Publisher/Year: HarperCollin's Childrens- February 25, 2014
Genres: Contemporary YA
Source: For Review
Other Books From Author: None this is her debut!
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I received this from the publisher in exchange for review consideration. This in no way swayed my opinion. Pinky swear!
When Alexi is raped over the summer she keeps it to herself and deals with her pain by hiding in her closet and harming herself by scratching huge gashes into her neck and compulsively counting the vent grates. When her mom’s best friend dies her son Bodee, who is also Alexi’s quiet and mysterious classmate who dies his hair with Kool Aid, comes and lives with them. They recognize pain and hurt in each other and keep the secrets both are keeping while trying to help each other move forward.
GAH this is so hard to pinpoint my feelings as to why I did not click with this one. But pretty much the whole time I was reading I was like, “Self. Put this down. You do not like it.” But since I struggle with putting books down and wanted it confirmed WHO the rapist was and who Captain Lyric was, despite being pretty sure I knew BOTH, my eyes kept trucking it page by page. It’s hard because it’s a very important topic — a girl is raped and her virginity is taken from her and she’s been keeping quiet about it but struggles with it every day and has to SEE her rapist regularly. She blames herself and has started harming herself. It’s an important story to be told for sure and I thought the story itself was great and the discussion that could come from this book is fantastic. PLUS there are a SLEW of 5 star reviews on Goodreads from people I trust. I SEE obvious difference in feelings and I’m just wondering what disconnect happened for me??
I think the first thing that made me just not click with this one was the writing. I do not know what it was about this but it was grating every nerve in my body. I just would stop after certain sentences and just feel annoyed. Things like, “he’s only a garnish to Collie’s caviar” or “things between us are still messy like pumpkin guts.” The writing and the main character’s voice just was not my thing apparently. I have no way to try and describe WHY it didn’t gel with me but I only know the feeling I got when I was reading. (Am I the only one this happens to?) No doubt Courtney C. Stevens is a skilled writer and brings much depth to a story but there was just something in it that didn’t work for me.
The other issue was the relationship between Bodee and Alexi. I liked it to some degree, in theory, and thought it was sweet. I appreciated the relationship between them, both the friendship and the budding romance, and how it slowly grew and there were some very sweet moments and I didn’t feel like their relationship overshadowed the rest of the story. I liked how he helped her work through things and she was there for him as well but it just seems like he came waltzing into her life, in the midst of his own tragedy, and saved the day! It just rubbed me the wrong way and felt very convenient that he seemed to know her so well immediately despite the fact they barely knew each other and in such a short time frame?
The other thing is that when I read books and the author makes me feel like characters are alive, I can SEE them. That might sound weird but they just FORM for me. I feel them. I see them. But there are times when I read that I FEEL like “yeah, they are fictional characters” and this was one of those time. They didn’t live and breath for me like they should have considering the very raw emotions captured from the characters who were going through such painful things.
This was a minor thing but captures some of the things that came together for this not to be my thing. I didn’t like the fact that within two weeks, after HE just went through a traumatic experience losing his mom in a brutal manner, he says, “At least I found you” after she says she’s sorry he lost his mom. I just…didn’t get it. There would have been nothing I could have found, a leprechaun with a pot of money or Adam Levine in my bed, that would have made me feel that way when I lost my mom. This is the kind of stuff that just made me disconnect from this. I know they are teens and FEELINGS come easy but it just took me out of the book.
But, like I said, I had to keep reading to figure out for sure who hurt Alexi and who the mysterious Captain Lyrics was so it hooked me there. I was right on both accounts. I should have probably just flipped to the end to find out but I hoped I would have finally, at some point, connected with this book because there was an important conversation going on within the pages and characters who should have resonated with me more. Obviously I FELT for the main character but too many things took me out and distracted me for me to be truly impacted.
I feel bad about this book not really working for me because it was an important story and it so SEEMS like a book that I would have LOVED but it just didn’t click with me at all. So here are some other reviews of people, whom I trust, who it worked better for so I highly suggest you check them out to get a better picture:
Keertana’s review in which she says “I am, rarely, impressed by Contemporary YA, but this novel is worth every penny. I hardly need to say it, but if I do, then pre-order this one at once – it’s going to be a definite favorite this year.”
It’s hard to pinpoint so much of why this book didn’t work for me though I’ve tried to give you some bits and pieces as to why it didn’t. I seem to be WAY in the minority with this one and I hate that all the raw emotions that everyone else felt while reading this just didn’t happen to me. I hate that I didn’t FEEL these characters. But sadly I didn’t. It’s just that feeling I got when reading. It just didn’t do anything for me and I felt more annoyed than NOT while reading. I was so often taken out of the reading experience to care. Also, and such a side note, but the author seems like SUCH a sweetheart and that makes me feel even worse about this somehow. I watched one of her videos after reading this book and desperately wished I loved her book.
Let’s Talk: Did you read this one? Heard of it? If you read it and it worked better for you let’s talk! I want to know what I was missing and would love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve said! Did ANYBODY feel similarly to me because I feel like I really missed out on a WOW story considering other reactions.