I’m still kinda getting my footing with this whole blog thing and am not quite sure how I want these reviews to go. It’s more like a commentary/review combo, so we will discuss MINOR events/parts of the book. This is SPOILER FREE in regards to any big plot points/twists/turns/wtf moments. If there is something moderately spoiler-y, I’ll let y’all know by separating it between handy horizontal lines as shown below.
Look at me I’m a spoiler. Don’t read me if you don’t like knowing stuff about a book before you read the book.
Everybody got it? Moving right along….
I chose this book as my first review because I’d read it before and wanted to start off this book blog on a positive note. I reread the novel this past weekend and focused on being critical, but y’all. This book is the sweetest damn thing. (Not just saying that because Wendy Brant commented on my last post, which is possibly the coolest thing EVER.)
If you’re reading this, Hi Wendy!
Eva’s just trying to make it through this last year of high school, but there are a lot things standing in her way. She’s got huge aspirations to go to MIT and the brains to match, but as anyone who has been to college in the last ten years knows, those two things matter about 1/85 as much as the funds to back up those aspirations and brains. She’s got quadruplet toddler siblings and a one-income household supported by her father, the pastor. They’re far from living in the lap of luxury, but they make just enough not to starve, so the FAFSA crew could give two figs about her financial needs because screw the middle class.
Whoops. Stopped talking about the book and started talking about America.
Eva is also suffering through something that none of us ever had to deal with: fractals. These bastards enable Eva to see every painful thing she never wanted to know about people’s pasts, just by touching them, or their crap, because even some objects aren’t safe from absorbing heartache. They’re a real drag that prevent her from seeking physical affection, which puts the kibosh on her dating life (because really, what 17-year-old boy wants to date a girl who won’t come within 10 feet of his jacket, let alone his junk?). Until she meets Zenn. And things get real.
The characters in this book are so incredibly well-written. Something I was originally going to criticize about this novel was Eva’s “I’m not like other girls” syndrome. As a grown person, it’s very hard to not to be irritated by a character who is constantly cutting down her peers because she sees herself as above them. She feels she is deeper and smarter than “most women,” (partly because she feels inferior because of her differences because teenage insecurity is a mother) and makes a lot of obnoxious generalizations about the members of her sex.
“I’m into calculators like most teenage girls are into footwear.”
“Most women could make a full-time job out of trying to be prettier….”
“I love math like most women love Starbucks.”
Blech. No. I hate all of these quotes. She also has a pretty bleak outlook on sex and romance and finds girls who are interested in those things frivolous and stupid.
But the thing is, it rings true to the inner thoughts of a girl like Eva. I should know; I was one. Not teenage-boy-attracting-pretty, a little awkward, smart, and not interested in high school politics. And even when you pretend to be above all of it, it’s still painful to watch your peers go on dates and go to dances and parties and hit all these cliché milestones while you’re still sitting at home, watching Harry Potter and trying to act like it doesn’t matter. So, you get defensive and tear other people down a little to make yourself feel better about the fact that no one asked you to that dance or invited you to that party. It’s a flaw in Eva, but it’s so genuine, and over the course of the book, you see her grow and evolve as she’s faced with the reality of experiencing the things that she once held in such low regard.
The conflict in this book was perfectly balanced with more “fluffy” content and perfectly timed, executed, and most importantly, necessary. NOTHING pisses me off like struggle for the sake of struggle. There’s a point in the book where Eva tells Zenn about a scholarship she applied for. He applies, too, and is worried she’s going to be mad. A lesser author would have turned it into a fifty-page story-arc, but Brant wisely has Eva act like a rational human and she’s all “It’s open to everyone, tf would I be pissed?” and that is the end of it.
(I decided to add another category that may not always be here. It’ll be on a book to book basis.)
Not only in regards to Eva and Zenn, but Eva and Charlotte, too. Brant perfectly describes the subtle, irrational feeling of abandonment that accompanies your best friend getting her first boyfriend and it had me in tears. Eva pulls away when it feels like Charlotte is growing up and leaving her behind and it is so painfully accurate. Charlotte handles it like a damn boss, too. Confronted Eva about it, then turns around and is an A+ friend to her, even at a time when Eva was a less than stellar bff to her. (again, no unnecessary, drug-out, boring ass conflict.)
Zenn is the damn cutest. Get yourself a significant other like him, friends. He’s polite to Eva, goes out of his way to help her, and actively cares about her emotions. He is stupid sweet to her siblings and is down to try to get to know Charlotte and her BF. He doesn’t BS and pretend like he doesn’t care about anything/everything to look “cool.” 10/10.
Writing Style: 4.7/5
Sometimes people try too hard to write like they *think* teenagers talk and it comes across so cheesy. Brant has a great voice that sounds like the average 17 year old to me. She gives great physical descriptions from things like Zenn’s hands to spilled milk at a dinner table and I could picture every single moment of the book in vivid detail. The line about Eva’s 3 y/o sisters possibly being sluts because they were easy to bribe into potty training…
Not a fan.
Reading Experience: 5/5
This book was sweet and fun without being shallow. It had some adorable one liners that made me squee and a relationship that was both relatable and enviable.
I loved this story both times I read it. I’ve borrowed a friend’s copy and I promise you I’ll be purchasing one for myself. It’s a book that leaves you feeling light and hopeful; a perfect read for when things get tough and you need to be reminded that all the world is not a raging pile of donkey poo.