homosexuality

Book Review: History Is All You Left Me

Wow. Just… wow.

Okay so the main/underlying theme in this is the death of Griffin’s closest friend and first love, Theo. We’re given alternating excerpts from different moments in the past (such as when Theo and Griffin first got together, fun memories they made, sad moments etc) and excerpts from “now” (after Theo’s death). While this alone is a huge topic that is so important to address, this book manages to discuss several other issues at the same time.

The most important part of this book (to me) was Griffin learning how to move on without feeling guilty for betraying Theo. My boyfriend lost someone a few years ago and sometime’s I get scared I’m “competing with a ghost” (which is a fantastic quote from in this book, but I won’t tell you who said it because that’s a pretty big spoiler). I can only imagine how awful it must feel to lose someone you love, and how crap you’d feel for ‘forgetting’ them. But Griffin tackles this, not quickly or easily, but through mistakes and heartache and small realisations. It’s a very realistic portrayal of the journey, I think, and offers hope at the same time.

Other themes include homozexuality – which is explored through four different characters, as opposed to just one or two – and even OCD. Griffin’s OCD isn’t by any means the “main” plot, but it impacts everything in his life – which is, of course, very true for anyone with a mental illness like that. It reveals itself in tiny ways throughout his life, and is even seen as a sort of “quirk” by Theo. I especiay liked how Griffin’s new love interest at the end of the book tackles his compulsions so differently to Theo – he encourages him to move on and fight them, rather than just accepting them and letting them rule both Griffin’s and his behaviour.

I’m not sure if this counts as a theme, but there’s also the big issue of Griffin actually meeting the boy Theo was dating when he died. (Theo moved away to go to college, and his relationship with Griffin came to a weird end-but-not-quite. Theo found a new boyfriend, Jackson.) Jackson and Griffin had spent months hating each other, and refusing to even try to get on. But after Theo’s death, Griffin realises that this is the only other person who understands exactly what he’s going through. Although he hates that they had their own history together he knows that it means Jackson is grieving in the same way as Griffin. They eventually decide to help each other through the first month following his death, but when Jackson reveals how Theo told him some very personal information from Griffin’s childhood, Griffin begins to see Jackson as a weapon. Since his death, Griffin has been talking to Theo in his head. Now he wants him to watch as he has sex with his boyfriend.

Like I said, Griffin makes a lot of mistakes. He knows that. He made mistakes while Theo was alive, too – there are references to the “taboo” issue between him and Theo and the betrayal Griffin felt he committed that we are later informed about. But Wade, their closest friend since childhood, becomes the rock that Griffin had never expected. He helps Griffin see that Theo is in the wrong by asking him to wait for them to get back together when he has clearly moved on himself. Wade later helps Griffin see that Theo would be happy to see him move on, too, and that despite being his first love, Theo doesn’t have to be his only love.

So yeah, a pretty emotional book with a hell of a lot of twists. I loved it. I have another book by Adam Silvera on my shelf to read (I bought it back before I’d found this) and I am seriously looking forward to it now. Amazing book: 5 stars.

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Book Review: Release

I’ve been meaning to read more of Ness’s novels, and this new release (hah!) looked really interesting. It definitely lived up to that reputation.
It’s kind of split in two, alternating between Adam’s story and the story of the Queen and the the faun – spirits, one of which is lost and accidentally bound to the spirit of a young girl who has been murdered, jeopardising the safety of the entire world. I don’t actually know how or why these two stories are connected. There seems to be a link here and there, and they even meet at one point, but I don’t actually see why these two sets of characters are of any real importance to each other. Each story was very interesting, but I just didn’t feel like they were relevant to each other.

The story following Adam was really good, and the banter between Adam and Angela especially was fantastic. He is a gay boy living in an incredibly religious family – his father is a preacher at the nearby church. He’s getting over a relationship, while simultaneously dating another boy who seems to love him very much. But Adam doesn’t feel like he deserves the love, and when his father suggests he deserved the sexual harassment from his boss he completely loses it. This interaction was really interesting, and I think Ness did a pretty good job of creating a dramatic and accurate scene. A religious father faced with news such as this would likely have reacted in a similar way to Big Brian Thorn.

Although I did enjoy this and Ness’s writing is superb, I don’t quite understand this book. I saw a few links and enjoyed Adam’s story, but really didn’t understand the Queen’s significance. 3 stars.

Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli – Paperback, 303 pages – Published April 7th 2015 by Penguin

This was really a wild ride. I think this book managed to get me out of a mini reading slump (yay!).

The book starts off with Simon’s private email being read by some guy in his drama club. This may not seem like a huge deal, except Simon’s secretly been emailing this guy who he’s maybe in love with. But they don’t know each other’s real identity, and neither of them have come out yet.

So Simon has to help the guy – Martin – get with one of his best friends. Only she isn’t interested (at all). At the same time, Simon is falling for Blue more and more with each email, and is becoming desperate to find him in real life. He starts to decode the clues in an attempt to figure out his identity – only for Blue to beat him to it.

Simon’s also struggling with tons of friendship issues, a big play coming up, and his family (and the entire school, for that matter) finding out about him being gay. He doesn’t want any of it to be a big deal. But it is.

He’s a great character, portrayed to be a normal human being. His relationships all seem pretty realistic (though I’m sceptical about the situation with Blue. Would anyone really be that lucky?). I really felt for him throughout the novel, and I was so unbelievably pleased for him at the end. I’m so not used to such great, adorable endings.

My biggest issues are that sometimes the teen voice was being pushed a bit too hard – we don’t always say “freaking” or whatever. And the scenarios seemed a little too far-fetched sometimes. (Seriously, has anyone ever experienced people dancing in the crowd at a school talent show?) But generally this was a good representation of life, and I really enjoyed reading it.

very nearly marked this as a favourite, but decided on just 4.5 stars in the end. I loved the book, but there were a few minor details that put me off just a little bit. It is most definitely a fantastic book, though! I’d definitely recommend this book for the YA audience.

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