REVIEW: What If It’s Us by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera (+ Giveaway)

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Title: What If It’s Us
Author: Becky Albertalli, Adam Silvera
Format: E-ARC
Publication: October 9th 2018 by Balzer + Bray and HarperTeen
Source: Publisher via blog tour (thank you HarperCollins and JM @ Book Freak Revelations!)
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Realistic, Romance
Other classifications: LGBTQIAYoung Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | National Book Store

Synopsis

Arthur is only in New York for the summer, but if Broadway has taught him anything, it’s that the universe can deliver a showstopping romance when you least expect it.

Ben thinks the universe needs to mind its business. If the universe had his back, he wouldn’t be on his way to the post office carrying a box of his ex-boyfriend’s things.

But when Arthur and Ben meet-cute at the post office, what exactly does the universe have in store for them?

Maybe nothing. After all, they get separated.

Maybe everything. After all, they get reunited.

But what if they can’t quite nail a first date . . . or a second first date . . . or a third?

What if Arthur tries too hard to make it work . . . and Ben doesn’t try hard enough?

What if life really isn’t like a Broadway play?

But what if it is?

Review

I received a review copy from the publisher which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.

Welcome to the last day of the #WhatIfItsUs International Blog Tour!

Funny, charming, and heartfelt, What If It’s Us captures the nuances of relationships—both romantic and platonic.

Sixteen-year-old Arthur, a “five-foot-six Jewish kid with ADHD and the rage of a tornado,” is living in New York City for the summer while interning at his mom’s law firm. Having recently come out to his best friends back home in Georgia, he is ready to find out whatever the universe has in store for him. Ben, Puerto Rican and a native New Yorker, is an aspiring fantasy writer stuck in summer school with his ex-boyfriend who cheated on him. He thinks “the universe is an asshole,” while Arthur believes “in love at first sight… [f]ate, the universe, all of it.” But what if they meet at the post office on a random Monday afternoon? What if they get separated anyway and then reunited? Long time fans of Becky and Adam are in for a treat as the duo’s writing both shine and complement each other in this gem of a summer romance.

“But Arthur? I barely know him. I guess that’s any relationship. You start with nothing and maybe end with everything.”

Ask someone in the book community who even remotely knows me what book they associate me with and chances are they would tell you Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. And for good reasons, too. I have read and loved Becky’s debut when it came out in 2015 and have never quite shut up about it. The same can be said of Adam and More Happy Than Not, which sucker punched me one too many times in the same year. And in What If It’s Us, the two team up to deliver a heartwarming tale of missed connections and cute boys believing in the universe. Of first dates and do-overs. Of missteps and grand gestures. Of families and friendships. This is a seamless collaboration, a thoughtful blend of each author’s signature style (Becky’s is often smile-inducing; Adam’s gravitate towards heartrending). And perhaps there was a lot of work behind the curtains to make that seem effortless, but it does seem effortless. You feel Arthur’s giddiness over New York and a budding romance, you feel for Ben and the sting of a recent break up, you share their hopes, and you root for them. Arthur is such a Becky Albertalli character—smart, eager, hilarious, and endearing. Ben, on the other hand, grounds the narrative. Adam Silvera’s imprint. Bit of a nerd, video game-playing, angsty, and all cynicism. At one point, he has a conversation with Arthur about being Puerto Rican but also “being so white and not speaking Spanish,” and I think it invites the reader to a bigger discussion about color and race.

“If I’m going to feel something, I want to feel it.”

As with the authors’s other titles, friendship is central to the story in this novel. And there is quite a cast of secondary characters, all as well written and diverse. Ben’s “bromance” with his best friend Dylan is probably my favorite. It is one of support and utter affection. And outside of Ben and Arthur, their scenes together are some of the ones I enjoyed the most. There is Jessie and Ethan, Arthur’s best friends back in Georgia, and I don’t know what this tells you about me, but there is this confrontation between the three, and it is one that has stuck with me and one that I bring up in conversations. Further exploration of friendship includes how people in one have to make room for romantic relationships and how people navigate shifting friendships because of break ups within a circle. There is of course the present parents, too, which we are increasingly seeing more of in YA. I appreciate how involved the Seusses and Alejos are in their children’s lives, of which the former provides a messier look at marriage.

“But maybe this isn’t how life works. Maybe it’s all about people coming into your life for a little while and you take what they give you and use it on your next friendship or relationship. And if you’re lucky, maybe some people pop back in after you thought they were gone for good.”

What If It’s Us is also just ridiculously charming. There is a line in the book that goes, “I’m smiling so hard my jaw hurts.” And that is such an accurate image of my reading experience. The banters, as well as pop culture references, are aplenty and Arthur has no chill that his chapters are often laugh-out-loud funny. But if there is one thing about this that I’m not a fan of? It is the epilogue. It seems gratuitous, to me at least, and I would much rather we skipped it altogether.

In the Venn diagram of Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera fans, the overlap tends to encompass a larger area. And What If It’s Us will certainly delight those who find themselves in that area. But on the off chance that I’m wrong and it doesn’t quite live up to your expectations, remember that you’re not obligated to like it, though you would be wrong not to.

4.5 out of 5

Author

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Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It’s Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta.

Facebook | Twitter | TumblrWebsite

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Adam Silvera was born and raised in the Bronx. He has worked in the publishing industry as a children’s bookseller, marketing assistant at a literary development company, and book reviewer of children’s and young adult novels. His debut novel, More Happy Than Not, received multiple starred reviews and is a New York Times bestseller, and Adam was selected as a Publishers Weekly Flying Start. He writes full-time in New York City and is tall for no reason.

Facebook | Twitter | Website

You can read What If It’s Us, too! Enter THIS giveaway for a chance to win one (1) finished copy. Entries are open worldwide (with the exception of the UK, South Africa, Australia, and India due to publishing/selling rights) and will be accepted until 11:59pm (PHT), October 19th.

BUT! What if you have two (2!) more ways to score a copy? Massive thanks to HarperCollins International and their generosity and incredible support, you have! Head over to JM’s Instagram and Twitter accounts, which you can find HERE and HERE, respectively, to find out how. And good luck! Maybe the universe wants you to meet Arthur and Ben. The universe definitely wants you to meet Arthur and Ben.

Check out the rest of the tour stops!

October 5
Reading Through Infinity
Aimee, Always

October 6
Struggling Bookaholic
Kath Reads

October 7
Drizzle and Hurricane
The Ultimate Fangirl

October 9
Book Freak Revelations
Chasing Faerytales

October 10
The Bibliophile Confessions

October 11
Bentch Creates
Hollie’s Blog

October 12
Read by Nicka

Have you read What If It’s Us? Is this the cutest or is this the cutest? And with whom did you relate the most: Arthur or Ben? If you haven’t read it yet, talk to me about your favorite Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera books instead! Sound off in the comments below!

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EXCERPT: All of This Is True by Lygia Day Peñaflor

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Hello and welcome to the second stop of the #AllofThisIsTruePH blog tour! Thanks to my dear friend JM @ Book Freak Revelations for letting me be a part of this!

I will never not find a single narrative told from multiple perspectives compelling. It is endlessly fascinating, to me at least, how the writer uses this device to examine the inherent power—and limitation—of story: that it is shaped by the person who tells it. And that is what I really enjoyed in Peñaflor’s sophomore novel, All of This Is True. That sense of not getting the whole account. That some things were being constantly and purposefully withheld from me. And that it was told through a series of interviews, online articles, and book excerpts was such an excellent narrative choice.

And today, I am sharing an excerpt from the novel itself! Here; you’re welcome:

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MIRI

So, tell me about Fatima Ro. There are a lot of people who are curious about her right now.

All right. But I’m just going to say this outright because it’s probably the one thing we still agree on—me, Soleil, and Penny. We were shallow before we met Fatima Ro. We were all about the scene. You know what I mean about the scene: the parties, the trinkets, the lifestyle. We hosted.

Hosted?

House parties at Penny’s place. It feels like forever ago. Ugh. [shakes head] All those people, the throbbing music . . . Handling all that money.

What money?

We collected a cover charge to fund subsequent parties. Very industrious.

That’s us. [sighs] We met on Orientation Day in seventh grade when we were grouped together for the Graham scavenger hunt. Winners become orientation leaders the following year. We won by splitting up and then finding the last clue together—the school seal on the roof.

You’re a good team.

We were, yes . . . before this. Anyway, our parties were epic. The last one we hosted was casino night. We had game tables and chocolate poker chips. It won’t be outdone for years.

That’s pretty impressive.

[laughs] Oh, please. We thought taking selfies on the roulette table was the stuff of life. The reality was we were bored out of our skulls. You see, the basic human need for emotional intimacy can’t be satisfied by a sushi station or a celebrity DJ. Fatima made us realize that. She changed everything for us. Even that phrase, “the stuff of life,” that’s something I picked up from her. I wouldn’t have said that just now if it weren’t for her; I probably would’ve said something more like “We thought taking selfies was so Vogue-worthy.” But now, I’m saying “the stuff of life” because Fatima pretty much gave us a whole new language, a new way of thinking, of living. When she took us in, all of a sudden I realized . . . we all realized that we were starving to be part of something meaningful. Becoming friends with Fatima Ro—I mean, actually being part of her inner circle—was it.

Were you a fan of her novel Undertow?

Definitely. That’s how this whole thing started. Absolutely. All of us were fans. Well, we girls were, anyway. Jonah was along for the company. But still, even he was fascinated by her. I read Undertow when it first came out. When I found out how young Fatima was—barely out of college—it made sense that I felt close to her writing. She got me. I love Undertow as if it’s a living being, which is passion in its truest form. That’s what separates a casual interest from a passion. I credit Fatima for my understanding of that.

You see, you can be in love with a thing the way you can be in love with a person. A thing can physically trigger the same chemical responses as another human can: oxytocin and vasopressin. Fatima taught me this. Her book proved it. But I just cringe at how the media is comparing it to other novels. Because what you have to understand is that Undertow was never a Harry Potter phenomenon. I mean, nobody’s wearing Undertow Halloween costumes. There’s no Undertow Disney theme park. But that’s what’s so authentic about it. If you love Undertow it’s because you get it, not because there’s a Tom Hanks movie and a Happy Meal. This book has a much quieter, more thoughtful following. And to me, it feels more genuine to be part of something personal like that.

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Title: All of This Is True
Author: Lygia Day Peñaflor
Publication: May 15th 2018 by HarperTeen
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Mystery
Other classifications: Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound

Synopsis

Four Long Island teens befriend a bestselling YA novelist, only to find their deepest, darkest secrets in the pages of her next book—with devastating consequences.

Miri Tan loved the book Undertow like it was a living being. So when she and her friends went to a book signing to meet the author, Fatima Ro, they concocted a plan to get close to her, even if her friends won’t admit it now. As for Jonah, well—Miri knows none of that was Fatima’s fault.

Soleil Johnston wanted to be a writer herself one day. When she and her friends started hanging out with her favorite author, Fatima Ro, she couldn’t believe their luck—especially when Jonah Nicholls started hanging out with them, too. Now, looking back, Soleil can’t believe she let Fatima manipulate her and Jonah like that. She can’t believe that she got used for a book.

Penny Panzarella was more than the materialistic party girl everyone at the Graham School thought she was. She desperately wanted Fatima Ro to see that, and she saw her chance when Fatima asked the girls to be transparent with her. If only she’d known what would happen when Fatima learned Jonah’s secret. If only she’d known that the line between fiction and truth was more complicated than any of them imagined…

Author

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Lygia became a writer by writing letters to a friend she met on a cruise ship when she was 14. She is the author of Unscripted Joss Byrd (Macmillan) and All of This Is True, which will be published by HarperTeen US, Bloomsbury UK, and translated in six countries in summer 2018.

Lygia also teaches child stars on television and movie sets. Her students have included cast members of Gossip Girl, Boardwalk Empire, Law & Order SVU, I Am Legend, and others. She lives with her husband on Long Island where she rides horses and watches reruns of everything.

TwitterWebsite

Check out the rest of the tour stops!

May 17Book Freak Revelations
May 19The Ultimate Fangirl
May 20Bibliophile Kid
May 21Stay Bookish

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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REVIEW: Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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Title: Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: Francesca Zappia
Format: ARC, 389 pages
Publication: May 30th 2017 by Greenwillow Books
Source: Won from a giveaway contest (thank you Precious @ Fragments of Life!)
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Realistic
Other classifications: Depression and Mental Illness, Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | Fully Booked

Synopsis

In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, Eliza is LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the webcomic Monstrous Sea. With millions of followers and fans, Eliza’s persona is popular, and she can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves her digital community. Then a key member of the fandom, Wallace Warland, transfers to her school and Eliza begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile. But when Eliza’s identity is accidentally revealed, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Review
Eliza and Her Monsters is at once a love letter to fandom and a touching portrayal of depression and anxiety.

The book is about the shy, awkward teenage Eliza Mirk who would rather spend her time in front of the computer screen or work on her art. She is the person behind LadyConstellation, anonymous creator of the widely popular webcomic Monstrous Sea, a secret only her immediate family and two online friends are privy to. If things go according to plan, she will finish both her comic and high school under the radar. But things rarely go according to plan. She befriends the new guy, Wallace Warland, who turns out to be not only a hardcore Monstrous Sea fan but also a fan fiction writer and Eliza begins to wonder if perhaps life outside her room and the digital community is not so bad. Then, by some earnest mistake, she is outed, painfully and publicly. What’s striking about Eliza and Her Monsters is not how it looks at mental health with unflinching resolve, although that comes really close. It is how Zappia writes with lightness and empathy without ever treating lightly her dark subject.

“There is a small monster in my brain that controls my doubt.
The doubt itself is a stupid thing, without sense or feeling, blind and straining at the end of a long chain. The monster, though, is smart. It’s always watching, and when I am completely sure of myself, it unchains the doubt and lets it run wild. Even when I know it’s coming, I can’t stop it.”

I want to commend the author for capturing the joys and complexities of family, all the while celebrating online friendships as well. Eliza’s family is incredibly well written. Peter and Anna Mirk are two very involved parents who care about their children but don’t always understand things. As a result, they are constantly on Eliza, nagging her to get her nose off her phone or otherwise hounding her to do outdoorsy stuff or hang out with “actual” people. They have zero grasp on the notion of internet-only friends and this is the ultimate source of antagonism between them and their daughter. I am a millennial okay, and there was a time in my college years when I would spend all my time in Tumblr, and I think Zappia gets that. Gets it a lot. Next are Sully and Church, Eliza’s younger siblings. They are equal parts annoying (for our MC at least) and endearing and I wish we got to spend more time with them, albeit I can see how that’s unnecessary. Then we have the online friends Max and Emmy. They only appear through group chats—and not too frequently either—but I kid you not, those are some of my favorite scenes. Because how many friends do I have, that I’ve met through the internet, that I talk to on a daily basis? The dynamics between the three just feels organic and the easy banters are exceedingly enjoyable. Even the friendships Eliza form with Wallace’s friends, founded on a shared love for Monstrous Sea, do not for once ring hollow. Now, have you met Wallace Warland? Because I swear you want to meet him. If my Goodreads updates are any indication, I was all heart-eyes emojis as soon as he steps into the campus.

“I do have friends. Maybe they live hundreds of miles away from me, and maybe I can only talk to them through a screen, but they’re still my friends.”

I absolutely adore the romance between Eliza and Wallace. Gosh, they were super awkward! #awkwardisforever Especially with Wallace not speaking out loud. So they converse with handwritten notes instead, and a I think that’s old-school romantic and b something I relate with. There were and are times when I would leave someone a note or text rather than talk to him in person. You know, how it sometimes seems like what you want to say doesn’t translate well to what you actually say. This isn’t the basis for Eliza and Wallace’s notes conversations of course, but I thought the author did a nuanced exploration of that nevertheless. The romance also isn’t some instalove business, which I appreciate. The two became friends then lovers. But more importantly, it didn’t free Eliza from her monsters. Romance isn’t the thing that saved her and tied everything neatly in a bow.

“I have to try. I have to try, because I’m doing it again—I’m shutting everything out because I’m frustrated and tired and because the real world is difficult and I’d rather live in one of my own making. But I can’t. I am here, and I have to try.”

One of the many themes of the novel is mental health. Eliza, aside from being introverted, is an intensely anxious person and she tends to fold into herself when situations get uncomfortable. Her favorite book series, Children of Hypnos, deals heavily on depression and her webcomic Monstrous Sea is a metaphor for it. Wallace is equally in need of help, if for different reasons. And there are thoughts and (arguably) one act of suicide. But Zappia handles the material with sensitivity, never romanticizing nor trivializing any of it, and the effect is often raw and moving. As intriguing as the panels and excerpts interspersed through out the story are, which make for an interesting format. As spot on as the depiction of craft and the creative life is. Really, the one problem I had with this book is a scene I don’t buy and which I will not spoil you with. It happens towards the latter part and, while it serves the plot, I believe it’s a little bit out of touch with the character.

“Broken people don’t hide from their monsters. Broken people let themselves be eaten.”

Eliza and Her Monsters is my first Francesca Zappia title but it will definitely not be the last. If you’ve enjoyed Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell or My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga, you might want to check this one out. Or vice versa.

4.0 out of 5

Author

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Francesca Zappia lives in central Indiana and is the author of Made You Up.

Twitter | TumblrWebsite

Have you read this one yet? Have I convinced you to? What are some of your favorite books that feature a character(s) with mental health illness? What are you currently reading? Come now, sound off in the comments below!

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REVIEW: The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

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Title: The Upside of Unrequited
Author: Becky Albertalli
Format: Paperback, 336 pages
Publication: April 11th 2017 by Balzer + Bray
Source: Bought from National Book Store
Genre: Fiction—Coming of Age, Contemporary, Realistic, Romance
Other classifications: LGBTQIA, Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | IndieBound | Fully Booked

Synopsis

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?

Review

I’ll go ahead and tell you that Becky and I are friends. So you can be all Simon Spier with my judgement and “take [this] with about a million fucking grains of salt.” I mean. I’m just saying. But her sophomore novel is honest and funny and nuanced and charming. There is no way a teenager would pick this up and not see himself somewhere in the pages.

It centers on seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso and the fact that she’s had twenty-six crushes and exactly zero kisses. And how she is possibly losing her twin sister, Cassie, who is falling in love—for the first time—with cute new girl Mina. Enter funny, charismatic Hipster Will, who happens to be Mina’s best friend, and everything should be fine, right? Except there’s also Molly’s coworker Reid—awkward, geeky, Cadbury-mini-egg-loving Reid—who maybe likes her. Okay, I am literally Molly. I’m twenty-four and I’m Molly. I’m a prolific crusher but haven’t actually kissed anyone—at least not kiss kiss. I’m careful. Too careful. Heck, she’s even had more action than me and that’s, well, tragic. But that’s why I connected deeply with her story; that’s why Molly freaking out next to a cute boy or feeling self-conscious next to people she’s known her whole life resonated with me. Because all the crushing, all the wanting, all the unrequited-loving, and suddenly here is an author affirming emotions I’ve been trying to make sense of all these years, and boy was that unraveling.

“But I spend a lot of time thinking about love and kissing and boyfriends and all the other stuff feminists aren’t supposed to care about. And I am a feminist. But I don’t know. I’m seventeen, and I just want to know what it feels like to kiss someone.
I don’t think I’m unlovable. But I keep wondering: what is my glitch?

Like the author’s debut, The Upside of Unrequited captures the immediacy of and renders articulately the teenage experience. How everything feels like it’s either the end of the world or the beginning of it; the elations and heartbreaks of first love; the innate, underlying fear of not mattering. I was an idiot to worry I wouldn’t love this book as much as Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda (and in fact, fans of Simon vs would find themselves a treat or two). That’s unfair and unfounded and ultimately, as it turns out, untrue. Both are brimming with heart and humor, because Becky has an acute understanding of voice and how awkward and exciting and scary it is to be a teen. With Upside, as it was with Simon vs, I’m not just reminded how careful and at the same time hopeful I was at seventeen, I am seventeen-year-old me, careful and hopeful.

“”Why are you making zombie faces?” he asks.
“What?”
“Just relax!”
“Zombies are relaxed.””

There is something to be said about how great narratives aren’t always solely about the lead and that is true for Upside too. I’m certain many teens, as well as then-teens, would feel for Molly and her anxieties and journey to self-confidence; it’s both an absolute delight and comfort to follow her but the secondary characters are just as vibrant. Each character is fleshed out, so much so that the reader can easily see the other characters’ stories unfolding outside the curtains. The novel also touches on positive representations of body image—it’s central to how Molly views the world and herself, even if often self-deprecating—and intresectional diversity. Molly is a fat, white, Jewish girl with interracial lesbian and bisexual mothers; there’s a Korean-American pansexual character and there’s a gay couple; and everything feels organic. As organic as Molly and Reid’s chemistry. There’s effortless draw and almost inevitability in the progress of their relationship; it’s warm and fuzzy and at times nauseating. It’s hard not to root for Reid! Plus, without the aid of a spoiler, I like that the author could’ve conveniently gone one way with Molly and This Other Character but didn’t.

“And suddenly, I feel like crying, but not in a bad way. More like in the way you feel when someone gives you a perfect present—something you’d been wanting, but thought you couldn’t ask for. It’s that feeling of someone knowing you in all the ways you needed to be known.”

So, in the parlance of Molly and all of us millennials, my verdict is: ALL THE HEART-EYES EMOJIS.

5.0 out of 5

Author

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Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. She is a clinical psychologist who specializes in working with children and teens. Becky now lives with her family in Atlanta, where she spends her days writing fiction for young adults.

Twitter | Tumblr | Website

Have you read this one? Have I convinced you to? Because, really, it’s just such an adorable, smile-inducing read! Also, tell me about your first kiss fictional crushes! Or, you know, your current read(s).

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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REVIEW: Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

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Title: Fans of the Impossible Life
Author: Kate Scelsa
Format: ARC, 356 pages
Publication: September 8th 2015 by Balzer + Bray/HarperTeen
Source: Gifted by the author (thank you so much Kate!)
Genre: Fiction—Coming of Age, Contemporary, Realistic
Other classifications: Depression and Mental Illness, LGBTQIA, Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository | Fully Booked

Synopsis

MIRA is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.

JEREMY is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting him.

SEBBY, Mira’s gay best friend, seems to carry sunlight around him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.

As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.

Review

I received a review copy from the author which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.

As eloquent as it is heartfelt, Fans of the Impossible Life takes storytelling to a higher class and diversity higher still.

Let me be the first to say that this is a novel—if not the novel—champions of the We Need Diverse Books campaign should be talking about. Scelsa delivers a coming of age at once achingly moving and softly poetic told from the perspectives of her three MCs. Her play at different points of view is nothing short of adroit—Jeremy’s chapters are in first person, Sebby’s in second and Mira’s in third. And it totally works, both in function and aesthetic. It provides a window into the complexities of her characters, and boy are they complex.

“… you lay awake on that night’s floor thinking about what you could have said to them to make them understand. What it felt like to know that the two people who knew you best couldn’t ever really know what your life was like.”

The author also doesn’t shy away from the hard edges of her story. Fans of the Impossible Life covered many important issues without once feeling overwhelming nor romanticized. There’s drug abuse, identity crisis, depression, suicide, bullying, racism—you name it, it’s probably in here. And Scelsa approached these with insight and sensitivity. Just as much as she paid her secondary characters attention. I am particularly impressed by the fact that they have these stuff going on for them. Like, Talia is whatever, I’m incredibly furious at her for what she did in the end BUT she was the one who helped Jeremy through his catastrophic episode, who apologized to him for not speaking up. And there’s Julie, perfect Julie who doesn’t wanna deal with Mira’s drama BUT who shows up, not attending her lecture to be with her as soon as she comes home.

“I had been nothing before that moment and one day I would be nothing again. But there and then my life was real. With his lips, and his lovely mouth.”

Early this year, Malinda Lo wrote an essay on perceptions of diversity in book reviews—in fact it’s just one in a four-part series which you need to read if you care about diversity. In it, she cited a critique that blatantly pronounced ““perfectly ethnically and sexually diverse” cast as “scarcely plausible,”” a suggestion that “this diversity would not have existed naturally; it needed effort.” Okay. Not only do I call total BS on this problematic trade review, I have Fans of the Impossible Life to reinforce my claim. Scelsa’s debut has multiple POC characters and characters representing three (3!) different orientations from the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. But what’s really remarkable is the ease with which the author handled sexual and racial diversity. It doesn’t just look at individual experiences, it’s reflected in the family structures of her main players. One of the leads has two gay dads. Another has interracial parents. They get loads of crap for this and I’m thinking, that’s reality. It feels natural because this happens today, no matter how much we long for the contrary.

“At that point she was keeping the crying hidden. When it first started, she let people see it because she didn’t know what else to do. She thought if they could witness her in the middle of this thing, then they might be able to understand. But they couldn’t. It was exhausting for others to watch. For herself to experience. So she stopped showing them.”

I’m not you, but if I were, I’d be a fan of Fans of the Impossible Life too.

4.5 out of 5

Author

Kate Scelsa

Kate Scelsa has performed in New York and around the world with experimental theater company Elevator Repair Service in their trilogy of works based on great American literature, including an eight-hour-long performance that uses the entire text of The Great Gatsby. Kate lives in Brooklyn with her wife and two black cats.

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Blogger’s note: I buddy-read this book with Wesaun @ Oreo and Books and it is SO GOOD we both finished it in a 24-hour time frame.

Is this on your TBR list? If not, have I convinced you to include it? (Because, really, you definitely should check this out.) Do you think there are such works with “too much issues” or “too diverse”? And what about you, what was the last awesome book you read that celebrates diversity? Or just any solid 5-star read. Let’s talk!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

REVIEW: The Night We Said Yes by Lauren Gibaldi

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Title: The Night We Said Yes
Author: Lauren Gibaldi
Format: ARC, 304 pages
Publication: June 16th 2015 by HarperTeen
Source: Gifted by my fellow blogger/friend (thank you D!)
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Realistic, Romance
Other classifications: High School Romance, Young Adult

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Synopsis

Before Matt, Ella had a plan. Get over her ex-boyfriend and graduate high school—simple as that. But Matt—the cute, shy bass player—was never part of that plan. And neither was spending an entire night saying “yes” to every crazy, fun thing they could think of. But then Matt leaves town, breaking Ella’s heart. And when he shows up a year later, wanting to relive the night that brought them together, Ella isn’t sure if re-creating the past can help them create a different future. Or maybe it can. . . .

Review

In his book Looking for Alaska, John Green had a handful of quotations that rang true with my own experiences in life. But one that easily comes to mind is “I wanted to like booze more than I actually do.” Sadly, this speaks too of my relation with The Night We Said Yes.

To be fair, I really like the premise of Gibaldi’s debut. The story takes place in two nights, exactly one year apart. It’s told from Ella’s perspective and it starts with her trying to move on from her ex-boyfriend Matt who bailed out with no more than a note and a lousy excuse. Except now he has returned. And while Ella is hesitant—for obvious reasons—she wants answers all the same. The novel then jumps back and forth in the timeline as Ella in the past falls for Matt while the Ella in the present figures out if she and her friends are ready to take Matt back into their group. This should have been a favorite. Friendship story. The titular night of saying yes to every(reasonable)thing. A non-linear narrative. Instead, it’s trite, which, again, would’ve been fine except the main character—also the narrator—is problematic.

“It was my favorite part of the night—when the evening’s events were still unknown and unpredictable. It was the sense of possibility that I loved, the idea that anything could happen next.”

I’d go right off the bat and tell you Ella is not for me. She wallows in sadness and is often overcome by the secondary characters. And I know that our high school selves are supposed to be subjects to heightened emotions but I can’t get past the fact that Ella (in the Now) was thinking about Matt and their failed relationship 95% of the time. Then we have Meg, the best friend, who clearly reads as a foil to the MC and Jake, her on-again-off-again boyfriend, who was almost fun—if only he had more layers. I must say, however, that Matt was enjoyable, especially pre-break up. But although the “Then” storyline entertained me, I was looking for something more, something to connect with, something to make me care about these characters. Alas, I was met by a two-dimensional plane.

“It’s as if my mind can’t process what would happen if he were to come back, so instead of reacting, it gives up, checks out, and leaves town.”

In addition, there are several scenes that are cloying if not downright groan-worthy and the stuff they said yes to were underwhelming. I was hoping (praying) the reveal might redeem the novel but when it was time for it—the reason why Matt had to leave—it was a bit of a letdown.

The Night We Said Yes is a light, summery read, but unlike many summers of my younger years, it’s bound to be in the dregs of forgettable made-up drinks.

2.0 out of 5

Author

Lauren Gibaldi

Lauren Gibaldi is a YA librarian at Orange County Public Library, where she hosts youth programs. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband and daughter. The Night We Said Yes is her debut novel.

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Do you plan to read this one? Or if you already did, what’s your take on it? Do you stick to a story without much plot going on but that has a character(s) you can connect with? And if you happen to DNF books, which I don’t, at least I haven’t had the strong urge to, how many pages do you go in before deciding to say yes to walking away (okay, that’s hyperbolized, but see what I did there?)? Sound off in the comments below; I’d love to hear from you!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

14 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Robyn Schneider

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For someone who’s smart and funny and nerdy in her work, the expectations (of fans) to deliver are set high. Fortunately, Robyn Schneider in person is just that, and more.

On Sunday, the author of The Beginning of Everything and Extraordinary Means (which came out last May!), together with Katie Cotugno (How to Love) and Melissa Kantor (Maybe One Day), treated their Filipino fans to an afternoon of question-and-answer and book signing, in an event hosted by National Book Store. Schneider talked about her latest novel, kissing and the inspiration behind her characters—misquoting a One Direction song along the way—as well as her House and some dream cast. If you didn’t already adore the author, here are fourteen things we learned about Robyn Schneider from #KMRinPH.

She Loves Stories About Firsts…
“Because [when I think about it in my mind] I always remember the first boy who I kissed,” the author revealed. “But, like, maybe the seventh boy? It’s like, oh that—wait, who was that? Wait wait no, you know? [It’s] not quite as impactful.”

…For the Same Reason She Loves Writing Teen Fiction
She loves the fact that someone can take a book and take away something that’s really important to them from it. “[Because you] guys are trying to figure out who you are and trying [to make] sense of the world and [I think a lot of] the answers come from stories and from songs and from things that, you know, that hit you in a big way when you’re a teenager, at least it did for me.”

Her Characters are Very Much Her in One Specific Moment
Lane (Extraordinary Means) is very much how Schneider was in her last semester of graduate school and Ezra (The Beginning of Everything) is very much who she was at twenty four. In fact, she admitted, “I have this theory though that I would’ve been like a really hot [guy, just] based on the fact that I wrote, like, Ezra’s this super emotionally autobiographical character and pulled way too much from my [own story]. And [suddenly the] internet was like, he’s so cute, and I’m like, I’ve never had that experience when I was in high school and everyone being like, you’re so cute. So, like, shame.”

The Beginning of Everything was Written When She was in Medical School
Then, she left to become a full time writer and that, for her, is the best thing she did. (Well, obviously.) “I think, having that in my head, like, it’s okay to not know where you’re going [but deciding] to leave is the first step. Like, deciding to change, you don’t have to have everything planned [out, that’s] enough for now.”

And She Wanted a Character that Doesn’t See Who He is at All
“I don’t think that people oversee themselves accurately.”

She Wrote and Produced the Book Trailer for Her Latest Novel
Extraordinary Means, and it’s directed by Yulin Kuang. Also, I’m obsessed with it.

And Has a “Dream Cast” for the Leads
In it, two teens with a deadly disease fall in love on the brink of a cure. And she sees Chloë Grace Moretz playing Sadie and Dylan O’Brien as Lane.

She’s in the Early Stages of Writing Another Book
It’s about two very, very different girls who dated the same boy a year a part, whom many years later kills himself. And this brings them together, forming a weird, wonderful friendship where they learn you don’t have to impress this boys’s club to be true to yourself and be happy with yourself.

Writing an Authentic Guy Experience Warranted Harassing Her Guy Friends
…to dish what it’s like kissing a girl. “I was like, what kind of fireworks, but like where, but like how long,” Schneider shared. She then had to shamefully acknowledge this at the end of her book.

David Tennant is Her Favorite Doctor
But she thinks she’s Matt Smith.

Ezra was Named as an Act of Revolt
Yes, named after that Ezra from Vampire Weekend (which is also mentioned in The Beginning of Everything). She dated Ezra’s cousin and he casually informed her that she can never use the name Ezra because that’s his cousin’s name and went on to list other off-limit names, naming every single member of his extended family. So she was like, “okay. Well, not only am I not gonna listen to [you, I’m] gonna write a novel and the main character’s gonna be named Ezra. So take that.”

She is a True-Blue (Green?) Slytherin
Although she didn’t consult Pottermore’s Sorting Hat. So there’s that.

She Wants to Collaborate with Jandy Nelson…
Because she thinks The Sky is Everywhere and I’ll Give You the Sun are both amazing.

…But Also, She Wants to Do an Experiment with John Green
Where they’d write chapters together and won’t reveal who’s written which and see if people would figure it out. Just because Schneider thinks her fiction is so often accused of being similar to his. Albeit, she’s quick to recognize that she probably wouldn’t like the book; she’d just love the experiment. A very Slytherin experiment, Cotugno pointed out.

I am not you, clearly, but if I were, I’d read Robyn Schneider’s novels. (Actually, I just reread The Beginning of Everything and loved it even more.)

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REVIEW: Extraordinary Means by Robyn Schneider

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Title: Extraordinary Means
Author: Robyn Schneider
Format: Paperback, 324 pages
Publication: May 26th 2015 by Katherine Tegen Books
Source: Bought from National Book Store
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary
Other classifications: Physical Illness, Young Adult

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Synopsis

Up until his diagnosis, Lane lived a fairly predictable life. But when he finds himself at a tuberculosis sanatorium called Latham House, he discovers an insular world with paradoxical rules, med sensors, and an eccentric yet utterly compelling confidant named Sadie—and life as Lane knows it will never be the same.

Review

Wry, bittersweet and often contemplative, Schneider’s sophomore book has the heart and humor of The Beginning of Everything, if decidedly darker.

Seventeen-year-old Lane Rosen has lived every single day of his life preparing for the future—paying attention to assignments, taking AP classes—until he’s diagnosed with totally-drug-resistant tuberculosis and, suddenly, senior year is happening four hundred miles away, without him. Then there is Sadie Bennett—buoyant, rebellious Sadie—who’s made peace with her condition. The story takes place in a sanatorium reminiscent of Hailsham called Latham House and right there, Lane is reunited with Sadie, whom he once went to summer camp with. Extraordinary Means is a paradigm of a quiet YA, in that it effectively mixes keenness to dialogue with characterization and subtlety with emotional resonance. It is a steady read up to the last third, when the narrative takes an inevitable turn, in a flurry that doesn’t feel rushed.

“I did the flash cards every night, but it was no use, because it wasn’t the multiplication table that was giving me trouble. It was the pressure of being told two things: 1. That I only had a short amount of time, and 2. That I had to get everything right.”

There’s nothing we haven’t already seen in this novel, but that’s the beauty of it. Schneider doesn’t need gimmicks to tell a gripping story. It just is. And I laud how she speaks the language of the teens she’s writing for and about. There are video games and Facebook updates and Harry Potter references and Tumblr and butterbeers and a John Green novel. I mean, how often do we get a John Green shout out in a contemporary book? Schneider is an extraordinary (come on, you know that’s bound to come up), unapologetic nerd and that translates very well into her work. She also nailed her acknowledgement twice now.

“”Yeah, but all it takes is one person who wants to stir up trouble, and suddenly everyone’s panicked,” Nick said. “Look at history if you don’t believe me.”
Game of Thrones isn’t real,” I told him, and Marina snorted.”

Of course, it would be remiss to not talk characters in my review. If Schneider’s characters are a club, I’d sign up without vacillation. And maybe it’s just me but I have this sneaking suspicion that the author wrote Lane for me. I connected easily with him. In high school (extending to the early half of college), I was that guy whom no one considers inviting for night outs “and I probably would have made an excuse if they had, not because I didn’t want to, but because I thought I shouldn’t.” “I followed the rules because that was why rules existed, to be followed.” Those are Lane’s—and mine—word per word. Even our handwriting would look neat next to each other, I have no doubt. But hard work and handwriting aside, he’s just relatable through and through. Sadie, however, while never boring, seems to flicker in places. And Nick, Marina and Charlie are as entertaining and layered, as opposed to being mere plot devices. You would want to be in their circle.

“I hadn’t known it was possible to fail breakfast.”

But Extraordinary Means isn’t so much about being sick—for fine works are almost never about just one thing—as it is about finding your people, fitting in and living in the now—an echo of a theme the author first explored in her debut. It is a story of second chances and coming to terms with reality. And although I predicted how it’ll end, it did not stop me from caring. Plus the romance is neither excessive nor hastily done, which is always a treat.

Never Let Me Go meets Looking for AlaskaExtraordinary Means is a satisfying follow up from Robyn Schneider, with solid opening lines that is fast becoming her brand.

4.0 out of 5

Author

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Robyn Schneider is a writer, actor, and online personality. She is a graduate of Columbia University, where she studied creative writing, and the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, where she studied medical ethics. She lives in Los Angeles, but also on the internet.

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So. Have you read Extraordinary Means yet? If no, do you plan to? What about Schneider’s debut The Beginning of Everything (I definitely recommend)? Do you read the acknowledgements and author’s notes in books? And I’m pretty certain I talked about this before but have you seen this novel’s trailer? Because I ADORE IT and here, you’re welcome. ALSO, I’m attending the author’s signing tomorrow! YAAAY!

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

REVIEW: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Title: Vanishing Girls
Author: Lauren Oliver
Format: Paperback, 357 pages
Publication: March 10th 2015 by HarperCollins
Source: Bought from National Book Store
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Crime, Psychological Thriller, Realistic, Suspense
Other classifications: Brotherhood/SisterhoodDepression and Mental Illness, Young Adult

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Synopsis

This is it: somehow, in these pictures, the mystery of the accident is contained, and the explanation for Dara’s subsequent behavior, for the silences and disappearances.

Don’t ask me how I know. I just do. If you don’t understand that, I guess you’ve never had a sister.

Review

The twist Vanishing Girls is less a crime novel, more a character study. And trust me when I say that that is for the better.

The twist Do you have a sibling? Have you ever felt the compulsion to never ever disappoint your parents because, no matter what you do, no matter how you act, no matter how much you love your sibling, you’ll always, always be compared to the other? It doesn’t matter what your position is, you’ll have this tacit rule of being the one to understand. Sometimes this builds a camaraderie, the kind that brings you to watch each other’s back, to want to protect each other’s secrets. But in most cases, this also creates a quiet, inner tension, the kind that cultivates unspoken jealousy and raises self-imposed responsibilities and expectations. This is at the heart of the Panic author’s latest novel.

“They say that you’re supposed to tell the truth. Dr. Lichme says that, anyway.
But don’t they also say that what you don’t know can’t hurt you?”

The twist Vanishing Girls is my first Lauren Oliver title and, admittedly, while it was rewarding, it didn’t make me want to devour her backlist. It took some time for the narrative to gain its footing and, even then, the thread seems to ebb and flow. Her style boarders from lyrical to maybe overly descriptive and I can see how this might come across as dragging for some. But it is one of those books where if you give up early on, you’d totally miss the gem. One of those where the more you ponder about it, the more you sit on it, the more the ingenuity of it washes over you. She commands her words, I soon found out. They are vivid, cutting and have a way of reaching deep inside you, tapping into thoughts you unconsciously carry around.

You broke my heart. I fell for you, and you broke my heart. Period, done, end of story.

The twist The story is narrated alternately by Warren sisters Nick and Dara and there are diary entries, online articles, e-mails and photographs—most of which are often eery—interspersed through out. It pre-opens with a life observation that impeccably captures the tone of the book. Then it opens officially right at the conflict, the night of the accident. Chapter 2 jumps four months later and we see a recovering Nick, the elder of the two, and the sister who refuses to talk to her, Dara. What instantly stuck out to me is how distinct and at the same time cognate Nick’s and Dara’s voices are, a manifestation of the author’s adept sense of what it’s like to have a sister and be a sister. People casually throw around the term “complex characters” but, with Nick and Dara, you’ll have a flash of instant clarity: this is what they mean with complex characters. It’s chilling and heartrending and impressive and there were instances I had to look over my shoulders.

“Sometimes people stop loving you. And that’s the kind of darkness that never gets fixed, no matter how many moons rise again, filling the sky with a weak approximation of light.”

The twist However, I think the way this book is pitched is misleading. Sure, the “vanishing girls” plot line meshes well with the family drama, but they sell this as the former when in fact it’s the other way around. The whole Madeline Snow arc felt quite removed; it’s really about the relationship between Nick and Dara. And Parker. If you’ve ever had best friends or still do, real close friendship, you’ll know that the author gets it. And Vanishing Girls wins the chicest cover award. Fantastic job, Anastasia Volkova and Erin Fitzsimmons!

“”It’ll be just like old times,” Parker says, and I feel a hard ache in my chest, a desperate desire for something lost long ago.
Everyone knows you can’t go back.”

The twist. Yes, no scratching now. Oliver must’ve rewrote and proofread her work a bajillion times because there is just no plot holes. She pulled off the reveal like it’s nobody’s business. I mean, I basically revisited a handful of chapters after she dropped the bomb. (And in case you’re wondering, I reread 70% of the book since finishing.) I don’t think I’ve read anything like this before but a close similar experience would be Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, in that both have a major WTF moment. And hell was it WTF. But this is where it becomes tricky. Because there’s no way talking around THE TWIST; I would give away too much. So just go out there, read this novel, come back to me and I can go all WHAT DID I TELL YOU? on you.

4.0 out of 5

Author

Lauren Oliver

Lauren Oliver is the author of the teen novels Before I Fall and Panic and the Delirium trilogy: Delirium, Pandemonium, and Requiem, which have been translated into more than thirty languages and are New York Times and international bestselling novels. She is also the author of two novels for middle grade readers, The Spindlers and Liesl & Po, which was an E. B. White Read Aloud Award nominee. Lauren’s novel Panic has been optioned for film by Universal Studios. A graduate of the University of Chicago and NYU’s MFA program, Lauren Oliver is also the cofounder of the boutique literary development company Paper Lantern Lit.

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Blogger’s note: I buddy-read this book with Dianne @ Oops! I Read A Book Again, exchanging “WTF was that?!!!” one too many times. You can check out her review HERE.

Now tell me: are you excited to pick this title up? Or if you’ve read it already, have you predicted the twist? Where should I go from here in the Lauren Oliver landscape? Do you like literary crime novels? What are some of your favorites? Also, do you buddy-read with your friends/co-bloggers? Tell me all about it!

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REVIEW: None of the Above by I. W. Gregorio

None of the Above

Title: None of the Above
Author: I. W. Gregorio
Format: E-ARC
Publication: April 7th 2015 by Balzer + Bray/HarperTeen
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss (thank you HarperCollins and Edelweiss!)
Genre: Fiction—Contemporary, Realistic
Other classifications: Bullying, LGBTQIA, Young Adult

Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository | Fully Booked

Synopsis

What if everything you knew about yourself changed in an instant?

When Kristin Lattimer is voted homecoming queen, it seems like another piece of her ideal life has fallen into place. She’s a champion hurdler with a full scholarship to college and she’s madly in love with her boyfriend. In fact, she’s decided that she’s ready to take things to the next level with him.

But Kristin’s first time isn’t the perfect moment she’s planned—something is very wrong. A visit to the doctor reveals the truth: Kristin is intersex, which means that though she outwardly looks like a girl, she has male chromosomes, not to mention boy “parts.”

Dealing with her body is difficult enough, but when her diagnosis is leaked to the whole school, Kristin’s entire identity is thrown into question. As her world unravels, can she come to terms with her new self?

Review

I received a review copy from the publisher which in no way swayed my opinion about the work.

In the past two years I’ve been trying to actively diversify my reading, picking up books by and about people in the LGBTQ community. And I am fully aware that I’m still in the part where I’m more trying than actually doing, but until None of the Above, I didn’t realize the glaring inadequacy of my effort: I have not read a story that centers on an intersexual protagonist. But boy, am I glad this is my first dip; Gregorio delivers such a fascinating and sensitive look on how a young woman, who recently learns of her intersexuality, comes to terms with who and what she is—and how society wants to define her.

“Who decided that pink = girl and blue = boy, anyway?”

Let me tell you this: None of the Above doesn’t shy away from the harsh reality of bullying and the politics of friendship and the anatomy side of its theme. I like that the decisions Krissy took weren’t exactly what I would’ve wanted for her but that they’re very realistic in her situation and true to the character. She spends a good part of the book being terrified and takes actions based on the people around her, on what they think and say about her, how they feel about her. She’s fleshed out, this Kristin Lattimer. I laud the author for writing a character who has other stuff going on in her life besides the Main Problem. Krissy’s a a hurdler, b the daughter of a single parent, c a graduating student, d best friends with campus Queen Vee and and-everything-nice Faith, and e the girlfriend of golden boy Sam Wilmington, and all these different facets of her the reader witnesses in nuanced details as things come down in a horrible snowball.

“Where could I run? Where could I possibly go to hide from what I was?”

Gregorio’s debut is pitched as “Middlesex meets Mean Girls,” I don’t know about the former as I haven’t read that but it’s a no-brainer to make the connection with the latter. I believe the relationship Krissy has with Vee and Faith. It’s tainted and at times ugly but it’s also the kind of close relationship we see in our everyday life. Gregorio packs all the wonders and complications of a tight-knit friendship in a box, with a bow. Not just that. The other secondary characters are also more than cardboards for display. And in the interest of not spoiling you, while catering to my self-fulfilling desire to put into words the engagement I had with this book… There were two episodes in the second act that incited a visceral reaction. (I read this in my phone and I was at the airport and I was ALL BIG EYES AS THOUGH I WAS SLAPPED.)

“Did I have any questions? My mind roiled with them, but it was like shooting a moving target—I couldn’t pin one down.”

I can go on and pretend—like the bogus that I am—that I didn’t care about the romance, but who am I kidding? Yes, there are other devices from which to choose to showcase pivotal points in a person’s life, but, what teenager does NOT give a darn about the woes of the heart? Having said that, I savor the slow burn romance and the easy banters. And if you haven’t read anything with an intersexual protagonist (welcome to the club—we have jackets), search no further. None of the Above is gripping, poignant and ultimately hopeful.

4.0 out of 5

Author

I. W. Gregorio

I. W. Gregorio is a practicing surgeon by day, masked avenging YA writer by night. During her residency, she met the intersex patient who inspired None of the Above, her debut novel. She is also a founding member of the We Need Diverse Books team.

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Have you read a book with an intersexual character(s)? What are the books you’ve read and/or loved that portray friendship through clear, honest lenses? And will you read None of the Above? I’d love to hear from you!

UPDATED: The protagonist is INTERSEXUAL not transexual. I apologize for this mistake.

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