Oh Yeah, Audrey by Tucker Shaw | Estelle Reviews

Oh Yeah, Audrey by Tucker ShawOh Yeah, Audrey by Tucker Shaw ( tweet )
Release Date: 10/14/2014
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 256
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Audrey Hepburn, New York City, Tumblr, Internet Friends
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley (Thanks!)

Summary: Gemma runs away from her home in Philly for an Audrey Hepburn meetup she organized through her themed Tumblr page. She has an itinerary for following Audrey’s footsteps through her film, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, and finally meeting some of her internet friends face to face.

As someone who runs two blogs and meets people from the internet a lot, I could totally relate to Gemma, who decides to start a Tumblr page about Audrey Hepburn to help her get through a hard time. Through the Tumblr, she meets two friends, Bryan and Trina, who she talks to all the time but she doesn’t find herself really confiding in just yet. But they all plan to meet for the first time to see a monumental movie screening of Breakfast at Tiffany’s in New York City.

Sure, Gemma lies to her dad about where she is going but at this point, she needs a little space to do something on her own. And so their city adventure begins but never according to Gemma’s original schedule. There’s a shopping trip, a fancy auction, and the surprise visits of two other internet personalities she was not expecting. So instead of hitting all the Holly Golightley spots in Manhattan, Gemma is swept up in a magical evening with Dusty, a boy she also met on the internet. Does she make a choice to hang out with her friends or go on a once in a lifetime date with Dusty?

Well, you’ll see.

In a span of 24 hours, Gemma is forced to face a lot of truths: why she feels so close to Holly Golightley and Audrey Hepburn, how important these friendships are to her, and also coming to terms with the changes in her family life. While the strict timeline did cause me to feel a bit of suspense, I really wish there had been more time to learn about Gemma’s relationship with her father and spend time with Bryan and Triana, her friends who lived far, far away. When would they see each other again?! On the other hand, I liked how Shaw was not prejudiced over internet friendships being REAL because, in so many instances, they are and they blossom into these wonderful real life things.

Oh Yeah, Audrey! was a great New York City adventure, and I could imagine it as a really fun Disney Channel/ABC Family movie. It definitely inspired me to watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s again, too. All in all, it was a fast-paced read that made me think a lot about fandom and making pals and what we flock to when we are feeling alone. I hope Shaw has another young adult book up his sleeve.

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Estelle: Paper Airplanes by Dawn O’Porter

Paper Airplanes by Dawn O'PorterPaper Airplanes by Dawn O’Porter ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: September 9, 2014
Publisher: Amulet
Pages: 272
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: friendship, parents, school
Format read: ARC from Publisher via NetGalley.

Summary: Even though they are students at the same school, Renee and Flo meet at a party. Kind of. Flo saves Renee from an already embarrassing situation, and soon they find themselves stealing away to have an open friendship with one another. Both are at a place in their lives where they are feeling cast aside and nothing is truly in their hands. Together, they form an honest and undeniable bond but secrets force to break it all open.

Female friendship as the focal point in young adult books? We all know it does not happen a lot, and this is why I was so anxious to read Paper Airplanes by Dawn O’Porter. (Added bonus: all the British-isms since the book takes places there.) Unfortunately, this book (deemed gritty and powerful) did not win me over as much as I wanted it to. I’m breaking this one down with a list.

I loved:

  • This book truly depicts what it is like to fall in love with a friend. Even though Renee and Flo keep their friendship under wraps at first, I loved how they were able to be so honest with one another even when it sucked and especially because they didn’t have many people in their lives they could count on. The adventures, the notes, the encouragement: it was real and it was fantastic. I adored the way they loved each other.
  • The author conveys a very normal teenage life filled with tests, drinking, parties, and yes, sex. I thought it was great but because of other books I’ve read that have done it just as well, it did not feel quite as groundbreaking to me. (Though Renee’s “relationship” with a guy who obviously adores her and she can’t figure out why she doesn’t feel the same way? Great, great addition; happens so much and it’s difficult to explain to others and to ourselves.)
  • The time period. Hello, 1990s. Adios cellphones and the internet. So refreshing not to have an interruptions from texts and emails and focus more on how we communicated back then. Calling people on landlines, writing notes on paper airplanes, and sometimes having to wait to talk to someone because you never got their number. Ah, the joys of radio silence.

What didn’t work for me as much:

  • Something in the book truly irked me. It’s a big deal and I don’t want to reveal it here but it was so serious and I thought, not dealt with the way that it should have, especially as readers see how the book is wrapped up. I was so angry on behalf of one of our characters, and while I know not everything is going to be resolved completely, it seemed like it wasn’t taken as seriously as it should. Now maybe that’s just a reflection of our culture today? But still. Bothered. Angry.
  • The pacing. The action in the book truly picks up in the last third of the book, and, by then, it felt way too late. The middle dragged a bit and by the end, when things revved up, I wanted the book to be longer. It felt a off balance and didn’t keep my attention as much as I would have wanted it to.

In the end, Paper Airplanes was a toss up as far as a rating goes. I did get emotional when it came to these characters, and if you want to meet some of the most infuriating families in the history of literature, you will find it in this book. Not to mention one of the shittiest best friends ever. Oh gosh. I wanted to punch her in the face multiple times. I was so relieved Renee and Flo found each other, despite all the complications, because they needed someone on their side badly.

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Magan: Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell

book cover for Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell

Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell (website | twitter)
Publication Date: October 1, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 320
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: death of a classmate, bucket lists, social outcast
Format Read: ARC received via Netgalley. (Thank you!)
Other Books Read by Author: Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe

Summary: Rebel Blue is detached and rough-around-the-edges. That is, until she’s taken aback by Kennedy Green’s death, a do-gooder girl who had a very deep conversation with Rebel just before her death. Unable to get rid of Kennedy’s bucket list, Rebel sets out to complete it for her and makes life-changing decisions along the way.

Remember last year when Estelle and I couldn’t stop gushing about Shelley Coriell’s Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe in Estelle’s Attention, Attention post, my review, and the book-themed gift pack? Truth be told, I prolonged reading Goodbye, Rebel Blue until I needed that absolute win, the guaranteed love affair with a book I was certain I would be granted. Unfortunately, I didn’t feel the same affection for Rebel that I did for Chloe, leaving me a little disappointed and underwhelmed.

Rebel Blue comes across as a distanced and troubled teenager; she doesn’t care about making good grades, often finds herself in detention, and is less than affectionate with her aunt, uncle, and cousin (with whom she lives after the death of her mother). She adorns her backpack with shark teeth and wears chunky blue streaks in her brown hair. Rebel is not a member of the popular crowd.

One day she finds herself in detention (again), but this time goody-two-shoes Kennedy Green also finds herself stuck in the counselor’s office for a few hours. Kennedy and Rebel have a very distant relationship; they’re aware of who the other is, but wouldn’t be considered friends by definition. When the counselor tells them to make a bucket list of twenty things they want to do before they die, chatterbox Kennedy abruptly scribbles down her list and overwhelms Rebel with conversation. For two near-strangers, they have a very deep conversation about being in the right place at the right time.

The next day, Rebel finds out that Kennedy died in a car accident.

Feeling a bit taken aback by Kennedy’s sudden death, Rebel races to the detention room to find the discarded bucket lists. There’s a bit of speculation about if Kennedy committed suicide. Surely her list would be an indicator, but Rebel finds it to be a reflection of the happy-go-lucky girl Kennedy was and cannot discard it. Instead, she decides to tackle the list and complete the things Kennedy aspired to do.

The majority of my struggle with Goodbye, Rebel Blue lies in the overall execution of completing the bucket list. There were twenty items on the list, and oftentimes, I felt like just as Rebel was making a bit of progress toward completing an item and overcoming huge obstacles, the stage would fade to black and the next scene would be her facing the next obstacle. The transitions often seemed a little bit jarring, as if I had missed a few paragraphs, because there were so many hurdles to jump. I felt little closure and maybe if the list had been shortened, more time would have been allotted to each task. I strongly feel this would have a) given me a better sense of time as it passed, and b) allowed me to accept the character changes Rebel was going through without feeling as if the story was being rushed.

There’s quite a large can of worms that is approached by Rebel near the end of the novel that I also felt was completely neglected when I finished the book. I’m not sure if there will be a continuation of this story, but it seemed rather huge to introduce and then leave it hanging. And the message, while a good one, is definitely reiterated over and over, and quite possibly too literally, leaving little room for interpretation. I really love strong, positive messages, but again, a little more finessing may have made this aspect a little less forced and more organic.

While it was lovely to be distantly reconnected with old friends, Chloe and Clem, via their cameos, I wish I was able to feel as excited and inspired by Rebel’s story as I was Chloe’s. One lovely addition to Goodbye, Rebel Blue was definitely Nate, the go-gooder boy who is intrigued by Rebel, and his huge My Life Next Door-esque family that will melt your heart.

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Estelle: The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle

The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren MyracleThe Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle
Publication Date: August 27, 2013
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 336
Target audience: Mature young adult
Keywords: high school graduation, summer before college, sex, friendships, secrets
Format read: ARC Paperback from BEA via Elena at Novel Sounds!

Summary: Post-graduation life brings Wren and Charlie together the summer before each of them go off in separate directions. Wren is wrestling with making a choice that (for once) her parent’s did not make for her, and Charlie isn’t sure he’ll ever be able to move on from his past and put himself and his needs first. It’s a summer of first love, discovery, heartbreak before a new life journey begins for each. Will their relationship survive?

The summer before I left for college was pretty intense. Between getting used to the idea of leaving my childhood home for college and falling pretty desperately in love with someone who was not going with me, it was quite a summer.

The Infinite Moment of Us really encapsulated so many of those emotions I remember feeling. Fear of moving forward (with a little bit of excitement thrown in), how difficult it was to break away from my parents (and vice versa), and most prominently, how addicting and all-consuming falling in love for the first time could be.

Wren and Charlie come from totally different worlds, and have led vastly different lives up until the moment events seem to naturally fall together and they become inseparable. Suddenly, Wren has someone to share her dreams with, someone who will encourage and support her without laying down the rules for her, and Charlie has someone in his life who truly truly cares for him and makes him feel loved. Their relationship couldn’t happen at a better (and worst) time, really. Throughout my reading, I kept wondering how it would all end in three months. Would they go in their own directions or would their love for each other cause them to realign their futures so they could be together?

Myracle’s writing style is so unique in this book; it seesaws between beautiful euphoric passages and the rawness of sexuality. But she relies on telling the reader most of these characters’ feelings, instead of showing them and those missing pieces made it hard for me to connect with Wren and Charlie’s story sometimes. It felt a little convenient, a bit too easy and romanticized and I know in my reading I really like my relationships to feel grounded. Wren and Charlie’s story felt so dreamlike; I kept losing my grip on it.

What I absolutely loved was watching a main character unleash her sexuality. Wren felt so brave because of Charlie’s attraction and his feelings for her, and I loved watching this other part of her come free. It was so uncomfortably relatable and I could feel just how powerful Wren’s passion for Charlie made her. She was truly discovering a new part of herself that summer and it was really moving to see them bring their relationship to a whole new level. (Though the use of the word “cock” from Charlie’s perspective was so jarring. Why is that word so harsh?)

While certain plotlines (Charlie’s ex, in particular) and the exclusivity of Wren and Charlie’s love bubble left me a little bit torn over The Infinite Moment of Us, it was really the nostalgia factor that I liked most. Even when it meant remembering some of my own embarrassing and over-the-top experiences and all the blunders that came along with them. Plus I really enjoyed Wren’s best friend, Tess, and her boyfriend, P.G. Seperately they had so much personality, and together, well, they had the kind of relationship I wished I could have had when I was 18.

I think P.G. actually sums up The Infinite Moment of Us best at one point: “Leave the poor kids alone. They’re young and in love. What more do you need to know?” rather be reading borrow from the library icon

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