Review: Not Otherwise Specified by Hannah Moskowitz

NOSBook Title: Not Otherwise Specified
Author: Hannah Moskowitz
Published Date: March 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Purchase Links: AmazonBarnes & NobleThe Book Depository

Etta is tired of dealing with all of the labels and categories that seem so important to everyone else in her small Nebraska hometown.

Everywhere she turns, someone feels she’s too fringe for the fringe. Not gay enough for the Dykes, her ex-clique, thanks to a recent relationship with a boy; not tiny and white enough for ballet, her first passion; and not sick enough to look anorexic (partially thanks to recovery). Etta doesn’t fit anywhere— until she meets Bianca, the straight, white, Christian, and seriously sick girl in Etta’s therapy group. Both girls are auditioning for Brentwood, a prestigious New York theater academy that is so not Nebraska. Bianca seems like Etta’s salvation, but how can Etta be saved by a girl who needs saving herself?

The latest powerful, original novel from Hannah Moskowitz is the story about living in and outside communities and stereotypes, and defining your own identity.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

There is such a shortage of bisexual main characters in YA, so when I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it.

I liked Etta’s voice almost immediately, and I was able to connect with her in a way that I haven’t been able to connect with many characters. I’ve struggled with not fitting in. I struggled for 5 years with the realization that I was interested in both men and women.

Not to mention I have other health issues that set me apart from other people. So feeling like an outsider is not a new feeling for me.

Etta found this group of people who cared for her and accepted her as she was. Now that was a great thing to see. Mason, James and of course, Bianca. Bianca she had met in group for their eating disorders and James was her brother and Mason was the guy that Etta was sort of attracted to.

I still cannot figure out why I didn’t enjoy this as much as I was wanting to. I think a lot of it had to do with Bianca and even Etta’s relationship with her. First of all, Bianca was fourteen. What the heck was she doing around a bunch of seventeen year olds. I know Etta was just trying to support her, and be there for her, but there were times that the friendship would set off alarm bells in my head.

And yet, I know what it’s like to not have anything in common with people your own age. I know what it’s like to relate to someone older or younger than you. So while sometimes I’d get weirded out by the friendship between Etta & Bianca, usually I understood it. So I was sometimes conflicted.

I thought the character development for Mason & James was not as strong as it should have been and normally, I’d consider that a book’s downfall, but in this case, I was enamored with Etta’s voice, so I was willing to overlook certain things, like the character development not being as strong for these two as I was hoping.

All in all, I did enjoy this book. It was an enjoyable book, but I wish I had loved it like I wanted to. I am giving it 4 stars and I do recommend this book for people who want diverse books, because this one fits that bill to a T.

Review: Vanishing Girls by Lauren Oliver

Book Title: Vanishing Girls
Author: Lauren Oliver
Published Date: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: Harper Collins
Genre: YA Mystery
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
New York Times bestselling author Lauren Oliver delivers a gripping story about two sisters inexorably altered by a terrible accident.

Dara and Nick used to be inseparable, but that was before the accident that left Dara’s beautiful face scarred and the two sisters totally estranged. When Dara vanishes on her birthday, Nick thinks Dara is just playing around. But another girl, nine-year-old Madeline Snow, has vanished, too, and Nick becomes increasingly convinced that the two disappearances are linked. Now Nick has to find her sister, before it’s too late.

In this edgy and compelling novel, Lauren Oliver creates a world of intrigue, loss, and suspicion as two sisters search to find themselves, and each other.

“Alarming and uplifting, a rare psychological thriller that has a kind heart at its center. Read it with all the lights on.” — E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Harper Collins via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

I think this is where Lauren Oliver and I will have to break up. As a whole, her books just don’t work for me. That makes me sad because so many other people love all of her books and I wonder why I can’t love her books. 

I actually really enjoyed Panic, so I was hopeful that Vanishing Girls would be another fabulous read. Unfortunately I was let down in a big way. At first it starts off interestingly enough. I wasn’t totally invested by it, but I wasn’t totally bored by it either.

The problems start to rise to the surface when I realize that this book is written in dual POVs and it goes from past to present. Now I don’t have an issue with either of these things separately, but when they all come together in one book, I get a little twitchy. I worry that it’s going to be hard to follow or that the voices will sound the same. 

Sometimes this format works, but in Vanishing Girls it did not. I kept getting confused when it would switch to past or present and then, since the girls’ voices sounded too similar, I’d be confused as to who’s POV I was reading.

That damn twist was obvious for me very early on and the only reason I kept reading was that I was hoping I’d be wrong. It seemed like it was too easy to figure out the twist, and I was massively disappointed by it. It seemed like Oliver just went for the easiest twist to do and she didn’t even try to make it less obvious.

Both sisters were very flat and it seemed like there was very little in the way of character development. It was often hard for me to distinguish who was who. The secondary characters were equally flat and underdeveloped. I was woefully unimpressed by this book and by the characters in this book. I’ll be giving this book 2 stars and unless you want your twist to be really obvious, I’d skip this book.

Review: The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise by Matthew Crow

Book Title: The Brilliant Light of Amber Sunrise
Author: Matthew Crow
Published Date: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads
A poignant and unexpectedly funny novel about Francis – one of the best and bravest teenage boy narrators since Adrian Mole. This is an emotionally honest story about wanting the very best from life, even when life shows you how very bad things can be.

Francis Wootton’s first memory is of Kurt Cobain’s death, and there have been other hardships closer to home since then. At fifteen years old he already knows all about loss and rejection – and to top it all off he has a permanently broke big brother, a grandma with selective memory (and very selective social graces) and a mum who’s at best an acquired taste. Would-be poet, possible intellectual and definitely wasted in Tyne and Wear, 

Francis has grown used to figuring life out on his own.Lower Fifth is supposed to be his time, the start of an endless horizon towards whatever-comes-next. But when he is diagnosed with leukaemia that wide-open future suddenly narrows, and a whole new world of worry presents itself.There’s the horror of being held back a year at school, the threat of imminent baldness, having to locate his best shirt in case a visiting princess or pop-star fancies him for a photo-op . . . But he hadn’t reckoned on meeting Amber – fierce, tough, one-of-a-kind Amber – and finding a reason to tackle it all – the good, the bad and everything in between – head on.In Bloom is a bright, funny, painful and refreshing novel about wanting the very best from life, even when life shows you how very bad it can be. It is a novel about how to live.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Simon Pulse via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

Sometimes gorgeous covers are a hint that something even better is in those pages, and sometimes the cover is doing it’s best to hide a book that is lacking certain things. With this book and it’s gorgeous cover, it was definitely the latter. This book looked like something I’d love. It’s no secret that I love the “tough subjects” contemporary books. Unfortunately this one was a big disappointment.

I was expecting to love Francis and Amber, I was expecting to root for them as a couple as they battled their illnesses. I was expecting to laugh and cry right along with them. However, all of my expectations were unmet. I found Francis and his family all very tedious and one dimensional, which is not a good thing. Amber was okay, but she was also really underdeveloped. She was supposed to be this funny, sarcastic girl, but I didn’t get any of that from her.

The book itself was very slow, and in fact we didn’t even meet Amber until the book was a quarter of the way over. I was very close to DNFing the book then as well because Francis was so boring, but when Amber showed up, I decided to keep reading it and hope that this book would improve.

The character development was severely lacking in this book, and I think it would have been so much better if Crow had fleshed out the characters more. I wanted them fleshed out because it seemed like they were very flat, and to me, flat = uninteresting. The pacing was even, but it was also incredibly slow. It felt like I could skip a chunk of this book, and I wouldn’t miss anything. 

I wasn’t excited to pick it up whenever I could, and in fact, I dreaded picking it back up. No one wants to have that feeling when they are reading. Because of the slow pacing and the underdeveloped characters, I’ll be giving this book 2 stars. It could have been so much better than it was. I would not recommend this book to anyone.

Review: Everything That Makes You by Moriah McStay

Book Title: Everything That Makes You 
Author: Moriah McStay
Published Date: March 17th, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
One girl. Two stories. Meet Fiona Doyle. The thick ridges of scar tissue on her face are from an accident twelve years ago. Fiona has notebooks full of songs she’s written about her frustrations, her dreams, and about her massive crush on beautiful uber-jock Trent McKinnon. If she can’t even find the courage to look Trent straight in his beautiful blue eyes, she sure isn’t brave enough to play or sing any of her songs in public. But something’s changing in Fiona. She can’t be defined by her scars anymore. 

And what if there hadn’t been an accident? Meet Fi Doyle. Fi is the top-rated female high school lacrosse player in the state, heading straight to Northwestern on a full ride. She’s got more important things to deal with than her best friend Trent McKinnon, who’s been different ever since the kiss. When her luck goes south, even lacrosse can’t define her anymore. When you’ve always been the best at something, one dumb move can screw everything up. Can Fi fight back?

Hasn’t everyone wondered what if? In this daring debut novel, Moriah McStay gives us the rare opportunity to see what might have happened if things were different. Maybe luck determines our paths. But maybe it’s who we are that determines our luck.

Disclaimer: I received this eARC from Katherine Tegen Books via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest review.

I was really looking forward to this book. It was one of my most anticipated reads for the first six months of 2015. I was eagerly awaiting the perfect time to read this. I went into this book excited and hopeful that it would be everything I wanted it to be.

Unfortunately it wasn’t. The pacing was weird. It was sort of jerky and I found myself totally uninterested in Fi Doyle’s life. I thought she was a snit and I really couldn’t stand her. Whereas Fiona was awesome. I really liked her and how she dealt with everything. Fiona was actually enjoyable and reading about her was fun too. Fi was such an irritating individual and more than once I wanted to scream. The pace was jerky because while I flew through the pages of Fiona’s life, Fi’s life bored the heck out of me and it would take me awhile to finish her chapters.

This book also lacked significant character development for the secondary characters, and after I had read the book halfway through, the secondary characters seemed to melt together. There was no distinctive voice for any of them and I grew to really not care about any of them. I think if there had been fewer characters, their character development could have definitely improved.

I love the idea of this story, it’s actually one of my favorite types of stories. Unfortunately this one was poorly executed. I didn’t get excited to pick this book up whenever I could. It felt more like pulling teeth to get me to pick this book up. Even reading Fiona’s parts of the story couldn’t really excite me.

The ending was very underwhelming and it made me wonder what the heck had I just read? That’s really a crappy feeling to have after reading a book. No one wants to feel like that. I had that this book let me down so much, but I am going to give this book 2 stars.

Review: The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen #1) by Jodi Meadows

Book Title: The Orphan Queen
Author: Jodi Meadows
Published Date: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Genre: YA Fantasy
Series: Book One in The Orphan Queen duology
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

Disclaimer: I borrowed this book from a fellow blogger.

My number one goal this year is to read more YA Fantasy novels. I’ve read a few already this year, and was excited to read this one as well. This was to be my first Jodi Meadows book, and I fell in love with the cover, long before I cracked open the book. I was nervous because so many people loved it. I really didn’t want to be the black sheep.

It started off on the slow side, and I was nervous once again. I was so afraid that it wouldn’t pick up. I knew I had to allow for the story to be set up before I totally ruled against this book. Normally, I’m not patient, but for this book, I was curious enough to keep reading despite the slow pace in the beginning.

I liked Wil immediately. She was a total badass and I loved seeing that. I loved seeing her commitment to her people, I was quite jealous of her fighting talents. It would be totally awesome to have that kind of talent.

I never trusted Melanie. She always seemed to be hiding something, and she didn’t seem all that loyal to Wil, which pissed me off. Weren’t they supposed to be best friends? I constantly questioned her actions, especially towards the end of the book. To me, it was clear where her loyalty lay and that drove me insane. I was irrationally furious with Melanie by the time the book finished.

Oh Black Knife. SWOON! I seem to have a thing for the “darker” characters in fantasy novels. It’s definitely strange, but Black Knife was mysterious, sexy and captivating. He was actually quite a surprise as I didn’t expect to fall for him quite as hard as I actually did. Well played Jodi, well played. I cannot wait to see more of him in the next book.

The world building just got better and better as the book went on. In fantasy novels, the world building can make or break a book, and in this case, it definitely positively enhanced the book. I kept wanting to know more and more about this world that Wil, Melanie, Black Knife and the others were in, and that right there, is awesome.

There’s a freaking cliffhanger that will probably kill you like it almost killed me.

I’m so glad I got to read this book. It was so good, and I’m thrilled that I pre-ordered it last month. So I’ll have a shiny finished copy on my shelves this week. I am giving it 4.5 stars. I wish I could give it the full five stars, but the slow start moved it down a half star. Aside from the slow start, I’m telling you all to go read it ASAP.

Review: Dead to Me by Mary McCoy

Book Title: Dead to Me
Author: Mary McCoy
Published Date: March 3rd, 2015
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Genre: YA Historical
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
LA Confidential for the YA audience. This alluring noir YA mystery with a Golden Age Hollywood backdrop will keep you guessing until the last page.

“Don’t believe anything they say.”

Those were the last words that Annie spoke to Alice before turning her back on their family and vanishing without a trace. Alice spent four years waiting and wondering when the impossibly glamorous sister she idolized would return to her–and what their Hollywood-insider parents had done to drive her away.

When Annie does turn up, the blond, broken stranger lying in a coma has no answers for her. But Alice isn’t a kid anymore, and this time she won’t let anything stand between her and the truth, no matter how ugly. The search for those who beat Annie and left her for dead leads Alice into a treacherous world of tough-talking private eyes, psychopathic movie stars, and troubled starlets–and onto the trail of a young runaway who is the sole witness to an unspeakable crime. What this girl knows could shut down a criminal syndicate and put Annie’s attacker behind bars–if Alice can find her first. And she isn’t the only one looking

Evoking classic film noir, debut novelist Mary McCoy brings the dangerous glamour of Hollywood’s Golden Age to life, where the most decadent parties can be the deadliest, and no drive into the sunset can erase the crimes of past.
Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Disney-Hyperion via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review.
This book intrigued me right from the start. From the moment I saw it on Netgalley, I wanted to read this book. It was kinda out of my comfort zone, but I wanted to give it a shot. It was a quick read, but unfortunately I wasn’t a huge fan of it.
I need to talk about the pacing first because that was my biggest issue with this book. It started off really well. I really liked it and Alice was interesting to me. I wanted to see how things played out with her and her sister. Sister stories are usually some of my favorite things. Especially if they are done well, which I initially felt this one was.
Unfortunately around 25% the pacing slowed down considerably and I started getting really frustrated with what Alice was doing. I started to question everything she was doing because she wasn’t being smart about things. Especially when she started to uncover things about what her sister had been into while she was gone. She was making stupid decisions, and I gotta say that if it was MY sister in the hospital, nothing would have pulled me away from her. 
The pacing sped up a bit around the halfway point of the book, and for the rest of the book, the pace was very jerky. There were fast paced moments here and there, but those were vastly outnumbered by slow paced, boring parts of the book.
There were too many characters to keep track of and I don’t feel like they were fleshed out well at all. I struggled to care about any of them, including Annie. If there had been less characters, I feel like they could have been fleshed out so much better.
So all in all, this book wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t amazing either. I was left feeling kind of meh about it. That really bummed me out as I had high hopes for this book. I’ll be giving this book 3 stars. I am unsure as to whether or not I would recommend it because I seem to be in the minority with this book. So many other people loved it, but not me.

Review The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord

Book Title: The Start of Me and You
Author: Emery Lord
Publish Date: March 31st, 2015
Publisher: Bloomsbury Kids
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Following her pitch-perfect debut Open Road Summer, Emery Lord pens another gorgeous story of best friends, new love, & second chances.

It’s been a year since it happened—when Paige Hancock’s first boyfriend died in an accident. After shutting out the world for a year, Paige is finally ready for a second chance at high school . . . and she has a plan. First: Get her old crush, Ryan Chase, to date her—the perfect way to convince everyone she’s back to normal. Next: Join a club—simple, it’s high school after all. But when Ryan’s sweet, nerdy cousin, Max, moves to town and recruits Paige for the Quiz Bowl team (of all things!) her perfect plan is thrown for a serious loop. Will Paige be able to face her fears and finally open herself up to the life she was meant to live?

Brimming with heartfelt relationships and authentic high-school dynamics The Start of Me and You proves that it’s never too late for second chances.

Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Bloomsbury in exchange for an honest review.

Sweet mother of God, Emery Lord is a WIZARD! 

I fell in love with her debut, Open Road Summer last year and never in a million years thought that she could do better. It was a beautiful debut that had everything I could want in it: friendships, cute boys and music. When I got book number 2 in the mail I had just started hearing whispers that The Start of Me and You was actually better than Open Road Summer. It wasn’t until I finished reading it that I had to concede that those whispers were correct.

The Start of Me and You is about friendship, family and of course, love. In this book we meet Paige, whose boyfriend died a year ago and who she’s still grieving for. She is still greeted with “That Look” very often and then sometimes complete strangers send her pitying looks. She wants this year to be the best year ever. She even has a plan.

1. Parties/Social events
2. New group
3. Date
4. Travel
5. Swim

She has wonderful friends who have been there for her in this past year. Gosh, I just love the way Lord writes about friendships. Tessa, Morgan, and Kayleigh each have their own distinctive personalities and problems but they are very loyal friends.

And Paige is going to need them as she navigates the waters with her parents. Paige’s parents have been divorced 5 years, but times are changing and they are beginning to date. So now Paige must deal with her own feelings about that. Her mom has become very strict and overprotective since Aaron drowned the year before. But what she doesn’t know is that Paige has not gone swimming since that day. She refuses to go into the water. Despite that refusal, Paige continues to have nightmares where she’s drowning and no one can get to her in time.

And then there’s Ryan Chase, the boy Paige has been crushing on for as long as she can remember. She is hopeful that this year will be different. He’s recently single and Paige is ready to make a move on him. But Paige didn’t expect Ryan’s cousin Max to look so different than he looked the last time she saw him.

She didn’t expect to fall for geeky, nerdy Max who stockpiled Do Si Do Girl Scout cookies and whose favorite TV show was the one season wonder, Firefly. It turns out that the guy she thought she wanted made a much better friend, than boyfriend. And the guy she never thought she’d fall for was the guy she needed in her corner. He was the guy willing to call her out on her skepticism and her realism.

“I mean, you’re always preparing yourself for the thing that’s most likely to happen, instead of hoping for the thing that you most want to happen.” –Max-

It’s been a very long time since a quote has stopped me cold to that extent. I mean, wow, Max could have been describing ME at that very moment. It wasn’t until this quote that I realized Paige and I were similar in some ways, yet Max’s backstory with his deadbeat dad was also so similar to my own backstory with my biological dad. All the way down to him wanting to meet me when I was about a year older than Max.

I cried a lot in the last 40 pages. I had spent a lot of time laughing while reading this book, but the ending broke me into tiny pieces. Lord is so good at weaving in happy, funny moments with heartbreaking poignant moments. Like I said earlier, this woman is a WIZARD. This book is definitely getting 5 stars. I absolutely loved this book and I cannot wait to get a finished copy of it. Emery Lord has secured her place on my growing list of auto-buy authors. Everyone go read this book, pre-order it, tell your library about it. 

Review: Little Peach by Peggy Kern

Book Title: Little Peach
Author: Peggy Kern
Publish Date: March 10th, 2015
Publisher: Balzer & Bray
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
In the tradition of Patricia McCormick and Ellen Hopkins comes this powerful novel, the riveting story of a runaway who is lured into prostitution by a manipulative pimp.

What do you do if you’re in trouble?

When Michelle runs away from her drug-addicted mother, she has just enough money to make it to New York City, where she hopes to move in with a friend. But once she arrives at the bustling Port Authority, she is confronted with the terrifying truth: she is alone and out of options. 

Then she meets Devon, a good-looking, well-dressed guy who emerges from the crowd armed with a kind smile, a place for her to stay, and eyes that seem to understand exactly how she feels. 

But Devon is not what he seems to be, and soon Michelle finds herself engulfed in the world of child prostitution where he becomes her “Daddy” and she his “Little Peach.” It is a world of impossible choices, where the line between love and abuse, captor and savior, is blurred beyond recognition. 

This hauntingly vivid story illustrates the human spirit’s indomitable search for home, and one girl’s struggle to survive.

Disclaimer: I received this e-ARC from Balzer & Bray via Edelweiss in exchange for my honest opinion.

This book left me emotionally spent, curled up in the fetal position sobbing my eyeballs out. My heart ached for Michelle, Kat and Baby, all three of them had no where to go, no one to turn to. All they had was Devon.The world of prostitution is such a sad world, but it’s often the only world these girls will ever know and that realization is hard. Unfortunately the world of prostitution is very real in all parts of the world. 

I had studied it a little bit in college, but Little Peach took me into the harrowing, terrifying world of prostitution through the eyes of 14 year old Michelle, twelve year old Baby and Kat, whose age we never learn. The girls are given drugs to relax them as they meet “tricks” in hotel rooms. When the tricks get too rough, Devon and the rest of his boys come charging in to the room to rescue the girls. 

Despite everything he makes her do, Michelle still feels a sense of loyalty to him. After all, he’s taking care of her better than anyone else ever has. Or at least that’s how Michelle feels early on.

It isn’t until the book is almost over that Michelle realizes how dangerous this world is. Girls get killed for trying to run away, to get out of this life. When girls run away from their pimps, they’re seen as disloyal and their lives are often cut short very soon after they betray their pimps.

I think this book is extremely important. It’s raw, emotional and hauntingly beautiful. It delivers a very accurate account of how pimps and their girls are. It doesn’t shy away from the scary stuff. It’s blunt and heartbreaking. It’s not a story for everyone and in fact it is very dark, but since I love dark contemporaries, it really worked for me. I loved this book and it’s getting 5 stars. Everyone should read this book.

Review: Positively Beautiful by Wendy Mills

Book Title: Positively Beautiful
Author: Wendy Mills
Publisher: Bloomsbury Children’s
Published Date: March 3rd, 2015
Genre: YA Contemporary
Book Link: Goodreads
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Jodi Picoult for teens meets Lurlene McDaniel. Beautiful written, beautifully moving, a vivid contemporary story of a girl’s unusual but terrible dilemma – and the love story that springs from it. 

16-year-old Erin is a smart if slightly dorky teenager, her life taken up with her best friend Trina, her major crush on smoky-eyed, unattainable Michael, and fending off Faith, the vision of perfection who’s somehow always had the knife in for Erin. Her dad, a pilot, died when she was very young, but Erin and her mom are just fine on their own.

Then everything changes forever one day after school when Erin’s mom announces she has breast cancer. And there’s even worse news to come. Horrified, Erin discovers that her grandmother’s death from cancer is almost certainly linked, the common denominator a rare gene mutation that makes cancer almost inevitable. And if two generations of women in the family had this mutation, what does that mean for Erin? The chances she’s inherited it are frighteningly high. Would it be better to know now and have major preemptive surgery or spend as much life as she has left in blissful ignorance?

As Erin grapples with her terrible dilemma, her life starts to spiral downwards, alleviated only by the flying lessons she starts taking with grumpy Stew and his little yellow plane, Tweetie Bird. Up in the sky, following in her dad’s footsteps, Erin finds freedom chasing the horizon. Down on the ground it’s a different story, and facing betrayal from Trina, humiliation from Faith, and a world of disappointment with Michael, Erin knows she must discover the truth about herself. Sure enough, she’s positive for the gene that’s slowly killing her mom.

Suddenly, Erin’s life has turned into a nightmare, and the only person she can truly talk to is a girl called Ashley who she meets online. But when, in a moment of madness, Erin flies away with Tweetie Pie to find her new friend, she finds herself on a journey that will take her through not only shock and despair – but ultimately to a new understanding of the true meaning of beauty, meaning, and love.

 Disclaimer: I received this ARC from Bloomsbury Children’s in exchange for my honest review.

If something is pitched to me as YA Jodi Picoult & Lurlene McDaniel, chances are really, really high that I’ll fall in love with the book, cradle the book in my arms and cry violently in the end. I initially credited Bloomsbury with the pitch, but then realized it was Goodreads that had said this. Well done Goodreads, well done.

This book was utterly beautiful, gorgeous, heartbreaking and hopeful all at once. I read it one night when I couldn’t fall asleep and I did not put it down until I had finished it (sometime after 3:30am) It’s a rare book that can keep me up almost all night, but this one did just that and it was done beautifully. 

I spent a big chunk of the book wanting to hug Erin. She was going through so much and the thought of me ever having to go through it with my own mother, was something I never wanted to think about. Like Erin and her mom, my own mother and I are extremely close and I couldn’t imagine having to watch my mom go through chemo. I’d like to think I’d be as strong as Erin was, but I don’t know.

I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about the flying bits. I was worried I’d be bored, but I wasn’t. I understood Erin’s longing to share something with her dad. I understood her mother’s reluctance given the circumstances, but Erin needed something that she shared with her deceased father. I’ve always wished I shared something with my father. Maybe I do, I doubt I’ll ever find out. I was happy to see Erin embracing this part of her father, and Stew was great. He was a crotchety old man, but he cared about Erin in a non-creepy, almost fatherly way.

I wasn’t all that fond of Michael, so I was hoping it wouldn’t go anywhere. Michael was not who Erin needed. She needed someone solid, kind and generous. Like Jason. I didn’t expect to like Jason much, but he grew on me slowly but surely. They made more sense together than Michael and Erin ever did.

I was of two minds when she flew off to meet her friend: I understood that she needed to get away from everything that was going on. Erin really did need a break from having to see her mom so sick from the treatments. Yet, I knew I could never have done what she did. Not if my mom was that sick. I could never leave her alone to deal with this no matter how scared I was. I was pretty peeved at Erin for making her mom worry during this time. Her mom should have been focused on her own health, and instead, Erin was acting like a six year old who ran away instead of dealing with things, which of course upset her mom.

The strongest part of the book was Erin’s relationship with her mom. It was wonderful to see a teenager get along so well with their mom. The last 50 or so pages pretty much shattered every single feeling I’ve ever had. I actually took pictures of myself after I finished the book. I don’t think a book has ever made me cry as much as this one did.

I loved this book, and I am giving it 5 stars. It is beautiful, it features a strong mother/daughter dynamic and it will break your heart into a thousand teeny tiny pieces. I cannot wait to get a finished copy of this beautiful book. I would absolutely recommend this book to anyone who is not scared off by a “cancer book”