it and send it my way once it’s finished, thank you very much.

 

“Just Listen” to me and read Sarah Dessen. Seriously.

“Don’t think or judge, just listen.”

     I read a lot of YA (young adult fiction) and I mean a lot, so much so that you’d think I was still 16. But age means nothing when it comes to a good teen fiction book. Emphasis on the good because sometimes there really are ones that make me feel old, or at least too old to be reading them. Take the Clique series of books. I absolutely devoured each one and thought, at the time, they were the best things I’ve ever read. I even remember writing my own stories in an attempt to emulate their themes and tone. Now? I can’t even get through a sentence. Those are not in my wheelhouse anymore even though preteen Steph loved the crap out of them.

     The other books that I could not get enough of (I’m talking read them at least 10 times each, sometimes even consecutively) were Sarah Dessen’s. The Truth About Forever and Just Listen hold a special place in my heart but I’ve always been scared to revisit them as an adult for fear of losing that magic. But… I did it. And I was pleasantly surprised *squeal*! I re-read Just Listen, my favourite of the bunch and oh-em-gee, I still get swoony over Owen and Annabel. What made me even happier was realizing that I can connect with this novel on a different level now that my experiences have changed and I’ve grown. 

 

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My original copy from its 2006 release with what are probably my Apple headphones from that time too. 

 

Sarah Dessen’s writing style is the kind I’ve always leaned towards and searched for in other novels. It isn’t too flowery, its insightful, and it always fits with her characters. I mean come on, how perfect is this:

“There comes a time when the world gets quiet and the only thing left is your own heart. So you’d better learn the sound of it. Otherwise you’ll never understand what it’s saying.”

I feel like that’s justification alone. Alright, I’m done here. See ya. Not actually though because I’ve got more to say so “don’t think or judge, just listen”. (Heh, heh).

     Just Listen follows the main character Annabel as she starts a new school year, having lost her best friend Sophie after a fight and subsequently all of her other friends as a result. I won’t spoil the reason because it’s pivotal to the novel and the development of the story but it’s a big one (potential trigger warning). In this process Annabel reflects on her past friendships, builds new relationships and starts to understand her family more, particularly her older sisters. I can’t begin to sum up everything that happens but believe me, it all packs one heck of an emotional punch.

    When I read this book in my teen years, I used to breeze past the moments with young Annabel and Sophie (hello, get me to the part when Owen and Annabel kiss in the car wash). But the flashbacks with Annabel and her friends when they are young are the scenes that I can appreciate the most now. It’s amazing to recognize how well Sarah Dessen truly writes her characters. I can picture a Sophie and a Clarke, can even think about how they would react to situations because they are so real. Annabel, of course, has the most distinct voice of all and as a reader we get an even deeper look into her mind when we hear Will’s “voice” interrupt her thoughts. “Shhh, Annabel. It’s just me” is what Will tells Annabel at the party, just before the incident, but this turns into a reminder for Annabel of her worth and existence after feeling like she has lost herself. It’s essentially Annabel popping in to let herself know she needs to keep fighting because deep down, her true self is still inside waiting. Ugh, I get shivers thinking about how well crafted and thought out this story is.

     For me, the romance now plays second fiddle to the deep emotional journey that is crafted through Annabel’s changing relationships with her family and friends. Dessen manages to fit so much into such a short novel but it somehow works; this is what being a teen is in a sense, the rapid flood of emotions, so quick that you can’t even fathom how to deal with it all. 

     I am so thankful that I made the decision to give this novel a re-read. It was more than worth it and if you haven’t read anything by Sarah Dessen please give her a shot (yes, adults too!). Prepare yourself though because each one of her books takes you through a journey you won’t forget.