Nine // by Rachelle Dekker

//published 2020//

This book was kindly gifted to me by the publisher in exchange for a review.  Unfortunately, I misread the email… I thought this review was due by the end of the month, but apparently it was due by September 25!  So apologies for that.

Nine is a fast-paced book about a girl who has escaped from a secret government facility. Helped along by Zoe, a young woman with secrets of her own, they are doing their best to unravel the mystery of Lucy’s past.

There were a lot of things that I enjoyed about this book.  I really liked Zoe a lot.  I also found myself unwillingly drawn to Tom Seeley, the FBI agent in charge of chasing down Lucy.  He’s a classic anti-hero, full of conflict, determined to do his job, but starting to wonder if the job is the wrong thing to do.  There were a lot of layers to this story, and a lot of philosophical questions, mostly centered around the concept of humanity – what makes us human?

However, I ultimately felt like the philosophical questions sometimes took up more page time than the actual story, and there were a lot of extra complications that seemed to have been added only for the sake of bringing up more thoughtful questions, meaning that things got a bit muddled in the middle.  I was also very confused by a scenario towards the end of the book – there were just moments throughout where something kind of odd would happen that would take me out of the story.

While I did enjoy this book and gave it 4*, there was just something lacking.  I was especially surprised at this book’s take on religion, considering the publisher – it really comes across as almost anti-religion, which definitely isn’t what I would expect from Revell.  There definitely wasn’t any moment in time where the characters considered the concept of God, or thought that maybe what makes us human is the fact that we’ve been created in His image.  Instead, the conclusions to the philosophical questions came through as somewhat clinical.

Despite my reservations, I enjoyed this book while I was reading it, and I would be interested to see what else Dekker has written.

Side note: Since Goodreads makes it so much easier to insert spoilers, my review there does have some more details about the things that bothered me a bit –

September Minireviews – Part 1

Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a full review for whatever reason, either because life is busy and I don’t have time, or because a book didn’t stir me enough.  Sometimes, it’s because a book was so good that I just don’t have anything to say beyond that I loved it!  Frequently, I’m just wayyy behind on reviews and am trying to catch up.  For whatever reason, these are books that only have a few paragraphs of thoughts from me.

Chasing the Dead by Tim Weaver  – 3.5*

//published 2010//

I’m not sure how this mystery series first appeared on my radar.  The main character, David Raker, used to be an investigative reporter, but now works finding missing persons.  In this first installment, he’s hired by a mother whose adult son disappeared.  His body was found months later.  But now, a year after that, she’s convinced that she saw him walking down the street and that he’s alive.  David isn’t convinced, but agrees to at least try to find out where the son was between the time of his disappearance and the time that his body was found in a fiery car wreck.

There were a lot of things about this book that I like, especially David himself.  I also love the concept of him using his old reporter contacts to work these types of cases.  However, this one just went a little too over-the-top for me, especially the weird quasi-religious cult that just never actually seemed to be adequately explained in a way that genuinely justified everything that had happened.  While I liked this one fine, I didn’t love it, and there were a couple of torture scenes that I skimmed because that kind of thing makes me really queasy.  Still, I enjoyed it enough to pick up the second installment.

The Dead Tracks by Tim Weaver – 3.5*

//published 2011//

Oh look, here’s the second installment!!  A 17-year-old girl disappears into thin air.  With a genuinely happy home life, excellent grades, no boyfriend, and a solid future ahead of her, she seems like an unlikely candidate for a runaway.  Convinced the police aren’t giving it all, her parents hire David to find out what really happened, and soon he’s sucked into a complicated plot involving a serial killer and the Russian mafia.

Once again, I really liked David himself, and the story wasn’t bad, it was just… over-the-top.  Again.  Not every missing person disappears into the clutches of insane psychopaths, but here’s the second book in a row where that’s exactly what happened.  There were once again some a-little-too-gruesome-for-me scenes, and the killer/kidnapper was just… a little too bizarre.  All in all, while these weren’t bad books, they just aren’t for me.  They didn’t exactly feel like they could really happen, if that makes sense, and the fact that David keeps getting into these basically-should-be-dead situations and then getting out of them had me rolling my eyes a little.  It’s also possible that I just wasn’t in the mood for these.  Either way, I’ve checked the series off the TBR as I just don’t think it’s a great fit for me, despite not actually being bad reads.

Fangs by Sarah Anderson – 4*

//published 2020//

This is an absolutely adorable collection of comics about a vampire and a werewolf who are dating.  While not groundbreaking, I enjoyed every page.  The concept is done so well, and both characters come through as thoroughly likable.  I also appreciate the effort that went in to making the physical book a joy to handle – clothbound, black page edges, wonderful paper quality, and the perfect size.  Well worth a read if you enjoy the concept, and the book itself is fantastic.

Second Chance Summer by Jill Shalvis – 4*

//published 2015//

Sometimes I pick up a book and then realize it’s part of a series.  Luckily, this was book one, so I went ahead and rolled with it.  Lily has to return to her hometown in Colorado when her career in California goes bust.  Of course, in typical chick lit style this means running into her old crush, Aidan.  While this book wasn’t anything stunning, it was a really enjoyable romance, with a fairly balanced angst level.  Lily is working through some other family history that made a lot of what was happening feel reasonable.  Aidan wasn’t perfect, either, which I always like.  There were were a few too many sexy times for this to get my wholehearted approval (just not my thing) but overall total brain candy, which was exactly what I wanted.  There are two more books in the series, focused on two of Aidan’s siblings (who own a ski resort!!  I love hospitality romance haha) so I have those on reserve at the library.

Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery – 5*

//published 1917//

My reread of the Anne series continues.  In this book, Anne and Gilbert start their new life together on a different part of Prince Edward Island.  They meet their new neighbors and settle into life.  There are some wonderful side stories here, and one in particular really explores the importance of doing what is right even if it looks as though the results may not be what you want.  This book is always a little bittersweet to me, as we leave behind so many friends from Avonlea, but I still love it so much.  Also, I Gilbert and Anne were my first ship growing up, and I’m still here for it!

Rearview Mirror // August 2020

While June and July were two of my best reading months ever, August was a struggle.  There was a lot going on as I started back up at work, tried to get stuff wrapped up in the garden, and we began making plans for the final giant renovation in our house (bathroom/laundry room/master closet – which is probably going to take us the better part of a year to complete, and this month we really had to actually finalize what we wanted to have where – so overwhelming!).  Plus the world is just super weird and sometimes it gets me down!  I had a lot of so-so reads and a couple of ughs.  All in all, while August wasn’t a bad month, it also wasn’t awesome.

Still, September is a new month and things are settling back into a groove.  We drew our final draft of how the bathroom (etc) is going to look today, I’ve read over 1600 pages already this month, and life is humming along!

Favorite August Read

While I hate to put rereads in this slot, I just didn’t read anything I enjoyed more than Anne of the Island!

Most Disappointing August Read

Definitely Jane Austen in Scarsdale.  This book had a chance to be fun and flirty, and instead was cynical, bitter, and deadly boring.

Other August Reads

August Stats

  • Total Number of Books Read:  21 (all physical)
  • Total Pages Read:  5901 (really low for me)
  • Average Star Rating for June:  3.64
  • Longest Book:  Windfall (416 pages)
  • Shortest Book:  Mr. Popper’s Penguins (139 pages)
  • Oldest Book:  The Story of the Amulet (published 1906)
  • Newest Book:  Rogue Princess, Summer at Lake Haven, Outsider, Collateral Damage, and Acceptable Risk (all published 2020)
  • Number of New-to-Me Authors:  9

August DNFs

  • Mimi Lee Gets a Clue by Jennifer Chow – The first book in a new series, I thought I would check out this book centered on a young woman who has just opened her own pet grooming business.  Besides being incredibly boring, this book just honestly made almost no sense.  We start one what is supposedly Mimi’s first day of business, yet she is continually arriving late, closing early, and taking long lunches, which felt incredibly unrealistic.  There was really no motivation for her to be snooping around in the first place, and for some unknown reason her sister dumps a cat on her, which Mimi then feels apparently obligated to take with her everywhere – back and forth to work, with her when she goes out to lunch, with her when she goes to an appointment with an attorney, with her when she drives out into the country, etc etc.  Why is she carrying a cat around?!?!?  Eventually the cat starts talking to her so it makes a little more sense (if a talking cat makes sense) but at first she’s just lugging this cat around for no reason that I could possibly understand.  Just not the book for me.
  • Mischievous Meg by Astrid Lindgren – I’ve had this children’s book on my shelves forever.  Written by the author of Pippi Longstocking (which I’ve also never read), it’s about a little girl who is always getting into, well, mischief.  Normally I would just go ahead and finish a book that is so short (139 pages) but I honestly couldn’t take any more of Meg’s absolutely bratty behavior.  She was SO spoiled and obnoxious that instead of feeling like fun childhood pranks, reading about her adventures just made me want to give her a good spanking and send her to her room.  Another one for the giveaway box!
  • One Paris Summer by Denise Grover Swank – I’ve read another series by Swank in the past, so I thought I would give this one a try.  Because the other books of her I read were adult romance, I didn’t realize this one was YA until I started to read it.  Although I frequently enjoy YA, this one was just TOO FAR.  First off, I hate it when a book’s premise is “teen gets awesome opportunity but because teen is feeling bitter towards the parent providing it, teen is determined to hate his/her life,” which is exactly what happens here.  Sophie’s dad bailed on his family a year ago and now he’s living and getting married in Paris.  He wants Sophie and her brother to come spend the summer with him.  Sophie’s still mad about how her dad left, and is basically planning to hate every minute instead of making the best of her situation.  Literally everyone in this book, including the adults, were whiny, spoiled, entitled brats.  Sophie’s new stepsister is a horrific witch who bullies Sophie unmercifully with literally no explanation or even hint as to why.  Sophie spends all of her time pouting and being rude to her dad and new stepmother.  And yeah, her dad was definitely a jerk for bailing on his family, but is your big plan really just to be miserable forever in an attempt to punish him?  Of course, in the background we have the “Sophie’s mom is now super happy because she’s had the opportunity to someone who TRULY LOVES HER so Sophie’s dad leaving was actually the BEST THING that could have happened to her!”  HUGE EYE ROLL SORRY INFIDELITY IS NEVER THE BEST THING THAT CAN HAPPEN TO A MARRIAGE PLEASE STOP ATTEMPTING TO JUSTIFY IT.  All that to say – this one wasn’t for me, which was a disappointment simply because I’ve enjoyed other books by this author in the past.

TBR Update

This I keep updated as I go, so it’s current as of today, rather than as of the end of July.  I’m sure it’s off-kilter, though, because I get most of my TBR additions from reading book reviews on all of your lovely blogs, and despite my efforts to try and get caught up on reading them, I still have over 900 unread emails that are all blog entries!!!!

For those of you who don’t know, I’m weirdly obsessive with organizing the TBR, and have it on a spreadsheet divided into five different tabs:

  • Standalones:  466 (down two)
  • Nonfiction:  116 (down one)
  • Personal (which includes all books I own (fiction and nonfiction), but lists any series I own as only one entry…):  646 (down one)
  • Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series):  245 (up one)
  • Mystery Series (each series counted separately, not each book within a series): 112 (down one)

Reading Challenge Updates

  • #ReadingEurope2020 – visited no where!! – this challenge is NOT going to get completed this year but I’m still tracking it for fun (total 7/46 complete)
  • #ReadtheUSA2020 – visited three states: Idaho, Illinois, and Minnesota (total 31/50 complete – I’m hoping to get this one completed by the end of the year)
  • #SeparatedbyaPondTour – visited the states above, plus Nova Scotia. (Total 52/159 complete – this is still on the 3-year track)
  • #LitsyAtoZ – 0 books (22/26 complete – only weird letters left)
  • #BackwardsAtoZ – 11 books (No B through no L on my fourth list – I’m trying to do this one in order and to see how many times I can get through the alphabet!)

Current Reads

When I reread Cheaper by the Dozen and Belles on Their Toes earlier this year I found out that Frank Gilbreth, Jr. had written a third book about his parents, Time Out for Happiness, more of a straight biography of their work.  I’m in the middle of that one right now and really enjoying getting some more details about their work, as this book focuses more on the research his parents completed than it does on their family life (although the two intermingle quite a bit!).

A while back, someone on Litsy bought a book called S.  It’s hard to explain, but basically the book comes in a slipcover, and the slipcover has all the publication/author information.  Within the slipcover is a hardback book that is printed exactly as thought it was a library discard book from 1949 called Ship of Theseus.  When you open the book, the title page has some “handwritten” notes between two different people, whom you later find out are Eric and Jen.  The book belongs to Eric, who is an ex-grad student (long story) somewhat obsessed with the author of SOT, V.M. Straka.  Straka was a mysterious figure whose actual identity was never known – but Eric is determined to discover it, believing that the clues lie within this, Straka’s final book.  Jen also reads the books, making notes of her own in the margins, and the entire book is filled with their marginal conversation.  It also comes with multiple inserts of different kinds, additional pieces of paper and information that Eric and Jen are sharing – newspaper articles, copies of letters, postcards, etc.  The entire book is incredibly elaborate and absolutely amazing.  I’m not very far into it, so I don’t know if the story itself will be worthwhile, but just reading it is a rather wild journey, with multiple stories within stories within stories creating a swirling and fascinating tale of many layers.

Up Next

The probably next five (ish) reads

  • Thorn by Intisar Kharnani – a retelling of The Goose Girls, one of my favorites.
  • The Crimson Thread by Suzanne Weyn – a retelling of Rumplestiltskin, because apparently I’m on a fairy tale kick haha
  • Summon the Keeper by Tanya Huff – my next traveling book club book
  • Virtual Unicorn Experience by Dana Simpson – the newest Phoebe & Her Unicorn book!!
  • The Two Princesses of Bamarre and The Lost Kingdom of Bamarre by Gail Carson Levine – I’ve had mixed results with Levine’s work, but it’s been sooo long since I read Two Princesses that I thought I would give it a try, especially since there’s now a prequel (?) that I’ve never read.

Well, that’s the August update – hopefully everyone’s September is going well!!

Jane Austen in Scarsdale // by Paula Marantz Cohen

//published 2006//

If this book hadn’t been one I was reading for the traveling book club, I would never have finished it.  It combined so many things that I loathe.  It was pretentious and unbelievable with characters I despised.  There wasn’t really much of a story, and all the characters were bitter and cynical.  And to top it off – I was completely bored through every page.  This was definitely a book where it felt like the author was constantly condescending to you to remind you of how clever she was.

So this is a loose (VERY LOOSE) retelling of Persuasion.  Anne is a guidance counselor at a high school in New York, still single because she let the One True Love of her life get away years ago – Ben was poor and from a poor family, and Anne’s grandma (the one person in life she truly trusts, which honestly never made sense to me because her grandma was a snobby, selfish jerk) convinced Anne that she should break up with him.  Since then, Ben has gone on to become a famous author of travel books and has seen the world, while Anne has stayed in her hometown watching her father and sister rack up debts while she herself works a job full of petty difficulties.

Because Anne is a guidance counselor, an inordinate amount of time in this book is spent talking about the lengths various parents are willing to go to try and get their kids into good colleges.  It was… genuinely unbelievable.  I just couldn’t accept that people were willing to lie, cheat, bribe, etc. just so their kid could get into a school.  Every single parent in this book came across as mentally unstable, constantly frothing at the mouth in rage, screaming at random people, storming into Anne’s office, just literally and completely irrational in every way.  And Anne is all like, “Oh, you know, so stressful getting kids into college!” – as though this behavior is normal and expected…!!!!!!

Everything about this book was depressing.  Anne herself was a depressing, passive character.  Her father and sister were horrific – in Persuasion they are self-centered characters, yes, but in this version they bordered on psychopaths with their completely willingness to destroy anyone and anything that got in the way of them enjoying life.  Their entire involvement in the story also made no sense.  In Persuasion, Anne’s financial stability is inextricably tied up with her father’s because of the way things worked at that time.  But here, Anne has her own job, her own apartment, and is financially independent – yet for some reason is still very stressed about her father’s debt, and is the one taking on selling the house, despite the fact that it’s mentioned multiple times that he’s the one who is going to get the money from it.  So why does Anne care?????  It makes literally no sense, and honestly drove me a little crazy, especially because it’s not like there is any kind of family bond between them – we’re told repeatedly that Anne’s father has never liked her, and neither does her sister, so while I could have understood Anne not wanting them to end up homeless on the streets, her obsession with making sure that their debts were paid just never rang true.

This book had virtually no plot.  Oh, Ben is back in town and his nephew is going to be a student at Anne’s high school… okay?  The only interaction we get between Anne and Ben is found through flashbacks.  They have maybe 3-5 conversations in real time during this book.  The rest is about how happy they were ten years ago, which didn’t really convince me that their life would be great now.  Instead, the vast majority of the pages in this book are taken up with absolutely idiotic stories about the students in Anne’s school.  A crazy guy comes to talk; he runs a business that basically makes your kid “look good” on college resumes.  An entire chapter of this guy nattering on as though I could possibly find what he has to say even remotely interesting.  It was stuff like that over and over and over again.  Constant barrages of random parents coming and and ranting at Anne and Anne calming them down and convincing them that they should do such-and-such yadda yadda yadda  I thought it was never going to end.

Throughout the entire thing, everyone is SO cynical.  I’ve already mailed this book to the next unlucky person on the list and didn’t think to write down any of the quotes, but basically my impression was that Cohen had some kind of horrible college admission experience in her past and this entire book was her purging it from her system.  Or something.

And to top all of that off, there was a constant snide, belittling attitude towards anyone who doesn’t want to go to college, like that’s literally the worst possible thing that could happen to you.  Even students who were interested in going to “regular” colleges were treated like secondhand garbage.  Ugh.  Guys, it was SO HORRIBLE.  Honestly, the worst part was this horrible bitterness over the entire book.  I think I could have handled it better if it had actually been funny, but instead all the “funny” bits just sounded bitter.

All in all, this was the worst book I’ve read in a long time.  I will say that reading it for traveling book club at least meant that I could succumb to my desire to write scathing comments in the margins, so that helped.  1* and please don’t read this if you can possibly avoid it.

August Minireviews – Part 3

Sometimes I don’t feel like writing a full review for whatever reason, either because life is busy and I don’t have time, or because a book didn’t stir me enough.  Sometimes, it’s because a book was so good that I just don’t have anything to say beyond that I loved it!  Frequently, I’m just wayyy behind on reviews and am trying to catch up.  For whatever reason, these are books that only have a few paragraphs of thoughts from me.

Uhoh, we’re into September now!!  Still trying to knock out August reviews.

A Dance Through Time by Lynn Kurland – 3*

//published 1996//

While I do enjoy romance, time travel romance is a subgenre that I’m not usually into.  This read was for the traveling book club, though, so I waded through it.  While it wasn’t a bad story, and I did overall like the characters, it just went on FOREVER.  Some of the jumping-through-time bits got a little muddled as well (they brought their horses with them from the past??).  While I didn’t mind this as a one-time read, it definitely didn’t inspire me to check out the rest of the series, and solidified the idea that time-travel romance just isn’t my thing.

Sweet Revenge by Nora Roberts – 4*

//published 1988//

I rarely worry about issuing trigger warnings for books (mainly because I don’t really read books that need them), but this book was hard to read at times as it dealt with a situation where a woman was repeatedly raped and abused.  The whole point of the story is that the main character is getting revenge on her father for the way he treated her mother, but I felt like Roberts felt way too long with the bits explaining why the daughter would want revenge.  There’s a lot here about the mother’s suffering and horrible life. Even after she escaped from her horrific husband, she struggled with depression and drug/alcohol abuse and eventually commits suicide, and it’s all quite depressing, to the point that I almost DNF’d this book more than once.  (Just to clarify, none of this was super explicit, but it’s all THERE.)  But when we FINALLY got through that section, the story really picked up.  Basically, the daughter becomes a jewel thief to pay all of her mother’s medical bills (she’s technically royalty, as her father is a ruler of a middle eastern country, so she runs in rich circles) and her ultimate goal is to steal an incredibly valuable necklace from her father – one that technically belonged to her mother, as it was his bridal gift to her.  Along the way, she runs into another jewel thief/romantic interest (my favorite character) and that whole bit of the story is really quite delightful.  I could have used a LOT more heist shenanigans and way less spousal abuse chapters.

In the end, while I actually really enjoyed the way this whole story played out, and quite liked the main characters, the first part of the story was just SO depressing and dragged on for so long that I don’t ever see myself reading this one again.

Summer at Lake Haven by RaeAnne Thayne – 4*

//published 2020//

Last December I read the entire Lake Haven series and thoroughly enjoyed them.  They weren’t groundbreaking, but they were relaxing and happy romances with likable characters and a small-town setting.  Summer at Lake Haven is the latest installment and was just as enjoyable as the rest.  My favorite part about this book was the way that the main characters actually had conversations with each other like adults instead of making assumptions and then staying mad for no reason, as so often happens in this type of book. So refreshing!  I also loved how Ian’s parents were actually super nice.  Lots of times the parents are these evil background characters, but here they were kind, welcoming, and supportive, and I thought it was fantastic.

Like the rest of the books, this wasn’t anything that will blow your mind, but if you’re just looking for a way to veg out, I definitely recommend this series.  While this one can be read as a stand alone (as they all can), all the background characters will make way more sense if you read the series in order.

Outsider by Linda Castillo – 4*

//published 2020//

Another series that I read last year, with another latest installment.  This mystery series is set in Ohio’s Amish country and focuses on the sheriff of a small town.  Kate was raised Amish but left the faith, eventually becoming a police officer and then moving back to her own hometown.  This series overall is really just excellently written.  Kate is likable, and the Amish community background is handled so well.  This particular book took a slightly different direction, as it was much more “thriller” rather than a murder mystery like the rest.  In this book, the Amish were also more background than foreground.  Still, I really enjoyed this read a lot, and hope there are many more books about Kate Burkholder to come.

While this one can be read as a standalone, it will also make a lot more sense in the context of the series, which is so enjoyable that I recommend reading them all anyway.

Partners in Crime by Agatha Christie – 4*

//published 1929//

I really love Tommy and Tuppence so much.  Tommy now works for “the government” in a sort of vague way/implied that he works in intelligence.  He and Tuppence go somewhat undercover by taking over a private detective agency that is suspected of being used to move “information” by a mysterious foreigner known as 16.  However, the majority of the book is actually connected short stories as Tommy and Tuppence solve legitimate mysteries to keep up their detective cover.  For each one, they take on the persona of a famous detective, which is both the fun part and the weakness of this story, as many of the detectives that were well-known in 1929 have fallen out of favor 90 years later.  Still, if you enjoy Christie’s writing, you’ll find a lot to like here as the mysteries themselves are clever.  Not my favorite Christie, but still an enjoyable read.

Windfall // by Jennifer Smith

//published 2017//

This was one of those books that just wasn’t for me, even though objectively it was a perfectly fine book.  Alice is an orphan who has lived with her aunt, uncle, and cousin since the death of her parents when she was nine.  Now a senior in high school, she spends most of her free time volunteering for a plethora of charities and secretly pining after her best friend, Teddy.  Since Alice and her cousin, Leo, are the same age, the three of them have all been really close since Alice came to live with Leo’s family.  For Teddy’s 18th birthday, Alice and Leo get him some “adult” things – Leo buys him a pack of cigarettes, and Alice buys him a lottery card.  But when it turns out that the lottery card is actually a huge winner, everything changes.

Like I said, this wasn’t really a bad book.  However, it definitely had some pacing issues.  Parts of this book were SO slow and boring, with literally nothing happening except Alice thinking her thoughts.  Other parts felt rushed, with lots of important stuff happening all at once.  It was really weird to have a book about a big event (winning the lottery) focus on someone on the peripheral instead of the actual person who won.  Throughout the story, Teddy tries to get Alice to take some of the money  since she’s the one who actually picked the numbers, but she refuses for reasons that are pretty vague and felt completely unbelievable coming from an 18-year-old.  Actually, a big part of my problem with this book was that Alice herself felt completely unbelievable.  She spends all of her time volunteering all sorts of different places because she wants to live up to some vague ideal of her parents, but it seemed almost impossible that she could have time to do all the stuff she was doing AND get perfect grades AND hang out with her friends AND be a part of her family.  She serves meals at a soup kitchen and helps kids read at the library and picks up trash etc etc etc.  All perfectly worthy goals, but it just came through as way too much.

Teddy lets all the money go to his head and basically Alice keeps lecturing him about how he should be spending it, despite the fact that she won’t take any of the money herself.  At one point, Teddy more or less says “if you think you have all these great ideas for this money, why don’t you take your half and do what you want with it” and honestly I felt the same.  Alice was such a nag, and it felt so hypocritical for her to keep telling Teddy what he should be doing while also saying that she couldn’t take the money herself because it was “too much responsibility.”  :: eye roll ::

In the end (spoiler) Teddy decides to set up this amazing charity with his money and wants Alice and Leo to help him run it.  And what does Alice say?  “Oh, thanks, but I’ve realized I really need to take more time for myself.”  What.  Even.  Like basically in the end Teddy realizes that he needs to use his resources to help people, but Alice realizes her parents were actually perfect so it’s okay for her to be more selfish.  The whole “point” of the story seemed incredibly muddled and left me feeling confused.

Despite my complaining, it wasn’t a bad story to read.  There are a lot of fun points, and there are some good lessons about dealing with grief, and about how grief doesn’t just magically disappear after a certain amount of time.  I rarely write down quotes from books, but there was a line in this one that really hit me – There’s a space between forgetting and moving on, and it’s not easy to find.  It’s so hard when you lose someone close to you, because you both want to cling to every memory you have, and at the same time to not do that because now all those memories are somewhat painful and hard.  As with most of life, it can be very difficult to find balance.

In the end, I liked this book, but felt like Smith herself wasn’t completely sure what she wanted to say.  Not a bad read, but not one I’m going to pick up again.