Review Hacklet: The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson ~ I yawped

It totally is.

It totally is.

1 heartI have to make this one a hacklet instead of a full hack because almost all the things I want to talk about are way too specific and spoilers in the sense that it was such a delight to come across certain little parts of this book and I’d hate to be that person who ruins someone else’s reading/watching/viewing/listening experience by nudging them and saying “Just WAIT until you get to the part where…!” I don’t want to be that guy.

So I’ll talk more generally. This book is full of all the elements that potentially make a book a turn-off for me: a love triangle, a bitchy rival, wall-to-wall quirky characters, Wuthering Heights references,  a (yet another) main character numb with grief, a (yet another) missing mother, bits of poetry written by the griever, a love interest that acts like a jerk and yet is still pursued by the narrator, and to top it off, the reviled first person present tense (FPPT) narration. Toxic, right? Nope. This book made me yawp. An honest to goodness Whitman-esque yawp.

In fact, though very different, The Sky is Everywhere gave me the same feeling I get when I read that Whitman poem. Warm, expansive, tingly, full of feeling, earthy. Whitman’s poems invites you to take a sky’s eye view of life, and you can guess from the title, that this book does too. Nelson is very daring to explore the intensities of grief and love and how those wires can get dangerously intensified or even crossed. And yet despite these intense emotions, the book was expertly leavened by the right amount of humor.

I enjoyed this book so much that I had to stop reading a few chapters before the end, so that I wouldn’t have to leave it. The story ends perfectly, and yet I wish it had kept going on. I want to live some more with those characters. I think for now, I’ll go re-read that Whitman and yawp some more.

 

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Review Hacklet: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell ~ Love with high stakes

Q: Could this cover be more perfect?  A: No. No, it could not.

Q: Could this cover be more perfect?
A: No. No, it could not.

Verdict: An 80’s-nostalgic love story between two outcasts that can be easily appreciated by teens (and older) today. It has Romeo and Juliet undertones and references, but manages to avoid cliché or senseless tragedy.

Perfect for: Readers who love tales of romance between relateable, realistic characters; Aficionados of alternative 80s music and 80s comic books.

Summary: Set in Omaha in 1986, Eleanor, a new student at her high school, is instantly deemed to be a mockable outcast due to her unruly mop of red hair, “fat” body, “weird” clothes, and her redneck stepdad and rundown house. Park is socially in limbo: his dad is a strapping white guy veteran with generations of roots in the area, but his mom is from Korea; usually Park is tolerated or ignored by his classmates, but other times he becomes the target of teasing because of his Asian features.  Park tries his best to exist under the social radar, but when Eleanor ends up as his school bus seatmate, he fears that he will be associated with her and therefore be teased as relentlessly as she is. Over the weeks, however, Park’s empathy for Eleanor begins to outweigh his fears and he begins to make small gestures of friendship.  Eventually the two find that they have more in common with each other than anyone else they know. But can they let a relationship develop in the hostile social environment of their high school? And can Eleanor risk the wrath of her controlling, alcoholic stepdad?

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Review Hacklet: Getting over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald ~ a fluffy antidote to hipster lit

She's covering her face for the shame of crushing on a pretentious hipster

She’s covering her face for the shame of crushing on a pretentious hipster

Verdict: An entertaining read. It’s like a palate-cleansing sorbet: it’s not the main course but especially if you’ve been reading more demanding books, it will lighten you up for the next challenge.

Perfect for: Fans of Sarah Dessen’s romances who want something more funny and even more light and frothy.

Summary: Sadie has been in love with her friend Garrett for, like, ever. But while he is away at camp, Sadie has an epiphany: she’s been wasting her life following Garrett around like a lost puppy. So she begins a program of detoxing herself of her crush in preparation for his return, with varying successes. Meanwhile, without Garrett around, Sadie makes some new friends and even resuscitates her friendship with her former BFF and neighbor, Kayla.

1 heart This book pulled a fast one on me! At first I was like, why does Sadie have the hots for Garrett? He’s such a pretentious hipster and she’s acting like one too. Am I supposed to like these people? But then Sadie has her epiphany and as she detoxes she starts to see Garrett for who he is, ie someone who would make Sadie feel embarrassed to watch Bring It On and Clueless (for shame!). When Sadie finally pulls out her copies of these DVDs I cheered. And chuckled. I thought McDonald did a great job showing how a crush can give you such tunnel-vision about a person and how easy it is to lose your own bearings when you like someone. It was nice to see Sadie struggling with how to show an interest in a guy with keeping her own identity.

I also loved seeing Sadie reconnect with her old friend Kayla, whom she abandoned as being “too regular people” when she fell in with Garrett. After just seeing all of Freaks and Geeks for the first time, it made me think of Lindsay and Millie and how awesome it was when Lindsay finally rediscovers what a good friend Millie is. The book also made me think about how Lindsay finally realizes that she doesn’t have a crush on sometimes-poseur Daniel.

1 scissors I mean, whatever, it was predictable and fluffy. It was in First Person Present Tense (*sigh*)(boo). I guess the only thing that really bothered me was that Sadie’s mom seemed a little bit two-dimensional. But I don’t think it really matters. This is a popsicle book, perfect for summer.  Garrett Delaney wouldnever want to read a book like this, which is recommendation enough 🙂

Review: First Comes Love – by Katie Kacvinsky ~ A YA love story with depth (that deserves a better book jacket and a better ending)

Don’t Judge This Book By Its Lame Cover

Good story – Let’s hack it and make it great

  Verdict: A touching look at the thrill of first love between two (mostly) non-standard YA characters. While the book treats its characters – and love – seriously, there is plenty of humor and fun here too. Why only three hearts? Well…some little things and some spoilers below in the hacking section…

Perfect for:  Readers who want to read a more mature and less fantastical version of Bridge to Terabithia or Stargirl. People who like romance stories, obvs.

Summary: Gray notices Dylan at his community college campus and wonders why this new girl is always acting so conspicuously weird and different from all the students who try to blend in (like he does). When they finally meet, Gray is both fascinated and repelled by this confident, strange girl, while Dylan feels it is her personal mission to get Gray to lighten up and have some creative fun. Over time they become friends – and more than friends – but can a relationship between such different people last?  The book is told in alternating first person narratives from Gray and Dylan.

 Just When You Thought You Had Another Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Brooding Loner Guy….

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