“No more winter at all. Finch, you brought me spring.”
All the Bright Places was a bit of a paradox for me. Through most of the book I was happy and content. I was sure it would be a solid 4 star read. Then the story took a turn, and I had no choice but to rate higher. It’s powerfully written, and bold. I love an author who doesn’t hold back. I have to applaud them. I had no choice but to bump it up to a full 5 stars.
Here’s the conundrum, I would have preferred it stayed at 4 stars. If I had the choice, and The God of Reading came to me and said ‘you can make this book an enjoyable happy 4 stars or you can read a powerful 5 star book that hurts (and not in the good way)’, I think I would have gone with a 4 star read. That’s not something I say often. I like gritty painful reads, but it’s just not what I hoped for here.
What did I love about this story, this book I begrudgingly gave every single star to? I loved Violet and Finch. Obviously. Most people who read All the Bright Places talk about Violent and Finch, but I think most of us would agree the true magic of the story was Theodore Finch. His character jumped right off the pages and felt so real. That’s my favorite kind of character. I think he may even be immortalized for me, like Jimmy Hailer or Silence.
I also thought the message was loud and important. Both Violet and Finch were suffering from disorders, and I like how the author didn’t glamorize them. I know we as readers like when current issues are addressed appropriately, or sometimes even challenged, but unfortunately in the real world there isn’t a big lesson. More often than we like there’s not a resolution, and sometimes a story should reflect that.
“How can I send my heart to him when he’s just said, in no uncertain terms, that he doesn’t speak its language?”
Oh my gosh, Autoboyography was so wonderful! I’m THRILLED to give this book 5 stars. Not only did it have a truly adorable romance, but the romance didn’t overshadow what both Tanner and Sebastian we’re both going through.
Let’s talk about Tanner and Sebastian first. Very often when reading a romance you’ll find you like one character more than the other. There’s one you gravitate to, but the thing about Autoboyography is both Tanner and Sebastian were equally as interesting and well written. Their chemistry was insane, and so was their heartache. All three of us knew the likelihood was this relationship couldn’t work, at least without some major sacrifices. I was scared it would be another story that would leave me devastated.
I think what really pushed Autoboyography into 5 star territory though, was how well the religious aspect of the story was written. It’s obvious the authors have had some experience with LDS and Mormonism. I learned so much about it because it felt so authentic. I wasn’t surprised to find out (one of them at least) they live in Utah. The impact of what Sebastian being Mormon meant for them both wasn’t glossed over or minimized. In fact, I’d say it’s the most prevalent part of the story. It also gave the fictional family and friends the opportunity to set themselves apart as ‘tolerant’ or ‘intolerant’, but without actually condemning the religion as a whole (as opposed to just one aspect of it).
I’ll definitely be reading Autoboyography again.
“Love is scary: it changes; it can go away. That’s part of the risk. I don’t want to be scared anymore.”
I was truly surprised by how much I loved To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before! I’m a huge romantic comedy movie watcher, and I do enjoy an adult romance novel pretty frequently, but I usually avoid YA Contemporary Romance. I’ve tried reading Sarah Dessen, and I just wasn’t enthused. I enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss years ago, but I recently gave them away. I thought I’d pass Jenny Han by too, but after reading so many rave reviews I finally bought it and I have to agree with all of you – This book was awesome!
For as ‘good’ as Lara Jean was, I was never bored with her! (I tend to prefer characters in shades of gray.) She was funny and quirky, but not perfect which I think made her more human. I thought the relationship between the Song sisters was well done, and so was the relationship they had with their father. Actually, major kudos for representing the healthy loving family all over the place. Even Peter’s family was pretty sweet and kind. (Noted, Lara Jean’s mom and Peter’s dad were gone, but I think that’s pretty normal too. It also makes the fact that both Peter and Lara Jean each had one good, involved, parent mean more.) And Peter, boy oh boy did I love Peter! I love how he wasn’t always the boy who said the right thing, or the one who did the right thing. I liked when sometimes he could be crabby, or show up late, or say the wrong thing. Again, he felt human. (Plus, all that perfection was shoved at Josh, imo. Peter was far more interesting.)
Basically I loved everything. To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is the definition of a perfect 4 star read. A book that’s completely perfect at 4 stars. It was light and fluffy, romantic, and sweet… There were no major shake-ups. Everything fell exactly as it should, like the Notting Hill of the book world. Yes, there’s a problem needing to be solved, but nothing is lost in getting there.
If it was perfect, why was it only 4 stars? Because it didn’t leave a scar like All the Bright Places, and it didn’t alter my perception of anything like Autoboyography. It was all sweetness and sunshine wrapped up in interesting and enjoyable characters. Even if it didn’t change the person I am, it was still unforgettable. I loved it.