Google+ YA Romantics: Mini-Reviews: Don't Ever Change, The Escape and Paperweight

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Mini-Reviews: Don't Ever Change, The Escape and Paperweight

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Don't Ever Change
by M. Beth Bloom

Published on July 7, 2015

Source: eARC from publisher
Summary adapted from Goodreads: Eva has always wanted to write a modern classic—one that actually appeals to her generation. The only problem is that she has realized she can't "write what she knows" because she hasn't yet begun to live. So before heading off to college, Eva is determined to get a life worth writing about. Soon Eva's life encounters a few unexpected plot twists. 

My take: I'm sad to see that a lot of my Goodreads friends felt "meh" about this because I really liked it. (But I was also one of those who loved the quirky, deadpan humor in Bloom's first book, Drain Me.)  I'll admit that Don't Ever Change doesn't have dramatic plot twists or shocking reveals, but I found it hilarious and wise. Eva, an aspiring writer, is heading off to Emerson College in the fall, but first she has to a) write and re-write and re-rewrite the perfect introductory email to her new college roommate, b) survive her new job as a day camp counselor, and c) decide why she's so drawn to the absolute wrong boy.

Bloom's writing style is one I could read all day: wide-ranging. observant and witty (some people on Goodreads call it stream-of-consciousness, but to me it feels a lot like being stuck in a head very similar to mine.) And I loved how subtle the plot was -- stuff does happen, people! Eva is the coolest (okay, semi-neglectful, but if you think teenagers enjoy being camp counselors, you're kidding yourself) and most inspirational counselor ever, which gets her into trouble. If you love contemporaries, give this one a chance!


The Escape
by Hannah Jayne

Published by Sourcebooks Fire
on July 7, 2016
Summary adapted from Goodreads: When two boys walk into the woods, and one comes out covered in blood, what would you believe? Fletcher and Adam venture into the woods for an afternoon hike, but when day turns into night and neither boy returns, their town is thrown into turmoil. Avery, the detective's daughter, is the one to find Fletcher—dishelved, disoriented, and covered in blood. He has no memory of what happened, but Avery can't shake the feeling that something's off. When Adam's body is finally found, Avery is determined to uncover the truth. But if she stands by her gut, and Fletcher, is she standing by a friend, or a murderer? The answer might cost her her life.

My take: Am I a weirdo that lines like "two boys walk into the woods and only one comes out, covered in blood" are like clickbait to me? I loved the set-up of The Escape. The police chief's daughter, Avery, goes to school with  the surviving boy, and the story is told in alternating third person from his point of view and hers. After the body of the missing boy is discovered, the surviving boy's classmates turn on him for not being able to remember, and he begins to feel like he's losing his mind. Avery is sympathetic and decides to help him solve the mystery of what happened in the woods.

I liked that the book didn't reveal which boy survived right off. The narrative style  had its pros and cons for me. I really liked the boy's point of view but since he had amnesia the book did need the grounding of Avery's narration. Problem was, Avery ended up seeming like sort of a sidekick, so that left the book with a bit of a rudderless feel. That said, the tension and mystery was sustained right up until the end. I liked the ending, thought it left me with some questions.  But overall, I thought this delivered solid psychological suspense.

Paperweight
by Meg Halston

Published by Harper Teen
on July 7, 2015

Source: eARC from publisher

Summary adapted from Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. In her body. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert. Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn't plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life.

As the summary above suggests, this book may be triggering for some readers. 

My take: I was anorexic, and always approach books like this with a bit of apprehension because they bring me back to a place I'm glad I've left behind. So while it's hard for me to say that I enjoy a book like Paperweight, I do think that most of it felt true to my experience (you can read my more detailed review on Goodreads.)

I loved Stevie's relationship with her therapist - that was probably my favorite part of the book. Paperweight had a strong Ordinary People vibe that made me want to re-watch the movie. If you're not familiar with Ordinary People, it's an excellent grief story, and as I didn't read Paperweight's synopsis before starting the book, it came as a surprise to me that it is a grief/guilt book too (something I don't have personal experience with.) The story spent a lot of time trying to explain Stevie's eating disorder with very dramatic (and somewhat unlikely and convoluted) precipitating factors (I include spoilers on my Goodreads review.) I thought this made the narrative feel pulled in a bunch of different directions, and has Stevie spending a lot of time thinking about characters who aren't present in the story.

But I definitely recommend this for those who are looking for this kind of a story. While Wintergirls is definitely still the most powerful eating disorder book I've ever read, Paperweight might be a solid number two.

32 comments:

  1. I am often the odd man out like you are in Don't Ever Change. I wish that I could trust ratings, but I have some odd reading preferences that don't always appeal to others.
    I love the sound of the suspense in Escape. "Two boys go into the woods..." almost sounds like a setup for a riddle. :) Ha!
    I used to read a lot of books on eating disorders. It was a large part of my study in school. I stay away from these books now. I have almost decided that no matter how well it's done, and no matter the good intentions of the author, there are too many girls in search of something that love to fixate on it.

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    1. Ha - I don't mind being Odd Man Out. It happens. I'm glad to have the chance to champion a book that I like.

      And you bring up an interesting point, and one that I didn't raise in my review, which is that I do wonder if books like this and even group treatment programs for eating disorders have their negative side due to the competitiveness of many of those who have anorexia. It's a weird part of the disease, but true to my experience. And while a person who doesn't have an eating disorder would read about that competitiveness and think "weird!" those who do have those tendencies might have that competitiveness stoked....

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  2. So great that you ended up enjoying Don't Ever Change despite others not liking it so much! I love funny books so I'll definitely look into that one. Ooh Paperweight has been getting some great reviews. I would love to read more about eating disorders.

    Nice reviews, Jen <33

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    1. I really enjoyed it. It's one of those Slice of Life books in which nothing happens and everything happens.

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  3. For Don't Ever Change - I haven't read it, but sometimes a book written simply filled with wit and humor can be a good thing. Refreshing. Thanks for sharing your candor with us.

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  4. I'm definitely more intrigued by Paperweight than I was before. Thanks for the review!

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  5. All three of these books sounds great. Adding to my TBR list right now. :)

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  6. I'm glad you enjoyed Don't Ever Change because I did as well

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  7. All of these books look so good! Nice reviews for them. I am surprised to hear that a lot of people felt "meh" about Don't Ever Change :O! I thought it sounded amazing, so I am very glad to hear that you enjoyed it :)
    Have a wonderful day.

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    1. Well, that could just be my Goodreads friends. YMMV!

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  8. Glad to see something about Don't Ever Change - I haven't seen any reviews but thought it sounded good Glad you enjoyed. I really want to get to Paperweight. Great reviews!

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  9. All three of these sound excellent. I already read some very complementary reviews of Paperweight, so I was planning to try it. Bravo for being brave enough to do it yourself <3

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    1. It does seem to be getting good reviews!

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  10. Glad you had a better experience with The Escape than I did. Don't Ever Change looks like something I would enjoy - haven't read anything from the author before.

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    1. I definitely felt there were potholes, but there was a lot that I liked!

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  11. Eva sounds a bit manic, it sounds like her story would be a fun one! I'm always a fan of stories that follow teens to college and how eye opening it is!

    And don't worry, murder and sabotage or trigger words for me, so I'm surprised that I hadn't heard of The Escape before!

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    1. YES - doing a post on books that take place the summer before college...

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  12. Great reviews Jen! Looking forward to Paperweight, just added it to my TBR pile! Very intrigued by The Escape!

    Happy Reading
    Patrick @ The Bookshelves

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    1. Look forward to reading your thoughts!

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  13. Lovely reviews! I honestly hadn't see much about Paperweight - but it sounds like something I would enjoy. I haven't read many books on eating disorders, though.

    And The Escape. We still need to chat about this LOL

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  14. Definitely curious about the second book!

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  15. Don't Ever Change sounds like a nice fun read. I've never read Bloom's first book but this one sounds like something I'll enjoy.
    The Escape also sounds like my read. The whole mystery-thriller sound of it. And that line, I definitely vote on you not being a weirdo because it attracted me too, hahaha.
    Great Reviews! :)

    czai @ the Blacksheep Project

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  16. I interviewed the author of Don't Ever Change on my blog this week and her book sounds awesome. I love Quirky characters. The escape sounds so intriguing. I love the tag line.

    Megan @ http://readingawaythedays.blogspot.co.uk

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  17. I loved her relationship with therapist as well, and thought it was handled realistically

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  18. I LOOOOVE stories about two boys going into the woods and only one returning (covered in blood, no less). We can be click-bait sisters.

    Paperweight sounds like it might be a good one for my classroom.

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  19. I've seen The Escape around quite a bit, and now it's left me intrigued! It sounds very interesting, I might just have to pick it up! I love suspenseful books with a bit of mystery thrown in :)

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