Book: How to Fall in Love

"How to Fall in Love"

Adam Basil and Christine Rose are thrown together late one night, when Christine is crossing the Ha’penny Bridge in Dublin. Adam is there, poised, threatening to jump.

Adam is desperate–but Christine makes a crazy deal with him. His 35th birthday is looming and she bets him that before then she can show him that life is worth living.

Against the ticking of the clock, the two of them embark on wild escapades, grand romantic gestures and some unlikely late-night outings. Slowly, Christine thinks Adam is starting to fall back in love with his life. But is that all that’s starting to happen?

How does one fall in love?

Completely.

Utterly.

Without warning.

That’s what happened to me while reading Cecelia Ahern’s most recent book. I fell completely and utterly in love–without expecting it. Because, to be quite frank, I found the first few chapters of this book a chore to plod through. But I fought on. Because the premise intrigued me. How do you convince someone who wants to kill their self that life is worth living still?

Apparently, the answer is by living life with them.

Ahern is a master storyteller in this book, weaving the intricate patterns of a realistic love story without losing sight of who her characters are.

Both Adam and Christine are flawed characters. They have issues. And throughout the course of their story, their issues develop with them. Ahern doesn’t employ the magic of love in her story–she tackles the reality head on by having her characters address the fact that, even in love, they cannot change their very core in an instant just because they wanted to.

But what made me fall in love with Ahern’s book isn’t just the realistic approach it has about love between two people with issues. It’s how it tackles the distinction between falling in love, and falling in love with love. And it deals with the repercussions of every action the characters make.

Still, the book isn’t perfect. It holds back one particular information that changes how we see the characters. Specifically, how we see Christine. An information which I feel would’ve enriched the character had it been shared much earlier.

Because I don’t think this withheld information would change the trajectory of the characters’ stories. In fact, I believe that it would make the story much more satisfying for the readers, because you get to understand Christine’s motives from the get go. And you appreciate her actions more.

Even with this game-changing secret though, I still fell in love with the book. Which, I guess, is also the lesson the book wants to convey: you only know you’re in love with someone when you accept their faults–even before you find out the reason for them.

And I accept the faults of this book. Because, at the end of it all, it tells a beautiful story about life, love, and accepting your lot in life.

Now, go and find a copy of How to Fall in Love. Buy it or borrow it. Read it.

If you’re still on the fence about the book, then you can always read what other people have written about the book. To help you decide:
Chloe’s Chick Lit Reviews
I Heart… Chick Lit
Novelicious

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Book: Crash Into Me

"Crash Into Me"

Owen, Frank, Audrey, and Jin-Ae have one thing in common: They all want to die. When they meet online after each attempts suicide and fails, they made a deadly pact: They will escape together on a summer road trip to visit the sites of celebrity suicides…and at their final destination, they will do themselves in.

As they drive cross-country, bonding over their dark impusles, sharing their deepest secrets and desires, living it up, hooking up, and becoming true friends, each must decide whether life is worth living–or if there’s no turning back.

Right from the start, I decided to believe that all the characters would survive in the end. It’s just how these type of novels go. It’s either your character is already dead and they’re just recounting life before they did themselves in, or something will happen to change their minds about killing themselves. That’s how it’s supposed to work.

Imagine my surprise when, as three characters become better people, one of them start to spiral deeper into unexplicable depression. It’s a great twist. It keeps the reader guessing. It kept me guessing if maybe I was wrong and there will, at least, be one casualty.

But the keyword to that statement is ‘inexplicable.’

There’s a twist. There always is one, nowadays. But the thing with twists is, they have to be earned. This one doesn’t earn it. I mean, the writer obviously knew he was going to drop the twist somewhere in the story–but it doesn’t fit. It feels forced. Tacked on. And the bad thing is, you also know that it’s part of one character’s history. An integral part that was purposefully held back just to surprise the viewers.

I hated it.

Not the twist. The twist is fine. I hate the fact that the author held back on it. He should’ve built up on it. No, I don’t mean put in clues. Voracious readers would be able to latch on to those and the twist wouldn’t make as big an impact to them. But in terms of how the characters relate to each other, talk to each other; let the omissions and the hesitations speak; let the fears show; and, let the readers feel what the character is supposed to be feeling.

Crash Into Me is a good book. Was a good book. It’s not completely original; but the story was solid and the characters, though they may not always be likeable, at least they’re relatable. It’s the twist near the end that completely ruins it for me.

But that’s just me. Head on to what other blogs have to say about the book, maybe they liked it better than I did. Here’s a few:
Read, Read, Read
A Good Addiction
Chick Loves Lit

Book: It’s Kind of a Funny Story

"It's Kind of a Funny Story"

Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life–which means getting into the right high school to get into the right college to get the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.

Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.

Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.

I normally don’t include the last bit when I type up the book synopsis, but I feel like I should here. I feel that it is important for the readers of this book to find out (whether before or after) that the author also spent time in a psychiatric hospital.

Why?

Because some readers might just see fiction, and think that this is all made up. Because those readers might think that the people characterized in the book are too quirky to really exist. Because some readers might just read the book, like it, and then move on. I think this novel deserves more than that.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a book about depression, but it’s also a book that teaches us how to interact with people like Craig, people with problems, and people like his friend Aaron, whose problem might not be the fact that he has a problem–

It teaches us to be compassionate, understanding–to listen. It teaches us not to treat them differently from other people, and I mean that in both ways.

Words hurt. It, some times, hurt more than actual physical blows. And hurting words don’t always come from insults, from complaints, from irrational thought. Some times, these words that hurt come from expectations. Camaraderie. It’s this type of bullying that never really gets talked about. Bullying that comes from your own family, your own peers–it’s the way they expect you to be the you they think you are, it’s the way they want you to be better–but really, what they mean is they want you to be more like them.

And this is the type of bullying we see in It’s Kind of a Funny Story. Craig bullies himself into aspiring for something people expect him to aspire for. His friends bully him by making fun of him, by talking about him behind his back, by forcing him to do things he doesn’t want to do. His parents bully him by giving him everything he wants, by setting an unreal expectation of the world, and never expecting anything from him.

In the novel, Craig looks for order. His inner voice is a commanding officer from the army! He is looking for order as his inner world is falling apart, and no one from his family or his friends see this. It takes other people like him, people who also have problems, to see that he needs not to be babied, he needs not to be forced into doing something he doesn’t want to do, to find that balance of giving him what he wants and letting him fend for himself.

It’s hard to explain.

People have read this book and liked it for its content and message. For giving a voice to a group of people who normally gets looked down upon because they couldn’t deal. But I think this book has done more than that. I think this book shows us that the fault isn’t that they can’t handle pressure or reality. It’s that they’ve been made to believe that they can’t handle it.

They can, if we would just let them.

Depression is a real thing. But it’s only really a problem when we make the ones who suffer from it believe that it’s unnatural, and that it’s crippling. It shouldn’t be.

Book: Every You, Every Me

"Every You, Every Me"

Evan is alone. His best only friend, Ariel, is gone. Even is feels responsible. And in her wake, Evan is left with nothing a guilty conscience and never-ending insomnia.

But then, while walking to school one morning, Evan finds an envelope in his path. Inside is a photograph. Of nothing. Except the spot where he is standing.

The next day, Evan finds another envelope. In the exact same spot as before. Inside is another photograph. Of him. Looking at the photo from the day before.

Evan’s not sure what to think. Is Ariel back? Are these photographs her way of tormenting him for reminding him of what he did to her? Or worse–has someone else found out what he did and is toying with him as punishment? Either way, he will not be able to sleep rest until he finds out who is responsible.

As the cryptic photos keep surfacing, Evan’s paranoia amplifies, and the feeling that he never really knew Ariel at all starts to paralyze dominate his life thoughts. Will he uncover the truth before he loses his mind his grasp on reality?

I have to wonder if whoever wrote the book synopsis actually read the book. Because, let me just clear this up–

Ariel is not Evan’s only friend. The second photograph he gets is not of him looking at the photograph from the day before. And the insomnia thing isn’t as important to the story as it is to whoever wrote the book synopsis. I think it’s only even mentioned in passing in one of the chapters.

That said, the book wasn’t bad–even with the misleading synopsis. But the damage has already been done: I was already expecting a story outlined by said synopsis.

I must confess though that I liked how David Levithan introduced the idea of there being a different version of a person for each relationship they might have. Hence the book’s title. Unfortunately, I don’t think the author fully explores this idea as we get caught up with the main character’s quest to find out who is tormenting him.

Had the story been mind-blowingly awesome, I might be singing a different tune. But Levithan’s Ever You, Every Me isn’t particularly intriguing (or interesting) once you take out the “another photograph. Of him. Looking at the photo from the day before.” Suddenly, it’s just another young adult book that deals with teenage angst and guilt.

Not that there’s anything wrong with that. But–

This book just didn’t do anything for me.

It may have done something for other people though. So let’s see what they have to say about the book:
The Book Smugglers
Good Books & Good Wine
Gone with the Words