Thursday, June 4, 2020

One Old, One New: E. Lockhart Edition

One Old, One New features two books - one old, one new, which are connected in some way. Today, I am sharing two books by E. Lockhart.
Again Again
E. Lockhart
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
From the New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars and Genuine Fraud comes a complex novel about acceptance, forgiveness, self-discovery, and possibility, as a teenage girl attempts to regain some sense of normalcy in her life after a family crisis and a broken heart.

If you could live your life again, what would you do differently?

After a near-fatal family catastrophe and an unexpected romantic upheaval, Adelaide Buchwald finds herself catapulted into a summer of wild possibility, during which she will fall in and out of love a thousand times--while finally confronting the secrets she keeps, her ideas about love, and the weird grandiosity of the human mind.

A raw, funny story that will surprise you over and over, Again Again gives us an indelible heroine grappling with the terrible and wonderful problem of loving other people.
Adelaide and her family were still coming to terms with her brother's addiction. As her family supported him through multiple stints at rehab, Adelaide wanted to be the good daughter, the easy child. She found comfort in assuming these roles, but the longer she played them, the more she lost touch with herself. Now dumped by her boyfriend and on academic probation, she finds herself adrift, but not lost, in a sea of possibilities.

The hook of this book is supposed to be the idea of the multiverse. That the entirety of our world is the sum of a group of universes. Heady stuff, but don't worry, because it's not that complicated in AGAIN AGAIN. In the book, we follow Adelaide over the course of a summer. We watch her fall in and out of love, confront her fears, reconnect with her brother, and complete her design project. As the story plays out, there are points, where multiple possibilities are explored, and we get to see how each choice she makes affects the outcome. I read these little branch points, and found it interesting, but when I saw how it all came together at the end, I was a bit awed. I tip my hat to you, Ms. Lockhart.

I loved seeing the different potential outcomes. It was fascinating to imagine how big an impact small decisions could make. Each thread had Adelaide making different choices for her love life, but in all of them, she was a sister desperately trying to restore her relationship with her younger brother. It was the moments she shared with her brother, that hit me the hardest. Those scenes were touching and heart wrenching, and I think they impacted me more, because I lost a cousin, who had lived with my family, to addiction, and was therefore, I understood her pain and fear. It was also fantastic seeing her grow in each possible universe. Different choices yielded different outcomes, yet each augmented Adelaide's understanding of herself, her brother, her parents, love, and life.

When I finished this book, I wiped my tears, and just sat back, so I could quietly appreciate the beauty of the story. It was a little bit sad and bittersweet, but it was also imbued with hope. It reminded me that life is full of endless possibilities, and that I do wield some power over it via the choices I make.

**ARC received in exchange for an honest review.

Fly on the Wall
E. Lockhart
Age/Genre: Young Adult, Fiction
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
At the Manhattan School for Art and Music, where everyone is different and everyone is special, Gretchen Yee feels ordinary. She's the kind of girl who sits alone at lunch, drawing pictures of Spider-Man, so she won't have to talk to anyone; who has a crush on Titus but won't do anything about it; who has no one to hang out with when her best (and only real) friend Katya is busy. One day, Gretchen wishes that she could be a fly on the wall in the boys' locker room-just to learn more about guys. What are they really like? What do they really talk about? Are they really cretins most of the time?

Fly on the Wall is the story of how that wish comes true.
Gretchen was ordinary in a place where everyone aspired to be extraordinary. She felt sort of isolated, and that isolation worsened, when her family began falling apart, and her best friend had grown distant. After making an off-handed comment about wishing she was a fly on the wall, she awakens to her own Kafka-esque metamorphosis.

I come back to Lockhart's books, time and time again, because not only does she craft some fantastic and witty characters, she does a great job of approaching familiar things in interesting ways. If you take away the time Gretchen spent as a fly, this is a fairly common story about a teen trying to fit in and figure things out for herself. Gretchen was young, only 16, and she still had a lot to learn. However, she mostly kept herself closed off, and failed to make those connections with people, which allow you to see them, understand them, and be understood by them.

Thus began her life as a fly on the wall. This was Gretchen gaining a new perspective. She thought boys were such an enigma, but after a week of closely observing them, she began to see that they shared many of her same issues and fears. She felt isolated and alone, and she discovered that someone had seen her. Gretchen lacked the courage to act on her crush or even to wear that short skirt, only to find out that even some of the most popular and confident boys suffered body image and other self esteem issues. She gained a new respect for some of her classmates, while adjusting her opinion of others. This experience was a kick start for her, to push herself a bit, and to open her eyes and ears to those around her.

Gretchen may have started out as a bit of a negative Nelly, but she emerged from her life as a vermin with a new attitude and a new point of view. This story just shows how much can be accomplished by just changing your perspective.

Would you ever want to be a fly on the wall?
Let us know in the comments!

No comments:

Post a Comment