Hopeless

Hopeless (Hopeless, #1)Hopeless by Colleen Hoover
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I give this book two (reluctant) stars. It’s not you, it’s me, maybe? I’m not sure. It could be you.

For the first 20% of the novel, I was basically furious. Holder is maybe my least favorite male hero of all time. (Unpopular opinion time:) I believe him to be a more toxic leading man than Travis Maddox. His predatory behavior is repulsive. The author writes him in a way that it’s like she expects the audience to somehow swoon just because he’s hot. Litchick explained all of the revolting issues with this incredibly succinctly in her review and I encourage you to give it a read because I won’t be going into a ton of detail here.

I understand that some people believe that Holder has reasons for acting the way he does, but in my opinion, there are no reasons good enough to justify the way he behaves. Furthermore, I think it’s a dangerous example for young women to read and encourages toxic relationships.

At the 21% mark all the way up until 60% I thought I was going to have to eat a little bit of crow and write in my review that this book wasn’t that bad. That I hated Holder because I have been in a relationship with someone like him (passionate, possessive, with a temper, and who thinks everything is beeeauuuutiffffuuuullll and meeeannnnssss somethingggg), but overall the book was entertaining and I understood why people liked it.

Nope. I DO NOT FEEL THIS WAY.

The last 20% of the book ruined everything. Not only is the book insanely emotionally manipulative (how many horrific things do I have to read about?), but Sky suffers from what I like to call “logic block.” Her decision making process suddenly becomes horrible and she turns into a raging idiot. I guess I’m supposed to excuse it because of all of her trauma, but the traumatic events were so so so many, that I started getting pissed at the author for trying so hard to draw a reaction from me and stopped caring.

I’m not going to go into traumatic events 1-47 because spoilers, but there were SOOOO many. But seriously, trigger alert. If you have any triggers, don’t read this. It’s probably in here.

Additionally, Holder and Sky became so over the top dramatic and juvenile that I just couldn’t deal. The gushy parts (romantic scenes?) of this book read like they were written by Abbi Glines.

I don’t know if I’ve just read so many NA books this year that I’m over the crazytown, but the majority of this book rubbed me the wrong way. Even the parts that I found entertaining, I also found annoying. Their souls merging? Commmmeeee onnnnn.

If I’m being completely honest, I should probably rate this 1 star, but that little bit in the middle where I thought I might not hate it earns a second.

P.S. What was the point of Six? Why was this character written into the story and then sent to Italy?

P.S.S. What the frack do these characters even look like?

Uglies

Uglies (Uglies, #1)Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

I very rarely do this, but I am going to review this before I finish the book. I am planning on finishing it, but I don’t see myself continuing with the series. I don’t think there’s anything that could happen in the last 50% to change my mind. Who I am kidding? I’ll never finish this.

I will not be rating this book.

Every once in a while I read a book where I am without a doubt, NOT the target audience. A lot of young adult novels are written for readers of all ages (Harry Potter is a great example of this), but some are written for a very specific demographic that I am not a part of. This is one of those books. This next part may seem a little controversial and I certainly do not want to offend anyone by saying it. I absolutely mean no offense.

This book seems to be written for late elementary to middle school aged children who either struggle with reading or do not like to read.

The story is compelling, but it’s written so incredibly simply that at 27 years old, it’s boring me to death. The language and sentence structure chosen by the author seems to be purposely simplistic. It’s as if he wants to tell this exciting anti-authoritarian story to kids that may not be ready for a book as complex as Divergent or the Hunger Games.

I think that is absolutely wonderful.

I love the idea that a book like this was written that can be used to ease readers into it. People usually cite Harry Potter, Lemony Snicket, or Percy Jackson as the books that turned them into readers when they were children. Those series are lovely, but they’re complex. Uglies gives middle readers who may not have had a chance to develop their skills a chance to devour a fun science fiction story similar to the books their peers are reading.

The world building in this book is extremely simplistic. The author doesn’t attempt to make up words for things or people or cities. You’ve got Prettyville, Uglyville, Uglies, Pretties, Middle Pretties (middle age pretty people), Littlies (children). It’s all pretty self-explanatory. There’s not much to remember so far. It’s all very, very simple and easy to remember.

Now that I’ve used the word “simple” so much that it’s lost all meaning… Back to reading this book. I’ll update my review when I’ve finished with any additional thoughts!

View all my reviews

Tempest

Tempest (Tempest, #1)Tempest by Julie Cross
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Oh, Julie. I don’t even know what to say. I LOVE Julie Cross’s contemporaries. Third Degree and Whatever Life Throws at You are gems! Tempest… It was bad. Very bad. It might be the most poorly done YA “science fiction” I have ever read.

Reading this was like watching a TV show with someone else and not really paying attention to it. You kind of know what’s happening, but since you keep walking away to check on dinner or switch the laundry to the dryer, you always kind of feel like you’re missing some vital piece of information.

This book has a couple really big issues:

1. Lack of character development- I don’t know or like any of them. Every character in this book is like a paper doll. They’re completely flat and 1 dimensional. Jackson’s “growth” is completely out of nowhere. Cross gives no reason for his personality changes (lobotomy?). He goes from noncommittal to the perfect boyfriend for almost no reason. This is explained, but poorly and we’re told he’s changed- NOT SHOWN. Jackson and Holly have zero chemistry. I could not care any less about their supposed love story.

2. Telling, not showing. Almost all of the book is like this. We’re not shown the Jackson learns self defense, we’re told that he does. We’re not shown that he learns how to sweep for bugs. We’re told that he does. This is how the author progresses the plot throughout the entire book.

3. The book has entirely too much dialogue. This is the other way the plot progresses: big, giant info dumps on the reader in the form of dialogue. Again, we’re shown almost nothing, but Cross tells us that crap happens by her characters talking about it endlessly or by Jackson’s inner monologue.

4. The world-building is non-existent. It seems like one of 2 things are happening here. Either Cross didn’t want to take the time to figure out how her version of time travel worked so she just settled on “we don’t know enough about it/time travel is a mystery” or she didn’t want to define it so that she could do whatever she wanted within the book.

She never defines any time travel rules. So random, confusing things keep happening and it’s never explained besides “we don’t know how that can occur. Time travel is a mystery.” It just seemed like a giant cop-out on the author’s part. She didn’t have to think about anything or put any thought into it. She can just do whatever she needs to to progress the plot and blame it on this mysterious, unknown thing. It was annoying. I was always wanting to know why. Constantly, throughout this entire book, I felt incomplete. I was always missing info. I kept waiting for the big reveal that never came.

Here’s how much I hated this book: it ended with a giant cliffhanger and I give no fucks. None. I do not care what happens in the second book. At all. I don’t even care enough to go look at spoilers. The ending- which was supposed to be so sad- had no affect on me other than the fact that I was elated that the book was over.

I hear this was optioned for a movie. Cool. Don’t let Julie Cross write the script.

Winger

Winger (Winger, #1)Winger by Andrew Smith
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book.

Ryan Dean West… He’s… something else. I don’t even know what to say about this character. He seemed so real. Like RDW could possibly be a real life kid living somewhere in the pacific northwest. He is definitely a little punk and made some super terrible choices, but I love him.

At the beginning of the novel, RDW is such a fourteen year old boy. He’s horny and stupid and obsessed with girls and hell bent on reinventing himself for his junior year. Yes, he’s a fourteen year old junior because he is smart. He’s funny and as a narrator, he’s a ton of fun.

I cant help, but feel like this is the perfect book for 14-16 year old boys because it’s super irreverent, there’s a ton of cursing, and talk about sex and girls, and there are plenty of “coming of age” themes that kids of that age group think about constantly, but feel a little “guilty” about. This book feels edgy for kids that age, but it’s written in a way that’s almost innocent. If I was a mom, I’d hand this book over like, “found this, I heard it’s about rugby,” and my kind would read it and think that I had lost my mind and if I knew what the book was really about, I’d take it away. But I know, and it’s edgy, but it’s innocent and all in good fun.

Additionally, I think this book had a really awesome message, and went about delivering it in a way that wasn’t preachy. I think the author did a good job of addressing the homophobia that high school kids spew constantly without actually making anyone seem like a total jerk. It was pretty crappy how RDW constantly felt the need to point out that Joey is gay, but he’s fourteen and I feel like at that point, homosexuality may still be somewhat of a mysterious concept that maybe he didn’t quite grasp. And while he kept pointing out that Joey was gay, it was pretty obvious that he didn’t take issue with it, but that he worried what other people might think of him by association. I realize this is also pretty crappy, but at fourteen, he’s insecure. Realism. This book has it.

At the end, when RDW makes his changes and grows as a person, my grinch heart grew about 3 sizes and I wanted to hug him so hard. You’re doing great, little guy! Keep it up!

I don’t really have anything to criticize. I truly loved this book. I (almost) loved everything about it. Even the jacket art is beautiful.

But let’s talk about the formatting. Why was this double spaced? I don’t understand why this book needed to be huge? This book is giant. It’s one of the largest books on my (physical copy) favorites shelf, but it was one of my shortest reads. A lot of paper was wasted printed this because it’s double spaced and the margins are huge. It was super hard to get used to reading this. Was it a marketing ploy? Who knows, but I guess without the weird margins and spacing this girl wouldn’t have anything to bitch about- and you know me… I have to have something.

In closing, thanks Teresa for the recommendation. I truly loved it and may not have picked it up without your prompting.

As a side note, this is about my limit with sad books. I don’t do them. I don’t want to read If I Stay or Thirteen Reasons Why or anything else that is sad on purpose. Please, I am begging you, goodreads friends, do not recommend me anything that is going to make me cry anymore than this book will because I will come to your house and hold your eyelids open A Clockwork Orange style while I force you to read everything on my worst books ever shelf. YOU’VE BEEN WARNED!

Why is there a sequel to this? Totally unnecessary, but who am I kidding? I’ll probably read it because I’m a total sucker.

The Sea of Tranquility

The Sea of TranquilityThe Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

SPOILERS

I apologize in advance for my excessive gif use. I have a lot of feelings about this, okay?!

I really thought that I hated Summer Ames from Perfect Summer (horrible book. Don’t read it ever). I was wrong. There are not words to fully capture how much I hate the “heroine” in this novel. I’m pretty sure Nastya/Emilia/Sunshine is my f-ing Voldemort. I have never hated any literary character as much as I hate her. Ever.


She is the epitome of a weak person to me. As much as I wanted to be sympathetic and feel bad for her, I couldn’t Because she was a victim and a masochist and an immature, rotten, idiot.

For someone to know who tried to murder them and to simply stop speaking as opposed to, oh I don’t know, seeking justice, is completely inconceivable to me. I know that she talks about how she wants to kill him herself, but I don’t buy it. This is just idiotic to me. You are a woman. I know you run a billion miles a day and are jacked, but the likelihood you can overpower even an 18 year old man is preposterous. I am 5’9″, 150 lbs., and can deadlift 250lbs. I still can’t even take the remote away from my husband who never does anything, but sit on the computer and watch sports on TV. <-- sorry for that tangent. ANYWAY... She is just a victim. Always. And then, we she starts to not be, she makes herself one again.

Reasons I was infuriated:

1. She dresses like a slut so that no one talks to her? WHAT? Dumb. Now everyone is just talking about you and teenage boys are making dumbass comments to you. This is not how you stay invisible.
2. Not going to touch the stilettos. I. JUST. CANNOT.
3. The not talking when she remembers what happened to her. This is the opposite of what she should have done. She should have talked to the police. VICTIM.
4. Letting Drew use her to keep Tierney away. WTF? This is so messed up. Drew is supposed to be this asshole with a heart of gold? Bullshit. He is an asshole. Anyone who is okay with letting an entire high school think a “member of his family” (as Drew refers to Nastya) is a “slut” and is screwing 2 guys at the same time is repulsive. Not okay. VICTIM.

5. The ‘here, take my virginity and ruin me completely. I know you love me and I love you so I am going to drop a nuclear bomb here and fucking annihilate you and me. Being happy was hard.’ VICTIM.
6. When Kevin sexually assaults Nastya at that party NOT A SINGLE PERSON IN THE ENTIRE BOOK suggests that they go to the authorities. Not Clay, not Tierney, not Drew, not Josh, and definitely not Nastya (because she is a victim). This is total insanity to me. I do not understand. I would understand if it was suggested and she refused (because that would be consistent with her constantly playing the victim card), but it’s not even brought up once. Everyone acts like it’s acceptable to just beat the hell out of the criminal and call it a day. VICTIM.
7. When she meets the boy who tried to murder her, learns his name, and doesn’t immediately report him to the police. VICTIM.

All in all, Nastya just seemed to want to do absolutely nothing to help herself. In fact, she wanted to do everything possible to make her shitty life shittier. No sympathy from me. I just couldn’t bring myself to feel anything, but a deep loathing for this MC. She was awful.

Despite being compelling and suspenseful, I didn’t like the first person narative. It was strange to be in Nastya’s head and not know her whole story from the begining. It was strange that the character knows things that I didn’t. Third person narative may have been more effective for this kind of storytelling.

Despite the vitriol I just spewed I did enjoy this book. It was phenomenal. I can hate a character and recognize when a story is fabulous. The supporting characters were intriguing and the book was well planned out. It honestly reminded me of a poor man’s Lost- everything was a piece of the puzzle and nothing made sense until the very end. I feel the same way after reading this as I did after watching (that god awful) Donnie Darko (movie). Everything was a clue and I missed it all until the very end.

Great book, I very much recommend.

11/22/63

11/22/6311/22/63 by Stephen King
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was my first Stephen King novel and after reading it, I see what all the fuss is about. It makes total sense that each one of his over 50 novels is a worldwide bestseller. King is obviously a master of his craft. This book was unbelievably long, but if I tried to pinpoint any part of it that could have been omitted and not been detrimental to the story, I wouldn’t be able to do it.

Honestly, I was exhausted by the novel’s length and the complicated plot, but found myself eager to finish the story and find out what happens.

I loved the story. It was well paced, well plotted, heartfelt, and so engaging. But it was sad. I don’t know if that’s the reaction that I was “supposed” to have as a reader, but I found the novel as a whole unbelievably sad and find myself thinking about it and getting melancholy days after completing it.

It’s my understanding that the ending of the book isn’t popular. I know my mother hated it. I think it really pulled everything together in a way that it couldn’t have done otherwise.

I highly recommend this novel if you have the patience for it.

Beautiful Disaster

Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1)Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I recently recommended this to a goodreads friend who is also a good friend IRL and noticed I hadn’t reviewed it. I feel like I need to do so now, just in case she chooses to read it, so that she doesn’t think I’m insane.

Beautiful Disaster is… It’s bad. It’s horrible. It’s not particularly well written. The plot is just absurd. I mean, RIDICULOUS. I don’t have words to adequately express how unrealistic and stupid the plot of this book is. I summarized this book to my mom and she looked at me like I was wasting my life. If you’ve read this book and also enjoy embarrassing yourself, try summarizing it out loud to someone who hasn’t read it.

The relationships are toxic and borderline abusive. It’s full to the brim with tropes. Seriously, every trope you can think of, it’s here- bad boy, absentee parents, insta-love, stupid nicknames, cave man hero, virgin. It’s got them all. It’s bad. This book is bad.

You know what else it is though? It’s entertaining as all get out. It’s like going to a baseball game and looking forward to ordering those prepackaged nachos with the orange processed cheese. You know it’s bad for you. You know it’s disgusting and full of chemicals. You know you shouldn’t eat it. But it’s delicious and it’s baseball and sometimes you’re in the mood for something bad for you while you watch America’s game.

Whatever Life Throws at You

Whatever Life Throws at YouWhatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Am I going soft? I feel like I’ve been stumbling upon a lot of awesome reads lately! I had really been looking forward to this book. I fell in love with Julie Cross’s writing when I read Third Degree earlier this year and couldn’t wait for her next novel. I’m happy to say that I loved Whatever Life Throws at You even more than Third Degree!

The positive parts of this review will likely be rather short and generic. I find it easy to moan and complain about all of the things I hated about a bad book, but a lot more difficult to gush about a book I loved. I feel like positive reviews are all positive in the same way (Anna Karenina anyone? Ha!). Nonetheless, this book deserves a review because it was awesome!

What I liked:

1. Jason Brody. Duh! He was so dreamy. As far as book boyfriends go, Jason Brody will definitely go on your list. He has a rough past- juvenile criminal record, he’s a high school dropout, his mother has disowned him- but he’s doing his best to be the best man that he can.

2. The positive female friendship between Lenny and Annie. Lenny was an interesting one, but she was loyal. She wasn’t always the most stand up person, in general, but she was on Annie’s side.

3. Annie. I love her character. I hated how she had a tendency to choose inaction instead of actually making a decision or solving a problem. When faced with a dilemma, she’d just do nothing. Or she’d do the “high school” thing and act totally immature and impulsive. Somehow this didn’t seem inconsistent. Quite the opposite, actually. I could kind of predict what Annie’s next move would be while reading. Cross’s characterization was incredibly thorough. I felt like I knew Annie well.

4. The supporting characters! Lenny, Annie’s dad, Savannah, Annie’s grandma, Annie’s mom- all of them were so well written and added a lot to the story. Some of them were amusing, some were supportive, one was awful, but all were well written! I loved all of them!

5. The ending. I loved it. Such a great ending! A little cheesy, but come on, everyone loves a little cheesy every once in a while.

The Peeves:

1. I really hate how Julie Cross makes her characters write Facebook and Twitter statuses in all of her books. It’s like she’s already resigned to the fact that no one will be reading her book in 50 years. In my opinion, books that include references to popular technology are dating themselves. Facebook and Twitter may not be something that people use in 10 years and as a result, someone reading this book in 2024 will probably think it’s a little silly. The thing that aggravates me the most about Cross’s use of social media in her novels is that, for the most part, the references could be completely omitted and the narrative wouldn’t suffer at all. This is especially true for Third Degree- removing the twitter statuses made by the MC would go entirely unnoticed by the reader. In order to omit the Facebook status updates from Whatever Life Throw at You all Cross would have to do is make general references to Brody’s social media presence.

2. You won’t get any slut-shamming from me, but Brody was portrayed as very promiscuous in the beginning of the novel. Annie was aware of his “habits” and found them revolting, but she still had a big crush on him? This was very confusing to me.

3. Brody is his last name. Everyone (including Annie) call him by it throughout the entirety of the book. There’s one time where she refers to him as Jason and it’s in her head. I didn’t like this at all. If his last name was Smith or Williams it wouldn’t have worked, but since Brody is a common male first name as well, the author got away with it.

4. This is probably a silly thing to even bring up, but it’s my review and I can. Cross misuses the word “nauseous” in every novel of hers I’ve read. In her defense though, this is one of those words that is misused so often that the dictionary has been rewritten so that the wrong usage is now the “right” one. (Did you know that “literally” now means “figuratively” ? Seriously. Our population is so stupid that this change was made.)

“Nauseous” means causing nausea or disgust. So for example: the rotten orange was nauseous because it made me feel sick to smell it. NAUSEATED is the word we’re all looking for. You feel nauseated. I feel nauseated. We all feel nauseated, but no one is nauseous unless you haven’t showered for a couple of days.

I know, I know, I’m a complainer, but this is a 5 star read. I definitely recommend it!

The Fine Art of Pretending

The Fine Art of Pretending (The Fine Art of Pretending, #1)The Fine Art of Pretending by Rachel Harris
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

This book really peeved me. Is that a word? “Peeved?” Oh well, I’m using it. My main issue with it was that it didn’t do a very good job of delivering its message. At all.

Honestly, we’ve all read this book or seen this movie before. The mousy, tomboy wants boys to start paying her attention so she has a makeover and changes everything about herself to get attention. The platonic, male best friend agrees to be her pretend boyfriend in order to further the charade. They fall in love.

The problem with this novel is not that it’s cliche and been done before- I have no issue with this at all- it’s that the book delivers the message that this works. If you change everything about yourself, then boys will like you, that most popular guy in school who is generally considered a giant dick will turn out to be the nicest, most romantic guy ever AND like you! Then, if you’ve changed everything about yourself, your super hot best friend will see you in a completely different light and you will realize you’re in love with him too and not the super hot, popular, former womanizer you thought you liked.

The book even flat out states that the only reason Brandon started to look at Aly in a romantic way is because she started dressing “more like a girl.” (Because girls have to dress and act a certain way to be taken seriously as girls- amiright?! I’m not even going to touch that misogyny.)

It seemed like about 80% through the book, the author realized that she may not have been delivering the message she meant to and started to backtrack. Now Brandon had liked Aly all along, blah, blah, blah. Just be yourself, blah, blah, blah, but a slightly better version of yourself!

If I had a young daughter, I would not allow her to read this book. The message is confusing. Be yourself, but better? At the end of the book, Aly realizes that she should be who she was before, but a slightly more feminine version. Because that’s always better right? Men never ever like tomboys! Aly decides it’s okay to be the “cute, funny friend.” F that noise! The “cute, funny friend?” Are you serious? What a great message that sends for her to see herself like that at the end! I guess she likes herself a little, that’s enough right?

I’m kind of digressing into a rant now, but this really pissed me off. There are almost 7 billion people in the world. There’s someone for everyone! Young women do not need to read a book that encourages them to wear more makeup, shorter skirts, etc- just be yourself! Someone great will like you. It was really disheartening when Aly began her transformation and literally everyone else in the book responded so positively. Now she’s worthy of their time.

I had countless other complaints, but I’ll just briefly touch on the biggest two:

1. The author seems EXTREMELY out of touch. It’s like she’s trying to be a “cool mom.” She’s totally hip and down and knows the lingo. The characters are constantly saying things like “he’s my hookup.” It was entirely cringe worthy. I mean, I’m kind of old, but I’m pretty sure teenagers don’t talk like that.

But let’s say that kids really do talk like this. The inauthentic way the word choices come across isn’t the only issue. The other problem is that I could never quite figure out what the kids meant by “hookup.” No one in this book seems to be having sex. They kiss some, but it’s tame. In general, it seems like if someone is your “hookup” they are your significant other. However the characters seem to make some distinction between “hookup” and boy/girlfriend. I never could quite figure out what exactly the difference was! Maybe I’m the uncool one?

2. The high school mascot is the “hokie.” This has haunted me. I can’t stop thinking about this. Maybe it’s just because we’re a Virginia Tech family, but this killed me. The “hokie” is a made up thing. When Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College changed its name to Virginia Polytechnic Institute they had a contest to see who could create the best cheer. The cheer that won had the word “hokie” in it. This became the nickname for sports teams at VT. The word is literally the product of some student’s imagination and has no meaning. It belongs to Virginia Tech. SOME HIGH SCHOOL IN TEXAS CAN’T JUST TAKE IT! It’s not like an eagle or a tiger. The hokie can’t exist outside of its VT context because it doesn’t mean anything. It only means something to Virginia Tech.

So that’s that. I had high hopes for this novel and it failed to meet them.

Aspen

AspenAspen by Rebekah Crane

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

ARC kindly provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Anyone who reads my reviews knows that I am a super critical reader/reviewer. I usually call out any annoyance I encounter in my reviews regardless of how minuscule it is. It goes without saying that I don’t give out many 5 star ratings. As a general rule, any books that I give 5 star ratings to must meet 2 of the 3 following criteria:

1. Go on my favorites shelf. check
2. Make me feel the need to purchase a physical copy (I read on Kindle 98% of the time.) check
3. I know I’m going to re-read the book. check

That being said: I don’t have anything bad to say about Aspen. I know… That’s really shocking coming from me, but Aspen is phenomenal.

The best thing about this book is the overall message that it’s okay to be yourself. All of the main characters in this book are apologetically true to themselves. Great example: Ninny.

“Ninny” is what Aspen calls her mother. Ninny was very young and didn’t even know she was pregnant when Aspen was born. Her parents immediately disowned her and she has raised Aspen on her own ever since. Ninny is not what you would consider a traditional parental figure. She smokes a lot of weed, sleeps around, can’t hold down a job, doesn’t clean up after herself, encourages Aspen to have sex, and is just generally irresponsible. BUT Ninny is not painted as a villain in this novel. Aspen and her friends adore her anyway because she’s a good person and she loves them.

I thought this was so unique. A lot novels use the “terrible parent” trope as an excuse to bring their characters conflict and create angst. It’s lazy. My least favorite is the rich, works too much, and doesn’t give a crap that his daughter is different dad. Awful. Ninny is a crappy mom, but she’s a a wonderful, if strange, person. For example:

“My mom taught me how to braid. We used to practice on my dolls. She would say every respectable girl knows how to braid.”

“You never taught me.”

“I couldn’t care less if you’re respectable.” Ninny ties a rubber band around the end of one braid. “I care that you’re you.”

Ninny and her relationships with the other characters is truly my favorite thing about this novel. I love the way the author made it okay for Ninny to be different. She made it okay for Aspen to unconditionally love (and like) her mother even if she didn’t act like a mother most of the time.

The rest of the book was lovely too. It’s never made clear whether or not Aspen is actually beautiful or if Ninny just thinks she is because she’s her mother. But it is made clear that Aspen has out of control blonde hair, she wears bell bottoms, tie dye, and Birkenstocks, and usually has charcoal smeared on her face. I thought this was nice. Aspen is unequivocally herself and she still has great friendships and a love interest despite walking to the beat of her own drum. The author didn’t paint her as the beautiful girl who wears black and too much makeup in order to hide her beauty because she’s soooooooo different and superior. Gag.

I don’t want to get too far into the accident and resulting events part of the book, but I will say that this is very well done. Aspen’s reactions to them and the events that tale place afterwards struck me as very realistic.

Overall, this book was wonderful and I very much recommend that you read it. Now.