Monday, February 22, 2021

#AmReading YA

Some Other Now

Sarah Everett
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
This Is Us for teens, this luminous and heartbreaking contemporary novel follows a girl caught between two brothers as the three of them navigate family, loss, and love over the course of two summers. For fans of Far From the Tree, Emergency Contact, and Nina LaCour.

Before she kissed one of the Cohen boys, seventeen-year-old Jessi Rumfield knew what it was like to have a family—even if, technically, that family didn’t belong to her. She’d spent her childhood in the house next door, challenging Rowan Cohen to tennis matches while his older brother, Luke, studied in the background and Mel watched over the three like the mother Jessi always wished she had.

But then everything changed. It’s been almost a year since Jessi last visited the Cohen house. Rowan is gone. Mel is in remission and Luke hates Jessi for the role she played in breaking his family apart. Now Jessi spends her days at a dead-end summer job avoiding her real mother, who suddenly wants to play a role in Jessi's life after being absent for so long. But when Luke comes home from college, it's hard to ignore the past. And when he asks Jessi to pretend to be his girlfriend for the final months of Mel’s life, Jessi finds herself drawn back into the world of the Cohens. Everything’s changed, but Jessi can’t help wanting to be a Cohen, even if it means playing pretend for one final summer.
When Jessi thought of home, the Cohens were the first thing that came to mind. Fate brought Rowen, Luke, and Mel into her life when she needed them most. Her own mother crippled by depression, Mel Cohen served as Jessi's surrogate mother for over a decade. But then Mel got sick, Rowan grew distant, and Jessi's romance with Luke fell apart. After almost a year of silence, Luke reached out to Jessi, asking her to pretend they were back together to make his mother's last days happier, but Jessi struggled with her guilt and found it harder and harder to pretend. 

I saw a mention of the show This Is Us in the book summary, and I can understand why. Every time I watched an episode of the show, I cried, and there were buckets of tears shed as I read this book. My emotions! My emotions! But, I also think the comparison is a reference to the structure. The story flipped between Then and Now, and just like the show, the reveals were rolled out to inflict maximum emotional impact. There was one that hit me the hardest, that I think was closer to the beginning of the story. I am sure the neighbors heard my gasp and subsequent sobs after I read that part. 

I started and finished this book in the same day, because I had to know the whole truth of what happened. How did something so beautiful fall apart? I suffered through all the heartache and pain until I knew the full story. It was sad and tragic, but some good things did precipitate from everything finally being out in the open. Therefore, in the end, I was hopeful for Jessi. 

While I was reading this book, I was getting shades of The Summer I Turned Pretty and 99 Days. I don't know if it was the sick mom, the complicated relationship with the mother, the two brothers, but there was something there that kept making me think of these two books. I believe it's because of how messy and complicated things were, and how these people were so flawed. 

I adored this beautifully painful story. It was a rather emotional journey of self-discovery and self-forgiveness for Jessi, and it was a well worth every tear I shed. 

Love is For Losers

Wibke Brueggemann
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Goodreads
In this wry and hilarious queer romantic comedy, fifteen-year-old Phoebe realizes that falling in love is maybe not just for losers.

Did you know you can marry yourself? How strange / brilliant is that?

Fifteen-year-old Phoebe thinks falling in love is vile and degrading, and vows never to do it. Then, due to circumstances not entirely in her control, she finds herself volunteering at a local thrift shop. There she meets Emma . . . who might unwittingly upend her whole theory on life.

This is a laugh-out-loud exploration of sexuality, family, female friendship, grief, and community. With the heart and hilarity of Netflix's critically-acclaimed Sex Education, Wibke Brueggemann's sex positive debut is required reading for Generation Z teens. Think of this as Bridget Jones' Diary, if it were written by Bridget's daughter.
Phoebe had no interest in falling in love. She had seen the pain of losing the one you loved, as well as the the way some people, like her best friend, lost their minds when they fall in love. Nope. Love was not for her. At least it wasn't until she met Emma. 

For a book about resisting love, it had me head-over-heels love-at-first-sight captivated from the very beginning. For one thing, the diary format is one I always adore. The confessional nature, unfiltered thoughts, and stream-of-consciousness ramblings never fail to grab hold of me. Couple that with a fantastic, sarcastic, and endearing character, such as Phoebe, and there was no doubt this would be a hit for me. 

At first, Phoebe's acerbic wit comes across as simple teen angst, but there was a bit more behind it. She never met her father, her mother was always off saving the world, and her best friend abandon her. Phoebe explored all these pain points over the course of the book, and though she didn't always handle the situations in the best way, she did grow to see things in a different light. 

Her relationship with her mother was quite complicated. Humanitarian workers are often praised for their sacrifices, but now I was seeing what it was like for their family members. Phoebe would have to go months without any physical contact with her mother, and she worried a lot, since her mother's work brought her to dangerous parts of the world. It's a difficult role for a child, and I appreciated the time spent on this issue. 

Phoebe's mother may have been far away, but she was gifted with an outstanding godmother. Her mother's best friend, Kate, was an absolute star! She was wacky and wonderful and so generous with her love and affection for Phoebe. I adored this relationship. Kate was so instrumental in many important moments in Phoebe's life. She was her steady, her rock, and during this six-month stay, she was the nudge Phoebe needed to grow a bit more and learn to accept change. 

I was so glad Kate pushed Phoebe into working at the thrift store, because there, Phoebe found her people. What an amazing and quirky bunch too! I loved getting to know them all, and I envied the familial community they built there together. 

Among the thrift store clan was Emma. It was pretty cute watching Phoebe trying to fight her attraction and ardor for Emma, but it was inevitable. I won't say the romance blossomed into something solid from the start, because not only did Phoebe find love a bad bet, she also was coming to terms with her sexuality.  

I could heap praise on this book for days on end, and it would never fully illustrate my affection for this book. It was a coming-of-age, that was told with so much honesty and humor, while also being extremely touching and heartwarming. It explored love, loss, identity, and many other issues teens deal with, and it did so with so much flair and heart. 

**ARCs received in exchange for honest reviews.

Have you ever found anything amazing at a thrift store?
Let us know in the comments!

18 comments:

  1. Love is for Losers sounds like it has so many wonderful elements. Glad these were both great reads for you!

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    1. It was so much more than I expected. I hope to read more from this author. (both, actually)

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  2. I'm laughing at the expression on the character of Love is for Losers!
    Both of these sound like complete winners. I wish I was in a better mindspace for YA books, but sadly not. I'll have to keep these in mind though.

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    1. Her face really reflects her persona. I adored her!

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  3. Love is For Losers is one I hadn't heard about before, but is now on my radar. It sounds so good! I don't know that I could stomach the first one right now with the "This is Us" label.

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    1. I simply adore Phoebe, and it was wonderful spending time with her. I want everyone to met Phoebe. Some Other Now was imbued with pain, but it was beautiful, and the ending was very hopeful

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  4. Wow, Some Other Now sounds super emotional. I think I put this one on my TBR ages ago when the synopsis was first released. I'd definitely have to be in the mood for something so emotional but it sounds like an excellent story.

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    1. I totally snotty cried as I read the book. Be prepared to be disappointed in these people, but it was all part of their journey.

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  5. This Is Us for teens has me completely sold on Some Other Now. Sounds like I'll need an entire box of tissues when I read it, but that it will totally be worth it. Love is for Losers sounds great too. Man, I think I've added at least 3 or 4 books to my TBR this past week based on your reviews!

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    1. It was really good. Really emotional. These two were a run of fantastic books I read. The books are really different from each other, but both so fabulous.

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  6. I'm sure Some Other Now would turn me into a sobbing mess! Glad to see these both reads were 5 star hits for you.

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    1. Definitely a lot of emotional moments, but there were sweet and hopeful moments too.

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    1. So different from each other, but I loved them equally.

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  8. They both sound like wonderful stories. I like the cover of Love is for Losers.

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    1. The picture captures Phoebe's essence so well too

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  9. Some Other Now definitely sounds so good! I'm not a This is Us fan, but for some reason the book still sounds good to me. The Love is for Losers sounds like a good read as well. Great reviews! Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Both were stupendous! Some Other Now being super emotional, but both really wonderful and touching

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