Do you know why I hate getting my tetanus booster? Reason one: NEEDLES. Punch me, pinch me, slap me, do whatever the heck you want to me, just DO NOT stick needles into me. I was freaking out about it the whole day, sat down in the exam room squeezing my stepdad's hand like there was no tomorrow, and after all that the nurse pulled a sneak attack on me and I barely even felt it. BUT. Still. Needles are not cool.
I mean, take a good, hard look at the thing. ISN'T IT JUST NAUSEATING?!?!?!?! If you say it is not, then you are LYING. (Unless, perhaps, you are Katniss in disguise, in which case I would believe you. And then demand that you go elope with Gale and give Peeta my number.)
Reason two? IT HURTS. Like crazy. The actual needle may not, but the muscle spasms, chills, nausea, etc. you start to get a few hours after? Yeah. Not cool. The only thing that transforms me into more of a wimp than needles is...being sick. I am ashamed, but it's true. (Apparently not everybody gets sick afterwards, but just to increase my intense feelings of wimpiness, I did.)
But you know what I love about getting my tetanus booster? When I'm sick, I can sit on the couch. And read. All. Day. Long. Which kind of makes everything better. (Tetanus, in case you're wondering, I STILL HATE YOU for existing, because if you didn't exist there would be no need for a booster, which would mean I wouldn't be feeling like complete and utter crap while I'm writing this. IT HURTS TO TYPE!!!) Ahem. Moving on. So, when you are lying on the couch reading and feeling immensely sorry for yourself, you know what really makes everything better?
Actually, I'm cheating a little since my real dose of Meg Cabot therapy was a few days ago, during a period of emotional crappiness instead of tangible aches and pains, but if I hadn't plowed through All-American Girl then, I definitely would have whipped it out now, so you all get where I'm coming from. Right?
Anyway, there is nothing quite like laughing at Meg Cabot's whiny, pop-culture loaded jokes or snickering at her characters. I do not care what you have to say about her writing, she has (A), written more books than you or I ever will and is most certainly richer, perhaps even more than you and I put together, and (B), saved me from many a nasty, icky day I wish would just go away.
No, it didn't make me cry, but despite the fact that it is about an abusive boyfriend and INSANELY depressing, I felt much better for reading it. A copy of This Lullaby was also part of the PBS package, and I can't wait to dig in, maybe even sometime this evening!
Anyway, this is Maggie, signing off, still feeling like crap and letting you know that I am still in need of guest posts. Actual posting by me till then will be pretty sparse, due to the fact that I have an essay to write and lots of packing to be done in the next six days, but I do have two reviews coming up that I can't wait to post, so keep an eye out!
June 15, 2010
June 13, 2010
Associate Links (Preorder): Amazon/IndieBound
- Why I picked it up: Received copy from author, intriguing premise
- Disclosure: Received ARC from author, no other reimbursement
In THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, two teens are forced to make some very grown-up decisions when one of them is diagnosed with terminal cancer.Sometimes an author captures me with their style without quite capturing me with their story...which is pretty much what happened here. To be honest? I thought that this novel wasn't fleshed out enough, was too whiny in tone, too singular in its focus, and not very believable. But the concept and prose held a LOT of potential, and I'll definitely be picking this author's work up in the future.
Sixteen year old Samantha has been best friends with seventeen year old Jesse since she moved into the New York high-rise apartment next door to his thirteen years ago. Jesse is their school's poster child for popularity: good-looking, a star athlete, even Romeo in the school play. On opening night he collapses on stage. That's when doctors discover the unthinkable: a tumor on his spine. His type of cancer is virtually incurable – 97% of those diagnosed die within ten months.
Jesse shuts down, refusing to see most of his friends. He submits to treatments of chemo and radiation, but he doesn't possess hope. Sam is the one person he’ll talk to. He convinces his mom to let her sleep in another bed in his room, saying he's afraid to die alone.
That’s when Jess and Sam make a startling, bittersweet discovery: they’ve been in love all along.
THE GIRL NEXT DOOR addresses the universal question: In an unpredictable world, how can we possibly feel safe?
Sam annoyed me right off the bat. First of all, I couldn't get a handle on what was going on in her head, ever. She seemed obsessive and irrational; one of those characters that you just shake your head at and weep. Secondly, I couldn't understand why her parents and teachers didn't intervene a little bit more. There were ways Sam could have expressed how she was feeling in a much more reasonable fashion, in my opinion. And highlight to see spoiler: Sam's mother just lets them get married? Just like that? No problems? I'm pretty sure my mother would be sympathetic, but marriage would have been a no way, no how kind of move. That whole part of the book just smacked of Breaking Dawn, and not in a good way.
It took a little longer for Jesse to get on my nerves, but get on my nerves he did. Actually, I thought the strongest part of the story were Sam and Jesse's mothers. They were flawed, believable characters that nevertheless went out of their way to support their children, and I'd really like to see more of that in YA. I understand that part of growing up is growing away from your parents, but there are some parents who are pretty good at understanding where you're coming from. (Actually, Sam's mom reminded me of the mom from If I Stay, which was awesome. Sam's mom is definitely earned herself a place on my top YA moms of all time list.)
My biggest problem with this book the S-E-X. Not to get all juvenile on you guys here, but it got just plain icky after awhile. You could not go TWO PAGES without some kind of "scene". In other words, not the kind of book you want to be reading on the beach with your grandparents constantly looking over your shoulder and asking whether or not it was any good. I literally went so far as to hide this book under my bed while I wasn't reading it in case my dad decided to check up on why I was acting so secretive about it, which means that of course my sister found it and demanded to read it when I was finished. She came to the same conclusion, which was "Um, no.". I don't have a problem with teen sex (in fact, I think it's tiptoed around far too much in YA), but in this novel, the context was more like that of 20-somethings than 17-year-olds, which is a MAJOR pet peeve of mine.
I actually think this book would have been better if it had been about 20-somethings, period. I could have gotten into it a little more. Still, there were places where it absolutely broke my heart regardless, and I'm sure that many people less cynical than me would adore this book for a good bittersweet romance. Heck, despite its problems this book was still way better than a Nicholas Sparks novel in my humble opinion, and I am excited to have gotten the opportunity to review it. It's raw, dark, bitingly funny, and honest; all excellent qualities for a story to have
All in all, this book was touching and achingly sad, even if it reached a little at times. I'll even admit I did get a little sniffly occasionally. The New York City setting was spot on (hey, I've been there now, so I'm entitled to say that!) and the adult character development right on the money. I was left a little disappointed by the ending, but I think Selene Castrovilla is one to watch in the genre - I know I'll be keeping tabs!
The Final Verdict: It tugs on the heartstrings, but loses itself in melodrama partway through. Still, fans of the bittersweet will find a lot to love in this short, sad novel. Three and a half out of five stars.