Two Book Tuesday

These two books have lots of things in common: grief, siblings, main characters named May/Mae. I absolutely loved them both. They also made me cry. A lot.

51093245._SX318_SY475_Title: The Lucky Ones
Author: Liz Lawson
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: April 7th, 2020
Ratings: ♥♥♥♥♥

Goodreads Summary:

For fans of Thirteen Reasons Why, This Is How It Ends, and All the Bright Places, comes a new novel about life after. How do you put yourself back together when it seems like you’ve lost it all?

May is a survivor. But she doesn’t feel like one. She feels angry. And lost. And alone. Eleven months after the school shooting that killed her twin brother, May still doesn’t know why she was the only one to walk out of the band room that day. No one gets what she went through–no one saw and heard what she did. No one can possibly understand how it feels to be her.

Zach lost his old life when his mother decided to defend the shooter. His girlfriend dumped him, his friends bailed, and now he spends his time hanging out with his little sister…and the one faithful friend who stuck around. His best friend is needy and demanding, but he won’t let Zach disappear into himself. Which is how Zach ends up at band practice that night. The same night May goes with her best friend to audition for a new band.

Which is how May meets Zach. And how Zach meets May. And how both might figure out that surviving could be an option after all.

I don’t know if I agree with the summary comparing this to Thirteen Reasons Why or All the Bright Places—this isn’t a story dealing with suicide and I believe that may turn people away from this very timely and impactful story. This is ultimately the story looking at the aftermath of a school shooting, almost a year before.

The kind of guilt and anger May feels has taken over her life—her parents are nonexistent, she has pushed away almost all her friends, and her school standing is hanging by a thread. In her eyes, this is what she deserves—she was the lucky one, the survivor. Her friends, her favorite teacher, and her twin brother are dead while she hid in the closet.

Zach hates being defined by his mother’s actions. It’s not his fault that his mom is defended the shooter, but it doesn’t stop his classmates, former girlfriend, former best friend to treat him like a social pariah.

What I loved about these characters was that they had their one person, the ones who stayed through thick and thin. For Zach, it’s Conor and for May, it’s Lucy. No matter how many times they are pushed away, they stay. Especially for May, who has isolated herself from almost everyone because she feels that she shouldn’t have lived. Her brother was the genius, the great musician, and all May did was party because she wasn’t the one in the spotlight. It’s not until she starts to see that her brother would want her to live her life because she was given that chance. She needs to live for the both of them.

In the current climate, I found this book to be extremely compelling and while it was heartbreaking, the reader is left with some hope. I also found that the Author’s Note at the end to be very important as to what Liz Lawson wanted to convey in writing this particular story.

school shooting, death of a sibling

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

44222386Title: Little Universes
Author: Heather Demetrios
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publication Date: April 7th, 2020
Ratings: ♥♥♥♥♥

Goodreads Summary:

One wave: that’s all it takes for the rest of Mae and Hannah Winters’ lives to change.

When a tsunami strikes the island where their parents are vacationing, it soon becomes clear that their mom and dad are never coming home. Forced to move to Boston from sunny California for the rest of their senior year, each girl struggles with secrets their parents’ death has brought to light, and with their uncertainty about the future. Instead of bringing them closer, it feels like the wave has torn the sisters apart.

Hannah is a secret poet who wants to be seen, but only knows how to hide. The pain pills she stole from her dead father hurl her onto the shores of an addiction she can’t shake and a dealer who turns her heart upside down. When it’s clear Hannah’s drowning, Mae, a budding astronaut suddenly launched into an existential crisis—and unexpected love—must choose between herself and the only family she has left.

This wrecked me. I stayed up until 2:30am to finish then woke up with a puffy face and a crying hangover. Not only was this a gripping story and incredibly heartbreaking, this was beautifully written. One sister is pushing everyone away, while the other is trying to hold on as tight as she can.

There was such a distinct difference in tone and style between Mae and Hannah that made easy to switch between the two perspectives,  Mae looks at every situation as a math or scientific problem to solve. Everything will be okay if only she can fix the problem. When she has trouble crying after the death of her parents, she begins to question why, and if she even deserves to cry because she’s technically not their daughter. Mae goes through a lot of questioning when it comes to her identity within this supportive and loving family. Now that they’re gone, does she still belong?

While Mae seems to compartmentalize her feelings, Hannah, on the contrary, feels every emotion, at all times—even when that’s just being numb to her pain  It’s why she is drawn to opiates. They are offering her a high that she isn’t getting in her life, despite having a loving family, a wonderful guy, and headstrong sister. But that’s how depression works, even when you think “There’s nothing to be sad about, I have this great life,” you can still feel empty.

I don’t know what more I can say except: READ THIS BOOK! FEEL ALL THE FEELS!

death of parents, major drug use, adoption, suicide, abortion

ARC was provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

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