Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons WhyGoodreads Synopsis:

You can’t stop the future.
You can’t rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret . . . is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a strange package with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier. Hannah’s voice tells him that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out why.

Clay spends the night crisscrossing his town with Hannah as his guide. He becomes a firsthand witness to Hannah’s pain, and as he follows Hannah’s recorded words throughout his town, what he discovers changes his life forever.

Spoiler: Unpopular Opinion Alert.

Lots of rants. Lots of spoilers.

I first read this book in 2007 when it was just released. I was in 7th grade and inexperienced. Now with it’s 10th Anniversary, I decided a re-read was in order (Plus, it fits my 2017 reading challenge for a story within a story). Let me say, experience and maturity changes your view on this book.

Before you ask, no, I have never thought about or tried to commit suicide.

I know people that have.

I know people that have tried to.

I know people that wanted to and got help.

Suicide is a sensitive topic and this novel is whiny and unrealistic.

Let’s talk about Hannah.

Hannah is the center of the story. She decides to take her own life and leave behind cassette tapes for each person explaining how they are a “reason” for her death. Clay is our eyes for the story. He received the tapes, but he’s not sure but he’s not sure why. Honestly, I think it was mean to put Clay through the agony of listening to the tapes, when he never “wronged” Hannah in any way. It’s pretty heartless. He had a completely harmless crush, but Hannah felt the need to include him in the mix, so he knew why she killed herself, but that she also liked him. WHAT? Who does that? No one.

Various Spoilers Ahead & Lots of Ranting

As for her reasons, they were petty. A couple made “sense” (I say this lightly, because having mean things said to you or about you is definitely not a good enough reason to end your life). While most were just placing blame on other people. I was really upset when she said Mr. Porter was a reason. Yeah, she “went” for help, but it’s really hard to get help wen you’re not opening up and being cryptic with your responses. Hannah’s reasons weren’t powerful enough to make this a decent piece of literature on a sensitive topic.

I enjoyed the format of the book, but the plot fell flat. There was no clear line as to what Hannah’s motivation was. People were “mean” to her and instead of finding new friends and distancing herself from the so-called friends that were hurting her, she continued to be around people she hated.

Here are Hannah’s “reasons”:

  1. Justin Foley: Hannah’s first kiss who started rumors that it was more than a kiss.
  2. Alex Standall: Put out a list saying Hannah had the “Best Ass of the Freshman Class”.
  3. Jessica Davis: Was friends with Hannah and was upset she was voted “Worst Ass of the Freshman Class”. She hit Hannah (which left a scar) during an argument over the list.
  4. Tyler Down: Picture-taking, peeping Tom outside Hannah’s window.
  5. Courtney Crimson: fake friend who helped “catch” Tyler and started a rumor that Hannah had sex toys in her room and had put out for Justin Foley.
  6. Marcus Cooley: Hannah’s Valentine’s Day survey date match. “Tried” putting the moves on her while on their date. She pushed him out of the booth.
  7. Zach Dempsey: Hannah ignored him so he stole her Notes of Encouragement from her bag in their Peer Communications Class.
  8. Ryan Shaver: friend from a poetry class, until he stole her very personal poem and published in the school paper (anonymously) where English teachers used it dring poetry lessons for analysis.
  9. Clay: He’s not a reason, she just wanted him to know what happened. He then blames himself because he “had no idea what was going on”.
  10. Justin Foley (again): Allowed Bryce Walker to have sex with Jessica Davis and Hannah was hidden in the closet…
  11. Jenny Kurtz: Drove Hannah home, hit a STOP sign, didn’t report it, and a fatal accident happened later that night because there was no sign.
  12. Bryce Walker:Touched Hannah in the hot tub, and then she let him have sex with her.
  13. Mr. Porter: teacher/guidance counselor who Hannah saw because she was “suicidal” and then instead of talking, she was cryptic and uncooperative.

The whole book focuses on blaming people who were two-faced and said/did mean things. Hannah resented these people, and instead of standing up for herself, putting effort into seeking help – not just leaving anonymous notes for the teacher – she blamed them as a reason to die. Just re-reading the reasons above, I’m like, these aren’t even valid points – but then again, there is never a valid reason to kill yourself.

Justin Foley is an asshole and stereotypical jerk-jock from every movie/TV show/book ever.

Alex Standall is a stupid boy and was an immature Freshman and put out a Best and Worst list. It is not his fault that the boys of their class felt the need to fall to the stereotypical rape-culture and grab Hannah’s ass as she walks by.

Jessica Davis was one of her only friends and one little argument ended their friendship forever. If I ended every friendship I had every time we had a disagreement, I would have zero friends.

Tyler Down is an asshole with no conscious.

Courtney Crimson was a fake friend who never looked out for others – and Hannah knew that. She knew not to trust her, but she did it any way.

Marcus Cooley is a jerk who ran with the other jerks mentioned above. Hello – find new friends if you’re having such an issue with the people in this group.

Zach Dempsey acted like a jerk because Hannah turned him down. As someone who went through the public high school system, I highly doubt a guy would be such a jerk to resort to stealing because 1 girl, in a school with hundreds of people, turned him down.

Ryan Shaver, like Zach, is just a jerk. I understand Hannah was upset about the poetry thing, but no one had found out it was hers until the tapes. Her peers didn’t like the poem and found it whiny and blame-y too, but they never suggested that Hannah wrote it. Sorry, you can’t constructive criticism from peers who don’t even know you wrote it.

Clay has no reason to be on this list. It was a bitchy move to include him. Yeah, he wanted to know what happened given the fact he was working up courage to ask you on a date, but he was never inappropriate, he never did anything mean. He was the boy Hannah worked with and the boy who fell in love with her for who she was as a person and never told her.

Justin Foley allowing Bryce Walker to rape Jessica Davis is in no way a reason to kill yourself. Yes Hannah, you were hidden in the closet and were so stricken with fear that you couldn’t bring yourself to put a stop to it, but it is no way your fault. You did not rape her. You do not need to kill yourself over other people’s horrendous mistakes.

Jenny Kurtz is the reason that fatal accident occurred hours after you left the party. She was the one drunk driving and took out a stop sign. It was her fault. Just because she gave you a ride, doesn’t mean you are responsible. Jenny knew what she did. It is not your fault she was irresponsible.

Bryce Walker was an asshole the entire story. Hannah was so made up with her mind that she just let him  have sex with her. She didn’t say no. She didn’t try to stop him. She just let him. She was SOBER and knew that she was going to let him do it.

Mr. Porter was just a cheap shot for Hannah. Throwing faculty under the bus because they didn’t help you is wrong when they asked you questions when you came in and you were cryptic and uncooperative. They wanted to help, but she didn’t want any real help, so she was uncooperative, because she had already made up her mind. This was Hannah’s very weak attempt at a Hail Mary.

The whiny approach in this book was not powerful enough to evoke the emotion needed to make this an amazing story about a sensitive topic. In all honesty, I preferred the alternate ending where Hannah lived. She needed the second chance and the help, and Tony (minor character who was in charge of ensuring that the tapes were passed along) was able to give her that. Clay was able to tell the girl he loved that he was in love with her.

As those in the book community know, Netflix has created a 1 season TV show based on the book. I watched it and definitely prefer it over the book. Yes, the same people are the same reasons in the TV show, but Hollywood knows how to create a show that will make us feel the powerful emotions. They show the parents side of the story (including a never mentioned law suit) and instead of Clay listening to the tapes all in one night, he listens to them over the course of a week or so – maybe a couple of weeks. His story and those who are reasons all intertwine in a way that’s dramatic and evokes the powerful emotions. Leave it to Hollywood to save the story.

That’s it for today’s rant of over-hyped literature that falls flat. Until next time bookworms.

 

 

Life Update + Insurgent: Book vs. Movie

Hello bookworms! As you can tell I have been on a slight hiatus due to school – it is kicking my butt! On a happy note – my first session of grad school is over and I received a 4.0! So excited! I finally have a break, so I am catching up on all of my blogging from August (sadly only textbooks were read during September and October). Now time to catch up!

11735983Goodreads Synopsis:

One choice can transform you—or it can destroy you. But every choice has consequences, and as unrest surges in the factions all around her, Tris Prior must continue trying to save those she loves—and herself—while grappling with haunting questions of grief and forgiveness, identity and loyalty, politics and love.

Tris’s initiation day should have been marked by celebration and victory with her chosen faction; instead, the day ended with unspeakable horrors. War now looms as conflict between the factions and their ideologies grows. And in times of war, sides must be chosen, secrets will emerge, and choices will become even more irrevocable—and even more powerful. Transformed by her own decisions but also by haunting grief and guilt, radical new discoveries, and shifting relationships, Tris must fully embrace her Divergence, even if she does not know what she may lose by doing so.

When I finished Divergent and started Insurgent I tweeted:

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I got addicted to the first two books fast because Insurgent picks up from the exact spot Divergent ended. I do have to say I enjoyed Divergent just a little bit more than Insurgent. Insurgent was full of twists, turns, and completely action packed. The story focuses on Tris and her search for answers to all questions about divergence. We also see her relationship with Four blossom during this difficult time – and it gives you all the feels! Like this:

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And this:

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However, there was another cliff hanger ending – and we all know how I feel about cliffhangers:

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Movie Insurgent had some changes, but didn’t sway from the book too much. I still choose the book over the movie! I love Miles Teller but I hate him in this series. I just want to punch his smug little face in every time his face was on the screen. Also, Theo James is beautiful with his deep, husky voice –> Theo James Speed Dating Questions

That’s all for now. Look for my next blog post on Allegiant! Keep reading bookworms. Have a great Veterans Day weekend!

 

 

 

Divergent: Book vs. Movie

8306857Goodreads Synopsis:

In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

I’ve been trying to switch up my reading recently. I felt like I needed something new, but I didn’t know what exactly. I decided it was finally time to read the Divergent Series as it has been sitting on my bookshelf since March of last year. Plus, I felt like it was a very hyped up book, and I didn’t want to be disappointed if it didn’t live up to the hype like others I have read recently.

I was thoroughly surprised when I started reading. This dystopian novel was refreshing. Personally, I didn’t align myself with Tris, but I was extremely attracted to Four, or I prefer to call him, Tobias. He was everything you wanted from a book boyfriend, and the best part was that there was no ever-popular, messy love triangle!

Tobias’s character made me feel very…

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as well as…

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this…

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and finally…

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Even movie Tobias/Four was dreamy – Theo James was an excellent casting. If you don’t know who he is, feel free to observe below.

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I went into this book and series not really knowing what to expect. I hadn’t read any reviews. I hadn’t seen the movies. All I knew was that it was within the dystopian genre and everyone within the bookstagram community was in love with it.

I enjoyed following Tris from her home in Abnegation – a faction that believes selflessness is the way the world should be – to her new home in Dauntless – a faction that believes bravery is the most important thing in the world. She has spent her whole life being conditioned to think selflessly and be selfless. In Dauntless, she can think freely, ask freely, and become her own person. It just goes to show that a change in environment, can drastically change a person and their outlook on the world.

For those who are new to the blog, I am a firm believer in the idea that the book is always better. In the case of Divergent by Veronica Roth, I can say that the book was 10,000x better than the movie. Go figure.

The movie wasn’t bad. There were things added that weren’t in the book while some things in the book weren’t in the movie. I thought the casting was good [see Theo James casting above]. One thing I did not like was Kate Winslet. I am a huge Kate Winslet fan and I absolutely hated seeing her play the worst [as in evil and demented] character in the entire series. It broke my Kate-Winslet-loving heart.

To end my first post on this series, I thought it might be interesting to see which faction I belong in. Here are my results from the Official Divergent Aptitude Test found HERE .

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Next up on the Review To-Do List is Insurgent: Book vs. Movie. Until next time bookworms. Happy reading!

 

The Help

6588662Goodreads Synopsis:

Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.

Literally the synopsis from Goodreads is all you need to make up your mind about this book! I was hooked from the beginning.

I had seen the movie before reading the book. I loved the movie, but was skeptical to picking up the book because I wasn’t sure if they had made the movie funnier or if the lightheartedness of the movie would be the same in the book. I was so wrong to be skeptical! Despite the book depicting a controversial time in American history, Stockett created the same kind-hearted, realistic story for all to enjoy. It’s no wonder that it is a NYTimes Bestseller!

One thing I liked most about the book was that it didn’t solely focus on Skeeter and her journey to expose how black maids were treated by white families. We were also introduced to two of the maids featured in Skeeter’s book – Aibileen and Minny. The weaving of all three stories and point of views was seamless.  I never felt confused or had to back track and I genuinely cared about the characters.

This is also the first historical fiction I have ever read and I can say that I really enjoyed it. I hope to add it to my genres in the future! If you’re looking for a book to read on a long flight, this is definitely the one for you!

I’m not going to review Stardust by Neil Gaiman or Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin, because I honestly did not like either of them enough to put anything into words for a post. However, or my next post I’m diving into Divergent by Veronica Roth! Happy reading bookworms!

Bridge to Terabithia

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Image courtesy of Goodreads.com

Goodreads Synopsis:

Jess Aarons’ greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He’s been practicing all summer and can’t wait to see his classmates’ faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys’ side and outruns everyone.

That’s not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits.

Finally taking a break from working on my final project! I read this AWHILE ago, but I kept forgetting to write and post my review of it. So here it finally is!

For starters, I first read this book when I was in elementary school, not for a book report or anything, but instead the school program, Novel Knowledge (Yes, I have always been a nerd). Anyway, I read this book in fourth grade for Novel Knowledge. I decided to read it again for Banned Books Week because it is one of the more banned books in the U.S. According to the American Library Association, it’s ranked at #8 on the list of Top 100 Most Banned Books for 1990-2000, and #28 for 2000-2009.

I hate the idea of banning books. This one had some pretty crazy reasons – offensive language (Jess’ use of the word”lord” outside of prayer); promoting witchcraft, violence, new age religions, secular humanism, and Satanism. I get the idea of banning the book because it has the death of a main character – but come on, kids see worse things in their cartoons. Granted, the topic of death in the book being a death of a child, I do see why it was a topic of censorship. It should really be up to the digression of the parents and maturity of the child, but the idea of banning/challenging books is stupid. Just because it doesn’t fit your own beliefs, doesn’t mean everyone should be censored.

Anywho! This was the first book that ever made me cry. The second being Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park (also next on my reading list!) The book itself is enchanting. The characters are realistic and engaging, not to mention the strong friendship between Jesse and Leslie is immeasurable.

By now it’s 2015, so its plausible that you’ve seen the movie adaption staring Josh Hutcherson (My husband who I’ve loved since I saw him in Kicking and Screaming, I was a little kid then!) and AnnaSophia Robb. For those of you that have seen it, you know what happens. Regardless, the very short book is much better than the movie (even if it does star my husband!).

After re-reading the book – roughly twelve years later – I can say I felt the same emotions that I did when I was nine years old. I also balled like a baby. Life hurts you. Books can hurt you too. This book proves that.

Up next on my reading list is Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park. I last read it in fourth grade, so a re-read is much needed! Especially since I found it for free at the local thrift store! Happy reading lovelies!

Me, and Earl, and the Dying Girl

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Image courtesy of Goodreads

Goodreads synopsis:

Greg Gaines is the last master of high school espionage, able to disappear at will into any social environment. He has only one friend, Earl, and together they spend their time making movies, their own incomprehensible versions of Coppola and Herzog cult classics.

Until Greg’s mother forces him to rekindle his childhood friendship with Rachel.

Rachel has been diagnosed with leukemia—-cue extreme adolescent awkwardness—-but a parental mandate has been issued and must be obeyed. When Rachel stops treatment, Greg and Earl decide the thing to do is to make a film for her, which turns into the Worst Film Ever Made and becomes a turning point in each of their lives.

And all at once Greg must abandon invisibility and stand in the spotlight.

When I first heard of this book, everyone talked about what a great book it was, but never what it was really about. I figured it was about two friends and their girl friend who was dying of cancer. Even the description provided by the back of the book was bland. Regardless, I still picked up the book in an interest to keep up with the bookworm crowd.

I honestly did not like the book. Not only did I not like it, but I fought very hard to push through and actually finish the book. The opening chapters seemed like a decent start with some opening jokes, but it never improved. I thought main character, Greg Gaines, was actually writing from his perspective as an established adult – he was talking about his several films and their “successes”. In the end we learn he’s writing the book around the age of eighteen or nineteen after he had been suspended from the University of Pittsberg for failing grades. It was a disappointment, much like this book.

The grammar and vulgar language of Earl irritated the heck out of me. The extreme awkwardness of Greg, Earl, and Rachel was weird, they were awkward together and never said much when they were together. They severely lacked personality and never connected with me as a reader.

Greg even writes in the epilogue, “Also, I can probably write whatever on this page, because there’s no way you made it all the way to the end, because this book is a disgrace to the English language. Too all language.” Yes sir, it is. I don’t know what the movie will be about since the book jumped around a lot and most chapters were backstory we really didn’t need. Hopefully the movie writers pull what The D.U.F.F. movie writers did – take the basic idea and create a new story line around the idea leaving out a bulk of the actual book. I’ll wait for it to hit RedBox or something.

If you actually enjoyed the book, great. If you didn’t, I’m right there with you friend. Until next time, I’ll be finishing up Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell before indulging in some ARCs I recently received and can’t wait to start! Until next time, happy reading my lovelies!

That Summer

SARA_DESSEN_branding_v10 [Converted]With Sarah Dessen being one of my favorite authors, you’d think I’ve read every one of her books – sadly that is mistaken. There are a couple I haven’t read in a really long time, but also a couple that I haven’t read at all  such as That Summer. Here’s the Goodreads synopsis:

For fifteen-year-old Haven, life is changing too quickly. She’s nearly six feet tall, her father is getting remarried, and her sister—the always perfect Ashley—is planning a wedding of her own. Haven wishes things could just go back to the way they were. Then an old boyfriend of Ashley’s reenters the picture, and through him, Haven sees the past for what it really was, and comes to grips with the future.

Not one of Dessen’s best, but its her first published novel, getting it out there for readers was a success in itself. The book is a short one – only 198 pages – but still tiresome to read. For me, the layout of the book is always a big deal breaker. I have extremely bad eyes, so the layout of the text would hurt me eyes due to large chunky paragraphs following one another – break up the paragraphs a little people, save us with awful eyes!

Dessen understands the life of a teenager and summarizes it in one sentence:

I didn’t like any of it, suddenly, the changes and reorganizations and alterations to my life that were all in the control of other people and outside forces.

-Haven pg. 107

I remember feeling so powerless sometimes because what I wanted for my life and future didn’t get taken into account. Parents knew best, and I just needed to accept that. We need to make mistakes to learn and grow up, but sometimes it’s okay. I learned more in my house than some of my friends did in theirs. I wasn’t given a silver spoon. I knew how to do my own laundry long before I went off to college. I never had my car/license taken away. I’m in debt due to student loans for school, not because I racked up daddy’s credit card. Haven and I are alike in many ways, which is why I like her. We’re independent and invisible, the main character in our own stories, but not one to take the show over. We just want to be the ones in charge of our life without creating such a stir.

I also saw a lot of similarities of the main character, Haven, to Dessen’s newest main character, Sydney from Saint Anything. Both are utterly invisible to their families, but Haven is hardly unmissable with her “outrageous” height. When will she stop growing? Nobody knows… Haven’s sister, Ashley, on the other hand, irritates me. Haven had described her as a strong woman that broke guys’ hearts and didn’t put up with crap, but her newest boyfriend-now-fiance turned her into this tiny little girl that needs protection and affection 24/7. I hate girls who go from independent to needy in a matter of minutes just because the boyfriend shows up. Granted, I myself, can be very needy sometimes, but it’s mainly when I haven’t seen my boyfriend for a month due to the fact that my boyfriend and I go to school in two different states. Any boy that changes you that much – in what I see as a negative way – is not a good thing. But also, Ashley is a crazy , centered-b@!$#

Haven’s father had an affair and married the local weather girl – Lorna Queen. Lorna can basically be described as Barbara Jean from the 2001 to 2007 TV sitcom, Reba. As a reader I don’t really like Lorna, not just because she’s a home-wrecker, but she is clearly an idiot. I mean, she announces on live television that she’s expecting a baby a month after getting married, before Haven’s dad can tell the family he left behind for a younger, perkier, stupider girl. Rant over.

And now onto Sumner. Boy, does Dessen have a way of making us fall in love with her make characters. We hadn’t even met Sumner’s character yet, just heard about him from Haven’s memories, and I was utterly infatuated with him. He seemed to appear whenever Haven needed a friend.

But things can be surprising. The world may come crashing down, but things are going to change and get better. You can’t be hung up on stupid happy memories from the past, because when you do that you don’t live in the moment of now. Embrace the ones your with and accept change in any form it comes in. And a life lesson from Dessen, the first boy is always the hardest to get over.

It may not have been Dessen’s best, but it is still enjoyable. I’m looking forward to continuing my #SarahDessenMarathon with Someone Like You. Happy reading lovelies!