Just a few days ago I was talking with some bookish friends about genres I love, genres I don’t love so much. And as it always does, romance found its way to the top of my “least favorite genre” list. And then here I find myself giving a five star review to, you guessed it, a romance. Not a psychological thriller with some romance thrown in. Not historical fiction with an underlying romantic tone. Nope, just a romance. Go figure.
Juliet and Declan are both suffering the recent loss of a parent although in very different ways. Still, this common thread is what brings them together. The only way Juliet has been able to cope with her mom’s death is by spending hours at the cemetery, writing letters that her mother will never be able to read.
But somebody does read them. Declan finds himself at the mercy of the court after a big screw up. Community service, mowing lawns at the cemetery it is. When he comes across Juliet’s letters curiosity gets the best of him. And then he writes back. And she answers. Thus begins an unconventional relationship. Their letters fill a hole in each one of them, though. They find comfort in words. But when real life begins to interfere, is it better or worse to keep their true identities hidden from each other?
Romance aside, this is a good story. It pulled on my heartstrings, imagining the pain that each one of these young people must be going through. A few little twists thrown in towards the end keep it interesting up until the last page. A great, safe read for young adults as well!
Buy It Now: Letters to the Lost
I usually don’t pay much attention to reviews. A contradiction, I know, coming from someone who shares my love of great stories by writing reviews. But let me clarify. I don’t pay much attention to reviews unless they come from someone whose opinion I know and trust, someone who enjoys the same types of stories that I do. So I hope that’s how you view us here at the Muses, trusted friends who offer a little bit of something for everyone.
Having cancer sucks, even more so when you’re seventeen years old. That’s just what Richie is facing. And even worse, he’s been moved to hospice. We all know what that means. He’s the youngest person on the hospice ward with the exception of Sylvie. So of course there’s a romance brewing. If the story ran on that alone, it wouldn’t be nearly as interesting. It’s the cast of supporting characters that adds so much more. There’s Richie’s crazy but fun uncle who manages to sneak him out for a night of fun on Halloween. There’s his grandma who is complicit in helping him sneak around with Sylvie. Sylvie’s dad, by the way is one scary dude. Staying out of his reach becomes a full-time challenge in itself for Richie. And then there are the nurses and staff members, all full of personality and compassion at the same time.
I think it’s unfair to compare this story to The Fault in Our Stars as so many reviews have done. Because let’s be honest, that was a one of a kind, once in a lifetime story. And I don’t say that to take anything away from this book. It’s a different kind of book that just happens to share a few common characteristics with TFIOS. But it’s just as good in its own way.
Buy It Now: Somebody Up There Hates You: A Novel
Confession: I wasn’t going to write a review for this book after I finished reading it. It was a good book, no major gripes, but it didn’t really compel me like most others I’ve reviewed. But the more time that passed, the more it grew on me. And I don’t mean that as a criticism in any way but instead a compliment to the author for writing such a book.
Take a step back, if you will, to 1989. If you’re around my age, that’s about the time I was graduating from high school. So it is with our characters, Seth and Quinn. But they’re on different paths in life. Quinn is from a well-to-do family and as such is on her way to college and great things in life. The same cannot be said for Seth. It’s just Seth and his mom. And his mom is very sick. So his path in life is most certainly going in a different direction from Quinn’s. Of course this means that they must fall for each other. Thus come the obstacles to their everlasting happiness.
There are many things going on with this book. I absolutely loved stepping back in time to my younger years. The cultural references were spot-on as was the description of the political atmosphere of the time. It’s now twenty-six years later and the book made me feel as if it were yesterday. The author also broaches many hot topics including abortion and political unrest.
A word of caution, however. Although it’s presented as a young adult book, there are some pretty descriptive sex scenes. Yes, it’s a teen romance at heart but still. Otherwise, read away and enjoy the trip back to the 80s!
Buy It Now:
Young adult books are all the rage these days. Add to that stories of young adults facing physical or mental/emotional disabilities and you’ve covered at least half of the books I’ve read in the last year. So it takes a little bit of something extra to make a story stick with me, as did this book by Cammie McGovern.
Amy has lived with cerebral palsy for all her life. She doesn’t know anything different. It defines every part of her existence-her interactions with her family, how she navigates life outside of her house, and how she fits in with the rest of the world. When she meets Matthew, everything she’s come to believe is challenged. That works both ways, however. Matthew is dealing with issues of his own. A self-exiled outcast because of his obsessive-compulsive disorder as well as neurotic thoughts & tendencies, Amy forces him to confront his fears head on. They’re good for each other, while at the same time being not so good for each other.
So what makes this one stand out from the likes of Wonder, Out of My Mind, and Counting by 7s? First of all, it’s clearly meant for an older audience, in my opinion. While still suitable for the older teenage reader, it covers material not suitable for an older elementary student. Most importantly, the author writes about the issues faced by both Amy and Matthew with complete honesty. She doesn’t sugarcoat anything as the story evolves. Harsh realities are written about, and not everything ends on a happy note. Still, it’s an excellent story that came highly recommended from a friend as I’m now highly recommending it to you!
Buy It Now: Say What You Will