It's been a very long time since I've picked up a book and loved it immediately from the first page, easily one of my favourite feelings.
It's been even longer since I read a book and when I wasn't reading it the characters were still stuck in my head.
Sure this could be because I didn't read as much this summer (missing my old summer gig that let me read at work) but I just haven't been clicking with the books I've picked. Even the latest Harry Potter, albeit a play, still didn't hook me in until halfway through. I've read plays before too and I just couldn't get into the plot and new characters.
As you know by know, at my new job I have access to books that aren't published yet. They're the first drafts of the books, still with errors and changes to be made, completely raw and certainly not for sale. Free books? I'll take them! The strange thing about this huge shelf of books is that chances are, unless you read a lot about upcoming books, most are unknown to you. Most of the authors I didn't even recognize!
So what I did my first time digging through the shelf was judge purely off the cover, then take a quick read to see if it's something I would like. Luckily, my first time doing this worked out perfectly.
About the Book
I love a simplistic cover and those blue fish won me over. Okay well the back of the book did, but they helped.
Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can't-eat-can't-sleep kind of love that he's been hoping for just hasn't been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he's been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything's about to change.
Grace isn't who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys' clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It's obvious there's something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn't your average story of boy meets girl.
How could I not be hooked after that? This is the Krystal Sutherland's debut novel too and I cannot wait for her next one (truly) because I love her voice and sure I was crying by the end, like I do with good books, but I'm all the more willing to cry over her next one if need be.
The part about writing a review that I don't quite get is how much to give away or not so I'm going to go with less is more.
I am more or less infatuated with the main character - Henry Page. One of the things I like most about the book is that it's written from a male's POV, something that I tend to do when I write and enjoy because of course the inside look at what a guy could be thinking. Grace Town is a character that I loved and disliked all at once. You feel for her struggles, admire her strength, and question her choices all while trying to figure her out. Sutherland puts enough details into her character, from their clothes to their song choices, that they linger in your head long after you've closed the book, something that I admire greatly.
The book is, really, about falling in love with the idea of someone rather than the person that they truly are. Something I write often about, think about more and can relate to.
I won't go into much detail about the plot because the slight twists are what kept me going and I would hate to spoil it for anyone. If you're trying to decide whether to give it as a gift I will at least say there's some language, drinking and sex that might make it better for say 16? Depends on the person really, but it's nothing too extreme.
The Bits I Love(d)
For this book, "bits" seems silly becauseI truly enjoyed it from start to finish, but I digress.
Do you ever read a book and as you go through it you freak out a little because it's something you would write? Or say? That was this book for me.
I won't deny that one of the reasons I kept the book was because the main character's name is Henry, my go-to name for a guy every time I go to write something. But there was so much more than that!
Throughout the book Sutherland uses pop culture references, some that you might not even notice unless you're paying very close attention. My favourite instance being when Henry described a girl's hate for someone by saying "[she] did not hate him - not even a little bit, not even at all." This is actually a tiny shoutout to one of my favourite movies of all time 10 Things I hate About You. I was so excited I squealed and dog-earred the page for remembrance. And then there's a huge nod to The Notebook, another book/movie that owns my heart, that is so realistic and relatable that it truly sealed the deal that Sutherland has mastered the art of tying in other books and movies so the reader can relate even more so.
Another part I loved was Henry's collection (and symbolism) of Kintsukuroi pieces. Most people have no idea what Kintsukuroi means, but I've loved the idea behind it for a long time. I actually have pictures of it saved in my "to write" folder.
I have loved the idea of this art for a long time and to have it mentioned a few times throughout the book was great.
There were so many lines in the book that I just want to throw around as quotes but they don't really fit the conversations I have. So while this is also a strange bit for a review (does this even count as a a review or is it more a ramble?) I'm going to share ( a few of) my favourite lines:
- ...if people really were assembled from pieces of the universe, her soul was made of stardust and chaos.
- But what do you give a girl whose mind is like the universe, when the brain inside your own head is stuck firmly on planet Earth?
- Stories with happy endings are just stories that aren't finished yet.
- Some days you will believe that every atom of your being is defective somehow. What you need to remember...is that you are extraordinary.
I have pages marked that I'm just in love with the entire page, but I'll spare you those details and pages so you can fall in love yourself.
Should you read it?
Am I allowed to declare that in a review? A preview really, since it's not out yet? Maybe not...
Okay well if you enjoy John Green, then certainly. That's the author I can relate Sutherland the most to, and I mean it as a sincere compliment because he is one of my favourites that I never hesitate to recommend.
As I mentioned, it is intended for a younger audience seeing as it's a YA novel but hey I'm (basically) 25 and I couldn't put it down. The fact that it's written by a woman and told through the eyes of a man (well he's 17) I think would make it a great read for either a boy or girl, especially those of the hopeless romantic varieties.
How about this: if you're looking for a book that keeps you thinking, makes your heart swell and break a little at the same time, giggle to yourself in public, and tear up because it's over, then this is your next read.
For more about the author and the book, check out Krystal Sutherland's website. Please keep in mind that this (somewhat) review contains my thoughts alone, even if they're a bit messy. The book should be out next month (October!) so keep your eyes peeled!