Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn

Goodreads synopsis:

James Patterson presents this emotionally resonant novel that shows that while some broken things can’t be put back exactly the way they were, they can be repaired and made even stronger.

Kira’s Twelve Steps To A Normal Life

1. Accept Grams is gone.
2. Learn to forgive Dad.
3. Steal back ex-boyfriend from best friend…

And somewhere between 1 and 12, realize that when your parent’s an alcoholic, there’s no such thing as “normal.”
When Kira’s father enters rehab, she’s forced to leave everything behind–her home, her best friends, her boyfriend…everything she loves. Now her father’s sober (again) and Kira is returning home, determined to get her life back to normal…exactly as it was before she was sent away.

But is that what Kira really wants?

As a daughter of an addict, this story hit very close to home.  My tells stories about the crazy things he used to do when he was young and drinking.  I don’t remember much from my childhood when it comes to his drinking. I was eleven when he was forced to get sober.  He was supposed to come home to take my sister and I out to dinner, mom was out at a work dinner.  It started to get later and later and we were starving.  We were calling both our parents and no one picked up.  My mom finally got home a little after ten and she said she would talk to us tomorrow, then sent us up to bed.  We then found out that my dad had crashed his new Lexus and had a DUI.  His license was taken away for a year and he had to serve four days in jail.  Because my mom worked, my dad started taking the bus to AA meetings at night. My friends never understood why my dad kept having “meetings” at night time and wasn’t available for carpool.

It wasn’t that all this was a big shock to me, but I guess I didn’t see it coming.  My dad has always been a very silly and boisterous person. And loud. Oh, he is so very loud.  It wasn’t that he would get smashed every night and was a fall-over drunk. To my sister and I, when he drank we would have dance parties and he would teach us about movies late into the night.  But he was also very angry.  My sister was 13 and not the best student—or the nicest teenager—so my dad would yell, or throw CDS at the wall, or throw open her door so hard it made a hole in the door.  I think the drinking helped him get through the shit time he was having at work and the stress of a long commute. And it wasn’t like he drank all day, every day.  He just didn’t have the voice in his head to tell him to stop.

My dad just celebrated his 15th sober birthday.  He is extremely involved with AA, going at least three times a week. He leads meetings on occasion, done talks at the Salvation Army, and even sponsored a few people. He’s traded in the wine stains for food stains and beer for cookies.

I know how Kira is feeling in this book.  She just wants everything to go back to normal when she returns from her aunt’s house, but it can’t. Though she’s afraid to admit it, things can’t go back to the way things were before. People have made mistakes, herself included, and people have changed.

Overall I did like this book.  I flew through it. I think the reason I flew through it so fast is because it wasn’t that deep.  The emotions that the characters were feeling and express were at times, but the writing itself didn’t provide much depth.  The characters felt very young.  I usually read YA books that have a more mature voice, despite still being set in high school but 12 Steps felt more on the younger side of high school even though they were starting their junior year of high school.  It seemed like ideas and feelings became very repetitive and redundant.  Kira would be feeling a certain way about a character and then the next time they return she has completely flipped her opinion.  This would happen multiple times throughout.

Penn mentions in the author’s note in the back that she really wanted to focus on the recovery aspect to addiction, which I really enjoyed.  It’s rare to see this perspective because the rock bottom angle can offer higher stakes and drama. I thank her for this book.

 

 

You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone – Review

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Rachel Lynn Solomon’s debut, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, is a story that dives deep into the relationships within a Jewish family, who’s results of a genetic test try to rip them apart.  Especially the relationship between two twin sisters.  Tovah and Adina watch their once strong Israeli mother slowly succumb to the rare degenerative disease Huntington’s.  They decide to get the genetic test to reveal if either of the girls have the same gene that is gradually killing their mother.  One tests negative, while the other positive.  The results push these sisters further away from each other than ever before.

April TBR: Festival Addition!

I usually don’t do TBR’s, I pick as I go. Maybe sometimes I’ll have a theme to my reading, like summer books during summertime (groundbreaking, I know), but other than that I mostly go on mood. However at the end of the month, I’m heading to the LA Times Festival of Books.  I used to go to this festival when I was young and it was at UCLA, but I’ve been to this iteration at USC for the past four years.  I’m also going to YALLWEST the first weekend in May. I spend most of my time at these festivals at author signings. I bring my suitcase with all my books of the writers I’ll be meeting that day.  I hate going to a signing having not read the author’s book, so my reading for the next month will be dedicated to finishing off the list of the writers I’ll be seeing.  Some I’ve already read but others were recently released so I’m only getting the chance to read them now. I won’t say much about them, obviously, because I haven’t read them yet, but also no spoilers!

March Classics: F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Stories

For my college graduation present, my family went to London for 12 days. About halfway through our trip, we took the Chunnel to Paris to spend the day.  My goal for my first time in Paris was to visit the famous bookstore, Shakespeare & Company.  This legendary bookstore is down the street from Notre Dame and on the Seine. The first location housed writers like Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald while the writers from the Beat Generation like William Burroughs and Allen Ginsburg made the current location their home.  After walking through the two-story shopped where writers could come to write amongst all the books, I decided to pick out my own books to buy.  I decided to add to my Fitzgerald collection with some short stories.

Unhaul

I own almost 800 books, mostly in print but I do have some e-books.  Not going to lie, I even have some multiples—but how do you turn down your grandmother’s first edition copy of Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood? I buy my books anywhere that sells them: Goodwill, Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Book Depository, or indie book stores like my all-time Powells in Portland, Oregon. When I was in high school I used to buy books behind my parents back­—some kids hide drugs and alcohol, I hid books. I miss the good old days of Borders…

It is my ultimate dream to have my own personal library. I’ve already designed it in my head—it’s going to be Beauty and the Beast themed, of course.  Dark, with the comfiest chair/lounge a girl can find.  Walls lined with filled bookshelves; maybe even a ladder that will slide along the wall.  My heart flutters just thinking about it.

So I’ve always just kept all my books, even old ones that I probably never read —bought just because they seemed semi interesting and they were cheap.  Even books that I have read but didn’t even like. I just wanted to have the high volume of books for my dream library even though I’ll probably never touch them. When cleaning I came across these books I bought when I was in college, when I tried to go through a “pretentious reader” phase. I bought all these adult books from hip authors that people always talked about like Dave Eggers, Bret Easton Ellis, and Chuck Palahnuik.  Now, I’ve come to realize the exact type of books that I like—YA contemporary, family drama, and some romance—and I’m not ashamed of it anymore.

I’ve moved books to and from Oregon to California too many times, to apartments and back home again. As it’s looking like I’m going to be moving across the country before the year is up, I thought it was time to do a major clean out. I get very personally attached to items. Yes, I realize that I’m starting to sound a little bit like a hoarder; and when it comes to books, I am.  I told my mom when I was cleaning that I felt bad for giving up these books and she put it in perspective: I’m donating these books so they can bring joy and pleasure to another reader, I’m not throwing them out on the street.  The will go to a good home. Now I just have to actually put them in my car and take them away. Come back in a few weeks and we can see if I progressed.

Love, Simon

“I like your boots!”

AHHHHH!!! THE FEELS!!!! MY EMOTIONS, MY HEART!!!!

Okay, I got it out of my system.  I have just come home from seeing Love, Simon, the new movie based on Becky Albertalli’s novel Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda.  I have been waiting for this movie to come out for ages.  The book is so heartwarming and hilarious, about a closeted teen who has a secret online relationship with a secret admirer.  Ugh, I suck at explaining things, here is the movie premise from Wikipedia:

Simon Spier is a closeted gay teenager attending high school in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia. Simon has yet to inform his family or friends about his sexual orientation and has begun communicating with an anonymous fellow closeted classmate who goes by the pseudonym “Blue” online, using his own pseudonym of “Jacques”. This email exchange is uncovered by fellow classmate Martin, who blackmails Simon by threatening to out him to the entire school unless he helps Martin get a date with one of Simon’s best friends. Simon is then forced to balance his friends, his family, and the blackmailer, while simultaneously attempting to discover the identity of the anonymous classmate he has fallen in love with online.

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A Charlotte Holmes Story

I have a thing for boarding school books—I was also a big Zoey 101 fan back in the day. It’s such a foreign concept, but there is a small part of me that wishes I would have gone to one.  They just seem so sophisticated.  Another thing I love is Sherlock Holmes.  Okay, most of my knowledge comes from the show Sherlock.

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Goodreads synopsis for the first book, A Study in Charlotte:

The last thing Jamie Watson wants is a rugby scholarship to Sherringford, a Connecticut prep school just an hour away from his estranged father. But that’s not the only complication: Sherringford is also home to Charlotte Holmes, the famous detective’s great-great-great-granddaughter, who has inherited not only Sherlock’s genius but also his volatile temperament. From everything Jamie has heard about Charlotte, it seems safer to admire her from afar.

From the moment they meet, there’s a tense energy between them, and they seem more destined to be rivals than anything else. But when a Sherringford student dies under suspicious circumstances, ripped straight from the most terrifying of the Sherlock Holmes stories, Jamie can no longer afford to keep his distance. Jamie and Charlotte are being framed for murder, and only Charlotte can clear their names. But danger is mounting and nowhere is safe—and the only people they can trust are each other

A Little Princess: Movie vs. Book

Like last month, when choosing which classic I was going to read was fueled by a movie.  I had an urge to watch the 1995 classic, A Little Princess.  This movie was a huge part of my childhood. My sister and I have probably seen it over fifty times, but I had never read the book.  I owned this beautiful Puffin Classic edition—that so perfectly match my Little Women and Anne of Green Gables copies (thanks Anthropologie)—so I was ready to dive into this whimsical story.

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The Writing Chronicles: Episode One

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My biggest problem when writing essays in school was always the beginning.  I would have all these ideas, sometimes written out in notes or already in my word document.  But as the minutes ticked on, I always came to a standstill—How do I start? How do I physically start to cohesively bring all my ideas together and put it to paper?