Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Mini-Review Compilation #16

The Night Sister

Jennifer McMahon has been a little hit-or-miss for me. I absolutely adored The Winter People but felt The Invited wasn’t quite what I was looking for. Fortunately, The Night Sister put her writing back on track for me. This is a creepy little novel that takes place in Vermont, where a mystery is unfolding over three different generations, all tied closely to The Tower Motel. 

I thought the time jumps were handled quite well and I suffered minimal confusion with them. I also quite liked most of the characters, although I felt the relationship between Piper and Amy was a little queerbait-y and wished there had been more to it (this was also something I struggled with in The Invited, but that may just have been my reading of it). The horror itself was handled well, it was spooky but not terrifying. And the way the plot unfurled was great, I didn’t see the twists coming and wasn’t sure how things would end until they did.

Overall, it was definitely an enjoyable book and a quick read. I’d definitely recommend it and will be reading more of McMahon’s work in the future.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

The Good People

This novel follows Nóra as she grapples with the grief of losing both her daughter and her husband. Left alone to care for her grandson, Micheál, who at four years old is no longer able to walk or talk, she takes in a maid named Mary to help her around the house. The book focuses quite closely on Irish superstition with particular attention paid to changeling lore. While the townspeople as a whole are quite superstitious, Nóra experiences a psychotic break of sorts that leads her to believe her grandson has been changed and is a fairy. She funnels her rage toward the boy, desperate for a cure.

What this book suffers from most, in my opinion, is it’s length. I felt like it took far too long to pick up its pace and was far too drawn out near the end. The content is difficult and this should have been a much more difficult read than it was, but I struggled to connect emotionally to any of the characters. There were a few parts where I felt some anxiety and really wanted to know what happened next, but for the most part I was just trying to get through it.

Rating: ⭐⭐.5

A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing

This book and I just didn’t get along well. I can see why others would get something out of it, but it is a difficult read. I felt like I couldn’t fully comprehend the story and the message due to my struggle with the writing and it didn’t feel fair to halfheartedly finish this only to give it a poor rating because it was a bad fit. And, honestly, some of the content is harrowing and I’m really just not in a good place to push myself through that as well.

Rating: DNF

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Only Girl in the World [review]

The Only Girl in the World by Maude Julien
Published by Little, Brown, and Company on December 12, 2017
my rating: ★★★★
Goodreads avg:
3.72 (as of 2019-09-02)
Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

For readers of Room and The Glass Castle, an astonishing memoir of one woman rising above an unimaginable childhood. Maude Julien’s parents were fanatics who believed it was their sacred duty to turn her into the ultimate survivor – raising her in isolation, tyrannizing her childhood and subjecting her to endless drills designed to “eliminate weakness.” Maude learned to hold an electric fence for minutes without flinching, and to sit perfectly still in a rat-infested cellar all night long (her mother sewed bells onto her clothes that would give her away if she moved). She endured a life without heat, hot water, adequate food, friendship, or any kind of affectionate treatment.

But Maude’s parents could not rule her inner life. Befriending the animals on the lonely estate as well as the characters in the novels she read in secret, young Maude nurtured in herself the compassion and love that her parents forbid as weak. And when, after more than a decade, an outsider managed to penetrate her family’s paranoid world, Maude seized her opportunity. 

By turns horrifying and magical, The Only Girl in the World is a story that will grip you from the first page and leave you spellbound, a chilling exploration of psychological control that ends with a glorious escape.

This was such an interesting and bizarre read that I found myself inhaling it in what amounted to essentially one sitting. Maude Julien’s parents raised her to be “superhuman” and did so through “trainings” that most of us would recognize as nothing short of abuse. Just one example of many is that Maude’s father would have her drink alcohol to excess whilst maintaining her composure and walking along a straight line.

I found the tone of the book quite interesting, as it borders on impassivity. Maude is writing this many years removed from the scenarios she describes and explains everything she endured quite matter-of-factly. Not only had Maude never experienced anything different — she had never even seen anything different than the life she was living. Instead of presenting the circumstances as she views them now, she is careful to present them as she viewed them then. For instance, she discusses her father’s telekinesis and telepathy as straight facts rather than clarifying that it was something he merely believed he could do. I felt that this served to really put the reader into the world as she lived it instead of just describing her youth.

Can an animal teach a person about happiness? In the depth of my despair, I am fortunate to have this incredible source of joy.

The thing that struck me most about this book was Maude’s relationship to the animals on their property. It was heartbreaking to see the abuse the animals endured alongside her, but also incredible that she was able to find love and comfort in some form. I was amazed at how Maude was able to truly become her own person even while so firmly held within the grasp of her parents.

I was also intrigued by Maude’s later life, after she leaves her family, and wish she would have given some more depth to that period of her life, but also understood that this book serves only to describe her childhood and her eventual escape. The reader is given a bit more information in the epilogue, but I’d argue that a second book could be written about her adjustments to “normal” life as well as her journey to truly freeing her mind.

My father hammers into me that fear is the ‘indulgence of the weak’. But however hard I try, I am terrified all the time.

Overall, this was quite an interesting read. It may be a little intense for some, due to the extensive abuse portrayed, but if you think you would be able to handle the material I do recommend it.

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Bookworm Blogging, Monthly Wrap-Ups

August 2019 Wrap-Up

Sooo August was an unusually productive reading month for me because I had an excess of free time where pretty much all I could do was read. I don’t expect more like this, but it was still a nice surprise!

Books Read:

  • The Night Sister by Jennifer McMahon. 4 stars, review.
  • Truth or Beard by Penny Reid. 4 stars, review.
  • Dark Web by Kelvin Teo. 1 star, review.
  • Typhoid Mary by Charlie Dalton. 3 stars.
  • Amatka by Karin Tidbeck. 3.5 stars, review.
  • We Went to the Woods by Caite Dolan-Leach. 4 stars, review.
  • A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers. 4.5 stars, review.
  • Her Name in the Sky by Kelly Quindlen. 3.5 stars, review.
  • Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon. 3.5 stars, review.
  • The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney. 3.5 stars, review.
  • The Good People by Hannah Kent. 2.5 stars, review.
  • More Than This by Patrick Ness. 2.5 stars, review.
  • Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson. 4 stars, review.
  • The Only Girl in the World by Maude Julien. 4 stars, review to come.
  • Pleased to Meet Me by Bill Sullivan. 4 stars, review.
  • All the Birds, Singing by Evie Wyld. 3 stars, review to come.

Books read: 16 (!!!!!)
Average rating: 3.4 stars

Other Media:

Notable Posts by Others:

  • Jemma explains what endometriosis actually is. As an endo sufferer, I appreciate awareness-raising stuff!

My Month in Photos:

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Book Tags

I Dare You [book tag]

Hi all, it’s been a while since I’ve done a tag! I didn’t realize how on top of my review game I was until just now. So let’s mix it up a bit with this meme Charlotte tagged me in… THREE months ago. Go follow Charlotte btw, she has a great blog!

What book has been on your shelf the longest?

This is a tough one because so many of my books are at my mom’s, but I’m going to guess A Moose for Jessica! It’s literally about a moose who falls in love with a cow named Jessica and it’s a TRUE STORY and I adore it.

What is your current read, your last read, and the book you’ll read next?

My current reads are Rebel Girls and A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing, the first of which is an ARC and the second of which I’m reading with my Women’s Prize group (except I’m extremely late because they’ve all finished already!). My last read was All the Birds, Singing, which I still haven’t managed to review. Next I’ll probably read Everything I Never Told You (which I was also supposed to read with a friend a little while ago — oops!).

What book did everyone like, but you hated?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. My nemesis. We meet again.

What book do you keep telling yourself you’ll read but probably won’t?

Honestly, I’m trying really hard not to do this anymore! I’ve unhauled lots of books in the hopes that I’ll only keep what I’ll read. That being said, possibly Women Who Run with the Wolves, which I’ve had a physical copy of for 5 years and keep forgetting about.

What book are you saving for retirement?

This is a terrifying question and I don’t understand why I’m being asked it.

Last page: read it first, or wait ’till the end?

I absolutely will NOT read it first. People who do this are so chaotic. I respect them, but I don’t understand them.

Acknowledgement: waste of paper and ink, or interesting aside?

Depends on the acknowledgement. Waste of paper if it’s just a list of names, interesting aside if it actually gives a bit more insight into the writing.

Which book character would you switch places with?

Honestly, not sure I’ve found the perfect one yet!

Do you have a book that reminds you of something specific in your life? (Place, time, person?)

I read the entirety of Mother Night while on a bus to Boston with someone very important to me, so it reminds me of those few hours.

Name a book that you acquired in an interesting way.

I don’t think I’ve acquired any books in “interesting” ways, ha.

Have you ever given a book away for a special reason/to a special person?

Nah, I really only give away books that I don’t want anymore.

Which book has been with you most places?

Probably House of Leaves, because it took sooo long to read!

Any “required reading” you hated in high school that wasn’t so bad two years later?

Hmmm nah, I haven’t reread any required reading unless I enjoyed it.

Used or brand new?

I don’t have much of a preference, but since I don’t buy many books anymore I do prefer to buy new if it’s an author I’d like to support!

Have you ever read a Dan Brown book?

Several. They were enjoyable when I was in high school!

Have you ever seen a movie you liked more than the book?

The Jurassic Park movies are arguably better than the books. The first book comes close to the first movie, but the second movie is better than the second book for sure.

Have you ever read a book that’s made you hungry, cookbooks included?

Pretty much any book that describes good food!

Who is the person whose book advice you’ll always take?

Everyone in the Women’s Prize Squad: Rachel, Naty, Hannah, Emily, Callum, and Steph!

Is there a book out of your comfort zone (e.g., outside your usual reading genre) that you ended up loving?

I actually DNFed Freshwater the first time I read it because I found it so difficult to read, but I ended up loving it the second time around!

I’m not going to tag anyone, but please let me know if you end up doing this! 🙂

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Undead Girl Gang [review]

Undead Girl Gang by Lily Anderson
Published by Razorbill on May 8, 2018
my rating: ★★★★
Goodreads avg:
3.79 (as of 2019-08-27)
Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Mila Flores and her best friend Riley have always been inseparable. There’s not much excitement in their small town of Cross Creek, so Mila and Riley make their own fun, devoting most of their time to Riley’s favorite activity: amateur witchcraft.

So when Riley and two Fairmont Academy mean girls die under suspicious circumstances, Mila refuses to believe everyone’s explanation that her BFF was involved in a suicide pact. Instead, armed with a tube of lip gloss and an ancient grimoire, Mila does the unthinkable to uncover the truth: she brings the girls back to life.

Unfortunately, Riley, June, and Dayton have no recollection of their murders, but they do have unfinished business to attend to. Now, with only seven days until the spell wears off and the girls return to their graves, Mila must wrangle the distracted group of undead teens and work fast to discover their murderer…before the killer strikes again. 

This was a really fun read with plenty to enjoy! The main character, Mila, is a fat latinx girl who practices Wicca with her best friend Riley. While I can’t personally speak to any of the rep, I’ve seen glowing ownvoices reviews about (that I can no longer locate but would be happy to link should I come across any or have any shared with me in the meantime). We find out right off the bat that Riley has died under mysterious circumstances, and Mila funnels her grief into investigating her best friend’s death.

The problem with your best friend dying is that there’s no one to sit with you at funerals.

The story has a great balance of serious topics and humor. There is a large exploration of grief’s impact, from the way it changes one’s own behaviors to the way it changes how others interact with a grieving person. But mixed in, there are plenty of cute moments and funny quips to lighten the mood. Dark humor is definitely a huge part of this book.

“And, for fuck’s sake, stop using normal as code for white,” I snap. “Your life isn’t the ruler that the rest of the world gets measured against.”

It was quite good, but not perfect. There were moments when I had some difficulty telling characters apart. I wish there had been some aspects that had been explored further, like Mila’s status as a bruja. I also felt like the twist hadn’t been properly set up and came a little out of left field.

I feel like I’ve been betraying them every time I’m not miserable. And I know that’s not how grief works. One second of being happy doesn’t erase all the other moments of mourning. I know that I can’t stay sad all day, every day.

As a whole, though, this was quite fun and I’d definitely recommend it to anyone interested.

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

More Than This [review]

More Than This by Patrick Ness
Published by Candlewick on September 10, 2013
my rating: ★★.5
Goodreads avg:
4.00 (as of 2019-08-26)

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

A boy named Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he here? And where is this place? It looks like the suburban English town where he lived as a child, before an unthinkable tragedy happened and his family moved to America. But the neighborhood around his old house is overgrown, covered in dust, and completely abandoned. What’s going on? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this. . . .

PSA: There will be spoilers!

I felt quite underwhelmed with More Than This, which is a shame since so many people seem to have loved it. This is the story of a boy named Seth who wakes up in a strange place with the echoes of his death still ringing in his head. While the landscape is familiar, it is a world overrun with decay and there are no other human beings in sight. Seth is convinced he is in Hell, and the reader isn’t quite sure what to believe.

To start with, I really enjoyed it. I liked the idea of a strange afterlife like this, and was increasingly convinced that Seth was actually in a purgatory of sorts, someplace liminal and in-between. I liked the flashbacks that we got, and felt the pacing was good. Seth would wander and contemplate for just the right amount of time before something new cropped up to grab our attention. And I was excited when the two (technically three) new characters were introduced.

It really dropped off for me after that. Once the plot started to shift, I stopped caring almost entirely. It wasn’t unreadable by any means, but I found myself pushing through so I could see how things ended rather than caring about the journey. Maybe I’m just jaded but… I’ve seen The Matrix and felt like I was just reading a new version. I didn’t find it to be a novel, exciting concept and felt like so much was left unexplained — in a lazy way, not an intriguing way. And honestly, I felt like a lot of things were dropped in just for shock value rather than actually adding much to the book itself.

All this is not to say that it’s a bad book! Patrick Ness is a talented writer and there was plenty to enjoy. I was incredulous to find out that this was a 480-page read because it seemed to fly by so quickly. I don’t want my criticisms to turn anyone off reading it, unless they seem like things that are pet peeves of yours as well.

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Pleased to Meet Me [book tour; review]

Pleased to Meet Me by Bill Sullivan
Published by National Geographic Society on August 6, 2019
my rating: ★★★ ★
Goodreads avg: 
4.35 (as of 2019-08-23)
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own.

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Why are you attracted to a certain “type?” Why are you a morning person? Why do you vote the way you do? From a witty new voice in popular science comes a life-changing look at what makes you.

“I can’t believe I just said that.” “What possessed me to do that?” “What’s wrong with me?” We’re constantly seeking answers to these fundamental human questions, and now, science has the answers. Clever, relatable, and revealing, this eye-opening narrative from Indiana University School of Medicine professor Bill Sullivan explores why we do the things we do through the lens of genetics, microbiology, psychology, neurology, and family history. From what we love (and hate) to eat and who we vote for in political elections to when we lose our virginity and why some people find drugs so addicting, this illuminating book uses the latest scientific research to unveil the secrets of what makes us tick. Filled with fascinating insights–including how experiences that haunted our grandparents echo in our DNA, why the bacteria in our guts mess with our minds, and whether there really is a “murder gene”–this revolutionary book explains the hidden forces shaping who we are, pointing us on a path to how we might become our best selves. 

In Pleased to Meet Me, Bill Sullivan sets out to explain what makes us, well, us. Conversationally written, this is absolutely geared toward the lay reader. While going in with a solid foundation of biology wouldn’t hurt, Sullivan lays each topic out carefully and provides sufficient background for readers to understand the more advanced topics being discussed. There is truly just enough information for us to glean what we need from each section and although I occasionally wanted more, I knew it wasn’t feasible to go more into depth while covering such a wide variety of topics.

This was an incredibly insightful read. I ended up bookmarking what felt like almost every page in the book and marked up countless passages. There are constant gems of information that are either fascinating all on their own or feel highly applicable to day-to-day life. My only complaint really is that Sullivan is a little too conversational at times, although that could just be my personal preference. He made endless cheesy jokes and had constant commentary that began to wear on me. But honestly, it’s a small price to pay for the amount that I learned reading this, especially considering what an easy read it was.

I really can’t recommend Pleased to Meet Me enough to those interested. While scholars on the topic may find this a bit too surface-level for their interests, this is certainly a wonderful primer for those who want to understand the interactions between genetics, environment, and family history. I’ll probably find myself leafing through it again in the future and am excited to see whether Sullivan puts out something similar again eventually.

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

The Perfect Wife [review]

The Perfect Wife by JP Delaney
Published by Ballantine Books on August 6, 2019
my rating: ★★★.5
Goodreads avg: 
3.92 (as of 2019-08-20)
disclaimer: I received an advanced copy of this book from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for review consideration. All of the opinions presented below are my own.

Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Abbie awakens in a daze with no memory of who she is or how she landed in this unsettling condition. The man by her side claims to be her husband. He’s an icon of the tech world, the founder of a lucrative robotics company. He tells Abbie that she is a gifted artist, an avid surfer, a loving mother to their young son, and the perfect wife. He says she had a terrible accident five years ago, and that, through a huge technological breakthrough, she has been brought back from the abyss. She is a miracle of science. 

But as Abbie pieces together memories of her marriage, she begins questioning her husband’s motives–and his version of events. Can she trust him when he says he wants them to be together forever? And what really happened to Abbie half a decade ago? 

This was really nothing like I had expected. At the very start, I thought I had quite a firm grasp on things, but this is definitely one of those novels where literally nothing is what you expect. Even the perspectives shift wildly, moving between the second person while following Abbie and a plural first person (???) when diving into Abbie’s history with her husband. This definitely lends some additional intrigue to the narrative, and by the end I felt that this decision had paid off for Delaney.

While there isn’t much else to say about the plot itself — it’s interesting, it’s timely, and it makes you want to keep reading — there was an additional aspect to the novel that I found interesting. Abbie and her husband have a son named Danny, who was diagnosed with childhood disintegrative disorder. While I know next-to-nothing about this, the book explains it as late-onset autism. The disclaimer here is that I am allistic and have been unable to locate any ownvoices posts by autistic reviewers — so please link me any you have written or seen and I’ll add them here. 

At first, I was really taken aback by the portrayal: there was a lot of the stereotypical “my son has been taken from me” wailing, and talk of “curing” him. Without giving anything away, I’ll just say that this perspective changed greatly over the course of the novel and seemed positive by the end — although it’s not up to me to give the final comment on rep that doesn’t apply to me. I mention this for two reasons: first, this could obviously be triggering to some people. And second, if you’re considering putting down the book due to its characters’ problematic stances, they do change.

Overall this was a decent read and I’d recommend it to anyone looking for an interesting, creative thriller.

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Our Year of Maybe [review]

Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon
Published by Simon Pulse on January 15, 2019
my rating: ★★★.5
Goodreads avg:
4.02 (as of 2019-08-16)
Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.

But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie, too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.

Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.

I had honestly expected this to be a more emotionally piercing book than it ended up being. The themes here are so deep, and complicated. This book follows Sophie and Peter over the course of a year, starting just before Sophie donates her kidney to Peter, who was born with failing organs. The relationship between the two is complicated to begin with, so this exchange only serves to muddy the waters further. 

There is a lot to love about this book, and plenty of rep: more than a handful of lgbtq characters, two Jewish protagonists, and a biracial love interest. Sophie’s sister is a teen mom, and Sophie herself is dyslexic. The story is an important one and encompasses a plethora of issues; there’s really something for everyone. At its base, it’s a story about the relationships between people and how they change, which I think anyone can relate to.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t vibe super well with it. It was well-written, the premise was interesting, and I appreciated a lot of the things it discussed. It just didn’t reach to a deeper level. I didn’t get that spark I feel with other books. As I said to begin with, I was expecting much more of an emotional connection that I just didn’t get. I felt sort of distanced from the characters, through no fault of the author. This book just wasn’t for me, for whatever reason.

Regardless, I highly recommend it if it’s of interest to you! I think this is yet another book that’s important for young adults and I’m glad it was written. I’m certain there are readers who will just adore this, I just wasn’t one of them.

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Book Reviews, Bookworm Blogging

Her Name in the Sky [review]

Her Name in the Sky by Kelly Quindlen
Published on February 23, 2014
my rating: ★★★.5
Goodreads avg:
4.23 (as of 2019-08-16)
Spoiler-free Review

Goodreads | IndieBound | Author’s Website

Hannah wants to spend her senior year of high school going to football games and Mardi Gras parties with her tight-knit group of friends. 

The last thing she wants is to fall in love with a girl–especially when that girl is her best friend, Baker. 

Hannah knows she should like Wally, the kind, earnest boy who asks her to prom. She should cheer on her friend Clay when he asks Baker to be his girlfriend. She should follow the rules of her conservative Louisiana community–the rules that have been ingrained in her since she was a child.

But Hannah longs to be with Baker, who cooks macaroni and cheese with Hannah late at night, who believes in the magic of books as much as Hannah does, and who challenges Hannah to be the best version of herself. 

And Baker might want to be with Hannah, too–if both girls can embrace that world-shaking, yet wondrous, possibility.

Oof, this was a tough read. As the blurb states, this is about a girl falling in love with her best friend and struggling with those feelings. What the blurb leaves out is that both girls attend Catholic school and that their faith is quite important to them, as well as the people around them. Having grown up surrounded by plenty of Catholic family members, I found this quite an interesting slant to things, but I can definitely see that making this a difficult or impossible read for some people.

She wakes, hours later, in terror. She sits straight up in bed with her heart sprinting in her chest. Her face and neck are damp with cold sweat. She sweeps the back of her hand across her forehead and remembers, with the force of a stone slinging down into her belly, that she had been dreaming about God.

I thought Kelly Quindlen did an excellent job portraying high school friendships. The kids were all goofy and raucous and constantly referencing inside jokes. Unfortunately, it was so realistic that it grated on me at times and I found it a bit over-the-top and obnoxious. But I can respect the fact that this book was certainly not written for a 27-year-old, so the things that bother me aren’t likely to bother a teenage reader. And in a way it was quite nostalgic. I’ve had friendships like those and they are something very high school. Additionally, juggling a cast of six characters is quite difficult, but Quindlen handles it well. They are all their own discrete people with different mannerisms.

She tries to ask God, but she can’t seem to find God anywhere. 

As I’ve already stated, I found the religious aspect to be quite interesting. Hannah struggles deeply with what she’s always been told about gay people contrasted with the feelings she herself is feeling. There’s a lot of potentially triggering content, as Hannah literally tries to pray the gay away. The scenes with her begging God for answers were absolutely heartbreaking and, while not really religious myself, I desperately hoped she would find a way to reconcile her faith with her sexuality. And it is really nice to see a book that seeks to find a connection between queerness and religion rather than abandoning faith entirely due to conflict. I think a lot of religious, particularly Catholic, folks in the lgbtq community will see themselves in this and appreciate it.

Sometimes I think God reacted the way he did because he was so, so anguished that Adam and Eve hated something about themselves. They didn’t realize how beautiful they were in the Garden. They didn’t realize how perfect they were in their love. When their eyes were opened—when they saw that they were naked—they felt as if they had to cover themselves. They thought what God had made was shameful and embarrassing and wrong. Can you imagine how that made God feel? How his heart must have ached to see them denying their beauty, their humanity, in front of him like that? It’s the most heartrending part of the story.

Overall, I think this is quite an important book for young adults. It offers a new path that I think a lot of stories bypass. And that’s fair, I can see why religion is hard for a lot of lgbtq people, but I can also see how it helps others. This is a tough read, but it’s also an important story of self-revelation and self-acceptance. I definitely recommend it if you think you’d find these topics interesting, or if you’re intrigued by any aspect of the premise.

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