4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · coming of age · contemporary fiction · mental health · Young Adult

The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson | ARC #BookReview #MeToo #IReadYA

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The Art of Breaking Things by Laura Sibson

Rating: 4 stars 

Published: June 18, 2019 

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers 

Pages: 304

Genres: contemporary fiction, young adult, mental health

Recommend to fans of: teenagers exploring difficult topics and phases in life, young women finding their voice, the #MeToo movement 

 

Synopsis:

In the tradition of Laurie Halse Anderson and Sara Zarr, one girl embraces the power of her voice: rules are meant to be broken and she won’t stay silent.

Seventeen-year-old Skye has her sights set on one thing: getting the heck out of Dodge. Art school is her ticket out and she’s already been accepted to her first choice, MICA. All she has to do is survive her senior year, not get too drunk at parties, and be there for her little sister, Emma. Sure, she’s usually battling a hangover when she drives to pick Emma up, but she has everything under control. Until he returns.

When her mom’s ex-boyfriend slithers his way back into her family, it’s all Skye can do to keep the walls of her world from crumbling. Her family has no idea Skye has been guarding a dark secret about her past–about him–and she never thought she would have to face him again. She knows she has to get away from him at all costs. But how can she abandon Emma? Skye’s heart is torn between escaping the man who hurt her years ago and protecting her loved ones from the monster in their midst. Running away from her fears isn’t an option. To save her sister–and herself–she’ll have to break all the rules.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Viking Books for Young Readers, and Laura Sibson for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Trigger warning: sexual abuse of a child 

Like: 

  • The foreshadowing – good, but is about terrible things to come 
  • The main character: Skye
  • Good perspective about college: a way to be who you could be and learn lots about yourself, life and a career
  • The abuse isn’t too graphic or triggering in my opinion
  • Very realistic portrayal of a teenager coming to terms with being sexually abused by her step father and the impact it has on her life 

Love: 

  • Discusses very difficult to talk about topics (sexual abuse) as the character is experiencing them 
  • Art as a way to express oneself in a way that words can’t 

Dislike: 

  • Lots of drugs, drinking and partying – it’s realistic to the character and her situation, but it’s not something that I enjoyed reading about 
  • The teenage boy that she had a relationship with/ didn’t consent to/ doesn’t remember that night — confusing and not sure if I read that scene correctly 
  • Most of the book in some manner, revolves around the main character being sexually abused 

Wish that: 

  • there was more opportunity for her mother to explain, think about, and remember what happened on the day her daughter was sexually abused. The story wraps up rather quickly and doesn’t give much time to explore what happened further. 
  • The story was a little more balanced, in terms of content. 

Overall, a good realistic portrayal of Skye, a teenage girl, coming to terms with being sexually abused by her step father years ago. A definite trigger warning for most of the story revolving around this topic, but it doesn’t get too explicitly graphic. I would have liked a more well balanced story, but in general an important and fairly enjoyable read. 

 

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3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · coming of age · contemporary fiction · Literary Fiction

Chemistry by Weike Wang

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Chemistry by Weike Wang 

Published: May 23, 2017

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

Pages: 224

Genres: literary fiction, contemporary fiction, coming of age

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: young adults who don’t have it all figured it out, overbearing (to the Western culture) Chinese parents, parent – adult children relationships 

Foodie Vibes: leftover pizza #GradSchoolLife

 

Synopsis: 

Three years into her graduate studies at a demanding Boston university, the unnamed narrator of this nimbly wry, concise debut finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. She’s tormented by her failed research–and reminded of her delays by her peers, her advisor, and most of all by her Chinese parents, who have always expected nothing short of excellence from her throughout her life. But there’s another, nonscientific question looming: the marriage proposal from her devoted boyfriend, a fellow scientist, whose path through academia has been relatively free of obstacles, and with whom she can’t make a life before finding success on her own.

Eventually, the pressure mounts so high that she must leave everything she thought she knew about her future, and herself, behind. And for the first time, she’s confronted with a question she won’t find the answer to in a textbook: What do I really want?Over the next two years, this winningly flawed, disarmingly insightful heroine learns the formulas and equations for a different kind of chemistry–one in which the reactions can’t be quantified, measured, and analyzed; one that can be studied only in the mysterious language of the heart. Taking us deep inside her scattered, searching mind, here is a brilliant new literary voice that astutely juxtaposes the elegance of science, the anxieties of finding a place in the world, and the sacrifices made for love and family.

 

Review:

Chemistry is many different things. A grad student unsure about her academic future. A daughter feeling pressure from her Chinese parents. A girlfriend trying to figure out her relationship. And a friend asking for support. The book is essentially a coming of age story for someone in their mid 20s. I like that it’s funny, relatable and shows a woman in science. 

While the story is about a woman who doesn’t know where she’s going, the book doesn’t really go anywhere. The cultural explorations are great, but the rest is mediocre.

Overall, I can see why this book is popular and recommend it, but don’t expect it to be things its not. 

 

 

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3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · coming of age · Literary Fiction · mental health · Young Adult

Drowning In Light by Anna Benoit

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Drowning in Light by Anna Benoit

Published: August 5, 2017

Publisher: Self Published

Pages: 350

Genres: young adult, coming of age, literary fiction, mental health

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: flawed characters, books about drug abuse

Foodie Vibes: meals you don’t finish, more alcohol and pills can you can comprehend 

 

Synopsis: 

It all started with a single pain pill.

Up until that pill, high school junior Matt Davidson had it all—or, at least, everyone thought he had it all. A star athlete from a good family, no one suspected the trouble lurking beneath Matt’s carefully constructed façade. And Matt was just fine with that. Because if anyone could hear the dark thoughts that cluttered his mind, they’d know what a selfish, miserable mess he really was.

Matt thinks he can stop. He knows he can stop. And he will, just not yet. Because nothing but the pills can give him a break from his thoughts. Nothing else makes him invincible. Nothing else halts the sinking spiral of his depression.

Nothing… until he meets Amy, a mysterious and beautiful classmate who sparks a passion in him he’s never felt before. As their relationship progresses, Matt knows he can’t have them both. But he also knows he needs his pills. And when he’s finally forced to choose, the decision isn’t as easy as he’d hoped.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley and Anna Benoit for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Drowning in Light tells the story of Matt, a guy in high school. On the outside he seems to have to all. But if you look closer, his dad’s abusive and has alcohol problems of his own. His mom means well, but doesn’t realize the extent of her son’s problems. She’s content to let things go and believe it will all work out in the end. Matt struggles with drug abuse that has him in a downward spiral. He’s miserable, not coping well, and really doesn’t have a handle on anything anymore. 

The book is not your typical manic pixie dream girl type story. It’s real, raw and complex. His friend/girlfriend doesn’t magically make things better. She tries to help, but has her own baggage to deal with so it’s not a perfect recovery story by any means. I like that it’s a fairly realistic story of drug abuse. I don’t have personal experience with drug abuse, so maybe I’m way off base here. 

However, it was very frustrating at times to read about all of his mistakes and refusal for help. I felt very annoyed towards Matt at times. Also his lifestyle wasn’t that enjoyable to read about. Duh, it’s drug abuse, doing whatever you need to score more pills, and lying to everyone. But I guess I was hoping for more positivity at some point. I was also so frustrated with the adults in his life. Nobody was taking responsibility for making sure Matt got the help he so desperately needed. 

All in all, a realistic portrayal of drug abuse that made for a frustrating read. A good book that doesn’t gloss of the difficult parts of mental illness and drug abuse. 

 

Are you a fan of books with flawed characters?