A field trip group therapy session to a place called Grief House may not have been the best idea. Just sayin’.
This story of a group of people broken by the careless death of one boy will pul you in and not let go.
I was unsure about this for the first 20%. It was a sad tale of a traumatized teenage girl who watched her older brother die, lives with her crumbling family, risks her life almost daily and distances herself from any future plans. I do not like to wallow in the dark pool of pain with characters, like the loop Jaycee seemed to be stuck in. Luckily she wasn't stuck for much longer. The past she so desired came to her in the pocket of her dead brothers clothes. This little piece of paper started a journey that was filled with, truths, revelations, broken hearts and hope. By the time I got to 50% I couldn't put it down, I stayed up till 3 am to finish. I had to know, had to see if they found what they were looking for.
The characters were so different and well developed. I hated, loved, cheered and worried over them. Mik. the most mysterious selective mute character had the biggest personality and the biggest draw, his lack of words just made him more fragile. How could you not want this guy to have his dream ? Natalie the type A personality friend with some serious issues. She was the biggest puzzle, a complicated mess who appeared to have it all together. Really, there isn't a character in the book that doesn't have real life after trauma issues. The issues are realistic, believable and left me even feeling sorry for the big jerk in the story.
I loved it. This author is one definitely want to read again.
*ARC provided by the publishers and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Love in the Time of Global Warming by Francesca Lia Block is one of those books that dazzles and sparkles, but once you look through all that and get down to the details, it starts to lose some of its shine.
There's just so much going on in the limited amount of space provided that certain plot points feel tragically under written -- mad scientist, magic users, man-made vs natural disasters; all of these are never quite resolved in any way that feels truly satisfactory. The connection the The Odyssey -- one of the book's main selling points -- is a great example:
The parallels are there, the characters realize it since they have a copy of the book, they find it strange and curious, but then nothing else comes from it. Their lives just happen to be mirroring the events in The Odyssey.
But where the book does shine is in the prose, in the teen characters, and in the magical realism that is Block's signature. The characters feel real, their internal struggles (primarily grief and their sexualities) are relatable, and their external battles (as in, the end of the freaking world) are fantastical but still grounded in their responses to it. The world After is beautifully illustrated, though horrific in its construction.
If you want an easy read with a rich world and characters, then read this book, just mind the details left unsaid.
The Fault in Our Stars is an improbable story, but it doesn't feel like one when you're reading it. It feels exactly right.
Maybe it resonates so strongly because of my life as a sick child and then a sick adult who lost most of her sick friends in childhood. Our lives were more predictable because we didn't have cancer, which is unpredictable pretty much all the time, but we were still surprised sometimes. We loved each other and sometimes we fell in love and once in a while the person who died was the one who wasn't supposed to.
What I'm getting at is that it's really weird being a kid and having a mental list of which friends are supposed to die first. Green captures that feeling, all of those feelings, better than anyone I've read who wasn't somehow one of us. I was sure that he had lost a child or a sibling to cancer, right up the point in the acknowledgements where he says he didn't. It's that good.
So it's also that bad. I felt Hazel's pain and joy and fear so completely it was frightening, even as I was jealous of her strength. Hazel is a beautiful creature, as is Augustus, and their love is a privilege to witness.
Bonus points to Green for making up a book for them to bond over rather than using an existing one and turning it into a half-assed lit class. That was a real stroke of genius and made their world all the more real for being wholly fictional.