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review 2016-08-11 08:47
Bringing light to mental illness
I Was Here - Gayle Forman

I'm becoming more and more of a fan of Gayle Forman's the more I read of her. She does a good job capturing what it's like to be a teenager again: the emotions, the relationships, the fears and hopes and dreams. Her writing is easy to get through but is fun and engaging to read.


I Was Here, to me, is really a novel that works to bring awareness to mental illness. Over the past few years I feel like talking about mental health or having a mental health problem has become less taboo. We are more open to it and aware and we want to help (obviously not all of us, but a lot of people). This is great, though there is still work to be done. But even though people might be ready to listen it doesn't mean the people needing to be heard will speak.


Cody is a good example. She loved Meg, thought they were best friends, and they were, but she still was completely unaware of her condition. It was through no fault of her own, and I wouldn't even say it was Meg's parents fault. Again, their actions were dictated by a societal norm that causes more harm than good in these situations. It's sad and unfortunate but very much true.


This isn't the first book I've read about teen suicide, nor will it probably be the last. Those other books were great, but I appreciate this one even more because it is very clearly shining a spotlight on the way we treat mental illness and how it needs to change. I recommend reading the Author's Note at the end of the book as well.



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review 2016-07-19 03:51
How I fell in love with love
How They Met, and Other Stories - David Levithan

David Levithan slays me once again! This man has a beautiful gift for evoking ALL the emotions and feels in his writing. There is not one of his books that I have not liked. So, when I saw this at the library, I picked it up without hesitation.


How They Met is a collection of stories about love. Not just romantic love, all kinds of love. Between friends, between family, everything. That is something I really enjoyed about the book. It gave some attention to all the other places love exists in our lives. So much of what we see in movies and books (that aren't this one) is just romantic love, between two partners. We are always encourage to find our soul mate, the one. And as nice as that is, there are lots of other kinds of love that are just as nice, if not better.


How They Met doesn't just tell the stories of straight couples. There are also same sex couples, both male a female. There is a vast amount of diversity among the characters, from their situations, lifestyles, location, ages, and more. Every story is different. The writing style varies as well. Some are very straightforward prose and others read more like poetry or stream of consciousness.


This book read very quick and easy, and made me smile like a freaking idiot on at least five occasions. Sweet, insightful, and simultaneously light and heavy-hearted. Highly recommended.



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review 2016-03-14 02:18
Carry On, Carry On, Nothing Really Matters
Carry On - Rainbow Rowell

Ah, Carry On, the story everyone wanted to read once they read Fangirl. I wonder if you would then count this as a novel or fanfiction. It's fanfiction written by a fictional character (technically). Maybe it's fanfic-ception!!! Though that doesn't really make sense...

Anyway! This was a fun read. I enjoy Rainbow Rowell's writing. It is super simplistic but still engaging and fun. Anyone who has read Fangirl knows that the story of Simon Snow is very similar to the Harry Potter series, but it has enough of its own personality that it doesn't feel like a shitty remake. I find it kind of cute and silly that the spells in Carry On are essentially popular idioms and phrases from everyday life. I also like how there is an emphasis on the power of words throughout the book.

This story has a good ol' fashion mystery element to it. The characters peel back layer after layer to discover the answer to their problems and of course end up finding things they didn't expect. This next part is going to be very vaguely spoiler-ish so BE WARNED!

I like that, at the end of the book, everything kind of went in a much different direction than you would've expected. I mean, hmm, how do I say this. Things that happened weren't totally out of left field but I just like that they happened that way, as opposed to some other way that was similar but not quite the same. Characters like Simon and Agatha sort of broke the conventional bonds we see their type of characters living out in most 'chosen one' books, as Rowell calls them. She puts her own spin on things, and that was very refreshing.

This was a fun, easy read, and definitely for people who like sort of silly teen romance, intrigue and magic.


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review 2016-03-07 00:25
Eleanor and Park: Could also be called cuteness and heartbreak
Eleanor & Park - Rainbow Rowell

This is the second book I've read recently that made me wish I was a teenager again (the first being John Green's Will Grayson, Will Grayson). It sounds crazy, I know. Who would ever want to go back to those tumultuous teenage years? But there is something appealing about them. Something about being that young and living your life with all senses on maximum. When everything you feel you feel with your whole being. Where everything that happens is the end of the world. Adulthood, by comparison, seems dull. 


Anyway, yes, super cute book. Eleanor and Park are a bit sassy, clever, adorable, and of course a bit awkward as they journey further and further into their relationship with each other. As I read, all I wanted was for everything to work out for them. Life is never that easy though. The two characters come from completely different worlds, but somehow they carve out their own space somewhere outside of those two places. 


I think, first and foremost, this book is a love story. An unconventional one, but I like it even more for that reason. But it also sheds light, and breaks down barriers, on a lot of other things, silly things, that keep people from each other. Things like race and socioeconomic standing, and things as stupid as appearance, how someone dresses. For a brief moment, Eleanor and Park are just as hung up on these things as everyone else around them, but the magic of music and reading (how magical they are) brings these two people together. 


What a beautiful world it would be if we valued those things we had in common with one another above those things that were different. 



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review 2016-02-23 19:05
Read this if you want to get excited about traveling
Just One Day - Gayle Forman

Okay, so I know this book is supposed to be this big amazing long-distance love story, which it is, and that is super cute and makes you just ooze sunshine and rainbows out of your pores, but holy crap this book made me want to travel. (Yes, I'm currently living in New Zealand for a year but that involves real life crap like a job.)


I need to get to Europe bad. I want to explore cities and just go for it like Allyson did. She's my kind of girl. Sorry, let's talk some real review stuff. I'd heard good things about Gayle Forman so, as I was barred from the Scifi/Fantasy section in the library due to a broken window, I picked over the Teen section and came home with this. 


There are plenty of adult books that I really love because they are profound and funny and have just the right amount of silliness. But I love teen books because they explore all those raw teen emotions in a completely unapologetic way, they don't hold back because something might be seen as too whiney or too dramatic. It's a teen book! We're dealing with teens! It better be whiney and dramatic (but in a good way). 


Forman's writing is easy to get through but is still good writing (one of my favorite lines is, "A condom materialized." Bloody brilliant). She captures those new and tumultuous years after high school where everyone is off to uni and you are growing and learning so much so fast. And I absolutely love Dee as a character. He's fantastic. 


Now I just need to track down a copy of Just One Year to figure out what the hot Dutch guy was up to that whole time!



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