Ronit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin ARC Review

ronit-and-jamil-by-pamela-l-laskinRonit & Jamil by Pamela L. Laskin

Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books

Release Date: February 21, 2017

Pages: 192

Summary: This beautiful and lyrical novel in verse delivers a fresh and captivating retelling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet that transports the star-crossed lovers to the modern-day Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Gaza.

Ronit, an Israeli girl, lives on one side of the barrier fence. Jamil, a Palestinian boy, lives on the other side. Only miles apart but separated by generations of conflict—much more than just the concrete blockade between them. Their fathers, however, work in a distrusting but mutually beneficial business arrangement, a relationship that brings Ronit and Jamil together. And lightning strikes. The kind of lightning that transcends barrier fences, war, and hatred. Ronit and Jamil fall desperately into the throes of forbidden love, one that would create an irreparable rift between their families if it were discovered. But a love this big can be kept secret for only so long. Soon, the teenage lovers must face the fateful choice to save their lives or their loves, as it may not be possible to save both.

*Received/Reviewed a physical ARC, this in no way influences my thoughts*

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Ronit & Jamil is both unique and unforgettable! Told through lyrical verse, Laskin’s modern take of Romeo & Juliet centers around an Israeli girl & a Palestinian boy and the connection they share in Israel.

This book captured my heart! 

Through Laskin’s writing-style, I was immediately transported + found that it really captured and symbolized the complications and triumphs of their instantaneous love for each other.

Getting to read from both Ronit & Jamil’s points of view really allowed me to see what both of their hearts longed for, which was freedom and a place to call their own!

Even though there was a quick and fast-paced writing-style, I felt I knew Ronit & Jamil and could sympathize with them and the obstacles they encountered.

Additionally, another fascinating aspect of the writing was the similarities between both Ronit & Jamil’s POV’s. Though they have been raised with families that have differing points of view, each of their sections throughout the novel show just how similar they truly are and how these differing ideals + beliefs clash and cause difficulty for their forbidden relationship.

Complete strangers at first, they encounter each other when Ronit’s father delivers medicine to Jamil’s father at a clinic where he works.

Though they live on opposite sides of the border and their families don’t see eye-to-eye, they can’t help but fall in love with each other!

Ronit gives Jamil her number and the two soon start texting and meeting up in secret. They find solace in each other and long for what is beyond their reach. The wall and conflict on their sides keeps them separated, but they know deep down it wont fracture the love they have for each other.

Family plays a huge role in this novel! The parents want what is best for their children and though they have the best intentions to keep them safe, Ronit & Jamil begin to question the division of their land.

There are multiple sections with both parents points of view and it adds so much depth to the story and lets the reader understand the difficulties and sacrifices both sides have encountered.

However, conflict arises in the war-torn regions and both are left to ponder if there is someone to blame, is it the opposing side? Yet even through those difficulties they push the disagreements aside and decide that what they truly long for is to be together and escape the conflict in their lives.

I did take off 1/2 a star b/c there were moments that I was unsure of who was speaking + there were some moments I felt were a little rushed.

I loved that the novel had additional notes throughout the story which helped with words or phrases I was unfamiliar with. I also loved reading the acknowledgements where Laskin explained the research and inspiration that went into her story! It was clear that this was a story she was truly passionate about telling!

Laskin’s novel delivers a captivating tale of star-crossed love that transcends and delivers messages of hope and understanding even when times may be difficult.

Because Of The Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez Review

because-of-the-sun-by-jenny-torres-sanchezBecause Of The Sun by Jenny Torres Sanchez

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Release Date: January 3, 2017

Pages: 272

Summary: Dani Falls learned to tolerate her existence in suburban Florida with her brash and seemingly unloving mother by embracing the philosophy Why care? It will only hurt. So when her mother is killed in a sudden and violent manner, Dani goes into an even deeper protection mode, total numbness. It’s the only way she can go on.

But when Dani chooses The Stranger by Albert Camus as summer reading for school, it feels like fate. The main character’s alienation after his mother’s death mirrors her own.

Dani’s life is thrown into further turmoil when she is sent to New Mexico to live with an aunt she never knew she had. The awkwardness between them is palpable. To escape, Dani takes long walks in the merciless heat. One day, she meets Paulo, who understands how much Dani is hurting. Although she is hesitant at first, a mutual trust and affection develop between Dani and Paulo, and Dani begins to heal. And as she and her aunt begin to connect, Dani learns about her mother’s past. Forgiving isn’t easy, but maybe it’s the only way to move forward.

*Note this novel does contain physical/emotional abuse*-Be aware if those are triggers for you.*

My Rating:★★★★☆ 

My Thoughts: Because Of The Sun follows Dani as she grieves the loss of her mother. Told through a unique prose, this novel discusses death, family and love.

This was a unique contemporary I won’t forget!

What made this novel truly stand out was the atmospheric writing-style! Written in an almost “stream of consciousness” we follow Dani Falls, who has lost her mother due to a violent accident and must now leave her home in Florida behind to live with her aunt Shelly in New Mexico.

After spending weeks at her aunt’s house, she rarely leaves and manages to speak only a few words at a time. We begin to wonder if Dani will ever recover and find the strength to accept.

Blurring the line between reality and dream, a bear is mentioned when Ruby passes away and throughout the novel and just like Dani, we are left to question whether it was ever truly there to begin with.

Through out the story, she struggles with the fact that she had a very difficult relationship with her mother and wonders if she ever even truly loved her. When truths about Ruby Falls comes to light, Dani questions whether she even knew her mother at all.

The characters were all very well written and I could truly picture them and understand them fully through Dani’s eyes!

She comes to know Paulo and the two bond over movies! Dani gets to know Paulo and while the do start a relationship Sanchez never makes it a central part of the novel and truly focuses on Dani’s personal growth as she grieves and comes to terms with whats happened. I adored the dynamic between the two of them and no matter what, Paulo respected when Dani wanted to help herself and always gave her the space she needed!

I do wish Paulo was included more, because he was a very loving and supportive friend/boyfriend to Dani. However I loved that Sanchez really left the romance in the background!

There is also a big emphasis on family. With the loss of her mother, Dani comes to know her aunt Shelly and understands she isn’t alone and that she can confide in her through her struggles. She also finds comfort with Paulo and his grandmother as well. They provide her with the emotional support and love she never had.

In terms of plot, it mainly focuses around Dani and her new life when she moves to New Mexico and comes to terms with her mother’s death. What I also really loved about the plot was how this novel truly centered around Dani and her personal growth.

After completing the novel it was clear that Dani still had a long way to go to recover and was doing it slowly but surely, however Sanchez did a fantastic job to show that her recovery wasn’t going to be an easy transition and would take time. She was still accepting the truths she learned about her mother, but with her new family and friends it was clear she would be okay.

I will admit I did take off a star, because while the inclusion of Shelly’s POV added much more to the story and really gave more background to Dani’s mother Ruby and why she was very detached, it did slow down the story for me. However, I really got to know more about Shelly and that was great because through Dani’s POV, I felt there was still a lot to learn about her.

Additionally after the section centering around Shelly + Ruby’s past, I felt that the ending felt a little rushed and wanted more page-time/interactions with Dani & the side-characters who now really supported and helped her when she needed it most.

Through a dream-like writing style we follow Dani as she adjusts to a new home and grows to find the strength to accept her mother’s death and all the complexities that come with it!

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston Review

the-valiant-by-lesley-livingston-book-reviewThe Valiant by Lesley Livingston (The Valiant #1)

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: February 14, 2017

Pages: 384

Summary: Lost to history, the story of the female gladiator has never been told. Until now.
Fallon is the daughter of a proud Celtic king and the younger sister of the legendary warrior Sorcha. When Fallon was just a child, Sorcha was killed while defending their home from the armies of Julius Caesar.

On the eve of her seventeenth birthday, Fallon is excited to follow in her sister’s footsteps and earn her place in her father’s war band. She never gets the chance.

Fallon is captured by ruthless brigands who sell her to an elite training school for female gladiators owned by none other than Julius Caesar himself. In a cruel twist of fate, the man who destroyed Fallon s family might be her only hope of survival.
Now, Fallon must overcome vicious rivalries, deadly fights in and out of the arena, and perhaps the most dangerous threat of all: her irresistible feelings for Cai, a young Roman soldier and her sworn enemy.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

*Received a finished copy through a giveaway*

My Thoughts: Livingston delivers a character-driven tale about a Celtic princess turned gladiator!

Recently announced, The Valiant will b getting a sequel!! I can definitely see how the ending would be nice to it conclude it as a standalone, but I truly fell in love with this world + characters and I’m so happy there’ll be a second book!

The first few chapters alone, really pull you into the story and wastes no time showing the complexity and depth of the main character Fallon.

While this novel does have action, it is definitely more of a character-driven story and the gladiator aspects do appear throughout the novel, but a really featured more at the end!

Fallon truly changes over the course of this story, but above all changes for herself and is an independent and determined heroine! I loved reading from her POV!

On the evening she is hopeful her father will add her to her to the warband, she gets captured and is forced to become a gladiator for Rome. Once there, she is determined to get her freedom, however along the she learns more about herself and her family, but mostly the enemy territory that invaded her home years ago.

While forced to train as a gladiator, she learns more about the people who brought her to Rome and what the costs truly are if she is to find a way back home.

The other side/main characters were also very well written and developed. Through Livingston’s writing, you really get to understand these characters, even with just a few passages! (Cai & Elka were my favorites!)

There’s so much girl power + amazing female characters. Over the course of this novel, Fallon finds friendship between her gladiatrix companions (especially Elka) even the Achillea  and its clear while they may not always get along, they are there to look after each other!

They were very much like sisters and overall I loved how the females were given a central role in this world/story!

Reading about these female gladiators was truly fascinating and it sucks there isn’t much historical record of them, but it was definitely wonderful to get a chance to read about them from this novel!

Fallon struggles with the loss of her sister and it’s clear that both her sister Scorcha & the loss of her, pushes her and has molded Fallon into the person she is.

I felt it had the perfect amount of romance! Wonderfully done! It never felt too forced and it never felt like it took over the plot or changed Fallon’s motivations in any way! Through out the novel she really focuses on earning her freedom on her own personal development, with out help from Cai and it showed just how determined she was to prove herself.

I did take off 1/2 a star b/c I felt the pacing was slow at times & I wanted more action!

Regardless, this is a very character-driven novel with twists + turns and delivers a tale about honor, family and sisterhood + foreshadows an even more epic journey to come in the sequel!

King’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard Review

kings-cageKing’s Cage by Victoria Aveyard (Red Queen #3)

Publisher: HarperTeen

Release Date: February 7, 2017

Pages: 528

Summary: Mare Barrow is a prisoner, powerless without her lightning, tormented by her lethal mistakes. She lives at the mercy of a boy she once loved, a boy made of lies and betrayal. Now a king, Maven Calore continues weaving his dead mother’s web in an attempt to maintain control over his country—and his prisoner.

As Mare bears the weight of Silent Stone in the palace, her once-ragtag band of newbloods and Reds continue organizing, training, and expanding. They prepare for war, no longer able to linger in the shadows. And Cal, the exiled prince with his own claim on Mare’s heart, will stop at nothing to bring her back.

When blood turns on blood, and ability on ability, there may be no one left to put out the fire—leaving Norta as Mare knows it to burn all the way down.

My Rating:★★★★☆ (maybe 4.5? Still deciding on rating!)

My Thoughts: King’s Cage expands the Red Queen world and Aveyard delivers incredible character development + will leave readers ready for Book 4!

Looking back while Glass Sword wasn’t the strongest addition to the series, King’s Cage definitely delivered!

I’m never let down by Aveyard’s writing and as always I find myself surprised at how fast I finish reading her books!

~Major Spoilers Ahead~

The story starts off with Mare as both Maven’s prisoner and pawn. She is being tortured and due to the Silent Stone, can’t use her ability!

Maven forces Mare to use her identity as the “Lightning Girl” to bring Newbloods and Reds to his side and expand his power as king.

An aspect which took me by surprise was seeing the inner workings of Maven’s rule! Mare states during her time in the palace, he looks weaker and more tired. Due to all the stress he is put under, he knows he can easily loose his grip on power, so he will do anything to keep the throne!

The Scarlet Guard doesn’t give up hope to get Maven off the throne & it was definitely a surprising twist to see them get stronger as the months passed, becoming an unexpected obstacle for him.

Mare comes to terms with how she treated people back in Glass Sword + over the course of the novel she really changes and reflects on her behavior to become a better person.

The last act mostly revolves around getting Mare comfortable with the guard/her friends & family now that she’s escaped + prepping her for to join the expanded guard ready to fight Maven!

The aftermath of the battle was definitely fast-paced and had me unsure what was going to happen next!

*No spoilers, but while I didn’t absolutely love it, I really enjoyed the ending to King’s Cage and I definitely feel the final installment will end the series off on a good note!

One of the best parts of this series is Maven! Aveyard really knows how to handle his character and we really come to know more about him and his past! While I do enjoy reading about him, I definitely applaud Aveyard for not excusing or showing redemption for his behavior!

Over the course of this story I really felt more connected to Mare than I did in GS and through her narrative it was clear that Maven’s equally expanding rule would bring trouble for the Scarlet Guard as well!

I adored getting more from the world! We know there is more beyond the Kingdom of Norta and while we get a bigger scope of RQ’s history we also get introduced to the surrounding kingdoms and their rulers.

Another interesting addition was Multiple POV! I’ll be honest, my rating is low because while I enjoyed the new perspectives and adored the characters themselves, *Which I won’t spoil* and while I enjoyed both pretty equally I felt one of the POV’s both dragged the story and just directly told us of events going on behind the scenes, instead of letting us figure it out ourselves.

As for other aspects I really loved about King’s Cage:

~What truly took me by surprise was the inner turmoil and rebelling of the other Houses! How it was developed was something I really enjoyed. I loved how Aveyard showed the costs for Maven taking the throne! I was not expecting Maven to show stress/fear from his position!

~We get more development from characters like Evangeline, Maven of course, Kilorn and it was great to see different facets to their character. (Kilorn + Cal development was also done very well!)

~I loved the Cal + Mare development! 

~Mare bonds more with the other women in this series which was awesome and I loved how they helped/relied on each other along the way!

Aside from some minor issues with the POV, I also took off a star b/c:

~I wish there more  page time with Cal + Maven! I felt this novel showed how big of a role they have in the series overall+ once Book 4 comes and overall it would have been great to get more scenes with them!

+ I tried my hardest to, but personally I just couldn’t avoid similarities between this novel and another I previously read before getting into King’s Cage! 😥

Regardless of those issues, King’s Cage is filled with fun twists and turns, expansion beyond Norta and overall this novel truly shines because of its characters! Aveyard as usual will leave you wanting the next book right away!

Traitor To The Throne by Alwyn Hamilton Review

traitor-to-the-throne-book-review

traitor-to-the-throne-by-alwyn-hamiltonTraitor To The Throne (Rebel Of The Sands #2)

Publisher: Faber&Faber

Release Date: February 2, 2017

Pages: 512

Summary: Mere months ago, gunslinger Amani al’Hiza fled her dead-end hometown on the back of a mythical horse with the mysterious foreigner Jin, seeking only her own freedom. Now she’s fighting to liberate the entire desert nation of Miraji from a bloodthirsty sultan who slew his own father to capture the throne.

When Amani finds herself thrust into the epicenter of the regime—the Sultan’s palace—she’s determined to bring the tyrant down. Desperate to uncover the Sultan’s secrets by spying on his court, she tries to forget that Jin disappeared just as she was getting closest to him, and that she’s a prisoner of the enemy. But the longer she remains, the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she’s been told he is, and who’s the real traitor to her sun-bleached, magic-filled homeland.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Hamilton delivers a character-driven sequel with a bigger focus on politics and intrigue as the rebellion continues!

It felt like forever waiting for this book! 😭😭 I fell in love with the magical world of Miraji and the fascinating characters Hamilton created in Rebel Of The Sands!

I’ll admit getting into this sequel was difficult in the beginning with mentions of new characters or events that happened off page in between Rebel and Traitor, but Hamilton really built and developed those events + characters into the narrative as it progressed!

Months have passed since Rebel and Amani has forged a place for herself in the expanding rebellion and as the Blue-Eyed Bandit.

At the start, she finds herself on a rescue mission to have others rally the cause for the rebellion and its clear to see she has grown both with her powers and as a character since Rebel!

Jin is off doing his own mission, however Amani can’t help but feel like he abandoned her. While the whole reason behind this is originally something that happened off-page between Rebel & Traitor, Hamilton not only shows how it impacts Amani and the relationship she forged with him but reminded me how much I truly missed their fun/witty banter and how the rebellion really puts a strain on not only Jin/Amani but on Amani’s other relationships too!

She soon finds herself in the Sultan’s Palace trapped and with no means of escape, but determined to find out as much as she can to help prince Ahmed.

Hamilton delivers a different writing style than in Rebel, introducing myths and stories about other characters throughout a few chapters, which honestly made me feel so much more connected to this world/characters, because it added more background and history!

It also added small breaks in between the story which was nice too!

I really wouldn’t mind reading a full book on Miraji’s myths/legends!(Publishers can we make that happen??) Hamilton merged them into Traitor perfectly! 

Over the course of the story, Amani comes to terms with events that happened in book 1! She knew she left people behind and in this novel she really puts others before herself and considers how her actions could potentially harm or affect the people around her.

As for world-building, politics and intrigue definitely have a much bigger role this time around! Armies & palace intrigue are given center stage as Amani + crew continue their plans for rebellion.

Getting both sides from the rebellion to the Sultan’s rule, forged a much bigger scope of Miraji’s political world from the palace + other lands like Xichia, the Gallan, etc., was so fascinating and really gives you more background on the Miraji you thought you knew!!

As stated above, I applaud Hamilton with the introduction of new characters, because regardless of how much page time they have, they truly came to life and were so memorable! (Sam was definitely my favorite❤️❤️ )

Additionally I applaud the diversity added into Traitor!  Something that I didn’t consider in Rebel which Hamilton mentioned more in Traitor was how being a shape-shifter, Imin was gender-fluid because she felt comfortable being both male/female which was also made clear by Imin’s relationship in Traitor.(LBGT+Gender-fluid)

Hamilton does a spectacular job with character interactions + plot twists, etc! I won’t give much away, but she definitely doesn’t leave any loose ends in this novel and really ties together elements from Rebel + Traitor perfectly!

Through Amani’s 1st person POV, you really are understanding more along the way with her and with each turn of the page, this story kept on surprising me! (Even if it was ways I wasn’t expecting!)

It was fascinating learning more about the rebellion and the kingdom of Miraji as whole, while also introducing us to the Sultan! Amani gets to learn more about the Sultan & Djinni as she comes to question her loyalty to the rebellion + Ahmed’s capability of ruling if he wins this war!

While the beginning + end have significantly more action, I was on the edge of my seat when I began piecing everything together with Amani along the way, which made the last maybe ~20-30 % one of my favorite parts of Traitor!

Character development is huge! This was definitely Amani’s book! With her rebel crew in the background of this novel, she does her best to ensure her own/the Rebellion’s safety by staying loyal to the Sultan, but while not letting secrets spill out!

While Amani + the group dynamic from Rebel isn’t much of a central role in this novel, it focuses more on Amani and her development as a character! However, Hamilton definitely reminds the reader just how attached Amani has become not only to Jin, but the rebel group like Shazad, Ahmed, etc.that she has come to see as her family!

There are so many fantastic elements that while this novel is different from Rebel in ways, it truly was not a let down for me and left me surprised more than anything, even in ways I never expected! It really went above and beyond my expectations!

Traitor To The Throne is easily one of my all-time favorite books so far this year! Delivering betrayals, expansion on world/magic, wonderful character-development, an immersive plot, and  twists + secrets that deliver a truly unforgettable sequel!

I cannot wait to see how Hamilton concludes her Rebel Of The Sands Trilogy with Book 3!

+ Keep an eye on the blog for a Traitor To The Throne Playlist!

January 2017 Wrap-Up

24hryabookblog Monthly Wrap-Up

# Of Books Read: 6

uncaged-wallflower-by-jennae-cecelia-review1.Uncaged Wallflower by Jennae Cecelia

Uncaged Wallflower Full Review

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Release Date: October 6, 2016

Pages: 70

My Rating:★★★★★

Overall Thoughts: An inspiring collection of poetry! Filled with such positivity, Uncaged Wallflower had me hopeful and inspired! It was a spectacular read to start off the new year! Highly recommend!

a-list-of-cages-by-robin-roe2.A List Of Cages by Robin Roe

A List Of Cages Full Review

Publisher: Disney-Hyperion

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Pages: 320

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Roe’s debut is not one to miss! Adam and Julian (Adam’s foster-brother) find themselves meeting again after some time apart! A List Of Cages tells the story of the power of friendship and kindness, even when facing the most difficult situations. This novel is heart-breaking *discusses abuse & neglect* but you will feel so attached to these characters, even the minor ones through Roe’s spectacularly written dual POV.

frostblood-by-elly-blake3.Frostblood by Elly Blake (Frostblood Saga #1)

Frostblood Full ARC Review

Publisher: Little Brown Books For Young Readers

Release Date: January 10, 2017

Pages: 384

My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: A fantastic start to a new fantasy series! Blake delivers great character dynamics which is clearly seen between Ruby and Arcus! History and politics play a huge role in the world. The division/hierarchy between the Firebloods and Frostbloods was wonderfully done and its clear its not all black and white which was one of my favorite aspects! The plot while slow at times, definitely keeps you hooked as you learn more about Ruby and the world she’s in! 

crystal-storm-by-morgan-rhodes-review4.Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes (Falling Kingdoms #5)

Crystal Storm Full Review

Publisher: Razorbill

Release Date: December 13, 2016

Pages: 379

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Not the strongest novel in the series in my opinion, however it is very character driven and expands even more on the world/magic Rhodes has built thus far! The slow pacing/plotting and introduction to certain characters/motives really made the tone of this novel feel rather off than previous novels! However, the ending definitely will leave you eager for Book 6!

Take The Key And Lock Her Up5.Take The Key And Lock Her Up by Ally Carter (Embassy Row #3)

Take The Key And Lock Her Up Full Review

Publisher: Scholastic Press

Release Date: December 27, 2016

Pages: 336

My Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Thoughts: Carter delivers such originality to her stories, there are twists and turns you don’t see coming. There are new characters introduced just in this final novel that Carter manages to create so memorably! Grace’s repetitive narrative, lack of side-characters prevalent in previous novels and overly cryptic characters made this novel rather confusing at times due to lack of info which made this a little disappointing! However, Carter ties up the story delivering a satisfying conclusion to Grace’s adventures on Embassy Row!

history-is-all-you-left-me-by-adam-silvera6.History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

History Is All You Left Me Full Review

Publisher: Soho Teen

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Pages: 294

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

Overall Thoughts: Told in Griffin’s POV’s  (History & Today) we come to understand how his best-friend  +first boyfriend Theo, died. Through out this novel are themes of love friendship, love/loss + acceptance. Through the writing the characters truly come to life. This is a gem of a story you don’t want to miss!

Additional Posts From This Month:

2017 Book Blog Goals {Bookish Goals}

Diverse 2017 YA Books To Add To Your TBR {Winter}

The Tiger’s Daughter by K. Arsenault Rivera Cover Reveal

Top 5 Wednesday {#2} Underrated Books

What Books Did You Read In January?  🙂

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera Review

history-is-all-you-left-me-by-adam-silveraHistory Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

Publisher: Soho Teen

Release Date: January 17, 2017

Pages: 294

Summary: When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.

To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.

If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

My Rating:★★★★☆ ½

My Thoughts: Silvera delivers a gem of a story where the reader follows Griffin on a journey of love, loss, acceptance and friendship!

Definitely a character-driven story, we are introduced to Griffin who comes to terms with the death of his best friend and first love, Theo McIntyre, as he recounts and weaves together the history he had with him.

From page 1 Silvera shows this is not just a story, but Griffin’s story! This novel is told through Past/Present narrative and I’m usually hesitant about that particular style, however Silvera brought aspects into both that made them flow well with the overall story, while also weaving differing emotion and unique tone into each which made the story even more memorable!

The tone of this novel, while sad does have its positive moments and shows these characters face grief over the loss of Theo, but find themselves recollecting on their past with Theo and finding the courage to move on.

Silvera brings in great representation through his discussions on Mental Illness (OCD)! It is such an integral part of Griffin as a character, but also it was wonderful to see how accepting his friends and family were about his OCD, by supporting him even if there were times he struggled with it.

The best aspects of this novel was Griffin as a character + the writing! He is such a wonderfully developed character and by the time I finished he truly felt like more than just a character! I was able to sympathize with him and overall be a part of his journey to reminisce on Theo, find the strength to move on and accept what occurred.

You really see Griffin grow over the course of this story and come to learn more about not only Theo, but himself too and it was great being a part of that journey!

As for the other main characters like Jackson and Wade, while I did feel Jackson was the more developed between the two, overall both truly came to life on the page through Theo’s POV.

Through the “History” POV, we come to learn how Theo &Griffin’s relationship started, what first love was like for them and see just how how strong their friendship was (not only  just the 2 of them, but w/ Wade too!), which really sets the tone for the entire story.

Griffin unravels the events of how Theo not only died, but how their relationship started and ended through different circumstances.

We get introduced to Jackson, Theo’s new boyfriend, when he moved to the west coast for college. Griffin has his own perception of Jackson, but over the course of the story comes to accept that they had history too and while Griffin’s+Theo’s didn’t last and he’s still grieving, that doesn’t mean he’s the only one.

This novel really focuses on the relationships (friend, romantic, etc) we have with people and how the history and memories we create with them are both unique and special even as time goes on and those same people begin to change.

However I did have a few cons.

– I did feel the pacing was a little slow in some parts, but overall it never felt like it was dragging which was a plus!
-I wont spoil it, but there is a plot point that gets revealed closer to the end of the novel which I felt could have used a little more development.

Regardless of those minor issues…

Overall Silvera delivers a story with memorable characters, spectacular writing, and messages of friendship, honesty, love and loss which will stay with you long after you’ve turned the final page.