TTBF Author Repost Guest Review: More Happy than Not by Adam Silvera


Team Midsummer, Jessica & Lyv, are attending the Texas Teen Book Festival again this year in Austin, TX! To prepare and get ourselves amped-up for this event, we are reposting some of our reviews by some of the TTBF 17 authors!

This review was originally posted on October 31, 2016

eveThis review was done by another one of Team Midsummer’s favorite people, Eve.  She has submitted reviews to us before, so we were excited to have her on board for LGBT History Month! Thanks so much, Eve!

 

 

 

In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for sixteen-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again—but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely. 

When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is. 

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

I was immediately drawn into narrative of this intriguing novel, although I’ll confess to being a little suspicious of its potential similarity to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, with a sexuality angle rather than the desire to forget a past heartbreaking romantic relationship. But I was impressed by the way the focus wasn’t specifically on any one of the main issues addressed by the story, but rather a cleverly crafted weaving of the elements of grief, mental health, class and social structures, teen relationships, and love developing outside of an expected heteronormative paradigm. For this reason, while the book certainly addresses the complexities and struggle of coming out, I found the whole story to be involving and important – not just the relationship between Aaron and Thomas. It also isn’t a copy of Eternal Sunshine – it has one similar element, the neuroscience of forgetting, but it fans out to be much greater than that.

One thing I will note, because it stood out to me so much while reading that I texted Jess about it at the time, is that Aaron and Thomas say, “No homo” to each other a seemingly inordinate amount of times in the space of two pages. Now, it may be my heterosexual, cisgender privilege showing that I have never had to clarify my sexuality while interacting in an affectionate way with someone of the same sex as me, but I did feel that this phrase was somewhat overused. I’d be interested to know if this is a common experience among young men, because perhaps this phrase is used so frequently and that is part of the culture of hiding homosexual attraction.

Aside from this, the character development seemed very natural and totally solid within a few chapters – I feel like I know Aaron Soto, his friends and family, and have an understanding of his perspective on the world. The outstanding part of this book for me was how bravely and easily it tackled upsetting and painful topics, making it comfortable for the reader to continue (albeit through tears) even when the characters were suffering. Silvera does not shy away from the impact of suicide nor from the violence inherent in some relationships. On top of that, the balance of wit and warmth is spot on, throughout the happy moments and the hard ones.

I don’t want to give away too much about the plot but there are twists, and they’re the delicious ones that you sort of see coming but still have to pause and take a moment to think back on and process them once they do happen. The story will have you feeling all of the emotions and, while it certainly has a central homosexual relationship, I think it actually is a more profound commentary on humanity as a whole.

4.75 Bards

475-bards

Vlog Review: Be My Galentine

 

 

 

Guest Post: Words

Quick Introduction to my Guest Post:  This post was originally posted on one of my best friend’s meandeve
blogs, Queen’s English, and she has suggested we use it here as a guest post.  Many of my close friends are bibliophiles and have amazing insight into the written word.  So let me introduce you to one of my very dear friends, Eve.  She moved here from England a few years back, and once I insulted her eating beans for breakfast, we were practically inseparable.  She so willingly shared her TBT post with us here at A Midsummer Night’s Read. Please be sure to visit her blog as well!

____________________________________________

I am passionate about words. I read a decent amount of them. I’ve been inherently tuned in to lyrics and verse for my entire conscious life, and remember an inordinate amount of songs even when I’ve only heard them once, or not for years. As a child, I read prolifically, and started early. As an adult, I’m extremely picky when it comes to reading. I’ll decide within the first few pages whether or not I can finish a book. I have to be passionate about it. For a long time, I only read poetry, because I valued succinct beauty, not long-winded story telling. I even found a poem that explained that preference, that need. If I’m not totally absorbed, enthralled, engaged, then I won’t finish the book. I’ve given up feeling guilty about it: I’m not a patient reader. I’m a selfish, greedy, gobble-it-up reader, who doesn’t want to read novels that ‘might get better’ or have some kind of ‘classic literature value’. That said, I feel like having more free time this past year has improved my reading habits, and I’ve noticed that I’ve been reading a lot more, and a wider range, too.

 

Book reviews aren’t really my thing, and the last time I think I mentioned a book on this blog in any significant way was when I finished ‘We Need to Talk About Kevin’, and that was around this time last year. Since then I’ve read several novels and a couple of guide books, including ‘The Perks of Being a Wallflower’‘Let’s Pretend This Never Happened’‘The Hunger Games’ trilogy, ‘Dog Training for Dummies’, and (I’m mildly embarrassed to say) ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’. That last one can be chalked up to liking to be informed about things I’m mocking and the fact that, sometimes, an easy book is something I like too. Still in my queue are ‘Me The People’ and ‘A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius’.

 

I recently finished reading ‘Tiny Beautiful Things’ by Cheryl Strayed, and I am absolutely and utterly compelled to write something about it. I’ve not felt this way about a book in a long time, and possibly never about a non-fiction book. One of her readers describes her words as ‘sacred’, and I actually don’t think it’s an exaggeration. You must, must, must read this book. It’s stunning.

 

What started as an advice column on the book club website ‘The Rumpus’ has resulted in – you guessed it – a book. It’s more than just a collection of columns (although essentially those are its main components), because it explains the background of how Cheryl Strayed became ‘Sugar’, and a little of who Chery Strayed is, too. But it’s not just a collection of columns in the figurative sense, either, because these aren’t just columns. They are beautiful, soul-clenching missives that you want to bundle up and somehow ingest, to remember their wisdom, their particular phrasing that rings that distant ‘oh, of course!’ bell. They speak to you as though you always knew their truth; they reassure you that it’s okay to fuck up; they remind you that you’re human in a way that gives you an innate tugging somewhere in your belly, connecting you to it all.

 

I’m a little concerned that I’ll come across as fanatical if I continue in this vein, plus I’m certain that my words aren’t enough to do justice to hers. I’m also reluctant to directly quote some of her letters because I don’t want to spoil the discovery of them for you. Finally, I don’t want to misrepresent what Sugar does. Her work isn’t about mollycoddling, whatever you write to her about. She is honest, sometimes brutally and shockingly so. She swears (I think rather effectively, but this may put some people off). She is soothing, she is open (sometimes using personal stories to illustrate her replies), she is hilarious, and she shows such empathy that sometimes it breaks your heart almost as much as the reason she’s been written to.

 

So, I’ll just tell you how I found ‘Dear Sugar’, and maybe drop in one quote and leave it at that. A friend posted Sugar’s Column #48on their Facebook page and tagged me and a few others in it, meaning to give some inspiration for being perseverant in the pursuit of one’s dreams. In all honesty, I thought that the letter to Sugar was the thing I was supposed to be reading to start with, as that was pretty damn good. But then Sugar came in, responding to that young female writer-who-couldn’t-write’s cry for help. I was… entranced? Breathless? All sounds a bit like a romantic novel, doesn’t it?! But I sat with goosebumps up and down my arms, a few happy tears trailing down my cheeks, and an immediate desire to read it again. And again. And again. The way Strayed could be kind, firm, funny, inspirational, sweet, tough, and caring all at once impressed me so much. The ability to unify these elements, to simultaneously open out and condense the writer’s issues, and then to find on reading the collection that she could do it with each and every diverse, painful, wonderfully human letter written to her – ah.

 

“The unifying theme is resilience and faith.”

 

Read this book.

 

–Eve

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