Falling Into Place by Amy Zhang

falling into place

Written by author Amy Zhang while she was still in high school, Falling Into Place explores the life of Liz Emerson,  a high school it-girl willing to do just about anything to stay at the top of the social ladder. Liz develops a conscience as she notices the way her actions affect the lives of her peers and, feeling like nobody really knows her or cares about who she really is, she decides it would be better for all involved if she just killed herself. So she plans it out and goes through with her plan.

Now, a book like this has the potential to be horribly depressing, but this one isn’t. Zhang’s writing is raw and gritty (language, casual sexual references, drug use, and more) but it’s also intriguing and ultimately hopeful. The way the story is constructed, told in chunks hopping around from months before her suicide to childhood memories to the moments before the crash, allows the reader a chance to really understand Liz and her closest friends and family members. Through these snipers of story we come to know Liz’s whole story, and we can see that she’s not nearly as alone as she believes that she is.

Falling Into Place is gut-wrenching and honest and relevant in a way that must come from the author’s age – in high school herself when it was written – which makes it impossible to ignore. SE Hinton wrote about the Greasers and the Socials, rumbles and drive-ins, when she was just a teenager herself, and Falling Into Place will do much the same for today’s world. The issues of drugs, promiscuity, bullying, social media, depression, and suicide are all very real in the lives of today’s high schoolers, and it’s in books like this that those issues find a solid voice.

The stories of Liz, Julia, Kennie, and Liam will not be soon forgotten. This is a remarkable debut from a talented writer; Zhang is definitely one to watch for the future.

I highly recommend checking out Falling Into Place, which is out now. You can find it here on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller.

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We Were Liars by E. Lockhart

 

we were liars

 

Mark my words… this will be the next YA title to take the world by storm, like The Fault In Our Stars did last year. I so hope they make a movie out of this.

All I can really say about this without giving anything away is that it was really, really beautifully written and masterfully crafted. I started this thinking I was getting into a typical summery beach YA title, but what I found was something that consumed my entire Sunday because I just could not put it down. This is the first E. Lockhart title I’ve read, and it has single-handedly turned me into a fan.

The characters are intriguing, and the style with which Lockhart builds this story is effortlessly suspenseful and mysterious.

I can’t even tell you what it reminds me of without getting into spoilers, so I won’t. But you should definitely read it when it comes out next week! Preorder, reserve, send to kindle… whatever. Get it.

With a twist I didn’t see coming, Liars shocked me in the most delightful way… but the best part about that was I could go back and see the clues Lockhart left along the way, and though I never would have seen the end coming, it made perfect sense once I got there.

Nantucket Red by Leila Howland

nantucket red

As we already know, I’m a sucker for a good YA story with a beautiful, beachy, romantic cover. So, when I saw this cover in NetGalley’s YA section, I just knew I had to get it.

What I didn’t know when I started reading is that it’s actually the second book in Howland’s Nantucket series, the first of which is Nantucket Blue (the cover of which is equally as beachy and romantic and gorgeous, as seen below). Sometimes you just can’t pick up a sequel and have any idea what’s going on, but that wasn’t the case here. Howland does a great job of providing enough back story that someone like me can know what’s happening without having read the first book, but I don’t think there was so much backstory that it would have bored me if I’d read the first book.

In Nantucket Red, the protagonist is Cricket Thompson, a senior in high school who works her butt off to get what she’s always dreamed of – a spot on the lacrosse team at Brown University. She succeeds, and in the summer between her high school graduation and freshman year of college, she spends a few months on Nantucket, earning money for her freshman year at Brown. Of course beach-filled fun and romance ensue as Cricket tries to salvage her best-friendship, considers the new available (or is he?) guy she works with, and tries to get over her first love (who just happens to be her best friend’s brother, which is why she’s trying to salvage that best-friendship). Along the way, though, Cricket does something far more important – she begins to think about what she really wants to do with her life, and whether or not jumping into her freshman year at Brown is really the right answer.

Overall, I liked Cricket a lot. She was realistically flawed as a human being and she struggled with decisions in a way typical of older teens, but she was able to resolve her problems and set herself off in a positive direction for beginning adulthood. If more books follow in this Nantucket series, I’ll definitely be checking them out.

Nantucket Red will be out next week on May 13th, which gives you time to read Nantucket Blue before then! Check them out here on Amazon or at your favorite bookseller.

nantucket blue

 

nantucket blue

When Books Become Movies…

books into movies 2014 from buzzfeed

I’m really excited about how many of these books are YA titles, and especially excited about three of my favorite books one the big screen this year: The Giver, The Fault In Our Stars, and Divergent. Now go read them before the movies come out!

Roomies by Sara Zarr and Tara Altebrando

roomies sara zarr tara altebrando This book made me want to go back to college. Not like now, as an adult, adding college classes to the insane list of everything else I already do, but like be 17 and about to start college for the first time again. (No, I’m not saying I’d wish away my family or anything crazy like that. Calm down.)

Roomies does a great job of capturing two girls’ emotions as they transition from high school at home to living on the campus of UC Berkley. Elizabeth (known as EB) is an East Coast only child living with her single mom of questionable morals. Lauren is a native San Franciscan living with her parents and seemingly dozens of siblings as one big happy family. When they find out they’re going to be roommates, EB starts off an e-mail chain of correspondence spanning the remainder of their summer as they wrestle through the important things leading up to college:

  • Who brings what stuff?
  • What happens to my high school friendships?
  • Long distance romances… yes or no?
  • How can I leave my family?
  • How can I NOT leave my family?
  • Am I really ready to grow up?
  • Will we get along and be able to live with each other?
  • Can even I do this?

On top of all of that, which was fun to watch as EB and Lauren grew up over the course of the summer and developed a great foundation of a relationship to start their college experiences off with, the story is told in alternating points of view, which I love. I’m a sucker for a well written story with multiple points of view. I find it fascinating. And in this case, with Zarr and Altebrando both writing (I assume they each wrote one of the girls), they really FELT like two completely different people instead of one person writing two characters. It was cool.

I’d recommend this for girls in high school, probably tenth grade and up, and for college/adult women as well. There’s a lot here to make you reflect on your own college experience. It made me wonder how my college years could have been different if I’d had a chance to get to know a roommate before moving in. Or what I would have done differently that summer before college knowing how those high school relationships would fade away so quickly once I moved across the country.

Anyway, I really enjoyed these two characters and seeing how their final summers at home played out. I’d also really like to see a follow-up of their first year in college or something. While the story ended well and I felt satisfied that it was sufficiently finished, I also wanted to know more about them.

Make sure you check it out! Roomies releases on December 24 and can be ordered here on Amazon.