Review: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

Published: Delacorte Press, 2014
Genre: YA contemporary, mystery
Pages: 242
My rating: 5/5 stars

Description:
A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.

We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from New York Times bestselling author, National Book Award finalist, and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.” (Goodreads)

Why I picked it up:
I read this my freshman year of college, and picked it up again my senior year as a book club read. I loved it the first time around, and thought it’d be fun to review the second time around.

Thoughts:
I loved this book the first time I read it, so much so that I read it underneath my desk in my freshman classes (a trick I pulled daily in high school but didn’t usually have the guts to in college). It’s a book I always wanted to reread because there was a Big Reveal at the end, and I love going back to find foreshadowing and see how everything built up after the initial shock wears off. Book club finally gave me a chance to do this.

As much as I did want to reread this, I was a bit nervous going into it. So much of the appeal during my first read was the mystery. I tore through the pages, reading constantly, trying to find answers to all of the questions I had. I literally could not wait to find out what happened to the point I was even reading in classes. I was afraid that I’d be less interested the second time around because I already knew the ending, but that wasn’t the case. I sped through it a second time, too, marking down all of the foreshadowing I could find. It was fascinating to see all of the little Easter eggs I had missed the first time around, making it feel like the Big Reveal was right in front of me the whole time. And the ending was just as heartbreaking the second time, in case you’re wondering.

I loved Gat just as much the second time. Yes, yes, I’m a sucker for the poetic types. Sorry. But I did love him, and I related to his character in a lot of ways. I have often felt the way he feels when surrounded by people like Cady’s family. I liked that he’s able to help Cady and her cousins see their own privilege and obliviousness about their class and the world around them.

Overall, this book had a lot of commentary on greed and internal family issues I don’t see often, or at least not in seriousness. Cady comes from a wealthy family. I mean, hell, they have their own island they spend each summer on. Through her flashbacks, Cady reflects on how she and her cousins begin to recognize their own privilege, especially after their parents begin to fight over who will inherit what from the cousins’ grandfather. The grandfather eggs them along; for example, telling both Cady and her cousin that their respective mothers will receive the big house, just to cause more strife between the sisters. This seems like unnecessary drama, and it is, but it’s also reality for some families. (Listen, ya’ll, not to get personal here, but my grandmother passed away last summer and my aunts and uncles literally fought for months over a trailer in a trailer park. A trailer. Now imagine if there’d been an island with a huge fancy house up for grabs.) As sad and awful as it can be, it was actually nice for me to read about the realities and effects of internal family fighting, grudges, and pure spite. Though Cady and her cousins might not have made the best decision regarding this mess, I liked that they took actions into their own hands because they knew they couldn’t trust the adults with anything. And boy did they go right to the source of it all. (Tip-toing along the spoiler line. Sorry.)

One thing I didn’t love about this book was some of Cady’s internal monologues and reflections. I liked the darkness of it all, because she’s in a dark situation and it makes sense. But they could sometimes verge on overdramatic or whining. It seems weird writing that, because the situation is Very Bad, and does call for a healthy dose of sadness and brooding. I think it was more the way that these monologues could be written than what they actually reflected that had them verging on, well, kind of annoying. But overall, I really loved Cady’s character and thought Lockhart did a wonderful job at expressing a teen’s reaction to that kind of trauma.

I try to keep my reviews spoiler free, but I have one other thing I just have to mention, and it’s a huge spoiler. Skip the next paragraph if you don’t want any spoilers!

Okay, real quick: one thing I don’t quite understand is why Cady lit the fire on the bottom floor of the house first? That still makes no sense to me. She could have at least waited until the attic/top floor had been doused in grease and her cousin had started coming down before lighting the first floor, which they all had to pass through to get out. I just feel like the whole tragedy could have been easily prevented, and that does take away from the book a bit for me.

Also, another quick, small spoiler: I do want to let ya’ll know that dogs die in this book. I know a lot of people will avoid books with dog/animal deaths, so I thought it was important to mention.

Even the second time around, I really loved this book. The first read, I loved the mystery and drama. I immediately had questions I desperately wanted answers to and got even more questions before answers. I sped through to the end. The second read, I made note of all of the foreshadowing and themes. Even though I had my answers the second time around, I still raced to the end of the book. It was just as invested in the story and characters as I was the first time. It was just as good, and just as heartbreaking, the second time.

Some quotes:
“He did not even look back at the castle that had been his home.
There, he would never even have a name.
Now, he was free to go forth and make a name for himself in the wide, wide world.
And maybe, just maybe, he’d come back one day, and burn that fucking palace to the ground.”

“I endure.”

Recommend for fans of: Turtles All the Way Down and Looking for Alaska by John Green, We Are Okay by Nina LaCour, All the Crooked Saints by Maggie Stiefvater.

Buy the book: Amazon, Book Depository, Thriftbooks

Thanks for reading!
Find more reviews here.

Advertisements

Fall Haul

2018-11-14 Fall Haul Header

Hi all,

Spooky season is officially over, and I hope you’re all enjoying your November. I may have spoiled myself a bit last week, and I ended up with a stack of new books.  I don’t usually do hauls (actually, I don’t think I’ve ever done one on this blog…), so I thought it’d be fun to do one today. These books are from a recent trip to Barnes & Noble (and a bonus one from the Philadelphia Science Center). I’m not going through the whole stack (that would take a while) so I’m going to at least mention the ones I’m most excited for.

Albertalli Silvera_What If It's Us

What If It’s Us – Becky Albertalli & Adam Silvera

Ya’ll, I have been waiting for this book forever. I’ve read all of Albertalli’s books and the sneak peak of What If It’s Us, and I know I’m gonna fall in love with Ben and Arthur. I cannot wait to dive into this book after anticipating it for so long! Hopefully it doesn’t disappoint. (Also, look at that cover. Ah! So cute!)

Plath_Ariel

Ariel (Restored Edition) – Sylvia Plath

I’ve been wanting to read some Sylvia Plath after reading a bit about her for my capstone course last year. Barnes & Noble didn’t have the biggest selection of her work, but this Restored Edition was put together by her daughter and has facsimiles of the original works, which has me interested as a future librarian. Now to find a copy of her unabridged journals, which is what I was really after.

Silverstein_Where the Sidewalk Ends_BN Classic

Where the Sidewalk Ends/Every Thing on It (Barnes & Noble Classic Edition) – Shel Silverstein

I’ve loved Silverstein’s work since I was a little kid, and Where the Sidewalk Ends remains one of my favorite books of all time. My girlfriend recently bought me this Barnes & Noble classic edition when we went a few weeks ago, and I absolutely love it. It’s a gorgeous edition and has given me an excuse to reread it (plus Every Thing on It)!

Hadfield_Astronaut's Guide to Live on Earth.jpg

An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth – Col. Chris Hadfield

This was the bonus book I picked up when we went to the science center. I love space and I love essays, so I had to grab this when I found it in the gift shop. I had never heard of the book or author, so it might be a risk. I’m hoping I enjoy it as much as I think I will!

 

That’s all for this haul! I’ve been in a bit of a reading slump lately, but I finished a book for the first time in a few weeks, and I’m immediately invested in my new read, plus, inspired by all of these fresh new buys. There should be some exciting reviews to come. Stay tuned!

Review: MaddAddam by Margaret Atwood

Atwood_MaddAddam

Series: MaddAddam #3
Published: Nan A. Talese, 2013
Genre: Dystopian, sci-fi, fantasy
Pages: 394
My rating: 5/5 stars

Description:
A man-made plague has swept the earth, but a small group survives, along with the green-eyed Crakers – a gentle species bio-engineered to replace humans. Toby, onetime member of the Gods Gardeners and expert in mushrooms and bees, is still in love with street-smart Zeb, who has an interesting past. The Crakers’ reluctant prophet, Snowman-the-Jimmy, is hallucinating; Amanda is in shock from a Painballer attack; and Ivory Bill yearns for the provocative Swift Fox, who is flirting with Zeb. Meanwhile, giant Pigoons and malevolent Painballers threaten to attack.

Told with wit, dizzying imagination, and dark humour, Booker Prize-winning Margaret Atwood’s unpredictable, chilling and hilarious MaddAddam takes us further into a challenging dystopian world and holds up a skewed mirror to our own possible future.” (Goodreads)

Why I picked it up:
This is the third book in a series that I absolutely loved. I invested in this world and the characters’ stories that I absolutely devoured the final book in this trilogy.

Thoughts:
Unsurprisingly, I loved this book. Though I was sad to say goodbye to these characters, I felt satisfied with the ending of this trilogy. There are so many thoughts and theories and conspiracies I have after reading this that I just want to talk about this series for days.

Like the other two books in this series, I found MaddAddam a bit slow to get into. Even though I was familiar with the plot and world and was strongly attached to many of the characters, for some reason I found it difficult to really get into this book. This series is certainly not one that grabs you from page one, but if you stick with it through the first few chapters, I guarantee it’s worth it.

This book has tons of illusions to contemporary society. Even though we don’t live in a dystopia (or maybe we do), a lot of the worldwide issues in MaddAddam are ones we face in reality: over-consumption, environmental destruction, sexual violence, bribery, militarism, etc. The way Atwood portrays them in this book makes me think about things in a way I hadn’t before (which is, in a way, the whole point of reading a book like this, I suppose), and it’s so easy to draw connections between the horrific situations in the book and the horrific situations in our own world. Suddenly, I become a conspiracy theorist, and end up like the meme with the guy and all the red strings…

conspiracy theorist meme.png

And I love it. This book is a constant reminder to keep your eyes open, to keep paying attention to what’s happening in the world, because we might not be too far off from what’s within these pages if we’re not careful.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is how complicated the situations and characters are. There isn’t a lot of pure good and bad or black and white to it. The book forces you to consider different perspectives on the issues that it covers or the decisions the characters make. You can really see that some of the issues we face in reality aren’t as simple as they appear. I just really love how Atwood shows how truly complicated people and situations can be even though they may appear cut-and-dry at first.

In the book, humanity starts to kind of die out. I don’t want to give too many spoilers away, but the first two books deal with a plague that wipes out most of society, and we follow survivors in this series. The last book doesn’t end on too positive of a note for humans, and at first I didn’t like this. Usually, these kind of books (at least the ones I’ve read) imply that humans will rebuild, but MaddAddam doesn’t, and I’ve started to understand and even appreciate this (especially as we near the end of 2018 and see what a mess things are).

This was a fantastic conclusion to a series I’ve absolutely loved reading. This book (and series overall) had me coming up with conspiracy theories, drawing similarities between Atwood’s fictional world and our own, and rethinking the concept of humanity. My favorite thing about this book was how it impacted my worldview. This is definitely a strong and impacting book, especially if you enjoy reading about the contemporary tragedies of our world such as environmental issues, consumerism, sexual assault, and the like (to end on a positive note….)

Some quotes:
“Is she being vain? No, it’s a celebration of renewed life, hers; that’s her excuse.”

“It was a reassuring story: that the dead were not dead but alive in a different way…”

Recommend for fans of: Swan Song by Robert McCammon, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

Buy the book: Amazon, Book Depository, Thriftbooks

Thanks for reading!
Find more reviews here.

Music I’m Currently Loving

2018-11-7 Music I'm Currently Loving Header

Hi all,

I’m taking a little detour this week to talk about the music I’ve been obsessed with recently. As ya’ll might know if you follow me on Twitter, I’m a pretty big music fan; I actually ran a music-themed tumblr for a few years. I don’t feel like I talk about it as much as I’d like, so I thought it’d be fun to share a little bit of what I’m loving right now.

Sivan_Bloom cover

Bloom by Troye Sivan
Ya’ll, Troye Sivan just keeps getting better. I’m the biggest fan of his Blue Neighborhood album, and I was afraid Bloom wouldn’t live up to my extremely high expectations. Reader, I had nothing to worry about. Bloom is an incredibly fun sophomore album. The sound and subject matter is a bit more mature than Blue Neighborhood, and Sivan created a stellar pop album while managing to keep a unique sound. (Listen here)

Bleachers_Gone Now

Gone Now by Bleachers
I had mixed feelings about Bleachers’ last album Strange Desire, so I didn’t jump on Gone Now when it came out, and man did I miss out. I saw a friend whose music taste I have unwavering faith in list it under his top albums you have to listen to from start to finish. It piqued my interest because of my feelings on Strange Desire, but I gave it a listen and fell in love. I listened to it on repeat for days straight after that, and I have to admit my friend was right—once I listen to one or two songs from Gone Now, I have a sudden desire to play the album all the way through. It just has such a good, nostalgic, soft vibe and Bleachers’/Antonoff have such a unique sound that’s completely intoxicating. (Listen here)

Melodrama

Melodrama by Lorde
I know it’s been a minute since this album came out and it got plenty of hype when it did, but I’m still obsessed with it! It’s just so good, ya’ll. Lyrically, Lorde is incredible, especially as such a young artist. While I have enjoyed her previous work, Lorde has really come into her own and showed us all what she’s capable of with Melodrama. This album is another best appreciated from start to finish, and I’m convinced it will stand the test of time. (Listen here)

Monae_Dirty Computer cover.jpg

Dirty Computer by Janelle Monáe
Ya’ll, Janelle Monáe does not get the credit or appreciation she deserves. Dirty Computer is a masterpiece. It’s catchy and fun and socially relevant. This is an album about owning her femininity and sexuality and blackness (even as the world around us is attempting to silence those things so violently) and it’s such an empowering album to listen to. If you want to feel like a badass, powerful woman, put on Dirty Computer (or anything by Monáe, honestly). (Listen here)

“Strawberries and Cigarettes” by Troye Sivan
Okay, one more Troye Sivan appreciation moment—I love this song from the Love, Simon soundtrack. I listened to it on repeat when I first got the soundtrack, and it totally hyped me up for Bloom’s release. It’s my favorite song from the soundtrack, and I totally recommend this for a car ride soundtrack. (Listen here)

“Getaway Car” by Taylor Swift
Honestly, I wasn’t the biggest fan of Swift’s newest album Reputation, but I did love these two songs. Getaway Car is especially catchy, and it’s another great song for car rides. (Listen here)

“Rose-Colored Boy” by Paramore
Again, I’ve had some mixed reactions to Paramore’s recent releases. I’ve been disappointed at the turn in their sound (I’m all for changing it up, but Paramore did a complete 180 toward pop and I think they were stronger with their rock sound, personally), but I do really love this song. It’s catchy and fun but also totally relatable. I mean, of course, I can relate to the line, “Just let me cry a little bit longer. I ain’t gonna smile if I don’t want to.” It reinvigorated my love for Paramore, and it’s nice to be able to jam along to some new stuff from them. (Listen here)

 

This was so fun to do! I love sharing my thoughts on music almost as much as my thoughts on books, and I hope ya’ll found something from this list to listen to. Are there any songs you’re currently loving that I should check out? Let me know!

Thank you so much for reading! Check back for new posts every Wednesday and Saturday.

Review: The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue

Lee_Gentleman's Guide

Series: Montague Siblings #1
Published: Katherine Tegen Books, 2017
Genre: YA historical fiction, queer, romance
Pages: 513
My rating: 5/5 stars

Description:
Henry “Monty” Montague was born and bred to be a gentleman, but he was never one to be tamed. The finest boarding schools in England and the constant disapproval of his father haven’t been able to curb any of his roguish passions—not for gambling halls, late nights spent with a bottle of spirits, or waking up in the arms of women or men.

But as Monty embarks on his Grand Tour of Europe, his quest for a life filled with pleasure and vice is in danger of coming to an end. Not only does his father expect him to take over the family’s estate upon his return, but Monty is also nursing an impossible crush on his best friend and traveling companion, Percy.

Still it isn’t in Monty’s nature to give up. Even with his younger sister, Felicity, in tow, he vows to make this yearlong escapade one last hedonistic hurrah and flirt with Percy from Paris to Rome. But when one of Monty’s reckless decisions turns their trip abroad into a harrowing manhunt that spans across Europe, it calls into question everything he knows, including his relationship with the boy he adores.” (Goodreads)

Why I picked it up:
This was one of the books at the top of my list for my search of the Best Bi Books, and it did not disappoint.

Thoughts:
This book was everything I wanted and needed it to be and more. Not only did I get an extremely accurate conversation about bisexuality, but there was so much more to this book in both topic and plot than I could have ever anticipated.

The conversation Monty has with Felicity is about sexuality is exactly what I was looking for. Like I said, I’ve been looking for books with bisexual main characters for a while, trying to find something that came anywhere near how I’ve felt in my own life. I definitely didn’t expect a historical fiction novel to capture it, and I was pleasantly surprised when I was reading this, because it was the most accurate conversation on and/or description of bisexuality I’ve ever read. I would quote the whole 6-page conversation between Monty and Felicity right here if I could, but believe me when I tell you it’s worth reading.

The book not only covered bisexuality in an accurate way, but also covered abuse from a parent, which I didn’t see coming. It wasn’t mentioned anywhere in the description or anything I had seen about the book, so it definitely caught me off guard. (If this is a sensitive topic for you, I would definitely proceed with caution if you’re thinking about reading it.) The way Monty’s relationship with his father affects his own ideas of himself and his process of overcoming this was something I was thankful to read, because it’s something else I’ve experienced personally that I don’t feel is often accurately depicted in YA.

The plot was also much more exciting than I expected. I thought it would simply be about Monty’s tour, but it there were some crazy, unexpected plot twists and it became so much more than that. Every time I thought, “Well, that’s as good as it’s gonna get, right?” the story would take a whole new turn. This was a book that I absolutely never wanted to put down. It’s a totally consuming read.

I grew so attached to the characters. I know I’m a sucker for love interests, but I do have to say I absolutely loved Percy. He was so sweet and honestly, as much as I grew to love Monty, he didn’t deserve Percy. I thought Felicity was hilarious and witty and strong, and she reminded me so much of Hermione. I’m excited to follow her in the second book, and hear about Monty and Percy’s happy lil life together.

I did think that some of the stuff Monty says/does is irredeemable, especially one comment about Percy’s race. I try to understand the time period thing, but there were some points where I was like, “There is no way Percy should put up with your bullshit.” As I said earlier, I did grow to love Monty, but I don’t think some of the things he said were properly addressed, and that was a bit of a disappointment to me. I wish they had been handled a little better, especially since Monty and Percy’s relationship is the main aspect of the story.

But that’s it. That’s my only complaint. I loved this book.

This book was exactly wat I wanted. Lee did a phenomenal job of covering bisexuality accurately, but she also covered parental abuse accurately, which I hadn’t been expecting at all. The plot was way more fast and exciting than I thought it would be. This not only me my expectations, but completely blew them out of the water. I’m excited to read the second book following Felicity.

Some quotes:
“Ladies haven’t the luxury of being squeamish about blood.”

“I think of my father–not of him swinging at me, but of all the times he’s told me how pathetic I am…reason after reason until I had begun to believe it wasn’t worth putting up my hands.
And here’s Scipio, telling me I’m worth defending.”

Recommend for fans of: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Buy the book: Amazon, Book Depository, Thriftbooks

Thanks for reading!
Find more reviews here.

The Halloween Book Tag

2018-10-31 Halloween Book Tag Header.png

Hi all,

Happy Halloween! I hope you’re enjoying all the candy and costumes and pumpkins and decorations and spooky fun today! Halloween is one of my favorite times of the year, and I thought it’d be fun to do a little Halloween tag today. I found this one over on abookandacupofcoffee on Blogspot. Enjoy!

spooky scary skeletons gif.gif

Favorite Horror Book?
Swan Song by Robert McCammon. This is the first proper horror book I ever read, and it remains one of my all-time favorite books. It was so much more than fear and gore and all of that fun horror stuff, and a lot of what happened in the book has stayed with me even though I read it years ago.

Scariest moment in a book you’ve read?
Can I use the same book twice in a row? In Swan Song, there’s one scene I remember vividly: the book takes place after a nuclear war, and a group of people took over an abandoned grocery store. They forced one of my favorite characters through an awful race/obstacle course in the store, and I remember blazing through because I wasn’t sure if he’d survive or not. The other moment that comes to mind is the end of Gone Girl when I realized that there was absolutely no way to escape what Amy had set up.

Have you dressed up as a book character for Halloween?
Yes! Three years ago, I dressed up at Hermione for my lit mag’s Halloween party. It’s probably my favorite costume I’ve ever done. (I was going to include a photo but honestly, no one wants to see Sophomore-year-of-college Joie.)

What do you think your favorite fictional character would dress up as for Halloween?
My favorite fictional character is Ronan Lynch (The Raven Cycle) and I have no doubt he wouldn’t dress up and would claim he was scary enough without a costume.

What is your favorite type of horror (gore, psychological thriller, etc.)?
Definitely psychological thriller. I think they’re even scarier than straight-up gore, monsters, etc. I also think it’s so interesting to consider how the events unfold and trying to retrace steps once something big has been revealed that you didn’t see coming.

If books were as cheap as candy, which book would you give out to Trick-or-Treaters?
This is a tough one because everyone has different tastes and also, how do I pick just one???  I’d probably give out The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater if I had to pick. I still can’t get over how much I love that series.

My Halloween TBR list:
I only have one book on my Halloween TBR: Ghostly by Audrey Niffenegger. It’s an anthology of ghost stories I’ve been planning to read for a bit.

Recommend some Halloween Reads!
I’m not big on horror or anything, so I usually recommend books with a bit of a creepy vibe: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, and of course Swan Song by Robert McCammon. I recently wrote a post with a full list of my Halloween recs that you can check out here!

Thanks so much for reading! Have a safe and happy Halloween!

Review: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Albertalli_Upside of Unrequited

Published: Balzer + Bray, 2017
Genre: YA contemporary romance
Pages: 336
My rating: 4/5 stars

Description:
Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.

There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?” (Goodreads)

Why I picked it up:
After reading Simon vs. the Homo Sapien’s Agenda and falling in love with Albertalli’s writing, I was determined to read all of her releases. Of course, I had to reread Simon, and then I immediately jumped into The Upside of Unrequited to see what other fluffy, adorable romances Albertalli could conjure.

Thoughts:
I have to admit, I was a bit nervous going into this book. I had such high hopes after reading Simon, and I was afraid The Upside of Unrequited wouldn’t meet my outrageously high expectations. Thankfully, it was just as adorable as I hoped it would be.

Molly was a great protagonist. There were so many moments throughout the book that I found her completely relatable. She’s kind of unsure of herself and constantly trying to find out where she fits in. She’s able to branch off and find her own way, instead of changing herself to match the people around her. I also loved her commentary on crushes, on constantly wanting, on feeling like no matter what she does, someone will never fall in love with her. This reminded me so much of teen me, and even young adult me at times. This is a book that would have meant so much to me as a teen, because Molly expresses a lot of the same insecurities and fears that I had when I was in high school.

Of course, the romance was super adorable, as expected. Molly and Reid’s relationship reminded me so much of the early Sarah Dessen novels that made me fall in love with YA: the awkward first encounters, the accidental re-encounters, the slow opening up, the uncovered secrets, the soft moments of the early romance…I could swoon just thinking about it. This book had everything that made me start devouring YA, especially YA contemporary romance, and it was nice to revisit that again. It was nice to have a reminder of why I fell in love with books, YA, romance, etc. in the first place.

Albertalli did another Dessen-esque thing in this book that I totally loved—little shout-outs to her other book. Sarah Dessen always off-handedly mentions elements (names, places, companies, brands, etc.) of her other books in newer releases. She has so many books out now that it feels like they all take place in their own little world, which is another thing I’ve always loved about her work. Albertalli may be doing something similar here. Simon makes an appearance, and Molly is actually Simon’s friend Abby’s cousin. Abby and her boyfriend, Nick, also make an appearance at the end of the book. Even Martin Addison’s brother shows up for a minute. I thought including those little moments were super cute, and made the book feel even more realistic, like the characters’ lives really do go on after we close the book.

I can’t forget to give a quick shout-out to Nadine and Patty, Molly’s moms, who were one of my favorite parts of the book. This was one of the first time I had ever seen a character with a same-sex couple for parents, which of course made me smile. I also loved how involved they were with their kids’ lives, without being too overbearing. It was great to see some good, involved parenting in a YA book, when parents are so often either absent out of convenience or abusive as a plot point. Plus, Nadine was absolutely hilarious.

I did find that the plot was sort of boring and/or thin at times. It was pretty straightforward and there wasn’t a whole lot of surprise or tension. However, I think the characters make up for it. I found my real joy in this book through getting to know the characters and seeing them slowly change or slowly being revealed to Molly, especially as her own view of things changes. I think this is more about Molly’s internal journey than her external one, and this worked for the story.

I also had a love/hate relationship with Cassie throughout the book. I wanted to like her, but often she drove me nuts, and I don’t know if this was intentional or not. It felt like she started to become kind of dismissive of and annoyed with Molly. However, I can’t blame her too much; I too would have probably fallen head-over-heels in love with Mina.

Overall, I really liked this book. I read it in under a day. There was a lot of characters for a stand-alone novel, but Albertalli made it work. They were complicated and well-written, and getting to know them was the biggest joy of the book for me aside from the romance. Molly and Reid’s relationship took me back to the earlier YA novels that made me fall in love with reading and got me through my own awkward middle- and high-school years. Molly was funny, awkward, fierce, and relatable, and this is the kind of book that I wish I’d had a chance to read when I was a teen.

Some quotes:
“I didn’t even realize how much time I spend wanting. And yearning, and crushing, and aching. It’s like I have this perpetual sense that something’s missing.”

“Change is so fucking hard. It’s fucking tragic.”

“When you spend so much time intensely wanting something, and then you actually get the thing? It’s magic.”

Recommend for fans of: Just Listen by Sarah Dessen, So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti, Ramona Blue by Julie Murphy

Buy the book: Amazon, Book Depository, Thriftbooks

Thanks for reading!
Find more reviews here.