All tagged Grief & Loss

Podcast 18: Author Elizabeth Scott on Heartbeat, Writing Angry Girls, Reader Response & the Awesomeness of Courtney Summers

I could not be more excited to have one of my favorite authors, Elizabeth Scott, as a guest on our latest podcast episode!

Elizabeth's most recent novel is Heartbeat, which all three of us at CEFS have read and loved. It's a unique, emotionally intense, authentic examination of grief and anger that's unlike anything I've read. It's out tomorrow from Harlequin Teen and I really hope you'll check it out because it's one of my favorites of the year already. (While you're at it, you should read Miracle, which came out in 2012 and didn't get nearly the love and attention it deserved--here's my review.)

Mini Reviews: Three Contemporary YAs

I’ve had semi-written drafts of reviews of three contemporary YA novels sitting in the queue for ages. Ages as in months.

So, I thought I’d just admit that I’m not going to be able to write one of my patented epically long reviews for every book, and instead pass along my thoughts of three contemporary young adult novels I read and enjoyed this summer. 

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now I’ve thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

I wasn’t as in love with Jessi Kirby’s 2012 release, In Honor, as I hoped I would be, but even though I wasn’t swept away by that story, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing. So, when I spotted her debut, Moonglass, deeply discounted, I snapped it up and absolutely loved it. This novel has that same quality of Melissa Walker, Sarah Ockler or Sarah Dessen—it’s a gentle little story featuring relatable characters and a subdued style. (This is such a refreshing contrast to the high drama that’s so trendy in contemporary YAs this year.) While the themes are heavy (the main character’s mother killed herself), it never feels HEAVY.

Moonglass stands out among the many grief/loss YA novels for a number of reasons, but firstly because the death occurs well before the book’s opening, making the story very much about Anna, the main character, finding herself and figuring out where the loss of her mother at such a young age fits into how she is. There’s a very lightweight romance that progresses in a natural way, and it takes place in a swoon-worthy California beach community that absolutely comes alive, despite the novel’s short length. (Yes, a setting can be swoon-worthy.) 

My only issue with this book is that the symbolism felt a bit over-the-top, but it’s also executed quite well, so that’s more of a personal preference than something that will bother most people. 

{Buy it at Amazon | BN | iBooks | Book Depo}

{Add it on Goodreads}

Early Review: Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

Within Reach by Sarah Mayberry

What happens when the center of your universe dies?

Scientists  determine the location of black holes by watching the behavior of the  matter that surround them. They’re impossible to see on their own as  they suck down all light or any probes that might trace their  perimeters.

Billy  is at the center of Sarah Mayberry’s Within Reach, her death the black hole. She is the  impetus for the plot, the invisible force that sets events in motion,  but the book isn’t about her. Instead, Within Reach chronicles the lives  of those most affected by her absence: her husband Michael, her  children Eva and Charlie, and her best friend Angie.

Prior  to Billy’s death Angie and Michael were never particularly close. They  related to each other through Billy rather than any special personal  connection. In the wake of her death they pull together, sharing the  devastation of losing the most important person in either of their  worlds.

That’s why when Michael needs a kickstart, Angie is the one to  give it to him.

You  think this half life is doing any of you any good? When was the last  time you left the house to do anything other than drop Eva at school or  go to the supermarket? When was the last time you did something because  you wanted to rather than because you had to?

{Review} Come See About Me by C.K. Kelly Martin

Love is real and real love lasts. I used to feel sorry for people who didn’t believe in it—the people who were lonely with someone else or lonely alone. For awhile I was was one of the lucky ones.

C.K. Kelly Martin, who’s written several marvelous young adult novels, couldn’t find a traditional publisher for her first book for adults, Come See About Me.

According to Martin, no one knew how to market a novel with a 20 year old protagonist. Come See About Me certainly isn’t a teen novel, it’s mature and addresses themes that are not seen in the YA category. And since “Adult” fiction typically features older narrators, not a recent college dropout, it couldn’t be marketed as “Adult.” Essentially, a marketing problem* prevented this novel from hitting bookstore shelves. 

This is absolutely perplexing to me.

Luckily for us, Martin couldn’t keep to herself the story of Leah, a young woman who’s life has wholly stalled following the death of her boyfriend, Bastien, who was killed while crossing the street in Toronto. She flakes on her job, fails out of school, hides from her friends and family—she can’t move forward because of the loss. She wants to be alone with her memories and sadness over what should have been, over their lost future together.

Alone is what’s easier. Everyone else would prefer that I pretend my life hasn’t been hollowed out. They believe their expectations should carry some weight with me. Only Bastien truly carries any weight and people try to use that fact against me too and tell me what he would want for me. Some of the things they say about that might be right, but since he’s not here he doesn’t get to decide how I should handle his absence.

The early chapters, in which Leah recounts her relationship with Bastien, were incredibly difficult for me to read. The two went to high school in British Columbia together, though they weren’t even friends—acquaintances is a better description—and connected later, when they both went to college in Toronto. Their love was the forever sort, not the college dating temporary sort.

{Early Review} The Year of the Beasts by Cecil Castellucci + Nate Powell

I don’t know what I was expecting from The Year of the Beasts, but I definitely didn’t anticipate having my heart ripped out and stomped to bits in this slim, heart-wrenching novel-meets-comic. 

Young adult novelist Cecil Castellucci and comic artist Nate Powell teamed up to create a fascinating story told in alternating chapters. Castellucci’s chapters are straight-forward narrative about the changing relationships between two sisters as they both navigate their first romantic relationships; Powell’s chapters are beautifully drawn comics of an alternate reality in which a girl with snakes for hair navigates a new school year.

Eventually the two storylines merge, and that’s when the heart ripping and stomping hit. 

I can’t write a review of The Year of the Beasts without first discussing the format.

Sometimes, you read a book and it fills you with this weird evangelical zeal, and you become convinced that the shattered world will never be put back together unless and until all living humans read the book. 

People have written really amazing and thorough reviews of John Green’s latest, The Fault in Stars, because it’s really, really wonderful and readable and gut-wrenching

I, however, have been left unable to form a coherent thought about this book—nearly two months after finishing reading it. But nevertheless, I feel like I need to say something about it, because the book (as well as attending the Tour de Nerdfighting) really hit me and actually changed my thinking.

For real.

Anyway, like I said, since everyone’s reviewed it, I thought I’d just share a few of my reflections on this special novel. I mean, there’s a big blobby tear stain in my book. And I kind of think I’m too old to be crying over books, because, you know, I have to deal with real life and all that stuff, but geez… I guess I’ll never stop crying over books. The Fault in Our Stars also made me laugh out loud. Especially the thing about the Swedish rap. Which is why it’s so good, because any book that can combine all those things is so, you know, “wow.” 

Why I ♥ The Fault in Our Stars

{Review} Freefall by Mindi Scott

FNL Character Rating: Vince Howard!!!!!

{Editor’s Note: This is one of my favorite all-time novels, and one I recommend to people who think they don’t like YA fiction. I recommended this to Laura and I was thrilled that she loved it as much as I do. What’s even better is that Laura got different things out of it because of her own experiences with music, so it was doubly awesome to read her review. ~Sarah}

The first thing I loved about this book was the voice.

It is so rare and refreshing to read a YA book from a male POV. Author Mindi Scott, manages the very difficult task of making me, a 31 year old female adult, relate to a 16 year old teenage boy’s POV. It is seriously freaky how Mindi Scott managed to write wrote the male version of me (personality and humor) wise into a book character in Seth McCoy.