FANS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE LIFE: A Book Review

I have never read a book like this.

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First off, I am so glad that the paperback edition of this book removed the little blurb saying Jeremy “falls in love” with them both, because that’s very misleading. While there is a lot of love here, none of it is romantic. It’s a love for existence, a love for the impossible, a love for the brokenness inside of us all, and how maybe other people can’t heal us, but they can support us, and through them, we can support ourselves.

Fans of the Impossible Life amazed me when I started it for one simple reason: it’s written in three different narration styles: first, second, and third. I absolutely adored Sebby’s second person narration, and how intimate yet distant it felt at the same time. While an entire novel in 2nd person would have been tiring, it is used sparingly enough to make it really shine. And shine Sebby does: he is by far the most interesting character, although all of them are unique and wonderful in their own special ways. I want to sing about Sebby’s narration though: the perspective really highlights how starved he is for human contact, and how desperate he is for someone to understand him, to share his pain. It’s really quite glorious.

Everyone in this novel is such a beautiful mess, trying desperately to move forward from the disasters of their life that they’ve created. I loved how this wasn’t an everything gets better story: the problems and issues were more circular, the effects of their choices profound and vibrating through the rest of their lives.

I found the novel to be rather dark, like a cloud of sadness was hovering over the text, turning everything a stormy blue. Despite the viewpoints, I felt distant and removed from everything, which I actually quite enjoyed. The prose was simple, and maybe this is why I felt such a distance, but I believe that it really worked for the story, whether it was intentional or not.

I liked this book, I really did. Some of it felt kind of random or misplaced, and maybe it’s a bit too melodramatic, but I can’t help but feel that this was the sort of book I really needed to read when I was 15. Fans of the Impossible Life has a lot of potential, even if it doesn’t quite make it. The ending is beautiful and perfect, but a nice ending can’t always make a book. I’d keep my eye on Scelsa though– I can’t wait to see what she comes up with next.

3.5 thrift store dresses out of 5. 

EVERYTHING, EVERYTHING: A Book Review

Because once they stick that “soon to be a major motion picture” on the cover, you know you have to read it.

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STORY TIME: Once upon a time, I heard of Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon and I stuck it on my “to read” list. Then, I saw a movie trailer for it and I didn’t even finish it before I decided that nope, I was not going to read that, because it looked soft and sweet and like nothing I wanted to read. Plus, it was popular, and for some reason, I am always against what is popular and mainstream (an annoying habit that I need to get over). Then, I was at Chapters and they were having a sale and I needed a 3rd book to get the sale bonus and Everything, Everything was only $10 because of some promotion for it and I was in the mood for a romance and it was on my list after all so… that’s the story of how it ended up in my hands. I was desperate to like it, and, surprisingly, I did.

But just because I liked it, doesn’t mean that I wasn’t disappointed by it.

You probably know the plot, so I’ll give you a quick run down: Madeline is sick with a rare disease that requires her to never leave the house. A boy moves in next store. They fall in love. Madeline risks everything for love. Things happen. Story ends. I shed a tear.

The plot is typical and light. It didn’t blow my mind or change my life, but it was a nice story to sail through. I’m not much for romance, but I found it very sweet and the characters beyond lovable. Not to be that girl but I kind of would like an Olly in my life. Both Olly and Madeline are the type of people that only seem to exist in YA, yet I still somehow managed to find a little bit of them in myself (I’m especially proud of the fact that I have read all of the books Maddy read minus one, and it’s Sartre, so who cares). “Cute” is a great word to describe this book and its characters. It’s cute. They’re cute. We’re all cute here.

The ending is not predictable but it is— unsatisfyingly satisfying. To remain spoiler-free, I’m not going to tell you about it, but I will say that there are only two outcomes a book like this could have, and it’s not the one I wanted. Which is where the aforementioned disappointment comes in. I want to reiterate that I liked it, and I did really like the final chapter, a lot. But this book could have been so much more. It had so many opportunities to be more devastating and more romantic and even more real. I say this a lot about books, and maybe that’s because I’m searching for the answers to life in them. And maybe this book just didn’t want to be that kind of book. Which is fine! It’s still good, and I still liked it, but I’m mourning a bit of a lost opportunity here.

To the people on Twitter who shared the movie trailer, stop saying it’s like The Fault in Our Stars, or it’s better. That’s an insult to both of them. They are two very different books, with two very different feels and purposes. If you like romance, or sick lit, or books that are new and fresh (check out the format: it’s really cool, with short chapters and pictures and emails and diagrams! It’s so pretty), then this is definitely a book you must read.

And do it before the movie ruins everything.

4 emails out of 5. 

FORGIVE ME IF I’VE TOLD YOU THIS BEFORE: A Book Review

Recent history is so easy to forget.

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Forgive Me If I’ve Told You This Before by Karelia Stetz-Waters takes place in the late 1980s and early 1990s, and this highlights how far we’ve come and how far we’ve yet to go. You see, while our protagonist Triinu is coming to terms with her sexuality, her home state Oregon is facing the potential implementation of a law that would make gay people…. not really people. I love books that combine history with the personal, and this is a book that does just that. In Triinu’s short four years in high school, she changes along with her country and state, and that, my friends, is beautiful.

I wish there were more books that take an honest look at lesbian and bisexual girls. I love how true this story feels: Triinu is far from perfect (and she knows it: she frequently mentions how she messes up, and I love that she remained goth all through high school. What a champ) and her story is messy. She falls from one girl to the next, ditching friends because she feels like she’s found an upgrade, only to be abandoned in return. She could easily come off as an asshole, but she doesn’t. She feels genuine, but beyond that, she feels like high school. Triinu’s story is so different from my own, yet I relate to her because, yes, that’s exactly what high school feels like. Everyone she meets could be mirrored in my own life, right down to the asshole teacher who thinks he knows best just because he’s a teacher (in this case, it’s Principal Pinn, and let me tell you, he is a horrible man).

The story is also fairly nice. It’s a lesbian bildungsroman (one of my favourite genres) but it’s not a love story. It’s about Triinu finding herself, and looking for herself in the people she meets. It’s about finding those people you can call family, and discovering that hey, maybe you aren’t as terrible a person as you thought. As the title suggests, it’s not necessarily the most original story, but it’s still an important one, coming from a voice that is so often not heard, or pushed to the sidelines.

The one issue I have is that the writing style can be strange. Triinu thinks in what ifs and imaginary dialogues and situations, which can make the writing really unclear at times. Sometimes I would think something was happening, but it was really just Triinu imagining something was happening, but the only way to realize that was through a shift in verb tense which so often flies right over your head when you’re reading so quickly. As well, sometimes the wording was a bit weird, and there were some analogies or metaphors that had me snorting because they were so bad, but overall, the prose isn’t terrible, and it’s mostly an easy read.

Lesbian stories are so important, especially for teens, and I’m so happy this one was told. I love how the happy ending wasn’t a romance, but rather Triinu finding her way in a world that is slowly getting more accepting day by day. This book reminds us that we still have a long way to go, but oh, we’ve come so far…. we can’t start giving up now.

3.5 “goth” velvet dresses out of 5.

YOU KNOW ME WELL: A Book Review

The world needs more books where the two protagonists don’t hook up.

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Hello fellow book readers! I am back for my mini-hiatus and I’m ready to read more books than ever! Up first, You Know Me Well by Nina Lacour and David Levithan. Now, to put it plainly, I didn’t really like this book. It wasn’t bad, but it was disappointing. When I pick up a novel by Nina or David, it’s because I’m looking for a heart-swooning romance. Instead, what I found here was…. meh.

In fact, everything about it was meh.

I found the characters, Mark and Kate, to be very one dimensional, and the plot was kind of bland. So much happens and so quickly. I mean, I love character development more than anything, but when a character does a 180 in a week, I feel like I’ve been thrown in and out of a tornado. Who even is Mark if he can change so completely so fast? And Kate? There are explanations for their changes, of course, but when someone can develop so quickly and seemingly easily, they come across kind of flat. Plus, do people really make friends that quickly? Is that possible? Maybe I’m just an introvert living in an extrovert world but wow, I wish people adopted me as quickly as Mark and Kate adopt each other.

Now for the biggest disappointed… the aforementioned romance. Normally, I’m not one for romance novels. I tend to avoid them, unless I hear stellar reviews or the romance is second (or third) to something else. But I was in the mood for something sweet and warming, so of course I’m going to pick up a queer novel by the romantic Lacour and Levithan. And what do I get? Subpar romance. Mark’s story would have been wonderful if it was a full novel by itself: instead, he feels brushed over, like he gets the short end of the stick. Unfair, because I feel like Mark could have had a very memorable, and important, story. Kate and Violet’s story also fell short for me. Maybe it’s because I never really connected with Kate, but I felt like Violet was not all that great, and I didn’t get why this chick kept giving Kate all these chances. Maybe it’s just be, but I found the entire novel to be unromantic and bland. Like I said… meh.

This book definitely does not “know me well.” It was okay, and it was a nice, fast read. There were some parts I found cute, and some parts that excited me, but overall, I feel like this book could have been much, much better, and maybe is best left on the shelf.

2.5 paintings out of 5. 

HISTORY IS ALL YOU LEFT ME: A Book Review

You know a book is going to be good when you find yourself crying on the first page.

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I’m not ashamed to say that I cried reading this book. In fact, I cried a lot. I usually don’t like to consider myself a romantic, but then a book like this comes along, and I’m filled with so much pain over loves that cannot be, and I realize that yes, I do have a little bit of a romantic streak. I am going to warn you now: History Is All You Left Me is going to hurt you. It is going to make you sad, and it might make you cry, and it might make you make ugly noises in the middle of the night. It is not a book to binge read; you will read it slowly because the pain is so sharp on the page that you will cut yourself if you read too much too fast. You will finish this book, and you will cry, and you will clutch it to your chest and thank the author for writing something so beautiful and so real and thoroughly satisfying.

I genuinely don’t have anything bad to say about this book.

I love every second of it. I loved the characters, who are so broken and precious. You want to hug them all, to hold them as they cry– because they cry a lot. I loved Griffin and his love, deep and ferocious. I loved Jackson, haunting and hurting so badly that you wonder how he can survive. I loved how great Griffin and Jackson were for each other, and how together they learned to smile again. I loved how much they grew within the pages, and how they realized that love never ends, but neither does pain. They are going to love and hurt over Theo forever, but that doesn’t mean they won’t ever be happy again.

One of my favourite parts of this book is the absence of Theo’s voice. At first, I was wondering if it was intentional or not, but the ending (no spoilers!) reveals that it is indeed an intentional move on the author’s part, and it is brilliant. Because it’s not Theo’s story; it’s Griffin’s. (Sidenote: I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t tearing up right now.) And Griffin– Griffin is a protagonist I am going to love for the rest of my life. He is so endearing, and his faults and mistakes all feel so real, and maybe that’s why, in part, this novel is so difficult to read. Griffin’s feelings seep right into you, and you feel what he does, and you feel for him, too. I repeat: this is a sad book. But it’s uplifting and beautiful too, a thorough story of love and loss.

Everything I thought would happen, happened, but it happened in ways I didn’t quite expect. There are some plot twists, some turns in the narrative, that hit you with such force that you’re surprised you didn’t see it coming all along.

Another thing I loved was how, like Griffin and Jackson, you’re left with “what ifs?” and what could have been. These questions have no answers, and cannot have answers. You can dream, you can wish, but as our protagonist learns, eventually, you have to go on.

History Is All You Left Me is one of my favourite books. I cannot stop thinking about it, and I don’t really want to. It’s such a beautiful novel, and I know I’ve said that a lot, but I can’t think of anything else to say. The ending is so satisfying and perfect, and the beginning is a punch to the gut as well. Everything is so satisfying even if I’m forever going to be sad that Theo and Griffin didn’t make it, and won’t ever get the chance to become the endgame they thought they would. But the end feels real, and I am so happy with how it turns out, and how finally, all the pieces are maybe beginning to fall into place. I’m still going to be plagued with questions, as all the characters in this novel will be as well, but I think these questions are okay, as long as we don’t lose sight of what’s here right before us. This story’s pain comes from its realism, and I’m just so grateful that I had the chance to experience this story. It’s going to be with me for the rest of my life, I guarantee.

5 histories out of 5.