1. It’s Not Me, It’s You by Kate Stephanie Strohm
One high school girl’s comedic examination of her dating past as told by the friends, family, and boys who were involved!
Avery Dennis is a high school senior and one of the most popular girls in her class. But a majorly public breakup with the guy she’s been dating causes some disastrous waves. It is right before prom and Avery no longer has the perfect date. She runs the prom committee, how could she not show up with somebody?
Post-breakup, Avery gets to thinking about all of the guys that she has ever dated. How come none of those relationships ever worked out? Could it be her fault? Avery decides to investigate. In history class she’s learning about this method of record-keeping called “oral history” and she has a report due. So Avery decides to go directly to the source. Avery tracks down all of the guys she’s ever dated, and uses that information, along with thoughts from her friends, family, and teachers, to compile a total account of her dating history.
Avery discovers some surprises about herself and the guys she’s spent time with — just in time for prom night!
I listened to the audiobook of this book, which is narrated by Kate Stephanie Strohm and a full cast, and I HIGHLY recommend experiencing the book this way. Every character is narrated by someone different and the narration really highlights the “oral history” format of the story. Avery definitely doesn’t do this oral history project properly, but that’s part of the charm. It’s Not Me, It’s You is just as fluffy as the summary makes it sound. It’s also a YA that veers rather young, I’d say, considering the age of the main characters. Avery goes about interviewing all her past boyfriends to figure out why her relationships have always gone wrong. She’s a somewhat meticulous, over-achieving popular girl who’s always in a relationship, but never gets serious with anyone. Along with her best friend Coco and lab partner, Hutch, she sets out to get the true story out of all her past boyfriends, and realizes a lot about herself along the way. This was just such a fun listen. The supporting characters were great, especially Hutch and Coco. Unfortunately, there is a character set up to be a “mean girl”, which was kinda disappointing, but other than that I really had a blast with this one. 4/5 stars.
2. 10 Things I Can See from Here by Carrie Mac
Don’t worry; be happy.
Keep calm and carry on.
Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.
Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?
You know those books that have all the ingredients for you to love them, but they just don’t quite come together? That was me with 10 Things I Can See from Here. There was a lot to like about this book. I really liked the portrayal of Maeve’s anxiety. Before I started reading, I read some reviews that said Maeve’s anxiety was different from what the reviewers had personally experienced, but on a individual level, I related to the way Maeve’s anxiety affects her life much more than I normally relate to anxiety in books, because I do some very similar things. I also appreciated the romance and thought there were some cute moments, even though there was a line of this book relating to the romance I absolutely hated and complained about on twitter. However, I felt where a lot of this book suffered for me was the family dynamic. Maeve is spending the summer with her dad and her stepmom, who she gets along with well. Maeve’s stepmom has been in her life for a long time, and Maeve has two younger siblings with a third on the way. However, in the past, Maeve’s dad was a drug addict and alcoholic, and it seems like he may be relapsing. In the end, that subplot was sort of handled, but not really. In many ways, this book just left me wanting more. 3/5 stars.
3. Monsters by Emerald Fennell
A blackly comic tale about two children you would never want to meet.
Set in the Cornish town of Fowey, all is not as idyllic as the beautiful seaside town might seem. The body of a young woman is discovered in the nets of a fishing boat. It is established that the woman was murdered. Most are shocked and horrified. But there is somebody who is not – a twelve-year-old girl. She is delighted; she loves murders. Soon she is questioning the inhabitants of the town in her own personal investigation. But it is a bit boring on her own. Then Miles Giffard, a similarly odd twelve-year-old boy, arrives in Fowey with his mother, and they start investigating together. Oh, and also playing games that re-enact the murders. Just for fun, you understand…
Well, this book definitely delivered on the creepy children. It opens with this line:
My parents got smushed to death in a boating accident when I was nine. Don’t worry – I’m not that sad about it.
Which as you can see, pretty much sets the tone for most of the novel. The MC lives with her grandmother, but every year is shuffled off to stay with her aunt and uncle at their hotel on the beach. While there, the bodies of young, murdered women start washing ashore. Normally, this is the part where a normal twelve-year-old would be tepidly curious and frightened. But not the nameless main character of Monsters, who sets off investigating at once. When a boy around her age comes to town, the two begin investigating and often reenacting the murders together. Monsters is a very eerie, engaging read. I read it all at once and couldn’t tear my eyes away from the story of these creepy children. I loved it until the end of the mystery, which I found ridiculous and over-the-top. That soured things for me, but since I did enjoy it until then, I ended up giving this one 4/5 stars.