why i wanted to read it: fuck if i know. it was on a table. i was buying GREAT books to go into a care package i’m sending to some girls i met when touring my college’s campus during its founder’s weekend celebration. somehow, and i really can’t say why, it caught my attention. maybe it was the waffles on the cover. maybe it was the title. maybe it’s because i can be, at times, a stupid girl. and this was definitely one of those times.
what i liked: it’s been 747 days and still i have not learned how to talk about any of this. i mean, i can talk about how i bought the toilet paper, how we were broken, how i was broken. but i still haven’t found the words to talk about my mom. the real her. to remember who she was in a way that doesn’t make me keel over.
i don’t know how to do that yet.
sometimes it feels like i’ve forgotten how to talk altogether… if i was going to be held captive by a wicked stepmother, surely there are worse places i could have ended up than living in the pages of architectural digest… the problem was that mom wasn’t here. that she would never be anywhere again. when i thought about that for too long, which i didn’t, when i could help it, i realized it didn’t matter much where i slept (page 38).
rut seemed too small a word for grief… sometimes when scarlett says i’m strong, i think she really means i’m numb (page 40).
i bet i would have liked him better then, when he read marvel comics instead of sartre, when he didn’t wrangle with all the hard questions and come out the other end sad or angry or tired or whatever it is he is (page 58).
what sucked: pretty much everything else. boy decides he’s too afraid to speak to the new girl, but really wants to so he (somehow) gets her email address so he can counsel her on who to know and how to cope. i knew who the dude was before i’d read a fifth of the story. so much for secretive. but then, maybe i was supposed to figure it out. still… i would’ve preferred the surprise. i do love surprises. it’s about about a gal coping with the loss of her mother and being uprooted from chicago to california after her father comes home from what she thinks is a business trip to announce he’s married someone else. there’s GOBS and GOBS of shell shock here. EXCELLENT material for conflict, but it’s SO watered down, the storytelling so pitifully executed that it feels more like middle grade fiction than a young adult novel.
having said that: the author, who lost her mother at a young age so she knows that of which she writes (and should have done a MUCH better job because of this), addresses the reader in a letter between the concluding page and the acknowledgements: i decided to combine the loneliness of first loss with something much more magical and universal: the beauty of first love. she should’ve tried harder, for there’s neither magic nor beauty to be found here. it’s mediocre at best with regard to the writing and the story, horribly cliched and predictable as hell.