ARC Review: Dear Edward (Ann Napolitano)

45294613Genre: Fiction
Publisher:
The Dial Press
Publication Date: January 6th 2020
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Times Reads
Page Count: 336

Blurb from Goodreads:

Inspired by a true story of one child’s incredible survival–riveting, uplifting, unforgettable.

After losing everything, a young boy discovers there are still reasons for hope in this luminous, life-affirming novel, perfect for fans of Celeste Ng and Ann Patchett.

In the face of tragedy, what does it take to find joy?

One summer morning, twelve-year-old Edward Adler, his beloved older brother, his parents, and 183 other passengers board a flight in Newark headed for Los Angeles. Among them is a Wall Street wunderkind, a young woman coming to terms with an unexpected pregnancy, an injured vet returning from Afghanistan, a septuagenarian business tycoon, and a free-spirited woman running away from her controlling husband. And then, tragically, the plane crashes. Edward is the sole survivor.

Edward’s story captures the attention of the nation, but he struggles to find a place for himself in a world without his family. He continues to feel that a piece of him has been left in the sky, forever tied to the plane and all of his fellow passengers. But then he makes an unexpected discovery–one that will lead him to the answers of some of life’s most profound questions: When you’ve lost everything, how do find yourself? How do you discover your purpose? What does it mean not just to survive, but to truly live?

Dear Edward is at once a transcendent coming-of-age story, a multidimensional portrait of an unforgettable cast of characters, and a breathtaking illustration of all the ways a broken heart learns to love again.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

I am definitely drawn into this novel’s “sole survivor of a plane crash” plot line and I am even more interested to read it when it says the book is for fans of Celeste Ng.

Dear Edward starts with Edward and his family board a flight in Newark headed to Los Angeles. After that, the book continues with alternate chapters in the present and past during the duration of the flight. In the present chapters, we see how Edward and his close relatives handle the grief and situation while in the past chapters, stories are told from the perspective of the other 183 passengers in the flight.

It is somehow tough to both read and review this book, mainly because it’s a story where so much and so little happens at the same time. The book has a slow pace but the story is enough to make me interested to turn the pages.

What I love about the book is that Dear Edward is a realistically character-driven and emotion-led story. I truly appreciate the time that the author has taken to invest in Edward’s coming-of-age story from someone who has lost everything to a person who can let go of the past and move on. It’s not a walk in the park story as the book truly delves into the vastness of sadness and grief of losing your loved ones and how to continue living. Grief can hit the core of not only to the person who is deeply affected, but to the families as well. We see how it is not easy for Edward’s aunt and uncle to accept the fact that he is an orphan and won’t be able to see his parents again. However, they still put a brave face and try to be the best person that they could be for Edward.

As rare as Edward’s situation is, we can always find something to relate here. At some point of our lives, we all face grief and loss that changes on how we view life. When we face those issues, we always want to find answers that can solve the problems. However in reality, there are no easy answers on how we can decode them. That’s what Dear Edward tells. Edward also undergoes the journey of growth and recovery, something that is not easy as it sounds. He finds comfort in being with people who truly care for him like Shay and Principal Arundhi. It shows that people around him are also responsible for his recovery.

Overall, a wonderful story on the exploration and journey of grief and recovery.

When there’s life, there’s hope.

Special thanks to Times Reads for sending me an ARC of Dear Edward.

X

Sabrina

Review: The Weight of Water (Sarah Crossan)

45732103

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Publication Date: May 2nd 2019
Format: Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 259

Blurb from Goodreads:

Armed with a suitcase and an old laundry bag filled with clothes, Kasienka and her mother leave Poland and head for the UK to find her father. Life is lonely for Kasienka. At home her mother’s heart is breaking and at school Kasienka finds it impossible to make new friends. While the search continues, Kasienka is kept afloat by William, a boy she meets at the local pool who understands what it means to lose someone and who swims with Kasienka towards her new life.


RATING

4 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

The Weight of Water tells the reader on how to pick up the pieces when everything you know is turned on its head and you have to start all over again. The moment I laid my eyes on the synopsis, I knew that this book is going to be great in terms of self-exploration. I love reading self-exploration books as it gives us an idea on what are truly made of based on our intellectual and spiritual capacities.

At first, I didn’t expect this to be a poetry book. The moment I opened the book and flipped the pages, the content was written in verses. I don’t usually opt for poetry books because I don’t find them appealing at times. However, once I started reading it, I fell in love with the story.

I mark this as Young Adult because the issues discussed in the book were mostly about teenagers facing difficulties on family matters and adapting in the society. Mature audiences will appreciate the book even better because there were adult issues faced by the protagonist’s mother. The protagonist faced such an ordeal in her life, with abrupt changes such as relocating to another country with different mother tongue with no money and jobs to support them.

I have so many favorite verses in The Weight of Water and this verse is one of them:

We weren’t on a ship.
Immigrants don’t arrive on
Overcrowded boats any more,
Swarming wet docks like rats.
It isn’t 1920 and it isn’t Ellis Island –
Nothing as romantic as a view of
Lady Liberty
To welcome us.

This story is very touching but at the same time, enjoyable to read. I would definitely pick up any poetry book by Sarah Crossan anytime soon to enjoy more of her masterpieces!

Thank you Pansing Books for providing me this awesome review copy!

X

Sabrina

 

ARC Review: How to Make Friends with the Dark (Kathleen Glasgow)

40755416.jpgGenre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: 
Rock the Boat
Publication Date: 
April 11th 2019
Format:
ARC Paperback
Source: 
Times Reads
Page Count:
422

Blurb from Goodreads:

Here is what happens when your mother dies.

It’s the brightest day of summer and it’s dark outside. It’s dark in your house, dark in your room, and dark in your heart. You feel like the darkness is going to split you apart.

That’s how it feels for Tiger. It’s always been Tiger and her mother against the world. Then, on a day like any other, Tiger’s mother dies. And now it’s Tiger, alone.

Here is how you learn to make friends with the dark.


RATING

4.8 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW

This is my first time reading Kathleen Glasgow’s book and I can truly say this book is stunningly written. The moment I receive it I know that this is going to be a rough and emotional read for me. I am actually surprised that this is YA contemporary, because the only thing in the book that is YA is the main character who is sixteen-year-old named Tiger while the topics covered are very heavy and so intense that trigger warnings should be clarified at the beginning.

This book teaches us about grief and loss of our loved ones and how to find ourselves back after facing such tremendous loss. Every time I start a new chapter in the book, my heart aches for Tiger so much because she has so many new and scary things to face yet she does not have her loved ones besides her. I love Kathleen’s writing, by the she uses figurative language to amplify about Tiger’s journey finding herself to make it more effective and impactful to the reader.

Kathleen writes a harsh yet realistic exploration of pain and sadness in a voice who tries to find her own connotation after losing a loved one. How to Make Friends with the Dark truly taught me how painful and excruciating it is to deal with the consequences and reality of having a dead parent, something that I would never comprehend. Kathleen knows how to touch our hearts with Tiger’s story so well. I find myself heartbroken while reading Tiger’s obstacles surviving her life, and laugh at jokes and moments that are hilarious in the book. There are many strong statements in the book that I find to be meaningful, it goes something like; “Sometimes you need to open yourself to the possibility of the miraculous, even though life is harsh to us.”

I am extremely moved by the Author’s Note section. Part of the story is based on the author’s mother and most of it is based on the status of children in America. Not all kids have safe home lives. There are kids who are in foster care, kids who are homeless and kids who have incarcerated parents. Therefore, it is important for us to engage with these children, emotionally and mentally. Open discussion about mental health and depression must be done to help our youngsters. I love it when the book acknowledges websites that can be helpful to those who are in need for instance Suicide Prevention Lifeline, Grief Resources for Teens and Child Welfare.

Thank you Times Reads for providing me this ARC in exchange for an honest review.

X

Sabrina

 

ARC Review: The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried (Shaun David Hutchinson)

38116996.jpg

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication date: February 19th 2019
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 294

Blurb from Goodreads:

A good friend will bury your body, a best friend will dig you back up.

Dino doesn’t mind spending time with the dead. His parents own a funeral home, and death is literally the family business. He’s just not used to them talking back. Until Dino’s ex-best friend July dies suddenly—and then comes back to life. Except not exactly. Somehow July is not quite alive, and not quite dead.

As Dino and July attempt to figure out what’s happening, they must also confront why and how their friendship ended so badly, and what they have left to understand about themselves, each other, and all those grand mysteries of life.


RATING

3 STARS

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

This is my first time reading Shaun’s book and honestly I have high expectations since one of his books, We Are The Ants is a very well-loved books in the YA community.

The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried (yes, it is very mouthful!) is a story about friendship between long-lost ex-bestfriends who grew apart from each other. This story between Dino and July at first is very intriguing as I am very interested in reading male to female dynamic relationship that is not related to romance.

As the story proceeds, I cannot find any WOW factor, or any part of the book that is worth reading and impressive. The characters are very bland, they are extremely flawed and not interesting. I guess the author is trying to write characters with anti-hero qualities, the one who lacks the ‘conventional heroic attributes’ unlike what we see in movies or even books. Both of them also have opposite characteristics, one is passive and the other is hostile. The reason on why they grew apart is also so petty, that I think the relationship can be repaired by just only discussing the problems between them. The plot is also very forgettable and nothing special, at times I cannot even identify the conflict and storyline.

The one thing is really stood out to me is the theme of death. Someone’s death can truly change and effect our life as a whole. How the death can change their relationship. I guess that the author is trying to metaphorically explain the meaning and impact of someone’s death to people. However, it does not work for me.

I truly appreciate the LGBT references in the book as one of the main characters is gay and also about the support and understanding given by the people of him.

I am mildly disappointed by the book but it does not stop me to try and read Shaun’s other writings in the future.

Thank you Pansing Books for providing me a review copy of the book!

X

Sabrina

 

Review: A Very Large Expanse of Sea (Tahereh Mafi)

40309051

Blurb from Goodreads: 

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.


RATING

3.5 STARS!

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

I have been waiting for so long to read this book and write the review for this highly anticipated read for 2018! I was honestly stoked when Tahereh finally decided to write a YA contemporary book because I knew that this book is going to be perfect. I have only read two of her books, which are the middle grade series; Furthermore and Whichwood. The books are nothing but perfect!

The unique part of this story is that this book gives us an insight on what it means to be a Muslim in a non-Muslim country after the tragedy of 9/11. We get to see Shirin’s journey on how she goes through her life as a 16-year-old student, from being a friend and facing the family dynamics in her household. This book is brutally honest and raw, different from her other masterpieces. There are no flowery writing inserted. All monologues from Shirin is just purely straight forward and truthful.

I highly appreciate Muslim hijabi girls representation in Young Adult books, because I think they are not well represented in the society. Muslims are often mistaken for bad things and they are always treated horribly by the society. Their devotion to God is always mistakenly understood to be extremism. It is not always easy for immigrants to live a peaceful life in a foreign land as people will always have bad things to say. It is even worse when there is a sickening tragedy that involves the lives of many people. One of them, who is Shirin would be badly affected by the aftermath. We see how the society, in a smaller context, the students in her school treat her. They won’t befriend her, assume her like she is invisible and also throw brutal racist remarks to her. Being a Muslim in a non-Muslim country is different from being a Muslim in Muslim country. While reading, I compare myself, between the situation in my country with the struggles of Shirin’s. I think that never in my lifetime that I would understand what she has gone through. I understand my privilege and I will never abuse it to downgrade other people. I feel angry while reading because Shirin is constantly challenged with the society’s expectation towards her. She is always violently punished for something that she has never done. Everyone deserves to live in the world without being harmed.

I learn so much from the book, what it feels like to be in a xenophobic and islamophobic world but I think I am just given a tiny glimpse about what it feels like to be a Muslim in a non-Muslim country. This book is very important for readers to devour into, because it makes us understand the prejudice towards muslims in America. Seeing all of these makes us wonder the status of our education. Has our education done a perfect job in educating our children? It is our job to ponder.

I adore the male lead, which is the love interest for Shirin. I like the relationship between Shirin and her love interest, however, I hate for the fact that the romance has taken over the whole purpose of the book. I would want the book to focus more on Shirin’s journey for self-discovery. The romance factor has defeated the sole purpose of the book. I at times don’t feel comfortable reading about their relationship because I think it is too forced, and it is used as a plot device. This is the only reason on why I don’t give this book a 5 star. I would have to say that I am mildly disappointed with the relationship part.

My most favourite part of the book is that Shirin is a close reflection of the writer herself. I have never read any book that is very private and written based on personal experience by the author and the fact that Tahereh has published a book that is very close to her is such an amazing thing. It makes the book much more authentic and honest. It shows that Tahereh is very brave to show the world that her story is important enough for readers to learn. 

I now know the meaning of the title of the book! Only those who have read it may understand the meaning of it! 😛

X

Sabrina

Review: Emergency Contact (Mary H. K. Choi)

38749034Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books
Publication date: March 27th, 2018
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 394

Blurb from Goodreads:

For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.

Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.

When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.


RATING

4.5 STARS

HERE’S MY THOUGHTS!

I read this gorgeous book in a day! You can imagine how good this book is.

The fact that Rainbow Rowell, one of my favourite authors who introduced me to Young Adult Contemporary books blurbed this book, I AM ALREADY PUMPED!

This is one of my most anticipated reads of 2018. Once I skimmed the synopsis when it was released, I was hooked and interested! This NYT Best Seller book did not disappoint at all! Even though this book received many mixed reviews on Goodreads, I truly enjoyed reading the story of Penny and Sam facing their inner demons and life obstacles. I was surprised that this book was actually a YA/NA contemporary. I don’t really read NA these days thus reading young adults who were trying to start their journey outside of their comfort zones was very special to me, as I am also searching and struggling.

Emergency Contact allows us to appreciate the growth of two struggling young adults who are finding the meaning of life and exploring the beauty of their friendship. I gravitate towards good friendship/relationship books, I love to see how relationships between two people starts to develop and bloom. I love Penny and Sam always find their ways to each other, their frankness in their relationship and also on how they depend on each other during hard times. The characters were realistic and fragile, there were times when I wanted to hug them so much because they were too vulnerable as they have went through so much in life 😦

The writing was good, for me it was fast paced as it kept me entertained and interested in reading till the end. I didn’t realise that the book was going to end until 360+ pages because I was so engrossed with Penny and Sam that I didn’t want it to end! I read somewhere that the writer is plotting on Book 2 and 3, so rest assured that there will be a sequel coming! YAY

Characters are not always perfect. Things in life change people, effect on how they react and think. One thing that truly disturbed my attention was the fact that Penny pushed her loved ones, especially her mom. I felt for her mom, because family always wants to be near us. I am no position to judge people on their relationships with their family, but take the time to appreciate them.

I would truly recommend this book to readers who would enjoy reading about blooming friendships who find peace in each other presence 🙂

Thank you Pansing Books for providing me this ARC in exchange of an honest review!

X

Sabrina

 

ARC Review: The Weight of a Thousand Feathers (Brian Conaghan)

36578971

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Publication date: June 14th, 2018
Format: ARC Paperback
Source: Pansing Books
Page Count: 320
This book is available in all good bookstores.

Blurb from Goodreads:

Child experts will tell you that I’m way too young to carry such a burden of responsibility on my tender shoulders. But really, what do they know?’ Who is Bobby Seed? He’s just your average sixteen-year-old – same wants, same fears, same hang-ups. Dull, dull, dull. But then there’s the Bobby Seed who’s a world away from average. The Bobby Seed who has to wipe his mum’s backside, sponge her clean three times a week, try to soothe her pain. The Bobby Seed whose job it is to provide for his younger brother, Danny, to rub his back when he’s stressed and can only groan and rock instead of speak. That’s Bobby Seed. Same, same, same, yet different, different, different …


RATING

5 SHINING STARS!

HERE’S MY REVIEW!

Pretty surprising that this book does not get any hype or publicity it deserves so well.  This heart-rending and emotional story is definitely special and important for young readers to enjoy.

It made me cry, and I love GOOD books that make me cry. It shows that the book is powerful enough to make us fully perceive the message written by the author. This book is perfect for Me Before You fans as both of them have similar themes which are taking care of someone who is very ill and understanding the actual meaning of death.

I adore Bobby Seed. He is very strong, an obedient son to her mother and a very good carer to her mother and brother. As any other teenager out there, he worries about school, future and random possibilities about her mother’s condition. It is very rare to see such a wise male character in YA books so I appreciate Bobby very much as a figure who we all can set as a role model. This young carer’s journey is not something we often read about nowadays in YA literature hence it is very informative and enlightening to observe Bobby’s view in taking care of her mother. Witnessing his journey on seeing his mother’s health declining over time is something I would never in my lifetime, will be able to understand. The pain is unbearable. Ethically grey areas are also thoroughly discussed in the book. I at times have disagreements to this particular subject however who I am to judge whoever who faces this unexplainable challenge? The author has done a wonderful job in delivering the message from both narratives in the story. This story also has many fun and witty moments and that totally ease my reading. I think about my mother all time while reading this book, realising that how damn lucky I am to have my mother by my side and very healthy and prosperous family right now. I thank the stars for them ❤

This book totally offers an insight on understanding how vast human’s emotions can be. This is such a changed book that I think that granting 5 stars is not enough to show how changed this is.

Thank you Pansing Books for providing a copy in exchange of an honest review.

X

Sabrina