Short version: Rachel and I pick a random criteria for the book (i.e. Takes Place in Summertime). You pick your book and read it. Then the last Monday of the month we meet up and talk about our choices.
There's a R.E.A.D.S. review format that we've shared for suggestion's sake (shared in this post), but feel free to review however you're comfortable!
I've been meaning to read We Were Liars for a while. It's been on my To Read list but was consistently knocked to the back burner by books that I had from the library that needed to be returned or just seemed more interesting to me than this one (because when you own something it's not as interesting as what's new). So it sat and I heard all the feelings different people had about it and I wondered what I would think. But still, I didn't pick it up.
Then, I was taking longer to finish the two books that I had from the library and #Collaboreads was sneaking up on me. I finally grabbed two books that were summer time set last Sunday and gave myself a week of reading assignment. This one was shorter and had better reviews on Goodreads, so I started it.
The first time I sat down with this book I read 70 pages. It draws you in. I don't know if it's the characters or the plot line or the lack of clarity about all the bits and pieces, but I needed to know what happened in order to understand what was happening. This meant I struggled to set the book down. Thankfully work came and sleep happened, though I was extraordinarily caffeine dependent with the late nights I was pulling to get through this one.
Even if the macabre story line isn't for you, it's nearly impossible to set the book down and walk away without a hint of curiosity pulling at the edges of your mind. I didn't want to like the characters or care for them (and for the most part, I didn't) but
I didn't identify with the characters in that they're extraordinarily wealthy teens. But I did identify with their hearts. I saw my teenage self struggling with the larger structures and politics of the adults that were part of my community. The way the Liars (a group of four teens) sees the holes and flaws in the relationships of the adults in their lives was refreshing to me.
Money does ugly things, I've seen it in person and in tale, but no story holds such poignancy as We Were Liars. This is the ultimate tale of money's destructive nature within a family. I did find myself wondering if the plot line came from somewhere real (though I know it's fiction) and what it would be like to live in an Old Money situation as is portrayed in the book. Pressures and expectations abound with the money working as a manipulator and, well, this book is an exploration of how that effects the relationships between family members.
It'd be easy (and so trite in the way the book world works right now) to compare this to Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or Silent Wife by A. S. A. Harrison. That wouldn't be wrong, in fact, I agree. It was reminiscent of Dare Me by Megan Abbott, another YA novel that deals with teens making trouble, though (as I remember Dare Me) it feels like a stretch. But I think there's better, closer cousins floating around in the literary world.
There's an element of Gossip Girl in it all too. Maybe it's the teens, the richness, the way money doesn't offer love which is so much what we crave, but there's an air of Gossip Girl. An air that transported me back to the summer days of devouring those books in the air conditioning of my parents' house.
But, more than that, I thought of Jodi Piccoult's Leaving Time more than a few times. The characters, the struggles, the plot line, all sang the same tune of Leaving Time. Without being too much of a spoiler, I can say both times the plot twisted in the bizarre and unpredictable way it did, I was shocked. There were signs offered, foreshadowing allowed, and yet, I had no idea until the big train of a plot twist leveled me.
The cover reflects the story -murky, confusing, yet somewhat recognizable. The colors of the ocean that on there were lovely (I have a soft spot for ocean tones), but the blur of it all is perfect for the cloudy story you quickly find yourself lost in.
I haven't done this before, but the book had it's own design inside. The chapters were short and plentiful, lending a feeling of quick, staccato movement to the plot. Lockhart's decision to cut the plot up and change the format of her writing -from traditional paragraph to pseudo-fable to poetry- kept me wrapped up in the otherwise unpredictable and (almost) difficult to follow (with the sheer amount of characters) plot line.
I want to give it a five because it was thick and rich and fascinating. Lockhart managed to move between several formats of writing with no distraction or skip in movement.
In fact, I changed it now.
And, because what's a link-up without a bunch of links?
This month we decided to do something special.
A special thing called GIVING AWAY FREE STUFF.And, of course, it's a free bookish thing from AmberThomasMakes.
Nothing like a hand-painted book journal (I'll be showing how I use mine later this month) and watercolor bookmark to keep your reading habit beautiful and fun.
And for September we read:
Literally, anything surrounding school or learning -fiction, nonfiction, ANYTHING.
See ya'll on September 28th!