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Book 33: Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti

Title: Keep Holding On
Author: Susane Colasanti
Page Count: 202
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Contemporary young adult

Rating: 5/10

Summary:
Noelle’s life is far from perfect. Her mother ignores her. She never has enough to eat. Her boyfriend doesn’t want to be seen in public with her. She’s constantly bullied. And the guy she really wants to be with can never be hers. She can’t wait for her real life to start – until someone takes the bullying too far, and Noelle realizes that maybe it’s time to start taking control of her life now.

Opinion:
I wanted to like this book. I was never really bullied in school, but I know what it’s like to have no friends and sit alone at lunch, so I had high hopes for this book, even if I hadn’t enjoyed the last one that I read by Colasanti. I will give her credit for not having the same romantic plotline as in the last two books that I read. There were also some parts of the book that I enjoyed.

As a whole, though, I felt like this book was lacking. The first three quarters of the book is practically nothing but a detailed account of how miserable Noelle’s life is. I hated her mother. I hated the people at her school. I even hated her at times. I can understand staying with a guy who treats you badly because you feel that no one else would want you, but she clearly has another guy who wants her – and it’s the guy she actually likes – so I found that whole relationship really frustrating, even after she admits the real reason she was scared to date him. I also don’t like that she was just handed a job as co-editor of the literary magazine.

It’s not until the very end of the book that she starts telling the truth and going after what she wants, and by that point I just feel like Colasanti comes on a bit too strong with her message of “bullying is bad and you can’t let them get to you and things will get better.” Colasanti has said that she drew on her own experiences writing this novel, and I can understand why she would feel passionately about the message that she’s trying to convey, but I just feel the ending was a bit much. I didn’t want to read about Noelle yelling me how to live my life. I would have rather seen her learn for herself. A simple “I couldn’t let them bother me” would have been better than “you can’t let them bother you,” at least in my opinion.

I suppose this might be a good book for teenagers who are feeling suicidal. For me, though, it was a bit heavy-handed and not all that pleasant to read about as a whole.

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Book 30: Waiting for You by Susane Colasanti

I meant to write a post about editing today, but then I went to the library and checked out six new books (bringing my total number of books checked out to ten), so I figured I should focus on finishing up a book and getting the review out of the way. The editing will continue tomorrow. And now, onto the review:

Title: Waiting for You
Author: Susane Colasanti
Page Count: 320
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Contemporary young adult

Rating: 6/10

Summary:
Marisa knows she should be happy. She has parents who love her and each other, and a best friend whom she can tell anything to. So when she starts dating the boy of her dreams, she should be ecstatic. So why isn’t she? Why are her parents acting so strange? Why is her best friend getting annoyed with her all of a sudden? And why is she finding herself drawn to the boy she recently rejected?

Opinion:
I had high hopes for this novel. I’ve never read a book about a girl with an anxiety disorder, and I’ve wanted to for some time. I wouldn’t say that I have any such disorder, but sometimes I think I’m as close as you can get without actually having it, so I wanted to see how I would relate to such a character. And there were definitely times like I really felt that I could relate to Marisa. For instance, I loved the fact that she can never sleep the night before the first day of school and how she always gets excited about how she’s going to reinvent herself but never actually does. That pretty much describes every fall for me. I also loved how much she hates confrontation. I’m the same way – I just hold everything in until I want to scream. It was nice seeing that in a character.

Warning: some spoilers follow

Sadly, that’s about the extent of my enjoyment of this novel. Perhaps it’s simply because I just finished another book by Colasanti, but I found the entire plot a bit…boring. Girl crushes on guy – girl gets guy – girl realizes she actually likes a boy who she previously rejected. Maybe I would have enjoyed this one more if I had read it before I read So Much Closer, but as it is, I found this one lacking. There was a while in the middle where I had to force myself to keep reading. It picked up a bit at the end, but I wasn’t as drawn into the book as I have been with others.

I think part of my problem with this book was that everything was just so obvious. Her parents aren’t holding hands anymore and her dad’s side of the closet seems emptier than normal. Gee, I wonder what that could mean. And then one of her parents is cheating, and she assumes it’s her father, even though it was obvious that it wasn’t. And Nash likes her, and she’s taken by surprise. Oddly enough, I thought each of those events (the separation, the affair, the crush) was going to be a “big reveal” at the end – and yet each were revealed fairly early on in the novel. So they were predictable events revealed at an unpredictable time. I guess that’s better than predictable events revealed at a predictable time – such as the identity of Dirty Dirk, which I won’t reveal in this review but which I highly doubt anyone saw coming.

I understand that readers generally pick up on things before the characters do, but it would have been nice if we had to dig a bit to find that information. Maybe I’m just a cynic who is more surprised when her parents are getting along than when they’re fighting, but I just couldn’t understand how she was blind-sighted by so many things.

The last thing that bothered me was some of the language used. I understand that this book is marketed for teenagers, but I got really tired of reading phrases like “and she was all ‘blah blah blah'” and “and he was like, ‘Whatev.'” I have seen such phrases used sporadically in a way that I can handle, but that was not the case this time.

Overall, I mostly enjoyed this book. It wouldn’t be at the top of my recommendation list, and I certainly wouldn’t pick it up to read again, but I can’t really say that I’m sorry I read it at all. Perhaps fifteen-year-olds would be able to relate to it more.

Book 29: So Much Closer by Susane Colasanti

Title: So Much Closer
Author: Susane Colasanti
Page Count: 241
F/NF: Fiction
Genre: Contemporary young adult

Rating: 8/10

Summary:
Brooke has been in love with Scott for two years, even though they’ve barely spoken. When she learns that he’s moving to New York City for their last year of high school, she realizes she has to follow him. She moves in with the father she hasn’t spoken to in six years with the hopes that she’ll find Scott, confess her feelings, and the two of them will live happily ever after. But what happens when her dreams come true and it turns out that that dream isn’t so wonderful after all?

Opinion:
Let me start by saying that I hate the premise of this book. I’m not sure how I missed what it was about since the inside cover states that she follows the guy to a different state when she’s still in high school, but somehow I missed that part. I hate the idea of a girl dropping everything for a guy she barely even knows, and had I realized that that’s what this was at first, I probably wouldn’t have read it.

I’m quite glad that I didn’t know.

Yes, I still hate the premise of this novel, and I cringed a little bit every time the phrase “The Knowing” was mentioned, but I still really enjoyed the book overall. Brooke was sympthetic and interesting, and I eventually came to understand why she did so horribly in school. I still think she was stupid, but she eventually realizes that herself, so I was able to forgive her earlier bad choices. She grew a lot in the novel, so much so that I was able to get past the stupid premise of leaving behind everything you know for a guy you barely know.

I also have to credit Colasanti for making me keep reading. Even as I was telling Brooke what a moron she was, I kept reading. There was just so much that I could relate to. “Sometimes I think that if he knew, he would admit he feels the same way. Other times I think he would laugh in my face so hard I would never get over it.” I mean, who hasn’t felt that same way at least once?

This book wasn’t perfect. The end sort of just fell together, and the fact that she had two other guys loving her from afar was a bit annoying, but I still found this book easy to read and rather enjoyable. I would definitely recommend this book for people who are looking for a quick read.