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Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty SmithA Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
Published by Harper
on 1940
Pages: 496
Source: Bought
Goodreads
The beloved American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century, Betty Smith's A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a poignant and moving tale filled with compassion and cruelty, laughter and heartache, crowded with life and people and incident. The story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness -- in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a unique time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience. (Goodreads)

My Thoughts

It’s actually a wonder I finished this book, considering I was on a two-week trip this month and other than that, was busy watching every episode of The 100 (I caved, I did). But I did manage to finish it, and I’m so happy I did. I’ve never read a book for school before that I really enjoyed. I already owned A Tree Grows in Brooklyn and I chose to read it because 1) it was on the list of choices for my Writer’s Craft class, and 2) I wanted to clear it off my shelves. But now I know I’ll be keeping the book, because I loved it so much.

It’s hard to say exactly why I liked the book because truthfully, nothing much happens in the nearly 500 pages. It’s really just a recounting of Francie Nolan’s first 17 years. Yet it’s so much more – we’re taken back in time to the life of Francie’s grandparents, the meeting of her parents, the birth of her and her brother. We’re not confined to just the thoughts of Francie, but also those of her mother and brother and neighbours. I think the only reason it’s not boring is because of the scope of the novel. It spans over generations and offers a glimpse into the lives of almost everyone Francie meets. Everything happens, just as it says on the back cover, as things happen in real life: not in quick, short bursts, but in long drawn out periods, over months and years and even decades. Every part of Francie’s story is told fully, written with a quiet patience. Nothing is skimmed over or fast-tracked.

The writing is simple and presents the story as it is, no tricks. Yet there’s still so much subtlety in the way it’s written. Little details that can easily go unnoticed may be the most important part of a chapter. It’s the kind of book that needs all your attention, because you don’t want to miss anything.

Because I read this for school, I’ve had to do a lot of research on it. The story of Francie’s life so closely mirrors Smith’s life that it’s almost a memoir. I believe this is why Smith was able to write with such incredible detail and emotion. Others who’ve read it have commented on the outstanding minute details that are included, especially in regards to the setting: early 20th century Brooklyn. And it’s remarkable just how deeply Smith delves into the thoughts of other characters. Of course she could never have known what her mother or father or aunt was thinking when she was actually living this story as a young girl, but written from Francie’s perspective she’s able to give each character such a vibrant backstory and personality, not leaving a single detail untouched.

It’s definitely a heavier read, but I loved it nonetheless. Never did I feel bored or tired with the story, which was surprising since there was really nothing happening other than the passing of time. I’m so glad I chose to read this book and I absolutely recommend it, whether you’re looking to read a modern classic or just something with incredible substance.

4 birds

four-starsfour-starsfour-starsfour-stars

Review of Just One Year by Gayle Forman

My Thoughts

Okay, so this book was kind of a mixed bag to me. It managed to pull me out of a reading slump I had been in, which was definitely a plus. I think the most important element of Gayle Forman’s books are always the characters. This book was no different. Each of the characters was well developed, and I truly enjoyed getting to learn more about Willem. In Just One Day we really don’t get much information about Willem’s family, friends, past – nothing really. Just One Year is, of course, Willem’s side of the story. Finally we get to see what has contributed to Willem’s decisions and personality – everything that really builds him as a character.

The biggest thing I would tell someone who’s thinking about starting this series (duology? companion novels?) is that if you’re looking for an epic love story, you’re not going to find it here. That was the one thing that was very misleading for me when I read Just One Day. I was prepared for a swept-away romance set in wonderful Paris, which is definitely not what you get with the first book. This is probably my fault as I should’ve read the description more closely, but I was expecting a romance and I didn’t get it. That being said, I still really enjoyed the book. Also, this is supposed to be a review of Just One Year, not Just One Day.

My point with all of that is that when I picked up Just One Year, I knew what I was getting into. I expected that the story would be mostly focused on Willem, and Allyson probably wouldn’t make an appearance (at least, not for the majority of the book). In that way, I think it let me enjoy the book more because I wasn’t wondering where the romance was. This book, along with Just One Day, are absolutely 100% about character development to me. I look at them as kind of a lesson on how to properly create a character with complex relationships, possibly past complications, and give them a lot of room to grow. From the first glimpse we get of Willem in Just One Day, Forman takes his character and molds it into a fully fledged out being. Willem’s story seems to be one of healing, mostly. He’s recovering from something that happened quite recently, and because of this event he’s become estranged from his mother. This was one of my favourite story lines from the book – the relationship between Willem and his mother. Willem’s mom was a very well written character in that I did not agree with her actions whatsoever, but reading about her backstory and who she is as a person, I had an understanding for why she did the things she did. It didn’t justify them, it just made her a more believable character.

The book is set in many places, as you might expect of Willem, which I absolutely loved. I’m a huge fan of books about travel, or books set in other countries. Willem travels across the globe, from touching down in Europe, Mexico, and India. Throughout the changing backdrops, the story remains as Willem tries to track down Allyson as well as heal from his past.

My biggest disappointment was the point at which the book ends. I desperately wanted to see more of Allyson and Willem actually being on the same continent, but alas… However, I recently heard that Gayle Forman is writing a novella to continue their story, after the door scene (finally). Additionally, while I enjoyed watching Willem transform and break down the barriers he’d built up in the past, I wasn’t fully committed to his story. I was interested, but I wasn’t enthralled. For a story in which the characters are the central aspect, I just didn’t care about them enough.

Aside from that, I really appreciated the small details that went into every character. It seemed like anyone who showed up in the book was there for a purpose. Even the minor characters had a reason for being there, and were used tactfully to help the story progress. There wasn’t any unnecessary fluff, and the pieces of the story fit well together.

Overall

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I wasn’t completely captured by the story or the characters, but it had a steady progression of character development paired with exciting travel that kept me reading. If you’re looking for a story that is very much based upon the characters, and has central themes of character growth and development, then I definitely recommend these books. However, if you’re looking for a love story, this isn’t it.

4 birds

four-starsfour-starsfour-starsfour-stars

Review of Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Published: February 26, 2013
Genre: YA Contemp.
Pages: 328
Source: Bought

 

Set over the course of one school year in 1986, ELEANOR AND PARK is the story of two star-crossed misfits – smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you’ll remember your own first love – and just how hard it pulled you under. (Goodreads)

mythoughts
I was really, really expecting to love Eleanor & Park. It has so many of the my favourite things all mashed together: 80s pop culture, a slow-burn romance, and difficult, heart-wrenching moments. I’m having trouble forming my thoughts into proper, coherent sentences, so here’s a list of things I did like and things I didn’t like:

I liked…

  • The setting, time-period wise. Sadly I was born too late to personally experience the neon leotards and huge hair of the 80s, but I’ve watched enough John Hughes movies to have a solid appreciation for the decade.
  • How Eleanor’s character never tried to lose weight or go on a diet. At first I had trouble coming to terms with this, and I wasn’t sure why. I really liked Eleanor’s character, and it didn’t bother me that she was described to be a bit bigger. But I think I was subconsciously wondering throughout the book when she was going to change, and looking back on this thought, I realize it’s probably a reflection of my previous reading and watching experiences. Whenever you read about a heavier character, there’s likely to be a transformation of some kind in their future, or at least an attempt. This simply doesn’t happen in Eleanor & Park, because it’s just not possible for Eleanor given her circumstances. She barely gets enough to eat at home – I doubt her main concern is eating less food. I think Rainbow Rowell explained it best in her series of tweets:

(via Shoot the Wizard)

  • The slow-burning, ugh-why-haven’t-you-kissed-yet-romance. Eleanor and Park are both pretty awkward people, and it takes them an insane amount of time to finally realize they like each other and then do something about. It was a bit torturous, but I loved it. Vaguely reminiscent of the drawn-out, agonizing but incredibly amazing romance of Jim and Pam.
  • The end. Because everything leading up to it was so sudden and intense and such a drastic change from the quiet lull of the first half of the book. The way Rowell ending the book was pretty depressing and devastating, but that very last line gives you hope, and I know it’s a standalone but wow, a follow up would be amazing.
  • The writing. The only way I can think to describe it is “gentle”. It was just really subtle, nothing too in your face, but it also showed the emotions of each character so well, and illustrated each fine detail of Eleanor and Park’s lives. Eleanor’s home life, especially, is depicted so well. There’s always this tension in the air, and you know it could snap at any moment.

I didn’t like…

  • How I didn’t feel a huge connection. Usually when I read a contemporary that I really love, I get so connected to it and everything just feels so EPIC and I end up walking around in a daze after I’ve finished it. Clearly, from the points above, I really liked this book. I just didn’t LOVE it like I was hoping to, and I didn’t feel that totally, all-consuming connection that I get from my absolute favourite contemporaries.

Overall this is a brilliant contemporary. It’s so well written and the characters are developed fantastically. If you are a contemporary fan, I would say this is quickly becoming one of the staples in the genre and it’s definitely worth giving it a read. Even if you aren’t a contemporary fan, I would still recommend it, because you might be surprised by all the emotion and heart in this book.

4.5 birds

Sweet read! Would definitely knock out a few birds for this one!

Review of Dare You To by Katie McGarry

Dare You To (Pushing the Limits, #2)
Dare You To (Pushing the Limits #2) by Katie McGarry

Published: May 28, 2013
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 456
Source: Bought

If anyone knew the truth about Beth Risk’s home life, they’d send her mother to jail and seventeen-year-old Beth who knows where. So she protects her mom at all costs. Until the day her uncle swoops in and forces Beth to choose between her mom’s freedom and her own happiness. That’s how Beth finds herself living with an aunt who doesn’t want her and going to a school that doesn’t understand her. At all. Except for the one guy who shouldn’t get her, but does….Ryan Stone is the town golden boy, a popular baseball star jock-with secrets he can’t tell anyone. Not even the friends he shares everything with, including the constant dares to do crazy things. The craziest? Asking out the Skater girl who couldn’t be less interested in him.But what begins as a dare becomes an intense attraction neither Ryan nor Beth expected. Suddenly, the boy with the flawless image risks his dreams-and his life-for the girl he loves, and the girl who won’t let anyone get too close is daring herself to want it all….

mythoughtsI’m not quite sure what to say about this book, because my thoughts on it are really mixed. On one hand I really enjoyed the romance, but I also had a lot of issues with the plot and the characters.

First of all, my expectations were high. Pushing the Limits was a book I really really liked, so I expected nothing less from the next in the series (I know it’s not technically a series but…). I have to say that the beginning half of the book really bored me. There was nothing especially interesting going on, or at least I didn’t think so. Yes, the beginning is used to mostly flesh out the characters and introduce their backstories, but I just found it to drag on a bit. I seriously did not like Beth at the start of the book. She is so far away from my personality that I couldn’t relate to her at all, and although it got better by the end of the story, I still had a lot of trouble with her character. I understand that she has huge trust issues, but it made me so mad when she just kept pushing Ryan away. Plus she treated him like crap. He literally followed her around like a lost puppy telling her how he felt, and she just kept saying she didn’t believe him. Seriously, give the poor guy a break.

Also, it bothered me how Beth kept telling Isaiah that his feelings weren’t real. People are allowed to have feelings, Beth, and you can’t dictate what they are!!

So I definitely had some issues with Beth as a character. I thought her backstory was really well done and her character really reflected what had happened to her in the past, but I just could not get on board with her attitude. Ryan was another character that I didn’t really love. He was just so typically jock-ish and his character, while it had one obvious deviation from the cookie cutter jock image, seemed very bland. In fact I had a lot of trouble connecting with the whole book. This may sound odd, but one of the reasons for this was definitely the cultural differences. This book takes place in the South, and it’s evident throughout the whole story. Sometimes a character would say something that sounded so… strange. Like I have never actually heard a person use that phrase in my whole life. And the whole book seems to have a really Southern culture that I frankly did not get. I’m from Ontario, Canada, so I found a lot of things in this book to be very different from my life, and I think that made it hard for me to connect. I don’t know, that might sound stupid. Honestly it’s the first time I’ve ever experienced not connecting with a book because of a geography issue. But the whole time I was reading the book I felt like I was missing out on some big inside joke. I appreciated the Southern culture, I really did, I just couldn’t personally relate to it.

The love aspect between Ryan and Beth was one part of the book that I did like. It was kind of cheesy some times, and a tad bit unbelievable (rain in a jar anyone?), but overall it was an interesting mix of slow building and fast paced. I like seeing Beth finally resolve her trust issues with Ryan, and it was nice to see Beth helping Ryan with some of the issues he had in his life.

Lastly, Katie McGarry definitely has a knack for taking tough subjects and seamlessly weaving them into the plot. This book dealt with a few problems, such as Beth’s mother’s struggle with addiction, and Ryan’s family’s issues around Mark. I would say that while these books aren’t straight up “issue books”, they definitely tackle some real world issues in a realistic way, and not always easy, way.

Overall, I did enjoy Dare You To. Once I really got into the book I was drawn in to the love story, and I think some serious issues were dealt with really well. However, I didn’t like Dare You To as much as I liked McGarry’s first book, Pushing the Limits. I’m still hopeful for Crash Into You, though! Also, as a sidenote, I got to go to one of Katie McGarry’s signings and she is such a kind and sweet person!

 4 birds

Sweet read! Would definitely knock out a few birds for this one!

Review of Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Audrey, Wait!
Audrey, Wait! by Robin Benway

Published: April 8, 2008
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Pages: 320
Source: Bought

 

California high school student Audrey Cuttler dumps self-involved Evan, the lead singer of a little band called The Do-Gooders. Evan writes, “Audrey, Wait!” a break-up song that’s so good it rockets up the billboard charts. And Audrey is suddenly famous!Now rabid fans are invading her school. People is running articles about her arm-warmers. The lead singer of the Lolitas wants her as his muse. (And the Internet is documenting her every move!) Audrey can’t hang out with her best friend or get with her new crush without being mobbed by fans and paparazzi.Take a wild ride with Audrey as she makes headlines, has outrageous amounts of fun, confronts her ex on MTV, and gets the chance to show the world who she really is. (Goodreads)

mythoughts2

The first thing I have to say about this book is just how fun it is. I don’t think I stopped smiling the whole time I was reading. Audrey is such a realistic character, and she’s just so much fun to read about. I was in desperate of a book like this – something that I was eager to sit down and read. And I was eager to read it, because I knew I would always have a blast reading about Audrey and her friends.

I had heard that this book was absolutely hilarious, so I was a bit disappointed that I didn’t laugh as much as I thought I would. I had a couple laugh out loud moments, but nothing like I thought it was going to be. It was a fun book, but not an extremely funny book. But it takes a lot for me to laugh in a book, so the fact that I laughed at a few parts basically guarantees that anyone can get a good chuckle from Audrey, Wait!

I also liked that this book didn’t take a stereotypical route. The whole plot is that Audrey became famous overnight because her ex-boyfriend wrote a song about her. Audrey’s best friend Victoria was another big character, and this book could have gone downhill fast if there had been that insta-fight between them about Audrey’s popularity. For the most part though, Victoria was a solid best friend, and although she did pressure Audrey a few times into doing stuff with the press, she always came around in the end and stood by her side. I also liked that it wasn’t that typical scene where Audrey is the sad, loser friend and Victoria attracts all the attention. For the most part Audrey and Victoria are equals, which was refreshing in a YA book.

Also, Audrey’s parents were actually present in this book! I can’t even tell you how many YA characters exist seemingly on their own, without any parental presence. In Audrey, Wait! her parents appeared a lot, and actually existed in their daughter’s life.

Overall, Audrey, Wait! is a fun and unique contemporary that will brighten your mood instantly. This is a shorter review than I usually write because I don’t have much to comment on other than how fun it was. I loved reading it!

 4 birds

Sweet read! Would definitely knock out a couple of birds for this one!

Review of Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Beauty Queens

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray
Released May 24, 2011 by Scholastic Press, 396 pages.
Source: Bought

The fifty contestants in the Miss Teen Dream pageant thought this was going to be a fun trip to the beach, where they could parade in their state-appropriate costumes and compete in front of the cameras. But sadly, their airplane had another idea, crashing on a desert island and leaving the survivors stranded with little food, little water, and practically no eyeliner.What’s a beauty queen to do? Continue to practice for the talent portion of the program – or wrestle snakes to the ground? Get a perfect tan – or learn to run wild? And what should happen when the sexy pirates show up?

 

My Thoughts

*Update: Okay, a few months after reading this, I did a satire unit in English class, and I can now say that this book is a complete satire and I have SUCH a greater appreciation for it.*

Having read and enjoyed a couple of Libba Bray’s other books, I was really eager to read this one. When I started it, my initial reaction was pretty much what the heck is going on? This book was so not what I thought it was going to be, and I think it took me about 50 pages to rearrange my expectations to finally settle in to the style of the book. That’s when I really started to like it.

So basically, these Teen Dream beauty pageant girls crash onto a deserted island, and from there on out it’s just sheer madness. This book is a wild mix of discovering yourself + girl power for the win + cliched but somehow okay mystery. Not to mention an overall theme of examining how women and beauty are portrayed in modern North American society. Actually, this book had so many things going on that my head started to spin at times. I loved the scenes that focused on the Teen Dreams and their survival on the island, because although it could be a bit unrealistic and superficial, it was so, so entertaining. Their were a lot of different characters, all representatives from different states, but the book mainly focused on about 6 or 7 different girls. I loved how they all had their own personalities and back stories, and their interaction was brilliantly funny.

Here’s one of my favourite quotes from the book, the first one that made me laugh:

“Taylor clapped three times for attention. “Ladies! Ladies! My stars! That’s enough. Now. We all know Miss Arkansas’s girls are fake, Miss Ohio’s easier than making cereal, and Miss Montana’s dress is something my blind meemaw would wear to bingo night.”

I guess overall I was more entertained than I was laughing out loud, but nonetheless, this book is chock full of fantastic girl power humor.

However, when the book switched to it’s mystery/weirdness aspect, I was a bit confused. In the end I love the way everything came together, but there are so many plot lines to follow in the middle that my mind was just going round and round. Yet somehow, it worked. Bray kind of just scratched the surface with most of the plot lines, so there wasn’t really one individual plot line that was deeper than the others. They just sort of all wove together into a strange, hilarious, jumbled up book. Although I liked that the book didn’t get too caught up in one story or plot, there were a couple things that I wish had been explored more. Like the situation between Adina and Duff, and maybe a bit more of Adina’s background. There wasn’t really a main character, but I think Adina came closest, so I do wish we knew a bit more about her home life. When it comes to my favourite character, I have to say Tiara, AKA Miss Mississippi, because she was just so, so stupid. She was such a stereotypical dumb beauty queen, but she was so nice and funny.

One other thing that bugged me was the unrealistic elements to the book. I like things in books to be realistic, and it’s one of my pet peeves when things are just so unbelievable. But with Beauty Queens, that’s pretty much half the plot. I had to learn to let go, which I think I did pretty well – but the one thing that I could not get over was Miss New Mexico having an airline serving tray stuck in her head the whole time. It bothered me to no end.

Overall

This book was the ultimate girl power book. It made me want to dance. Also, there are some hilarious one liners, plus an excellent cast of characters. I really enjoyed it. That being said – be prepared to change your expectations for this book. It’s odd, but in a good way. Oh, and if you’re like me and you can’t stand unrealistic books, then go into this with an open mind, and try to just get past the darn tray in her forehead!

4.5 birds

Sweet read! Would definitely knock out a few birds for this one, and then some!

Review of Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson 

Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: May 4th, 2010
Pages: 344
Rating: 4/5 birds
Source: purchased

         Amy Curry thinks her life sucks. Her mom decides to move from California to Connecticut to start anew–just in time for Amy’s senior year. Her dad recently died in a car accident. So Amy embarks on a road trip to escape from it all, driving cross-country from the home she’s always known toward her new life. Joining Amy on the road trip is Roger, the son of Amy’s mother’s old friend. Amy hasn’t seen him in years, and she is less than thrilled to be driving across the country with a guy she barely knows. So she’s surprised to find that she is developing a crush on him. At the same time, she’s coming to terms with her father’s death and how to put her own life back together after the accident. Told in traditional narrative as well as scraps from the road–diner napkins, motel receipts, postcards–this is the story of one girl’s journey to find herself. (Goodreads)

my thoughts

I’ve been in a reading slump for a while now, and I found that contemporary books were the only thing that I could really read for a few weeks. Also, this book has been sitting on my shelf for about three years, so it was definitely time to read this! I was pretty much just anticipating an okay, fun contemporary. Plus, this was only the second road trip book I’ve ever read, so I was excited for that aspect.

The first thing that surprised me was the small font. That’s kind of a weird thing to say, I know, but the font in the hardcover was small! It made the book feel a bit longer than it looked. I hadn’t really read the description before I started this book, so I was also surprised to find out about Amy’s dad dying (not a spoiler). I was expecting a really light book, but in reality this story deals with Amy’s grief and how she comes to terms with her dad’s death, which was done really well. We can see Amy gradually changing as a character and becoming more confident and coming to terms with what happened to her dad. However, this book is not a total downer. The road trip scenario provides tons of interesting characters and settings, and the playlists and maps and little drawings throughout the pages really lighten up the book.

In the beginning I wasn’t completely fond of Roger, but I grew to like him a lot more as the book went on. I try to touch on every aspect of the book in my review, so I really should say something about the writing style here, but I really don’t have anything to say. It wasn’t stellar, but it wasn’t bad. The writing didn’t really detract or add to the book for me, it was more character/plot driven.

I do think there could have been a bit more fun scenes/humor in this book. I completely understand that this is not meant to be a hilarious comedy of a book, but a road trip gives the opportunity to get into so many crazy situations and funny moments. I’m not asking for a whole book full of laugh out loud scenes, but every time the characters got into a situation that had the possibility to be fun, I was disappointed that the scene remained a bit stiff and serious (for the most part).

One aspect that sort of made it harder for me to read the book was that: I live in Canada. I’ve been to the States many times, and we even have a small cottage/house in West Virginia, but I’m not really familiar at all with the restaurants, locations, and references that were made during this book. I felt a bit out of the loop at times, but on the other hand, it was interesting to learn about all these places and things.

Overall I thought this book was an interesting, in that it took the normally heavy topic of grief and put it into a road trip setting. The character growth was awesome, and although I wished for a few more light and funny moments,  I did enjoy reading this book.

4 birds

Sweet read! Would definitely knock out a few birds for this one.

Review of Cold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson

Cold Hands, Warm HeartCold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Date Published: March 31st 2009
Pages: 256
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Rating: 4.5/5

Dani was born with her heart on the wrong side of her body. In her fifteen years of life, she’s had more doctor’s appointments, X-rays, and tests, and eaten more green hospital Jell-O than she cares to think about. Fourteen-year-old Amanda is a competitive gymnast, her body a small package of sleek muscles, in perfect health. The two girls don’t know each other, don’t go to the same school, don’t have any friends in common. But their lives are about to collide. (Goodreads)

 

My Thoughts

What really interested me about Cold Hands, Warm Heart is the topic. I’ve never read something about teenagers getting heart transplants, so it really intrigued me. But, the book goes far beyond just the basic idea of a heart transplant. It tackles issues like grief and loss, and also asks profound, universal questions like what really happens after death, and what the heart really does for us. Those things are really what I loved about the novel – the original topic and all the other questions and issues that were touched on.

One thing I didn’t quite understand was Amanda’s death. It was explained, but everything in this novel is very compact and brief, and I while I loved that for most of the novel, I do wish that there was more emphasis on Amanda’s death and how it happened. When Amanda’s parents have to decide whether to donate her organs, I was completely stunned. That was a question that at first I didn’t think would be difficult to decide, but as I read about Amanda’s mom and dad trying to figure out what to do, what Amanda would have wanted, I realized that it is such a huge question. Besides the actual point of whether or not to donate, it also makes them wonder whether they ever really knew their daughter – surely if they had known her better they would have known what she wanted. That’s another big point throughout the whole book – Tyler, Amanda’s brother, trying to figure out more about her sister, and learn who she really was when she was alive.

Since this book focuses not only on the main character Dani (the organ recipient), but also on the family of Amanda (the organ donor), the writing style switches between the two stories. Dani’s story is told in first person, whereas when we hear about Amanda’s family, it is told in sort of detached, third person. While I liked both writing styles, I did feel a little disconnected to Tyler (Amanda’s brother), who is supposed to be sort of carrying that side of the story. Not only was he hard for me to understand in the first place (he’s a teenage boy, a bit of a rebel), but the writing seemed to be keeping me at a distance from him. It is only when he receives the letters from the other organ recipients that I really began to appreciate his character.

The main character, Dani, is really likable. She’s smart and funny, and also scared. And what I loved most about her was that even though she was scared, she was never whining or complaining. Instead she was asking questions, and throwing thoughts out to the universe to be picked up and turned around. Milo, her neighbour in the hospital (and also her crush), was a really interesting character as well. He was kind of hard for me to understand because he was so morbid, but not in a depressed way. He just liked to talk and think about death, which I understand would be on your mind a lot if you were that sick. I think I liked him for Dani, but personally I didn’t connect with him.

Overall

This book was touching and very different. At the end of the book, there is such an amazing scene that pretty much made every downfall I had about this book go right out of my mind. I highly recommend this one, especially to contemporary fans.

5 birds

Absolutely adore this book! Would fight dozens of flocks or crazed birds to read it!

Review of Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman

Where She Went (If I Stay, #2)

 

Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Release Date: April 5th 2011
Pages: 264
Reading Level: Young Adult
Buy the Book: Amazon

It’s been three years since the devastating accident . . . three years since Mia walked out of Adam’s life forever. Now living on opposite coasts, Mia is Juilliard’s rising star and Adam is LA tabloid fodder, thanks to his new rock star status and celebrity girlfriend. When Adam gets stuck in New York by himself, chance brings the couple together again, for one last night. As they explore the city that has become Mia’s home, Adam and Mia revisit the past and open their hearts to the future – and each other.

My Thoughts

If you saw my review of If I Stay earlier this week, you’ll know that I positively loved that book. So then when I got this one, I started it right away. I was hoping it would be just as good as If I Stay, and trust me – it was.

If you follow my blog you might know that I don’t always love books with a male protagonist or from a male point of view… But in Where She Went, it is from Adam’s POV, and I can’t imagine it any other way. Adam is completely lost, devestated, broken. And he keeps hinting that this was all his fault, but the reader doesn’t know why…

After reading If I Stay and becoming so attached to the novel, it was heartwrenching to find out what had happened to Mia and Adam after 3 years. But then, they meet. And oh my gosh, is it wonderful. They are both older, and have been hurt by so much, and yet when they see each other, travelling the city just that one night, it is like they are writing a whole new story. For a book that spans only the course of 24 hours (ish), it certainly manages to provide depth and evoke emotion (major sobfest on my couch when I read this).

The writing is as lyrical and beautiful as ever, and the pace of the novel is perfect.

Overall

This follow up novel to If I Stay is gorgeous and tragic and emotional and so many other things. From here on out Gayle Forman has been added to my list of “auto-buy authors”.

6 Birds
*The Special Rating* Would fight all the birds in the world to read this book!

Review of Away Laughing on a Fast Camel (GN #5) by Louise Rennison

Away Laughing on a Fast Camel: Even More Confessions of Georgia Nicolson (Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, #5)

Away Laughing on a Fast Camel  by Louise Rennison

Publisher: Harper Teen
Release Date: June 1st 2004
Pages: 288
Reading Level: Young Adult
Challenge: 100 Books in a Year
Source: Bought (from my library!)
Buy the Book: Amazon

The tres bon and marvy heroine of Louise Rennison’s Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series returns in this fifth fab diary that’s sure to get fans cheering — Italian-American style! This time around, Georgia’s lamenting the Sex God’s departure to Kiwi A-go-go Land, and she’s sure that her mouth will seal shut from lack of snogging. (Robbie’s boring letter doesn’t help her spirits, either.) But when Robbie’s old band, the Stiff Dylans, introduce a new lead singer — an utterly gorgey boy named Masimo — Georgia’s lips are ready for action. Will Georgia get an up-close-and-personal taste of the dear boy? After a few hilarious mishaps, her lip-nibbling future with Masimo doesn’t look bright, yet due to some masterful Horn advice from Dave the Laugh and a lucky twist  of fate, Georgia might end up dreaming of spaghetti and hamburgers after all. (Goodreads)

mythoughts2

Another great book in the fab Georgia Nicolson series!

I have to admit I don’t know how much longer I can go on reviewing these books because they are basically one big, long, hilarious story broken into different books. So, for this reason, this review will be rather short.

Once again I will mention the complete awesomosity of Georgia. She is the ultimate female character (excluding all those kick butt fantasy/dystopian girls!). You see, Georgia isn’t the smartest. She isn’t the prettiest. But all that stuff makes her real. All the problems and trouble she is constantly complaining about are all real life tortures! And the ways Georgia invents to solve these problems…. hilarious! I think this is why I really like these books. They are so comforting and funny to read. Georgia is like an old pal that you just need to hang out with every once in a while. And I’ll admit, after I read another book in the series, I’m good for a while. But then one day I’ll just get this rush of needing to read more Georgia… listen to her insanely great voice is just so calming.

Overall this book is a great addition to this super cool with knobs series!

5 birds

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