ARC provided by Angel from Mermaid Visions.
Think you can’t die of a broken heart? Almost sixteen year old Brie is living proof of the contrary. Well, not so living. Now, with the help of fellow dead teen Patrick, she must find a way to pass through the five stages of grief and move on. But how can she let go of the world she once knew when everyone she loves is falling apart?
In general I am not a contemporary fan, but The Catastrophic History of You and Me isn’t your run-of-the-mill contemporary novel. It manages to combine all the best elements of the supernatural fantasy with all the best parts of a contemporary novel to create a fresh and at times heart-breaking story of love that transcends everything.
One thing I’ve lately been having trouble with in young adult fiction is the age of the protagonists. It seems I only see either get bratty, selfish, and naive teen characters or those who have it all together and seem more like they’re sixty than sixteen. Brie manages to be a realistic sixteen year old who doesn’t want to make me beat her over the head with a rolled up newspaper. She has her moments of selfishness, but seeing as she just freaking died I found it easier to cut her some slack because her actions and emotions stemmed from realistic motivations. In fact, all of the characters motivations were clear and I was able to relate to many of the characters.
My favourite characters were Brie’s three best friends, even though we don’t get to see them much. The relationship those four have is beautiful, and it reminds me of the friendship of the girls from The Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants. It was their loss that made me cry because it was far too easy for me to imagine myself in their place.
The plot itself was good, though not perfect. Some of the twists were a little too obvious, though obvious foreshadowing is better than no foreshadowing at all. I felt like some of the threads of the plot were a teeny bit loose, but it never unravelled. The pop culture references were sweet and classic, so nothing likely to jar readers. The description was memorable, and I can still see some of the settings from the novel. (The Island! *shudders*)
All in all, this was a nice read somewhere in between light and thought-provoking. As a debut author, I think Jess Rothenberg will be someone to keep an eye on.
Books with similar aspects
The Wish List by Eoin Colfer
The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold
If I Stay by Gayle Forman
recommended to those wary of entering the contemporary genre (and those who already love it!)
not recommended to those who prefer a more linear story
Don’t just take my word for it!
“It’s bittersweet, funny, emotional, and clever. It’s not without flaws, though, but honestly what book DOESN’T have some?” – Amy @Tripping Over Books
“Thank you, Jess Rothenberg, for giving me a contemporary novel that will never break mine or other readers’ hearts.” – Angel @ Mermaid Visions
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