Every Exquisite Thing

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From Goodreads: Star athlete and straight-A student Nanette O’Hare has played the role of dutiful daughter for as long as she can remember. But one day, a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bubblegum Reaper– a mysterious, out-of-print cult classic– and the rebel within Nanette awakens.

As the new and outspoken Nanette attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, she befriends the reclusive author and falls in love with a young, troubled poet. Forced to make some hard choices that bring devastating consequences, Nanette learns the hard way that rebellion can sometimes come at a high price.

This is honestly the hardest book I’ve ever tried to review. I read this book months ago. This review has been sitting in my drafts forever. I’ve written and deleted paragraph after paragraph, not quite coming up with the words I really want to use. I’m not sure why. The more I think about it, the more conflicted I am with what I want to say. I liked this book. Or at least parts of it. I remember thinking as I read and as I finished that there was so much within this book that was relatable and important. But attempting to write about the book has been a lot harder than I thought.

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As I read through, I found myself saying, “Wow! This is an amazing quote! This is such an important theme!” But when it came time to write about it… Nothing.

But I keep coming back to this review, still trying to write something about it, because I still feel like there are words in there somewhere.

(*Note– By the end, I found a lot of words. For having nothing to say, this is probably the longest review I’ve written. Be warned.

Also, there are some minor spoilers, but no major plot line reveals. So it’s semi-spoiler free?)

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The Last Boy and Girl in the World

The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian

What if your town was sliding underwater and everyone was ordered to pack up and leave? How would you and your friends spend your last days together?

While the adults plan for the future, box up their possessions, and find new places to live, Keeley Hewitt and her friends decide to go out with a bang. There are parties in abandoned houses. Canoe races down Main Street. The goal is to make the most of every minute they still have together.

And for Keeley, that means taking one last shot at the boy she’s loved forever.

There’s a weird sort of bravery that comes from knowing there’s nothing left to lose. You might do things you normally wouldn’t. Or say things you shouldn’t. The reward almost outweighs the risk.

Almost.

— From the book jacket of The Last Boy and Girl in the World 

Aberdeen, a small town on the banks of a river, has been home to Keeley Hewitt’s family for generations. When constant rain threatens to flood the town, Aberdeen’s residents are faced with only one choice– pack up and leave the town they’ve called home or lose it all. But as everyone around her is leaving, Keeley’s family is fighting for their town, and Keeley is determined to make the most of what little time they all have left together. With the help of her longtime crush, she’s going to make sure that none of them will ever forget the last days of Aberdeen.
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If I Was Your Girl

If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

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Amanda Hardy is the new girl in Lambertville, Tennessee. Like any other girl, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. There’s a reason why she transferred schools for her senior year, and why she’s determined not to get too close to anyone.

And then she meets Grant Everett. Grant is unlike anyone she’s ever met– open, honest, and kind– and Amanda can’t help but start to let him into her life. As they spend more time together, she finds herself yearning to share everything about herself… including her past. But she’s terrified that once she tells Grant the truth, he won’t be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda’s been keeping? It’s that she used to be Andrew.

— From the book jacket of If I Was Your Girl

Amanda Hardy is starting her senior year at a new school in a new town– a hard task for anyone. After leaving her home, her mother, and her old life behind to move in with her father, Amanda is determined to keep her head down and simply make it through until graduation, when she can move to New York and live her own life.

Despite her efforts to keep to herself, she meets a boy named Grant who quickly wins her heart. Soon she is going on her first date. Having her first kiss. Feeling the flutter of a first love. But through it all, Amanda is keeping a secret. One that could threaten her relationship with Grant. The secret of why she had to move to Lambertville this year. The secret of who she once was. The secret– she’s transgender.

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This is the Story of You

This is the Story of You by Beth Kephart

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On Haven, a six-mile-wide stretch of barrier island, Mira Banul and her Year-Rounder friends have proudly risen to every challenge. But when a superstorm defies all predictions and devastates the island, when it strands Mira’s mother and brother on the mainland and upends all logic, nothing will ever be as it was. A stranger appears in the wreck of Mira’s home. A friend obsessed with vanishing is gone. As the mysteries deepen, Mira must find the strength to carry on– to somehow hold her memories in place while learning to trust a radically reinvented future.

— From the book jacket of This is the Story of You

Six miles long. One-half mile wide. One school in what was once a bank. 14 kids in the class of 2016. One bridge in and out. One letter short of Heaven. One superstorm to change it all forever.

Mira has lived in Haven, a small island off the coast of New Jersey, her whole life. Living in the attic of the seaside cottage she shares with her mother and her brother, Mira enjoys the slow pace of being a Year-Rounder. Hanging out with her friends Eva and Deni, riding their “modes” from one end of the island to the other (Mira’s mode of choice– a pair of roller skates), and watching over her little brother Jasper Lee, Mira’s life on Haven is pretty normal.

When snippets of news float in about a storm out at sea, no one seems overly concerned. Haven is prepared for weather. They pride themselves on it. They’d be ready if it hits.

In the beginning it was just the beginning. The storm had no name. It was far away and nothing big, mere vapors and degrees. It was the middle-ish of September. Empty tables in restaurants, naked spaces in parking lots, cool stairs in the lighthouse shaft.

You could watch the sky, and it was yours. You could stand on the south end of the barrier beach and see Atlantic City blinking on and off like a video game. You could ride your wheels home, and the splat splat on the wide asphalt was your sweet siren song.

Everything calm. Nothing headed toward crumble.

— From the back cover of This is the Story of You

When Mira’s mother, Mickey, takes Jasper Lee to the mainland for his weekly treatments for the rare disease he was born with, Mira is left on her own. That night a mysterious stranger shows up at her door, looking for a way in. But soon the stranger is the least of her worries. The storm has also arrived, and it’s brought all its unimaginable fury with it.

In the light of morning, the devastation is clear. Mira’s home is flooded. Other homes are simply gone. Debris fills the beach and floats out to sea. People are missing, including Mira’s best friend Eva. And the bridge to the mainland–washed away. With no way to even contact the mainland, Mira has no idea how her family has fared. She’s on her own. But she’s not alone. She’s part of Haven, a community that watches out for each other.

In the days that follow the storm, there will be traedgy. There will be loss. There will be heartbreak and horror. But there will also be hope. Haven will rebuild, as it always has.

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Unrivaled

Unrivaled by Alyson Noel

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Layla Harrison wants to leave her beach-bum days for digs behind a reporter’s desk. Aster Amirpour wants to scream at the next casting director who tells her “we need ethnic but not your kind of ethnic.” Tommy Phillips dreams of buying a twelve-string guitar and using it to shred his way back into his famous absentee dad’s life.

But Madison Brooks took destiny and made it her bitch a long time ago.

She’s Hollywood’s hottest starlet, and the things she did to become the name on everyone’s lips are merely a stain on the pavement, ground beneath her Louboutin heel.

That is, until Layla, Aster, and Tommy find themselves with a VIP invite to the glamorous and gritty world of Los Angeles’s nightlife and lured into a high-stakes competition where Madison Brooks is the target. Just as their hopes begin to gleam like stars through the California smog, Madison Brooks goes missing… And all of their hopes are blacked out in the haze of their lies.

— From the book jacket of Unrivaled

Despite her parents’ plans for a perfect Persian life, Aster dreams of making it big in Hollywood. If only she could get her big break…

Layla wants nothing more than to leave her LA life behind for a journalism degree in New York. But her artist father hasn’t sold a piece in awhile, and with the money running out, she’ll never be able to afford it.

Tommy has packed up his life and moved halfway across the country, not just to break into the music business, but to connect with the father he’s never met. So far he’s only managed to land a job at a guitar shop, score one gig at a coffee shop playing John Mayer covers, and he’s had zero luck on the dad front.

But Madison? She’s already done it all. She’s taken over Hollywood as the hottest star around. She’s at the top of the A-list and has everything she could possibly ever dream of. As long as the past she’s worked so hard to bury stays that way.

When the owner of the biggest nightclub franchise in Hollywood holds a contest to become club promoters, Aster, Layla and Tommy all jump at the chance. Not only is there a huge cash prize for the winner, but being a promoter is an opportunity too huge to pass up. Rubbing elbows with Hollywood elite could mean a big break for Aster. Layla has been tossing around the idea of jump starting her journalism career with a celebrity news blog, and what better way to get all the juiciest dirt than to witness it firsthand. And Tommy figures this is the best way to connect with his long lost father–who just happens to be the club owner.

To be crowned the winner, they’ll have to increase their club’s attendance, and make sure they’re bringing in the people who matter. People like Madison Brooks. As the competition heats up, so do their plans for coming out on top. How far will they go to try to win? When Madison mysteriously disappears after a night at one of the clubs, Aster, Layla, and Tommy are all suspects. But in Hollywood, nothing is ever quite what it seems.

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Dreamers Often Lie

Dreamers Often Lie by Jacqueline West

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Jaye wakes up from a skiing accident with a fractured skull, a blinding headache, and her grip on reality sliding into delusion. Determined to get back to her starring role in the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Jaye lies to her sister, her mom, and her doctors. She’s fine, she says. She’s fine. If anyone knew the truth– that hallucinations of Shakespeare and his characters followed her from her hospital bed to the high school halls– it would all be over. She’s almost managing to pull off the act when Romeo shows up in her anatomy class. And it turns out that he’s 100 percent real. Suddenly Jaye has to choose between lying to everyone else and lying to herself.

— From the book jacket of Dreamers Often Lie

While her family loves to spend time outdoors, Jaye would rather be on stage performing– her true passion– despite her family’s disapproval. She is not comfortable with outdoor activities, and she’s downright terrified of skiing. And that’s even before she wakes up in the hospital with a brain injury after an accident– a injury that has left her with hallucinations… of Shakespeare.

But she won’t let a little thing like hearing and seeing the Bard and his characters all around her stop her from performing. She’s back at school a week later, hallucinations in tow. She tries her best to ignore them until she realizes that the Romeo she’s been dreaming about isn’t just a figment of her imagination. He’s actually real and his name is Rob. To make things even more complicated, an old friend comes back into her life, and now she’s torn between blossoming feelings for the new guy and lingering feelings for someone she’s known her whole life. When dreams of a bloody battle between the boys starts to cross over into real life, can Jaye keep her life from playing out like a Shakespearean tragedy?

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Seven Ways We Lie

Seven Ways We Lie by Riley Redgate

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Seven students. Seven (deadly) sins. One secret.

Paloma High School is ordinary by anyone’s standards. It’s got the same cliques, the same prejudices, the same suspect cafeteria food. And like at every high school, each student has something to hide– from Kat, the thespian who conceals her trust issues on stage, to Valentine, the neurotic genius who’s planted the seed of a school scandal.

When that scandal bubbles over, and rumors of a teacher-student affair surface, everyone starts hunting for someone to blame. For the seven unlikely allies at the heart of it all, their ordinary-seeming lives result in extraordinary change.

— From the book jacket of Seven Ways We Lie

Seven high school students, each with their own secrets and sins they hide from the world.

Olivia, the girl that sleeps around, whose mother left her family and never looked back.
Kat, Olivia’s twin sister, who shuts herself away with theater and video games, angry because of it.
Claire, the president of every club in school, who overcompensates for her insecurities.
Lucas, Claire’s ex and star athlete, who has to hide his sexuality in their incredibly conservative town.
Matt, the stoner, who uses weed to escape the turmoil at home.
Valentine, the genius everyone calls a freak, who avoids the social interaction he doesn’t understand.
and Juniper, the girl with everything, who is spiraling out of control because of the biggest secret of all.

Told through all seven points of view, Seven Ways We Lie is a story of how each of us carry secrets that can threaten to destroy us until we let someone else in to help us carry the burden.

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