Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Charli Reviews: Apple and Rain

When Apple's mother returns after eleven years away, Apple feels whole again. But just like the stormy Christmas Eve when she left, her mother's homecoming is bittersweet. It's only when Apple meets someone more lost than she is that she begins to see things as they really are. 

A story about sad endings. 
A story about happy beginnings. 
A story to make you realise who is special.

Author: Sarah Crossan
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Date of Publication: August 2014
Pages: 330
Source: Review copy from the publisher
Goodreads | Amazon

I received a free copy of this book from Bloomsbury in exchange for a honest review. This does not affect my review/opinions in any way. Thank you Bloomsbury!

Most people who know me fairly well know that I adore Sarah Crossan's writing; Breathe is to this day one of my favourite books ever. So, of course, I've been excited for this since it was announced - even when it then took me almost a year to get to read it!

Apple and Rain follows Apollinia, who's mum abandoned her and her nan when she was young. After over a decade, she comes back and wants Apple to live with her, and naturally Apple jumps at the chance; before she realises that it maybe isn't as good an idea as it seems.

Crossan doesn't disappoint with this; it's beautiful and tear-worthy from the first page. Of course, as a heartless person whom doesn't cry at books, I didn't... But I imagine a lot of people would! Apple is a gorgeously written protagonist who I felt really invested in; I felt unadulterated anger and sadness and everything between for her.

There are so many elements of this that are difficult, and Crossan portrays them so realistically. The issue concerning Rain and Jenny might be laughable to some people; but we don't always consider situations like that, because they seem strange - but things like that do happen to children.

One of the subjects of this book is alcohol, which I always find an interesting one. Seeing Apple have this sudden introduction to it and having hangovers, mixing cocktails etc was kind of hard for me. I'm not opposed to alcohol, but I'm not really bothered by it either; and reading about this teenager who seemed so curious about it was strange. It made for a more interesting reading experience.

And then there's the other side of the issues tackled; the "normal" one of  being a teenager. The bullying and friendship issues, the boys, the teachers plaguing you for homework. I was really glad that these were still tackled, because sometimes "difficult" books wash other them.

But no matter of the difficult topics weaved in Apple and Rain, there were elements that made me smile, as well. I loved reading about Apple discovering her love for poetry, and the bonding between Apple and Rain themselves as we go through the book.

I adored this; everything is genuine and I think anyone could enjoy the beautiful heart-break that Apple and Rain offers.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Charli Muses: When YA Turns to Suicide {Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher}

You can't stop the future.
You can't rewind the past.
The only way to learn the secret is to press play.

Clay Jensen returns home to find a strange package with his name on it. Inside he discovers several cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker – his classmate and first love – who committed suicide two weeks earlier.

Hannah's voice explains there are thirteen reasons why she killed herself. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he'll find out why.

All through the night, Clay keeps listening – and what he discovers changes his life... forever.

Author: Jay Asher
Publisher: Penguin UK
Date of Publication: This Edition 2009
Pages: 297
Source: Bought
Goodreads | Amazon

**Trigger warning for suicide, rape / Spoiler warning for most of book**

I read this book yesterday, and I was so mystified and annoyed at it that I felt like I finally wanted to review a book! I haven't done that since April, so it did something good, I guess.

SO much hype surrounds Thirteen Reasons Why; it's why I picked it up in the first place. Some of my friends have read it and absolutely loved it. But... there's so much that's wrong with it. And I didn't realise some of the things that were wrong until I finished it.

It's worth baring in mind that I didn't hate this book, I've rated it a solid half rating. Before we get in to what I think this book does in terms of being damaging, let's talk writing. I'm just going to say it: split monologue narration? Get out. Reading a line of Hannah's tape and then a line of Clay talking about something just annoyed me no end.

So let's discuss what's wrong with this book. I put this down and I thought, simply, this book puts some sort of glamour over suicide. I didn't want to express this opinion till I saw someone agree, but a lot of Goodreads consensus says the same, so there it is.

I will never, ever knock anyone's reasons for mental illness, PTSD and etcetera. But Hannah? I don't see it. I just don't. Her reasons? No.

Not to mention the tapes. When someone dies or commits suicide at such a young age, the knock on effect is horrific. It's so, so awful. Every single person who knows them blames themself. It tears them apart for weeks on end. And Hannah? She does this to these people who receive these tapes. The people who receive the tapes will feel harrowed for the rest of their lives.

And maybe she wants this. Maybe she wants them to feel this way. But why take this sort of course of revenge if you aren't there to see it? Why ruin lives further? Some of the people on these tapes didn't do anything! Hannah watched her friend get raped and didn't do a thing. Like, what? I was so stunned. I skipped a few pages because of how physically uncomfortable the idea of this made me. 

Hannah kills herself, effectively, because of rumours and boys being mean to her. I want to see the genders reversed and see how many people call this book a Bible of talking about suicide. I want to see it. No one would buy it. Because people don't see that boys are mentally ill too.

I think this book was written because Asher wanted it to be an important book. And that's fine. But realistically, this book doesn't do it.

Perhaps it's because this book is from 2007, of course - but being suicidal will always be the same. And I honestly think, with Hannah's reasons, there are teens out there who will think they're "meant" to be suicidal, because of similar experiences.

Perhaps I am bitter about this book because my best friend had her life taken away and she didn't deserve it, because I suffer myself, because a lot of my friends suffer. But this book? This book makes me uncomfortable about other books trying to tackle the subject.