Book Review: The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Title: The Art of Being Normal
Series: Standalone
Author: Lisa Williamson
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, LBGTQA
How I got it: I bought it

SYNOPSIS:
Two boys. Two secrets.

David Piper has always been an outsider. His parents think he’s gay. The school bully thinks he’s a freak. Only his two best friends know the real truth – David wants to be a girl.

On the first day at his new school Leo Denton has one goal – to be invisible. Attracting the attention of the most beautiful girl in year eleven is definitely not part of that plan.

When Leo stands up for David in a fight, an unlikely friendship forms. But things are about to get messy. Because at Eden Park School secrets have a funny habit of not staying secret for long…


REVIEW:
I didn’t really know what this book was about when I bought it because I didn’t pay attention to the book jacket? And then I read the blurb and I was like OH MY GOD, this is the first ever trans-centered book that I’ve acquired! At first I was hesitant to read it because I wasn’t sure if I’m ready. I don’t actually read LGBTQA-centered books unless they’re highly recommended by my friends and favorite book bloggers, because I don’t want to be disappointed if it turns out to be not so good. I’ve had terrible experiences with books tackling controversial and sensitive topics before, and I don’t want any repeat of that.

However, I decided to take a risk with The Art of Being Normal. My first impression was that it’s very British. The author is clearly from the U.K. and is familiar with U.K. high school politics, which I don’t see enough of in YA. The language and humor is very English as well, which I’ve enjoyed a lot! It’s interesting to read the dialogue because I’ve been so used to American authors, so I found the change refreshing.

The book opens by introducing us David, a boy who feels like he’s not quite in the right body. He wants to be a girl, and he believes that he already is in all respects aside from his physicality. Then we meet Leo, a boy who just moved to a new school and is quite eager to stay under the radar. Only he can’t, because new kids tend to get noticed as per always, and the fact that wild rumors of why he transferred are escalating around school made it harder for him to be invisible.

I really, really enjoyed The Art of Being Normal. The story is so cute and David in particular is such a precious character. He’s like a puppy, all sweet and adorable and loyal. Leo was a bit of a mystery to me until slowly, the author unveiled his story, and then his moodiness and anger-issues became a bit understandable. The supporting characters were very vividly painted as well, which is always important to me when it comes to books. I liked Alicia even though she annoyed me after a while, but most importantly I commend the parents in this book. I may have teared up once or twice because of them, and I think how parenting is portrayed in this novel is so, so important.

The best thing about this book is how it’s not pretentious. Being transgender is terribly tough especially with how society is today, and we can only hope for it to get easier though the truth is, it probably won’t. This book says as much. You may have friends, family who accept you, but when you go out there in the world, you will still encounter a lot of resistance and criticism. I like how this book didn’t sugarcoat any of that. I also like that there wasn’t any forced romances in this book at all, even though I feared at some point that there would be. The author stuck to what’s important in the story, and though the dialogue is cheesy sometimes, it’s a flaw that I could easily overlook.

Overall, I really liked reading novel. It has some very strong moments which really moved me to feel certain ways. This is a very strong debut for Lisa Williamson and a really perfect introduction to trans-centered literature for me. It’s kind of a feel-good read, to be honest, which makes me think it would be a really good Disney movie because it discusses a relevant issue in a way that’s gentle and relatable, and not at all preachy or condescending.

RECOMMENDATION:
I think that everyone looking to read LGBTQA-centered books can do well to start with this one. It should be included in the starter pack, if there’s any. Sure, there are more books out there which are probably more politically inclined or what not, but Lisa Williamson’s approach in The Art of Being Normal is not to be dismissed. For those who don’t understand or who has vague interpretations at best of what it’s like to be transgendered, I highly recommend you read this one. I learned a lot in a level that’s probably more intimate than just doing plain old research.

RATING:

4andhalf-coconut

Book Review: The Truth Commission by Susan Juby

22522076Title: The Truth Commission
Series: Standalone
Author: Susan Juby
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
How I got it: I bought it

SYNOPSIS:

This was going to be the year Normandy Pale came into her own. The year she emerged from her older sister’s shadow—and Kiera, who became a best-selling graphic novelist before she even graduated from high school, casts a long one. But it hasn’t worked out that way, not quite. So Normandy turns to her art and writing, and the “truth commission” she and her friends have started to find out the secrets at their school. It’s a great idea, as far as it goes—until it leads straight back to Kiera, who has been hiding some pretty serious truths of her own.

Susan Juby’s The Truth Commission: A story about easy truths, hard truths, and those things best left unsaid.


REVIEW:

I read this book right after I finished Blue Lily, Lily Blue, which is the third book in The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater. I was in that period in reading where I was less than impressed by a book which I thought would be mind-blowing and I wanted something different to get me back on track, and after picking up several titles, I settled with this one.

It was a good choice. It was an excellent choice, and I’m happy I stuck with this book because it made me feel things. Most notable of such emotions was a significant amount of ANGER.

This book upset me so much. The level of my upset would be comparable to what I feel when I read Courtney Summers’ books, ala All The Rage or Some Girls Are. Only, where the reason of my upset in those two aforementioned books would be glaringly obvious, in The Truth Commission, it’s more subtle. It’s the little injustices that hint on deep-rooted issues, issues the main character herself dismissed as ‘kind of bothersome, but I can live with’ (not the actual words, but you get my point). The thing is, you don’t want her to keep living with it, but it’s how things are in her world and you just have to sigh sadly and go on reading, wondering how all of the bothersome little injustices would end up playing out.

Not well, I can tell you. The story, which is told in first person perspective by our main character, Normandy Pale, begins as a light and humorous conversational type of prose. Personally speaking, Normandy is very relatable to me. Her humanity and individualism is very palpable throughout the novel, and despite the dark undercurrents of the story, rarely is it whiny or self-pitying. It’s just matter-of-fact, like Normandy has already accepted the aspects of her life which are a little unconventional and peppered with varying degrees of injustices.

Aside from the excellently downplayed writing, there is also the matter of characterization. Susan Juby managed to paint quirky characters that come alive on the page and are not overdone. Even though the narrative centers around Normandy, all the supporting characters are vibrant and believable. There is good chemistry between the friendships, both the longstanding ones and the newly-forming bonds we witness in the book. All of them are unified by The Truth Commission, which is the brainchild of Normandy and her best pals Dusk and Neil.

This story is ultimately about the truth in all it’s form; how it sets you free or makes you wish you never knew. It enforces the idea that every one of us have different truths which motivates us to do what we do and act how we act. Rarely are these truths simple, and most of the time it’s tangled and/or interconnected, or buried within a web of lies. But nevertheless, all of these truths are important, even the ones that are hard.

This book is like many things in one. It’s about family, it’s about friendship, it’s about consequences and coping and learning to stand up for yourself. It’s about how there are no easy solutions because everything is so much more than what meets the eye. The upsetting thing about this novel mostly is the fact that the truth often renders us powerless in all it’s glory, and even when we tell it like it is, not everyone would believe us. They would prefer the lie, just because it’s easier to digest. We’ve always been told that the truth will set us free, but this novel shows us that telling the truth isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, after all.

I’m so glad I’ve picked up this book because it’s definitely surpassed my expectations. Looking at the cover, you’d think it’s about something way lighter than what it’s really about. But instead of a cliched high-school story (which was what I was expecting) I got something very insightful, very different, and rather thought-provoking.

I recommend this book to everyone who enjoys YA, authentic characters, healthy friendships in literature, and who’s looking for something different and refreshing (if a bit upsetting) to read.

5coconuts

Book Review: The Distance Between Lost and Found by Kathryn Holmes

Title: The Distance Between Lost And Found
Series: Standalone
Author: Kathryn Holmes
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
How I got it: I bought it

SYNOPSIS:

Ever since the night of the incident with Luke Willis, the preacher’s son, sophomore Hallelujah Calhoun has been silent. When the rumors swirled around school, she was silent. When her parents grounded her, she was silent. When her friends abandoned her … silent.

Now, six months later, on a youth group retreat in the Smoky Mountains, Hallie still can’t find a voice to answer the taunting. Shame and embarrassment haunt her, while Luke keeps coming up with new ways to humiliate her. Not even meeting Rachel, an outgoing newcomer who isn’t aware of her past, can pull Hallie out of her shell. Being on the defensive for so long has left her raw, and she doesn’t know who to trust.

On a group hike, the incessant bullying pushes Hallie to her limit. When Hallie, Rachel, and Hallie’s former friend Jonah get separated from the rest of the group, the situation quickly turns dire. Stranded in the wilderness, the three have no choice but to band together.

 

REVIEW:

I had this book for a while and even tried starting it a couple of times before, but it was only last Monday that I really began getting to it. I started at half past midnight, right after I got home from work, and before I even realized it, it was already 3 in the morning and I’m already a third into the book. When I woke up that morning, I made a point to read another few pages before getting ready for my shift.

Something about Hallelujah and her plight just hooked me right off the bat. If I had to guess, I’d say that it’s her determinedly stone-faced attitude towards the bullying she was going through, which is what we saw at the beginning of the book. It takes a lot of strength and a lot of pain for that kind of thick skin to develop, and somehow, this thought made me really curious about Hallie and her story, and even made me start to care for her as a character.

The book opens with Hallie in a Christian Youth Group retreat, being bullied by a guy named Luke who obviously has a really strong effect on her. The reason why is not disclosed until further into the book, but before that we meet Rachel, the new girl who tried to befriend Hallie when she noticed her being closed off and isolated, and Jonah who used to be Hallie’s good friend but abandoned her after the thing with Luke began. Circumstances draw them all together, and then they get lost in the woods. Each day bleeds into the next and they are still hopelessly lost with only themselves to rely on for survival.

I can honestly say that the story took an unexpected turn after just a few pages. I’m not really sure what I was expecting but Kathryn Holmes gave me so much more. I really loved all the characters that came into a play because all of them were expertly drawn and none of them fell flat. I connected so much with Hallie in terms of how she dealt with her pain, how she retreated in her shell as the bullying became more and more vicious. The budding friendship between the three main characters felt real, and it felt genuine and as a reader, I’d like to think that it’s the kind that will last because it certainly felt like the type of bond that would as I was reading about it.

I think that the title is really appropriate — The Distance Between Lost and Found  — because that’s exactly where Hallie was in the book, in that long stretch of road between losing herself and finding herself once again. I think a lot of us have been there as well, which is why this book is really relatable. It took a lot before Hallie regained control of her own life. It took them getting lost in the woods before everything that happened had some sort of closure, but it was a journey I was glad to be part of, despite the parts of it that were harrowing for the protagonist and her companions.

All in all, I think that for a debut novel, this is a really, really strong one. It was touching and engaging, and it was poignant without trying too hard. I’m so, so glad I picked this book up and decided finally to read it after months of procrastinating. Needless to say, Kathryn Holmes is an author I’ll be actively watching out for.

I recommend this book for anyone who’s looking for something fresh to read, something insightful, and deep, and engaging. As for my rating, I give this book 5 coconuts and I will be adding this to my recommended page as well. :)

5coconuts

Book Review: All The Rage by Courtney Summers

21853636Title: All The Rage
Series: Standalone
Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
How I got it: I bought it

SYNOPSIS:

The sheriff’s son, Kellan Turner, is not the golden boy everyone thinks he is, and Romy Grey knows that for a fact. Because no one wants to believe a girl from the wrong side of town, the truth about him has cost her everything—friends, family, and her community. Branded a liar and bullied relentlessly by a group of kids she used to hang out with, Romy’s only refuge is the diner where she works outside of town.

No one knows her name or her past there; she can finally be anonymous. But when a girl with ties to both Romy and Kellan goes missing after a party, and news of him assaulting another girl in a town close by gets out, Romy must decide whether she wants to fight or carry the burden of knowing more girls could get hurt if she doesn’t speak up. Nobody believed her the first time—and they certainly won’t now — but the cost of her silence might be more than she can bear.

With a shocking conclusion and writing that will absolutely knock you out, All the Rage examines the shame and silence inflicted upon young women after an act of sexual violence, forcing us to ask ourselves: In a culture that refuses to protect its young girls, how can they survive


REVIEW:

Sometimes, I really hate Courtney Summers.

This is the third book of hers that I read. This is the third book of hers that hurt me.

I don’t know what it is, but there is something about a Courtney Summers book that makes you feel like watching a train wreck — knowing the inevitability of awful things to come but being powerless to stop any of it. This was how I felt while reading Some Girls Are. This was how I felt while reading Cracked Up To Be.

And now with All The Rage… I can’t decide whether to say it got better, or it got worse. Courtney’s talent definitely got better, with her undeniable ability to add a touch of humanity even to her most unlikeable characters, her talent of stringing words together that prevents a reader to turn away, even when the scenes unfolding on the page are just plain horrific. I wish I was immune from this magic touch of hers, but I’m not. And once again, I have ended up being viscerally affected by a Courtney Summers novel.

There is something terribly inconvenient about being a girl. And no, it’s not about having the parts that assigned us to this gender in the first place, although that’s not a small part of it. But mostly, it’s about how girlhood and womanhood are perceived by the world at large in this day and age. It’s about rape culture and slut shaming and victim blaming — all of which run rampant in a society struggling to correct itself, but failing, for the most part, to do so.

What is it like to be a survivor of rape? What is it like to be a survivor of rape in a community that refuses to accept the reality that something so awful can happen within the confines of their perfect, white picket fenced world? I said before that being a girl and a woman is difficult, but being a teenage girl is a hundred times more so. Especially in a world that is so eager to dismiss and silence young girls, a world that refuses to take a teenage girl’s cry seriously.

This novel is about the cost of telling the truth when you’re a young girl. This novel is about how hard it is to make society see a wrong, when it is a wrong they are willing to justify. This novel is about the price it takes before someone finally recognizes the truth they’ve been running from.

All The Rage is one of those books that will leave you speechless right after you finish it. It’s one of those books that makes you pray. I’ve been praying for someone to save Romy Grey, all the while acknowledging the fact that it’s not that easy. No knight in shining armor can take away the magnitude of what happened to her, not even her mother can help. Sometimes terrible things happen to people and it begins to define them, whether they want it to or not. It doesn’t help when people around you make it harder to forget it, make it all the more difficult to forgive yourself because they make it YOUR fault instead of the perpetrator, because it’s easier to believe that someone is lying, than to believe that someone you’ve known your whole life can do something so awful… like rape a girl.

Everything’s out of her hands now. All the things coming Ava’s way they won’t be able to control, things she won’t always ask for because she’s a girl. She doesn’t even know how hard it’s going to be yet, but she will, because all girls find out.

I think it’s a good thing someone decided to write about this, because no one talks about it enough. No one talks enough about how, until now, we blame girls for the awful things that happen to them. No one talks enough about the fact that it’s hard to be a girl, so hard that many of us have come to resent our body, to wish we didn’t have all these parts at all. We are being deconstructed until we are nothing but our body parts, and it is not a good feeling. Because we are so much more than that. And this book? This book makes sure that we are reminded of it.

The only thing I can complain about is how open-ended this book is. I hate the fact that there’s no after. I hate not knowing what happened to a character I’ve grown to care so much about, because even though I’ve never been in the same situations as her, I can identify with her. Because I am a girl.

Needless to say, this book hit me hard, like all the other books of Courtney Summers that I’ve read, but somehow, a little harder than the rest. Right now, in YA, Summers continues to be the only author who’s portrayal of high school and teen girl politics remain unparalleled. I think it would be safe to say that I am willing to read every book that CS would push out in the future, because she is just that good.

I recommend this book to everyone looking for a worthwhile read. As for ratings? No question. Five coconuts.

5coconuts

Book Review: Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers

6624871Title: Some Girls Are
Series: Standalone
Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
How I got it: I bought it
Click here to buy this book from Amazon!

SYNOPSIS:
Climbing to the top of the social ladder is hard—falling from it is even harder.  Regina Afton used to be a member of the Fearsome Fivesome, an all-girl clique both feared and revered by the students at Hallowell High… until vicious rumors about her and her best friend’s boyfriend start going around.  Now Regina’s been “frozen out” and her ex-best friends are out for revenge. 

If Regina was guilty, it would be one thing, but the rumors are far from the terrifying truth and the bullying is getting more intense by the day.  She takes solace in the company of Michael Hayden, a misfit with a tragic past who she herself used to bully.  Friendship doesn’t come easily for these onetime enemies, and as Regina works hard to make amends for her past, she realizes Michael could be more than just a friend… if threats from the Fearsome Foursome don’t break them both first.

Tensions grow and the abuse worsens as the final days of senior year march toward an explosive conclusion in this dark new tale from the author of Cracked Up To Be.


REVIEW:
Some Girls Are holds the official title of The Only Book That Almost Gave Me Heartburn.

I remember reading this novel for this first time and thinking, ‘holy mother, this is SO not what I signed up for’. And I couldn’t put it down either. Some Girls Are is the rare kind of book that would clamp down on you, hard, and would leave you with no choice but to turn page after painful page.

The story revolves around Regina Afton, best friend to the Queen Bee and Popular Girl Extraordinaire, until one day she was accused of doing the unthinkable: betraying her clique by sleeping with her best friend’s boyfriend. It doesn’t matter that it’s not what really happened, because Regina’s former friends refuse to believe her, and all they care about now is devising her complete and utter destruction. Regina is about to get a dose of the very medicine she used to dole out, and more people thinks she deserves it than not.

I guess it’s safe to say that Some Girls Are is a novel that’s not for the faint of heart. It is a vicious, cruel, at times even disgusting story of a popular girl’s fall from grace to the desolate land of rock bottom. I won’t lie, folks. There is something sadistically satisfying about witnessing a former bully getting bitchslapped by no other than karma itself, but here comes Courtney Summers waving her magic pen and managing to make me feel conflicted about Regina’s plight, obvious as it was that she was no saintly incarnate.

Here’s the thing: Regina? I hate her. She would do anything to remain popular, even obliterating her individuality just to fit in. I couldn’t stand that side of her and it made me angry, but when she started getting bullied, harassed in ways that made me want to throw up just thinking about it, I was surprised to find out that I wanted her saved. I wanted to rush in and pick her up and throw her on the back of my magic unicorn and gallop away to happy land; I wanted to push Anna and Co. from a cliff and watch their bodies go splat. I wanted to deck Josh and Donnie and basically inflict bodily harm on anyone who dared to hurt this girl, even if at some point she was no different from the ones who were bullying her now. Because, hey! Here’s a simple fact: Nobody deserves to be bullied. Not even the meanest kid on the block or the bitchiest bitch in town. Bullying is a terrible, terrifying experience, and I wouldn’t wish it even on my worst enemies.

Awful as the core subject of this story was, I have to emphasize that I love this book. Courtney Summers does the bad girl thing so well, and the character arc of Regina Afton was superbly done. I love how she didn’t change at all; she didn’t become a saint or an entirely new person just because she knows how it feels now to be hunted down and made to feel miserable. No. Courtney Summers made sure that the awareness of how much her past actions weighed crept slowly on Regina, and she wasn’t given a free pass just because she’s the victim now. The ‘good’ characters were sceptical about her; they didn’t throw her a ‘Welcome to the good side, Regina!’ party. They were wary of her, and she had to work hard for their forgiveness and acceptance.

To be blatantly honest, this story left a bad taste in my mouth. It was appalling to read about something so horrible, helplessly watching events unfold and incapable of doing anything to change them. Every time there’s a lull in the harassment, I keep holding my breath and expecting an ambush at every corner. I keep hoping for things to get better for Regina, but I know it can only get worse, and that’s a heavy feeling in the pit of my stomach that didn’t go away until I finished reading. But you know why I still love this book despite that? It’s because this story, unpleasant as it is, shows us that nothing is truly black and white. There’s always the flip side of the coin, the circumstance that puts a spin on everything you believe to be solid and concrete.

Some Girls Are is not a story of a nice girl. It’s a story of a girl who made a mistake and who is now paying for it with the highest imaginable price; her principles, her dignity, her worth as a human being. This is the reason why I love Courtney Summers as an author: she’s not afraid to paint her characters in unflattering lights, show her readers their humanity and ultimately convinces them that second chances are not dealt to good people alone and that justice and compassion is supposed to be impartial. I recently re-read this book, wanting to see if my reaction to it would change after a year. It didn’t. If anything, I think it was stronger. It’s sad to think that not many people know about this novel and that Summers remain to be an underrated author. Her works are truly brilliant and her fearless portrayal of imperfect characters are more spot on than anything I’ve read before. I highly recommend this book to all of you, and I give it a well-deserved rating of five coconuts.

5coconuts

Book Review: Cracked Up To Be by Courtney Summers

Teenage girl (14-16) lying on bleacherTitle: Cracked Up To Be
Series: Standalone
Author: Courtney Summers
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
How I got it: I bought it
Click here to buy this book from Amazon!

SYNOPSIS:
When “Perfect” Parker Fadley starts drinking at school and failing her classes, all of St. Peter’s High goes on alert. How has the cheerleading captain, girlfriend of the most popular guy in school, consummate teacher’s pet, and future valedictorian fallen so far from grace?

Parker doesn’t want to talk about it. She’d just like to be left alone, to disappear, to be ignored. But her parents have placed her on suicide watch and her counselors are demanding the truth. Worse, there’s a nice guy falling in love with her and he’s making her feel things again when she’d really rather not be feeling anything at all.

Nobody would have guessed she’d turn out like this. But nobody knows the truth.

Something horrible has happened, and it just might be her fault.


REVIEW:
So, I finally got around to reading this book and I’m really glad I did. Courtney Summers is one of my most favorite YA authors since I’ve read Some Girls Are, which totally blew me away and made my heart ache in many places. I guess it’s safe to say that Courtney (yes, first name basis, haha!) likes taking risks in her novels; she writes characters that aren’t exactly likeable but she tells their story in a beautiful, no-nonsense way that makes us realize that there’s more to these bitchy girls than meets the eye. We’re used to these girls being props, background noises in the story of the kind, brave, quirky heroine. And then Courtney Summers strolls in and changes everything.

Parker Fadley: straight-A student, cheer captain, and notorious perfectionist. Parker is the epitome of perfect in St. Peter’s High; she’s dating the hot guy, she’s getting the best grades, she’s the reason behind every win of the cheer-leading squad, and everything she does gets only the best results – everyone is afraid of Parker yet everybody wants to be her. She’s just so perfect! Until one day, she wasn’t. Suddenly, Perfect Parker Fadley is not so perfect anymore. She’s failing her classes, she’s always getting in trouble, she’s no longer dating the hot guy, and the cheer squad has a new captain. Nobody knows what happened, and Parker wouldn’t tell. All everyone knows is that the Parker they knew was gone, and in her place is a perfectly imperfect stranger.

I love this book; maybe because I have always been drawn to those people everybody wants to stay away from, at least in fiction. Take for example Pansy Parkinson from the Harry Potter Series. Everybody hates the Slytherin bitch queen, but not me. I always thought that there was a reason for how she is, a bigger picture we weren’t afforded to see, but it’s there. Whatever Pansy became during her adolescent years is a product of an experience or a series of. It wasn’t automatic, like someone handing out ID cards with your roles in life printed neatly on them. Hey, I got ‘designated nasty bitch’, and you proceed to be a nasty bitch for all your life without any justification whatsoever. I’m really glad Courtney Summers decided to do her thing, where she gets into the minds of these girls we love to hate and show us that hey, they’re not empty shells after all. Just like any average human being, they too, have emotions and thoughts and reasons. They’re not mindless hate machines, contrary to their current reputation in the YA trend.

Parker Fadley is an exasperating and frustrating character at first, when I didn’t know her motivation for actively pursuing her own destruction. She’s sarcastic, blunt, and just overall unpleasant to anyone and everyone who dare approach. But just the same, she was charismatic, someone you cannot help but like despite all the evidence pointing you to the contrary. I actually found myself cheering her on every time she makes a sarcastic remark or does something that would evidently lead to trouble. When her secret was slowly unraveled, I was still exasperated and frustrated by her, but for different reasons now. I also finally understood her and her manner of self-punishment; I thought it was fitting, and brilliant Courtney Summers portrayed it excellently. ‘Show, not tell’ is what I’m talking about, and the author did a great job of it.

I concede that this book is not for everyone. Parker Fadley is not what we’re used to; she’s no brave and courageous heroine, but her story is a strong one all the same. This novel is gritty and raw; it isn’t scared to paint a picture, no matter how crude it could seem. Courtney Summers is an amazing author, not only for her writing skills but for tackling subjects like this – subjects that dare you to think and consider what it’s like to be out of the ideal. Her other characters are well-defined as well and wholly realistic. I have never quite encountered the kind of characterization that Courtney Summers infuses in her novels. Every person in this book thrives in shades of gray and surprisingly, aren’t clichéd at all, despite the high school trope being a notorious home of overused stereotypes.

Cracked Up To Be is a book that I would recommend to everyone because it represents something we so rarely see. A character that’s so far from the usual ones that we support, and a story that sheds some light into an issue everyone has long dismissed. It doesn’t end at ‘She’s a bitch’. There’s always the why and the how, and Courtney Summers shows us that we ought to consider that sometimes. I wish I read this book when I was far younger than I am now, and I wish more young people discover the author-gem that is Courtney Summers and the treasure trove that is her books. Definitely five coconuts.

5coconuts