In the words of Augustus Waters, "It is an honor to have my heart broken by you" (or something like that.) This is how I feel about The History of Jane Doe.
First and foremost, I need to preface this review by saying two things:
1. This is a story about a girl who commits suicide and leaves her boyfriend, his best friend, and her family behind. The book is the boyfriend (Ray's) way of dealing by creating a history of his memories of her-Jane. You will get all the feels. If that is something you want, read this NOW, if not-steer clear.
2. I stopped loving John Green after Paper Towns failed me, but I will forever love Augustus Waters and Looking for Alaska.
The History of Jane Doe is a heartbreakingly beautiful story of grief, friendship, and first love. If you like John Green, this is a very Green-esque, in a small town with a boy who loves history. Ray is a regular kid, not popular and kind of weird, with a best friend, Simon, who wants to be a vampire. (Who I honestly loved because he is so preciously naive.) Ray recounts his story of Jane from the first time he saw her to a year after she died. The story goes back and forth between a countdown of days BEFORE and days after. Most of the days after being scenes of Ray with his therapist, Rich, and Ray not being able to leave his room and having to deal with his anger from losing Jane. Ray recounts how he slowly fell for Jane, while she learned how to live in a small town after growing up in Brooklyn.
I think my favorite part of the book is when Ray is with his therapist and Rich tells Ray, "'It's not about the people in their lives. Their boyfriends. Parents. Friends. It's something inside. And that's hard for people to get, because it doesn't necessarily relate to anything going on in their lives-it's just there. And someimes, when people don't get the help they need, it grows too strong'" (Belanger, 375).
I love how easy this book was to love. The small town that ray knows all of the history about gives the story a funny setting where you definitely learn that while something major is going on in one person's head, the world is still spinning and how upsetting that can be. I also love how Ray also has to deal with the after of everything and we get to be a witness to his growth and healing process. It is such an important time to learn more about mental health and I think that this book is a great place to start.
A great story of indomitable will and never giving up. Viola is diagnosed with photosensitivity-meaning she is allergic to the sun. Including ALL UVA And UVB rays. This Includes her phone and laptop screens as well. This would destroy any teenage girl. It especially one who wants to be a foreign news correspondent AND who just met a boy who looks like Thor. While it was pretty slow at times this is definitely one of my top books of 2018. It shows true resilience, creativity, and vulnerability.
Just finished this beauty of a book, WHEN THE BEAT DROPS by Anna Hecker is about Mira, a jazz nerd who can’t afford to go to music camp where she will prepare for a super important audition to get into music school. Instead she spends her summer attending warehouse parties and raves with her sister who is home from college (who is hiding way more than Mira can imagine). Over the summer, Mira learns about DJing and enters a world she would have never imagined. She learns about love, drugs, friendship, loss,family and herself. 🖤 At times it felt like a cautionary tale about drug use but the writing in this book is BEAUTIFUL. Anna Hecker makes you SEE the music when you can’t hear it. Overall, an absolutely beautiful book that I’m so grateful to have read.
Honestly, this book was SO much more than I expected! I had heard about it through the librarian grapevine and read reviews, but for some reason kept it at the back of my TBR saying "I'll read it eventually." Y'all. This book needs a new cover because the one it has makes it feel immature and honestly middle-grade-esque but AMERICAN PANDA is GREAT! As a hispanic-American woman, I related to the main character, Mei, with the pressure to make your family proud, to be obedient, and to find a husband and have babies to secure your family name. BUT we know how I love a good ol' rebellion, ;) but AMERICAN PANDA isn't about the rebellion. It is about a Taiwanese-American girl, Mei, who LOVES dance, but her family has decided that is attending MIT to become a doctor while her mother chooses a husband for her. And while Mae tries SO hard to obey her family, she finally learns what I have been preaching for the past few years: you can't put a price a YOUR happiness and you have to do what is right for YOU.
AMERICAN PANDA is about so much more than just a girl struggling with her identity and with her parents; it is about finding yourself and challenging traditions that are done just for traditions sake. It is about women standing up for themselves. It is about spouses having a say in the way that their children are raised, and those children being happy and being given the opportunity to choose and fight for their dreams and being allowed to fail.
This book was everything. I loved every second of it. Thank you, Gloria Chao. I hope that not only other Asian Americans can relate to this book and find comfort in knowing that they are not alone, but also EVERYONE who wants to break away from family traditions and gender ideologies.