A couple of years ago, I discovered the magical world of ARCs. Oh the joy in receiving a book before the “rest of the world”, being able to dive into it before anyone else can get their hands on it. But the best part of reading advanced copies for me is finding new authors with outstanding debut novels. Such is the case with this one.
Hawthorn has never been one to follow along with everyone’s idea of normal. She doesn’t fit into any group at school, has one good friend, a hippie for a mom, and an active imagination. So when Lizzie Lovett mysteriously disappears, Hawthorn takes it upon herself to find out just what happened to the town’s golden girl.
But she takes things a bit too far, as with most things she does. Working in the diner where Lizzie was employed, visiting the woods where she was last seen, getting friendly with Lizzie’s boyfriend…all in the name of solving a missing person’s case. And of course, she gets more than she bargained for.
This is an interesting book to review. I’m not quite sure what it is. A mystery, sure, but not in the truest sense. A story of teen angst and drama, possibly. But aren’t all teens full of angst and drama? A romance…maybe a tad. In any case, it’s good. Hawthorn is funny, and she’s admirable as a leading teen character. And the ending is satisfying with every question being answered. A good story!
Buy It Now: The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett
Have you ever read a book so crazy insane with angst that you wanna set it down and walk away, but you JUST CAN’T DO IT? Well, that is how I felt read Just Friends. My word… Teenage drama to the nth degree. Seriously.
Just Friends is about…well, friends. Friends and enemies. Frenemies really. The characters were so insane with teenage drama and feelings, I thought my head was going to explode. At one point I hated every single character. None of them were making good choices. They only cared about hooking up, which is true for most teenagers, but my word… Selfish, emotional and so over the top wishy washy. He likes her, but she doesn’t know if she likes him. But the he hooks up with someone else. But he really likes her, even though she doesn’t know if she can be with him. All of that and more. Teenage drama.
Now I say all of that, but in reality, I was sucked in from the very first chapter. I couldn’t take my eyes off the page. I needed to know what happens and who “really” like who, and why is she acting this way. GAH!!!!
If you stepped into your local high school, you would probably hear lots of the same conversations that were in the book. Ms. Murphy nailed the inner feelings and actions of teenage girls. Supremely. Not to mention that the boys were realistically stupid as always. Sex and sports.
I haven’t read an angst filled NA book in quite some time, so I wasn’t sure what my reactions were going to be. But it’s safe to say, there was a lot of yelling and “What are thinking?’ being shouted.Again, teenage drama. I know the characters are in high school, but they are doing lots of grown up things that I can’t label YA. This book will get your heart racing and tugging. Your heart will hurt and twist at the same time. So much fun.
And that ending? I need more NOW.
Buy Just Friends HERE
I was intrigued by this one from the moment I heard about it. The title, the cover, the description…all these things came together in a perfect storm of literary anticipation.
Dear Kurt Cobain…When Laurel is asked to write a letter to a dead person as part of an English assignment, she picks Kurt Cobain. He’s the closest connection she has to her dead sister, May. You see, Laurel is having a hard time moving past the sudden death of her beloved older sister. She’s moved to a new school hoping to get a fresh start. But her memories follow her everywhere. And people are still talking about “that girl who died”. So Laurel digs in and takes her writing assignment to the next level. Not only does she write to Kurt, but also Judy Garland, Janis Joplin, Amelia Earhart, Amy Winehouse, River Phoenix, and Heath Ledger among others. These aren’t just random dead people but instead those she feels some kind of connection to. Throughout the course of the story Laurel writes about starting a new school, making new friends, falling in love, coming to grips with her shattered family, and trying to move past May’s death.
I wondered several times throughout the story why Laurel didn’t just write to her sister instead of this menagerie of famous dead people. Wouldn’t it have been simpler than pouring her heart out to the voice of Mr. Ed? Of course, but then she’d have to confront a plethora of emotions about May and her death. Anger, regret, guilt…you name it and it’s there. So instead she puts her heart and soul into writing to those who can never read her words. And so her letters become a time capsule of her life after May, evidence of her life moving forward after a few stumbles. It’s her journey from being May’s adoring little sister to standing on her own and finding her way in life.
So did the book live up to my expectations? Beyond a doubt! While the characters and story itself are good enough to stand alone, the beauty is in the language of Laurel’s letters. I love stories that are written in a different style such as this one. Laurel’s inner dialogue with herself and what she wishes she could say to May plays out entirely in the form of her letters. The story flows easily from one letter to the next with no break in Laurel’s thinking. The character development is excellent and believable. This first novel from Ava Dellaira shows just how powerful and beautiful words can be if put together the right way. Five stars all the way for me!
Buy it Now: Love Letters to the Dead