Arc Provided by Simon & Schuster through Netgalley
Release Date: November 1rt
Here's the thing, I am starting to realize that Alice Hoffman's writing is like a drug to me: I am addicted to it ( why? Idk. Faulty wiring in the grey cells... depression. Who knows?), but it really messes with me. And not in a good way. Because through imagery and beautiful phrasing the author embellishes ugly scenarios. The worst is that lately, her books seem to be dominated by weak people and by their socially inapt families, and the fact that through some convoluted fairy tale scenarios, most people overcome their issues.
Unless you're killed: Alice Hoffman's characters have a high mortality rate. Mostly due to cancer,(strangely, in some parts of the world, cancer is already seen as a chronic disease, but not in A.H's novels), but there's also drugs, and finicky parrots that suddenly decide to fly (yeah, I still haven't got over that one) leading their owners to death.
The writing as always is great... although there was some repetitions that could have been avoided. Like Ben's last name. Over and over... and over.
But that is not the main reason why this book left me mad as a wet cat.
1) Use of trigger warning situations only for the shock value of the thing
A friend who is a comma, is bad enough. Survivor's guilt, is bad enough.
Attempting suicide is already too much. Did the author really had to had a rape scene in a psychiatric ward?
So that Shelby got to say "I was fucked" over and over. And for me it wasn't used as a form of dissociation. If "that" was the idea, then the whole thing was poorly done.
The whole thing becomes even more problematic, after she tells her mother what happened, and the mother doesn't do anything about it. That's right, for about two years Shelly does whatever she wants, falling into a deep depression.
And like I said the rape is never properly addressed, so yeah for me, that was really badly done.
2) At the beginning of this review I use the term "weak people". Let me explain: I am not trying to diminish the character's pain. Thing is, bad things happen in life. People die. Family die and we never get over it. That doesn't mean all of us are going to do drugs. That doesn't mean that we're going to enter a relationship like some sort of parasite. Especially if that person likes you. Most of the times we just go on with our lives.
3) Due to the synopsis, I thought this would be more friendship oriented than it ended being. Shelly and Helene are supposed to be best friends, but at beginning, the characterization that the author makes of the two of them felt so heavy handed, "good girl/party girl; good student/couldn't care less about it; reserved/kind of sluty (hopefully this word will be removed from the final story), that I was left completely baffled about what I was reading.
4) The use of a physical image associated with cancer to create pity
After the accident, Shelby shaves her head. She even says that people look at her with pity because they think she has cancer. Maybe if the author hadn't said something of the type, I couldn't care less? But she did, and from that moment on, my hatred for Shelby started growing. She wanted to blend in the background? In that case, average appearance normally does the trick.
5) Alice Hoffman and romance normally don't walk hand in hand.
Obsession, insta attraction and following disappointment, yes. Thing is I had imagined many roads for Shelby and Ben. For a moment I thought, "okay, the author creates the most wonderful Ben's". Read "Practical Magic".
I was happy, or at least I was hoping for a possibility of happiness. And then the author had to choose a "new adult" approach to ruin things.
6) The new adult romance vibe
You know why I mostly can't stand new adult? It is because of the way abusive/toxic relationships are dealt.
Away you go.
A guy deciding what is best for you?
Dark, brooding, been in prison vibe?
Hell no, Give me a Ben. Even if it started out messy.
7) The cancer card
That's right! Who cares if the story line was already fucked up as it was? The story wouldn't be complete without someone dying from cancer... in a few pages.
8) Another death, because the death tally in this book still wasn't long enough.
YES I KNOW DOGS DIE! ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO ARE FOURTEEN YEARS OLD! MY DOG IS FOURTEEN AND A HALF AND HE IS DYING! LEAVE THE Fictitious
Really, stop with the soap opera!
9) No magical realism. There was this supposed "angel" (stupid me was thinking something along the lines of "Turtle Moon") who ended up being a Mr. Know it all, stalkerish type.
Truth is, had this been written by any other author ( that not one of my favourites) I probably wouldn't have even finished it. As it is, I feel as if I've read some weird as fuck soap opera. And I hate soap operas.
Guess it is time for me and Alice Hoffman's writing to part ways.