Don't Ever Change
by M. Beth Bloom
Published on July 7, 2015
Source: eARC from publisher
Summary adapted from Goodreads: Eva has always wanted to write a modern classic—one that actually appeals to her generation. The only problem is that she has realized she can't "write what she knows" because she hasn't yet begun to live. So before heading off to college, Eva is determined to get a life worth writing about. Soon Eva's life encounters a few unexpected plot twists.
My take: I'm sad to see that a lot of my Goodreads friends felt "meh" about this because I really liked it. (But I was also one of those who loved the quirky, deadpan humor in Bloom's first book, Drain Me.) I'll admit that Don't Ever Change doesn't have dramatic plot twists or shocking reveals, but I found it hilarious and wise. Eva, an aspiring writer, is heading off to Emerson College in the fall, but first she has to a) write and re-write and re-rewrite the perfect introductory email to her new college roommate, b) survive her new job as a day camp counselor, and c) decide why she's so drawn to the absolute wrong boy.
Bloom's writing style is one I could read all day: wide-ranging. observant and witty (some people on Goodreads call it stream-of-consciousness, but to me it feels a lot like being stuck in a head very similar to mine.) And I loved how subtle the plot was -- stuff does happen, people! Eva is the coolest (okay, semi-neglectful, but if you think teenagers enjoy being camp counselors, you're kidding yourself) and most inspirational counselor ever, which gets her into trouble. If you love contemporaries, give this one a chance!
by Hannah Jayne
Published by Sourcebooks Fire
on July 7, 2016
Summary adapted from Goodreads: When two boys walk into the woods, and one comes out covered in blood, what would you believe? Fletcher and Adam venture into the woods for an afternoon hike, but when day turns into night and neither boy returns, their town is thrown into turmoil. Avery, the detective's daughter, is the one to find Fletcher—dishelved, disoriented, and covered in blood. He has no memory of what happened, but Avery can't shake the feeling that something's off. When Adam's body is finally found, Avery is determined to uncover the truth. But if she stands by her gut, and Fletcher, is she standing by a friend, or a murderer? The answer might cost her her life.
My take: Am I a weirdo that lines like "two boys walk into the woods and only one comes out, covered in blood" are like clickbait to me? I loved the set-up of The Escape. The police chief's daughter, Avery, goes to school with the surviving boy, and the story is told in alternating third person from his point of view and hers. After the body of the missing boy is discovered, the surviving boy's classmates turn on him for not being able to remember, and he begins to feel like he's losing his mind. Avery is sympathetic and decides to help him solve the mystery of what happened in the woods.
I liked that the book didn't reveal which boy survived right off. The narrative style had its pros and cons for me. I really liked the boy's point of view but since he had amnesia the book did need the grounding of Avery's narration. Problem was, Avery ended up seeming like sort of a sidekick, so that left the book with a bit of a rudderless feel. That said, the tension and mystery was sustained right up until the end. I liked the ending, thought it left me with some questions. But overall, I thought this delivered solid psychological suspense.
by Meg Halston
Published by Harper Teen
on July 7, 2015
Source: eARC from publisher
Summary adapted from Goodreads: Seventeen-year-old Stevie is trapped. In her life. In her body. And now in an eating-disorder treatment center on the dusty outskirts of the New Mexico desert. Her dad has signed her up for sixty days of treatment. But what no one knows is that Stevie doesn't plan to stay that long. There are only twenty-seven days until the anniversary of her brother Josh’s death—the death she caused. And if Stevie gets her way, there are only twenty-seven days until she too will end her life.
As the summary above suggests, this book may be triggering for some readers.
My take: I was anorexic, and always approach books like this with a bit of apprehension because they bring me back to a place I'm glad I've left behind. So while it's hard for me to say that I enjoy a book like Paperweight, I do think that most of it felt true to my experience (you can read my more detailed review on Goodreads.)
I loved Stevie's relationship with her therapist - that was probably my favorite part of the book. Paperweight had a strong Ordinary People vibe that made me want to re-watch the movie. If you're not familiar with Ordinary People, it's an excellent grief story, and as I didn't read Paperweight's synopsis before starting the book, it came as a surprise to me that it is a grief/guilt book too (something I don't have personal experience with.) The story spent a lot of time trying to explain Stevie's eating disorder with very dramatic (and somewhat unlikely and convoluted) precipitating factors (I include spoilers on my Goodreads review.) I thought this made the narrative feel pulled in a bunch of different directions, and has Stevie spending a lot of time thinking about characters who aren't present in the story.
But I definitely recommend this for those who are looking for this kind of a story. While Wintergirls is definitely still the most powerful eating disorder book I've ever read, Paperweight might be a solid number two.