How It Ends – Catherine Lo – 3 Stars
I read this in a couple of hours. An enjoyable, believable YA novel about how friendships form and fall apart and picking up the pieces when friendships go south. Tells the story of Jessie and Annie. Jessie has terrible anxiety problems, an over protective mom, a father who doesn’t believe she has “mental health issues” and her mom is just coddling her too much. While Annie on the other hand is a bit more outgoing. Her mom died, her dad has remarried only a short time afterwards, to a woman Annie despises, the woman has a daughter a year or so older than Annie, of the too perfect and who can do no wrong variety.
Jessie had some friends who ditched her and became queen bees/mean girls. They were horrible and in her eyes each one of these girls is always out to get her. She becomes fast friends with Annie, even though they are different they just seem to click and get each other. Annie doesn’t know anything about Jessie’s anxiety problems. Jessie develops a calming pill addiction. While the two girls click, and get to know each other, there’s a brilliant contrast between the two parental units and how involved Jessie’s mom is and how appalling Annie’s step mother is.
Things start unravelling in the friendship, there’s boys involved, and Annie starts hanging out with the girls Jessie thinks ditched her and were unnecessarily mean.
Jessie starts to fall apart, and Annie gets very frustrated, even when she finds out about the anxiety problems and tries to help, even thinking she’s helping by telling the other girls what’s going on, it all goes wrong. Then Annie finds herself pregnant and can’t seem to understand how it happened – she’s very naïve about birth control and protection. The tables turn on her and she goes from potential queen bee to zero very quickly. It’s quite sad to see how horribly she’s treated by girls she thought were her friend. By this point she’s had a huge blow out with Jessie. Yet in spite of that, Jessie tries to be there, even though she’s now a little more confident and found some new friends of her own. She tries to help Annie through her hard time. It’s emotional on both parts as the two girls try to deal with their own dramas and situations.
The only real issue with the book I have is that at one point Jessie becomes addicted to her anxiety medication which her mom has kept locked up and only gives when necessary. A visit to the doctor says that’s a bad idea and Jessie should have access to her meds whenever she needs them. She becomes addicted, and unless I missed it, I don’t remember Jessie’s pill popping being dealt with. It’s sort of eclipsed by the Annie pregnancy storyline. Considering how attentive Jessie’s mom was with the meds, surely something should have been noticed? I don’t know, that was the only bit that seemed left without any sort of conclusion.
Other than that, it was a pretty good solid YA read with a great mix of characters and families.
Kristy’s Great Idea (Babysitter’s Club 1#) Anne M Martin – 5 Stars
I loved these books when I was young. I lost count of how many I read, I was completely addicted to this series. It’s basically about 4 middle school girls, who set up a club for babysitting in their small town, each one’s got a different personality – Kristy’s sporty, Mary Anne is serious, Claudia is the coolest kid on the planet, and Stacey is beautiful and sophisticated. Yet they maintain some tight friendship despite their own issues. Kristy has a huge family, lots of brothers and sisters both older and younger and her mom’s been seeing a new man with annoying kids and she’s determined not to like him no matter how nice he is (I can't remember if her parents are divorced or if the dad died). Claudia has a mean older sister who is really smart and perfect in everyone else’s eyes and she’s constantly in her shadow. Stacey has a secret no one can quite figure out. Mary Anne’s dad is really strict. Re reading this as an adult it’s as good as it was when I was a kid, but there were definitely things about it I had forgotten. So a great nostalgic reread.
Without Annette – Jane B Mason – 3 Stars
A boarding school novel with a f/f relationship. Josie fell in love with her best friend Annette and they have been dating for quite a long time. Annette has a horrible home life with an abusive mother who drinks like a fish and is a mean drunk, her dad barely seems to get involved or anything. While Josie has older brothers and a really supportive family. Josie manages to get herself and Annette into a really exclusive boarding school a long way from their small home town. So off they go thinking they’ll be roommates and can have a great new life. First problem – they are not roommates. And the academy is not quite what either Josie thought.
As if new roommates weren’t hard enough to deal with, Annette has decided she wants Josie to keep their relationship a secret. Annette has one of the most popular (and rich) girls in the school as her roommate. While Josie has the weird girl. (The weird girl turns out to be pretty cool herself and a pretty good friend). Annette’s personality starts to change and not in good ways. As a result, her relationship with Josie starts to suffer.
Josie starts making her own friends, particularly getting along well with some of the more adventurous boys. She’s got brothers she was close to so they’re all surprised when Josie’s quite capable of beating them at poker, drinking, and climbing trees. The classes are tough and hard work is expected of everyone. Josie’s coping, Annette is not. The novel deals with the stresses of new pressures, new friends and the relationship between Annette and Josie. My biggest worry about this was when Josie starts hanging out with the boys there are hints of feelings developing, and it was like, oh for fuck’s sake. Things with Annette are going south, please don’t let Josie be swept off her feet by a boy. Thankfully, Josie makes it clear she’s a lesbian, it’s not a phase and won’t be changing that. Phew!
A pretty good read for a boarding school novel. Though as much as a liked Josie as a character, I did feel her relationship with Annette was a bit flat and lacklustre. Otherwise, a fast, enjoyable read.