Genre: YA, Contemporary, LGBT, Mental Health
First Publication Date: September 8th 2015 by Balzer + Bray
Format: ebook ARC received through NetGalley from Pan Macmillan (Thank you!)
Mira is starting over at Saint Francis Prep. She promised her parents she would at least try to pretend that she could act like a functioning human this time, not a girl who can’t get out of bed for days on end, who only feels awake when she’s with Sebby.
Jeremy is the painfully shy art nerd at Saint Francis who’s been in self-imposed isolation after an incident that ruined his last year of school. When he sees Sebby for the first time across the school lawn, it’s as if he’s been expecting this blond, lanky boy with mischief glinting in his eye.
Sebby, Mira’s gay best friend, is a boy who seems to carry sunlight around with him. Even as life in his foster home starts to take its toll, Sebby and Mira together craft a world of magic rituals and impromptu road trips, designed to fix the broken parts of their lives.
As Jeremy finds himself drawn into Sebby and Mira’s world, he begins to understand the secrets that they hide in order to protect themselves, to keep each other safe from those who don’t understand their quest to live for the impossible.
First of all, this book includes everything. Mental illness, LGBT themes, drug use, broken families, bullying. Which makes it sound so morbid. Believe me, it wasn’t. This book had me laughing and dealt brilliantly with all of the mentioned issues. The mental illness was included with empathy but it wasn’t sugar coated either, the same goes for the bullying (and everything else really)!
The way that the characters interact is so natural and yet so extraordinary and I really enjoyed this aspect. Some of the things they did were odd (in a quirky, good way!) but nothing was unrealistic! Each one had their own story to tell and each of these stories were told as the book progressed. They stood out in their own right, and I noticed that even the side characters were clearly well thought out and had a background to them (which become clear in the book). A very strong side of this book is the character development. Although at a glance it seems that Jeremy goes through the most development (in my opinion), they all do in reality if you just pause and register it for a moment, particularly the main three. Which is another thing; I liked that there were three main characters – it added variety (as they were all so, so different) and resulted in the story taking all sorts of different twists.
One thing I found to set this book apart from others were the multiple points of view throughout. I know you’re probably questioning me now, thinking “loads of books have multiple viewpoints”. Well, for each character, the narrator was different. In simple (understandable) terms: Jeremy was first person, Sebby was second (this I particularly liked as I am a fan of second person and it really worked in this novel) and Mira was third. This helped me to distinguish easily between each character. I know this has been found confusing by some, but I thought it to be a unique and successful feature. The use of second person especially I found to be an interesting choice. As I’ve said, I particularly like it (I’ve used it in two pieces of creative coursework at school, just to give you an idea of how much I like it) and it was great to see it used in a novel which I do not doubt will be extremely popular. Thankfully it wasn’t overused, and thus it retained the novelty and impact that it was undoubtably supposed to have. I also found Sebby the most difficult to understand and these parts in second person really helped to straighten things out and allowed me insight into his character that no other narrative voice could give.
The plot was fast paced and exciting, even when negative things happened to the characters. As I said, the issues I mentioned were incorporated well and without glamourising them, as some books do. This book took a realistic stance, and though not blunt, it spoke about things plainly and simply and I appreciated that, as I’m sure many others will too. Issues of sexuality and acceptance, mental illness and bullying, should be incorporated more into YA novels (and others too, not just YA) and this book, I believe, is proof that several of these can be included – not just one – and result in a novel with a rawness and depth that is difficult to achieve.
I’m sure you can tell that I adored this book. The characters were each special and individual, with their own quirks and mannerisms, and I really appreciated this as I read it. There was a surprising amount of humour included and quite often I’d find myself giggling (usually at Sebby’s antics)! I would definitely recommend this book because it was incredible and I honestly loved it so, so much! I cannot wait for more from Kate Scelsa!
Rating: 5 / 5.