WOW. I had no idea what I was getting into. First suggestion: don’t read the last quarter of this book in public. Huge thanks to Netgalley and Sphere for a free copy of this to review.
For those who know, love, or are someone who has dealt with grief, love, depression, identity, mental illness, passion, general happiness… basically that list is “everyone” so my recommendation is more or less to “everyone.” A raw story, characters with secrets that are hinted at then revealed, a story that will make you feel terrible and lovely at the same time and renew the power of a smiley face. ☺
Be ready for a good cry (if you’re a particular softie for this stuff) and some deep thoughts about life that end with gratitude.
Classroom book for sure. Enough that I’m inspired to create a new Goodreads shelf right now for it and add some of my others on the list of “books I definitely want available for my students.”
Quiet pain: Zoe. Loud and outgoing and determined. Endlessly optimistic and manages to say exactly the right things, even when they might seem like just the opposite. And yet, giving up on her passion for athletics and abandoning her dreams, replacing them with salad and coaching and careful living.
Loud pain: Tristan, re-christened Tree by our aforementioned Zoe. Considering not living, carefully or otherwise. Fallen – or perhaps pushed – from his bright and charismatic self into a depression that is somehow both devoid of feeling and excruciatingly emotional.
Loss ties them together, but being together will help them create something new.
Wow, oh wow. I thought long and hard about whether this was really a 5-star book for me, but it feels IMPORTANT. Not only was this well written and a good read, it has a weight and a message carried in a palatable and realistic way for all people.
To start, let’s address the end: Anything else would have been a let down; others may disagree. This is a “painful beauty” ending. I was not particularly surprised, but I chalk that up to how much YA I’ve read. It also just felt like the correct and most fitting ending.
The journey to the end is perfect. Our female MC, Zoe, reflects many of the thoughts I’ve had with my depressed and suicidal friends. Sometimes, she has no idea how to respond to Tree (calling him Tristan feels weird). Sometimes she says exactly the wrong thing, but to his mind it’s exactly the right thing. Having both Zoe’s and Tree’s perspectives are useful no matter what side you might find yourself on. The love and hurt they trade between them is painfully realistic. The confusion they have about their own lives and towards each other inevitably serves to help them both understand and embrace who they are and want to be.
This story is complicated, in that I couldn’t stop reading it but it also hurt to read at times. Let’s be clear: this is very sad. Raw, when you have more personal connections to situations the characters are in. And yet, I feel like it’s critical for people to have available.