March 2: WWW Wednesday

IMG_1384-0It’s hump day! And that means it’s only the middle of the week *sigh* Today’s blog meme is WWW Wednesday which is hosted by Sam on Taking on a World of Words and it’ll serve as an update and what I just read, am reading, and will read.

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


 

Currently Reading:

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I recently finished:

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This was an amazing series from start to finish!!!
Note: Can someone tell me why the author name changed from S.U. Pacat to C.S. Pacat? Is it because S.U. is a pen name for the online serial which changed to C.S. for paper publishing?

What to Read Next:

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This is a good start to March and I’m excited to read more this month! The school workload this semester hasn’t been too heavy but the 24 hours of class time and 10 hours of work per week is grueling and taxing on my mental focus. I almost regret overloading on credits but I’m thankful that I can attend my classes in relatively good health. (I just got over a cold so knock on wood!)

I’ll be posting my review of The Captive Prince trilogy in the next few days. The reviews I read on here and Goodreads were spot-on; this is a gem that deserves all the recognition and rise from an online serial to Penguin publishing.

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ARC Review: Inside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

Inside the O'BriensInside the O’Briens by Lisa Genova

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Lisa Genova is an excellent writer and if I did not read Still Alice, I would not have known how much style she was able to incorporate into each word. Whereas Still Alice was clean-cut, highly intelligent and talks about a smart upper middle-class family, the O’Briens are old-gen Irish working/middle class. They’re not educated and it just cuts deeper when they are hit heavily by Huntington’s Disease. They’re not as aware of the consequences since they learn about it so late so relations do not go smoothly and many are unable to cope with the fear.

The O’Briens hit rough patches occasionally but this new one that hits Joe, the father, is a make-it-or-break-it kind. It’s something that’s irreparable and I loved watching the intricate emotions that bind each of the family members to each other. Joe has two daughters, Katie and Megan and two sons, JJ and Patrick. They all have a 50/50 chance of getting Huntington’s. It’s truly sad to see how knowing or not knowing if they have it can wreck havoc on their minds and affect their careers. In case you didn’t know, Huntington’s messes with coordination, causes involuntary movements, and slowly causes the victim to lose control of the body over the course of a decade or more. This means the person will be eventually be rendered speechless and helpless to do anything.

It took me a while to realize that Katie was the second protagonist and her life was center focus aside from Joe’s. She needed to make decisions that for her, seemed insurmountably hard to choose between. Once the narrators switched, I felt aggravated by Katie and her indecisiveness which is a major trait that has defined her whole life. I understood the reasons and why Katie is the way she is but it’s just difficult for a reader to sympathize with someone so unlikable. However, the writing was top-notch and the story compelling. The message is clear: this disease causes stages of grief and can break a family down unless they stay resilient and support each other. There were so many great things about the book and it ultimately succeeded in making me care without manipulating my feelings.

Joe is very unique and the style of writing greatly conveys what kind of man he is. He’s caring and deeply loves his wife and children so it’s all the more devastating when he lashes out irrationally (because of the disease) at everyone. It’s a stark portrayal of ‘Life After’ which is can never be the same again. However, I loved that some changes became positive because this family decided to bond and become stronger than they’ve ever been. They took control of their lives and decided to take healthy risks to do what they’ve always wanted to do. Katie stops being an indecisive dumbass and does something good for once. Patrick is still a mess but at least he’s communicating with his family. JJ is finally going to start his family. And Megan is just a strong character that becomes stronger and lives by the motto YOLO.

Of course, I did not miss how detailed and well-informed the author was when she started describing the Boston Red Sox games and also went through Joe’s police officer day regime and routine. She manages to integrate these details and make them essential in the storytelling and normalize it as a part of the O’Brien’s everyday life. I loved that the conflict was different for each character despite the fact that they were linked together. The disease was not overblown and used to manipulate our emotions. Things still happen outside of that spectrum and in short, life goes on whether or not you want it to.

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of Inside the O’Briens in exchange for an honest review.

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ARC Review: Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead

Goodbye StrangerGoodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead
This book will be published in August 4, 2015.
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

I’m sure we’ve all dealt with book hangovers at one point in our life. You know that feeling when you miss a particular style of writing or an author’s quirks? It’s not even about hating that a book ended or having an empty feeling in our guts. I guess this is why I had highly anticipated reading Rebecca Stead’s newest book. When I read her Newbery Medal book, I felt emotionally drained from the ending and how bittersweet it was. Fear not, Stead fan!! Goodbye Stranger is a welcome home party with a new set of quirky characters and challenges!
I didn’t think much of middle school because it’s such a bad stage and kids are going through puberty so hormones are flying like crazy and people are plain mean to each other for no reason. Rebecca Stead understands that perfectly. The whole ‘awkward silence’ and painful moments of social humiliation and ‘uncool moves.’

The voice of our protagonist Bridge resonated with me because we all have that one friend (Em) who grew up too fast and is now part of the cool crowd. In its barest bones, this is about everyday life and navigating the social perils of seventh grade. That’s the year that means you’re not the top of the pile but neither are you the fresh-faced newbies. Stead gets it. Seventh grade is just plain grueling and making friends outside of your grade is even more difficult especially (for Em) if your crush runs in an 8th grade friend circle. Lucky for her, she’s in JV soccer and she’s good at it so up she goes to joined multiple friend groups. There’s a lot of hidden moments that boast of independence. Little actions that speak louder than words. The friendship between the trio is like super-glue strong and I loved how the author didn’t have to say it but instead showed it in each and every interactions. I believe that different people can become great friends and although it usually starts with similarities, it’s not what holds a bond together. I can attest through my 19 years of socializing and I can see that although I align myself with people like me, I enjoy making friends who are the complete opposite from me.

Some of the best epiphanies that Stead writes about is the time Bridge spends with Sherm. She says it should be awkward and I agree because they barely know each other and to more stress on it, conversation is two-way. It’s always safer to carry on a conversation with 3 or more people because that means there’s an extra person to continuously stimulate and extend a conversation. Bridge, luckily, instantly connects with Sherm and their conversations are easy and flow naturally. This, THIS is what I’ve been trying to find and it’s a rare occurrence that I can talk so comfortably with another person without feeling the need to come up with ‘topic-starters’. I’m not an awkward person but it just so happens that I get off on a rough start with strangers because I feel pressure to grill them about their life histories. I loved that Bridge and Sherm share a laidback relationship. Those are usually hard-won and come only after long periods of association.

Although Bridge is the main character, the drama mostly revolves around Emily and her encounters with peer pressure and double standards. The blurb says double standards and damn right, there is! Tab, the other best friend in the trio, is highly involved in feminism and learns a lot about the portrayals and reactions towards girls and boys. Girls can easily be labeled as a slut, whore, skank, but boys just downright get off the hook. I liked that there was lots of girl power and emphasis on the fact that clothing does not define a girl. I remember one passage in which Em complained why it was only okay if a girl took pictures in her bikini at a beach. Anywhere else entails baggage and judgment from others.

Schools need more books like this rather than The Scarlet Letter because people can actually relate to it and understand how messed up society is. It easily pertains to today’s curriculum and comparisons can be made to incidents of double standards. What a girl can wear to school is severely limited compared to a boy. It’s been unfair on so many levels and tell me why is it that a girl can’t wear shorts/skirts above the knees while guys strut around with their pants sagging and half their butts hanging out?

Rebecca also does this awesome thing called second-person narrative that she did in When You Reach Me and it was so intriguing because I can never resist a little mystery. The identity of the character is unknown because that person is referred to as ‘You’ and it steadily runs on the single day of Valentine’s Day. (Aside from that, the rest of the book progress chronologically.) I spent minutes on end speculating on the tantalizing clues that the author dropped. It didn’t take long for it to click but I still nonetheless relished the chapter of the character reveal to prove that I was correct. I gradually realized that the point of the unknown narrative was simply to show a different social situation apart from what Em, Tab, and Bridge dealt with. Although the Valentine’s Day narrator had a different life completely separate from the middle school, those two somewhat intersected in small unexpected ways. I enjoyed the dichotomy of the narrator’s life from Bridge’s and it made a juxtaposition of two person from diverse walks of life.

I’m not sure if I mentioned it in my When You Reach Me review but race plays a irrelevant factor throughout the book. Since the urban setting of Manhattan means diversity is all around, there’s a lot of holidays that need to be explained. Stead makes the point of bringing up Bridge’s nationality as Armenian and casually inserts a food from the country. I didn’t really pick up on the deliberateness of the situation because it was so tastefully done and the same went for Tab who was Indian. She joined the Hindi Club at school and her mother fasted for a moon holiday. It was actually very interesting and I liked how there was race but it was a thing that just is. Ethnicity is so hard for authors to deal with sometimes because they can either dispose of the whole ‘cultural background’ thing and just label a person and leave it at that. What a lot of people tend to forget is that culture partially defines a person and I, as a Chinese, have received quite a hefty amount of influence from Chinese culture. I admire the author’s tenacity in inclusion of cultural tidbits because sure, Goodbye Stranger, is a coming-of-age novel focused on friendship and love, but it can still incorporate other elements.

This all strengthens the book and I know I didn’t really talk about the plot and I really can’t because it’s something readers have to experience themselves. It’s complicated to explain the plot because it’s comprised of so many different plotlines and there’s so many stories involved that I don’t want to really spoil.

Thank you Wendy Lamb/Random House for providing me with an advanced reader’s copy through Netgalley.

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Lit Circle Journal: Wonder by R. J. Palacio

WonderWonder by R.J. Palacio

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Believe it or not, the simplest stories sometimes turn out to be the most well-known. Not because they’re easy to tell but because everyone can understand it fully. (wow, that rhymed.)

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Instead of the typical review, I’m doing a literature circle journal entry. This is for my Children’s Lit class so I’m treating this as an assignment but also as a blog entry to make it sort of fun. 

WARNING: Possible Spoilers Ahead

Discussion Points

  1. Why do you think Jack lied to Julian and made fun of August on Halloween?
  2. Why did Miranda’s relationship with Olivia fall apart?
  3. What events in Summer’s life impacted her personality and decision to befriend August?
  4. Explain Charlotte’s precept and its irony throughout the story: “It’s not enough to be friendly. You have to be a friend.”
  5. Can you relate to Summer’s choice in rejecting the ‘popular crowd’ and staying true to your friends?
  6. Auggie did not want to be known as a Star Wars fanatic. Olivia didn’t wants others to know her as the sister to a ‘deformed brother.’ Explain the pivotal role it plays in social interactions and talk of a time when others defined you by something.
  7. Julian secretly taunted Auggie with a Stars Wars reference that only they two understood. How is an indirect insult worse than a public one?
  8. Why did everyone play the Plague?
  9. The introduction of Olivia’s point of view shed light on the family dynamics. How did knowing about her struggles contribute to the overall plot?
  10. Why do you think Julian went out of his way to create malicious rumors about August?
  11. How did socioeconomic status play a role in Jack Will’s social relationships and friendships?
  12. Mr. Browne’s precepts offered a glimpse of people’s personalities. Why do you think the author brought it up multiple times throughout the story?
  13. August won the Henry Ward Beecher medal: “He is the greatest whose strength carries up the most hearts”. Through what actions did you display this quiet strength?
  14. Do you think certain teachers and administrators makes a huge influence on your middle school development?

Passages of Interest

Passage One:

On page 29- “The thing is, when I was little, I never minded meeting new kids because all the kids I met were really little, too. What’s cool about really little kids is that they don’t say stuff to try to hurt your feelings, even though sometimes they do say stuff that hurts your feelings. But they don’t actually know what they’re saying. Big kids, though: they know what they’re saying. And that is definitely not fun for me. One of the reasons I grew my hair long last year was that I like how my bangs cover my eyes: it helps me block out the things I don’t want to see.”

This is a startling/surprising passage because it informs the reader that August is not averse to socializations and that he grew up fine meeting new people. The fact that he has been home-schooled up until then is in part all due to his parents’ overprotectiveness. He’s afraid of the deliberate cruelty and isolation wrought by older kids and it has affected the way he dressed himself. He is so used to hiding like he does with his hair that going to school will be a struggle because it’s too much exposure to vulnerability. So far, his personality has remained intact but going to school might change him profoundly depending on the peer reception to his presence.

Passage Two:

Page 75- I noticed not too long ago that even though people were getting used to me, no one would actually touch me. I didn’t realize this at first because it’s not like kids go around touching each other that much in middle school anyway. But last Thursday in dance class, which is, like, my least favorite class, Mrs. Atanabi, the teacher, tried to make Ximena Chin be my dance partner. Now, I’ve never actually seen someone have a “panic attack” before, but I have heard about it, and I’m pretty sure Ximena had a panic attack at that second. She got really nervous and turned pale and literally broke into a sweat within a minute, and then she came up with some lame excuse about really having to go to the bathroom. Anyway, Mrs. Atanabi let her off the hook, because she ended up not making anyone dance together.

I believe this to be a crucial part in August’s emotional development. Instead of lashing out in rage and embarrassment, he takes the humiliation in stride and simply recounts the incident matter-of-factly. In the beginning of the year, he has reacted negatively to social rejection and easily went home crying. Although he is helpless in this kind of situation, he has grown independent and resigned to it that he makes the best of what he has. In August’s scenario, taking it to the authorities is the worst case and this forces him to confront the issue. In lieu of completely internalizing the problem, he tells his friends about it but doesn’t let it consume his thoughts.

Passage Three:

Page 271- ““What!” I yelled, touching my ears. The hearing aid band was definitely gone. That’s why I felt like I was underwater! “Oh no!” I said, and that’s when I couldn’t hold it in anymore. Everything that had just happened kind of hit me and I couldn’t help it: I started to cry. Like big crying, what Mom would call “the waterworks.” I was so embarrassed I hid my face in my arm, but I couldn’t stop the tears from coming. The guys were really nice to me, though. They patted me on the back. “You’re okay, dude. It’s okay,” they said. “You’re one brave little dude, you know that?” said Amos, putting his arm around my shoulders. And when I kept on crying, he put both his arms around me like my dad would have done and let me cry.”

August has gone through a harrowing experience so it’s reasonable that he is upset but the reactions of his classmates, some who were former enemies, is appropriate . Their caring and kindness breaks down August when their cruelty had not affected him after extended affliction. This turnabout has shifted the dynamics between the feud and it also shows a new side of people who have always seemed malicious. The character development of Henry and Amos is distinct and they’re no long as 2-dimensional.

Locate three passages of the story that your group should reread, discuss, and think about.

  1. Choose a variety of passages, not all the same type– suggestions: • surprising/startling • confusing (something you wonder if other people “got”) • descriptive writing: figurative language, strong verbs, etc. (identify literary descriptive writing: figurative language, strong verbs, etc. (identify literary devices) • important (maybe a clue?  foreshadowing?) • controversial event (elicits different opinions from group members)

Summary

August Pullman has been hidden away long enough by his parent, not out of shame but out of love. Up until 5th grade, he has been homeschooled by his parents. The final straw was the fact that his mother couldn’t teach fractions well enough and it was nigh on time for August to meet new people his age and interact with him. This book chronicles his struggles integrating into Beecher Prep Middle School, an elite private school filled with mostly rich kids. Upon first glance, children avoided Auggie except for a few select anomalies.

Although popularity was an irony to August, who everyone knows and can point out from a crowd, it is a central theme that effects everyone strongly throughout the story. Those (Summer and Jack Will) who hang out and talk to Auggie are isolated from the popular crowd despite their high potential status. August withstands a lot of social rejection and abuse from bullies like Julian. Despite what everybody thinks of his nerdiness and facial features , his personality is extremely charming and he exerts effort to show it.

 August tentatively forms new friendships, handles academic courseloads, and makes connections through new experiences.

August is not without supporters and there are multiple narratives throughout the story that talk about how their lives affect and are affected by his. Aside from revolving all events around August, these different points of views give insights to personalities and characteristics of the people surrounding him. This is essentially a coming-of-age novel that records how a village of people helped a child develop and mature.


Commentary:

It was inevitable for my paths to cross with this book due to its sheer popularity when it was released. The overwhelming hype actually turned me away from it aside from the sensitive topic it dealt with. AND, this was essentially a middle age book and yet, so many adult readers loved it. I felt that I was too old to read children’s books and I disliked middle school in general which counted heavily against Wonder. I particularly didn’t have a sparkling splendid time in junior high but it really wasn’t that bad now that I read this book and looked back on it.

I just want to say that pretty much everything the kids do in this book has stayed the same throughout the ages. When I went to middle school, they were just as deliberately snobby and mockingly cruel. Their jokes and taunts are overused and your identity becomes formed around one thing. In short, middle school kids are simply terrible little demons. However, that’s not to say that there are redeeming qualities in some of them and their small acts of kindness can mean infinitely to one person. They’re just as capable of being courageous as they are spiteful. I count myself lucky to not have experienced ridicule and social rejection on the same levels that August did. His personality really shined through and I’m glad because that should be the one quality that’s prized above physical appearance.

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier: Review

Ruby Red (Precious Stone Trilogy, #1)Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Cute and fluffy. It’s like Hex Hall except the insta-love is lukewarm. 

Gwyneth, our air-headed protagonist, realizes that she, not her cousin Charlotte, was the one who inherited the time travel gene. She finally tells her mom about it but by the time she does, she’s already traveled back to the past three times. I’m telling you though, Gwyn is not frustrating but I pity how helpless she is. The whole series of events leading up to her confession takes up nearly 175 pages. Don’t get me wrong, I had a lot of interest in the plot and the writer/translator (Anthea Bell who also translated Cornelia Funke’s Dragon Rider and Inkheart trilogy) was highly proficient but the meandering was not necessary.

If the plot was not as captivating as it was, I would not have tolerated Gwyn’s babbles. I read this book in one sitting because I really wanted to know what would happen next and although I saw where things were going, I wanted to know how it would end. The storyline and concept is what led to my 4 stars. I only wished the author did not spend so much time lingering on Gwyneth’s whole detailed day because it would’ve have fine in a 400-page book but Ruby Red was only 311 pages long. A measly 311 and 175 of it waxed on about Gwyn’s turmoil!

I was also not impressed by the love interest Gideon de Villiers because he was simply an arrogant poop. He’s not the kind that so many girls dream about dating because he’ll very blunt in terms of insults and orders. Sorry, I’d be fine if his jibes were funny and made to build upon a friendship but he literally insults Gwyn by saying ‘she’s not his type’ and indirectly calls her dumb. I don’t know, I guess that would have been okay except Kerstin Gier does not know how to write chemistry or romance because whenever they’re together, it’s dry. Their conversations are not riposte and even worse, it’s insta-love. They’ve known each other for only two days TWO DAYS and Gideon (spoiler alert: kisses her). It was nothing exciting but I really like the time travel because it was done very well and there’s a clear objective. I understand why this book became so famous internationally since Gwyn reminds me very much of a feisty, incompetent girl like Sophie Mercer (from Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins). Those are always a favorite for readers because that means her comments will have a sassiness that coaxes giggles. This book obviously targets teen girls who love romance, a light-hearted fluffy story, and a protagonist that they can relate to. Gwyn is always shoved into the background or compared as inferior to her cousin Charlotte who is supposedly the one with the time travel gene. We all have felt that way at least once in our lifetime before. Families compares their children to others and always finds one lacking and singles out the ‘golden child’ to treat differently.

I know where the hype comes from: the uniforms that Gwyn wears is a foreign setting and the fact that it takes place in England certainly piqued everyone’s interests. The casual references to street names in England and the historical twist of dresses, etiquette, and fashion back in 1912 and the late 18th century was fun. Also back in 2009, this is a welcome change in lieu of vampires, angels. werewolves, and other banal premises then.

Still, I encourage people to read this because the story certainly requires no overthinking or analyzing. It’s just semi-frivolous enough to pass the time with.

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A View on the New Adult Genre

First off, I just want to say that these were the first two books I read that are shelved under the New Adult genre: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire and Easy by Tammara Weber. Secondly, I won a copy of Breaking Nova by Jessica Sorensen but I haven’t read it yet despite the massive amount of rave reviews on it. If you know anything about NA or even dabble in it, these three authors’ names should ring a bell because they’re the dominating queens of NA and all those books are wildly popular among the community. However, I’ve gotten the gist of what NA has to offer all wrapped up in the package of a protagonist in college dealing with angsty dark secrets, sexual encounters, super gorgeous love interests, and…oh did I mention lots of angst and dark secrets that involve trigger topics? I read these books back in 2012 when the New Adult genre was just catching on to become today’s most marketable, widespread trend but the basic formula has stayed unchanged.

I don’t read avidly in regards to books belonging to the vibrant, emerging New Adult genre that recently burst onto the popular scene but I can still say much relatively to its underlying problems. NEW ADULT. It’s toted as the edgier and sexier 2.0 version of the young adult genre. New Adult usually goes hand in hand with the contemporary genre which means that while ‘young adult’ would place its characters in high school, NA puts its characters in the gritty, sensual setting of the college life. There are some NA books I’ve read that try to defy the stereotypical college setting by placing its characters in the drug-ridden streets but they’re not as popular and hardly can be categorized as only NA. Obsession by Jennifer Armentrout and Dirty Angels by Karina Halle both tried to break out of that genre and but they were also shelved under Adult so that took a bit out of their credibility. Part of the reason some books are so eager to exist under multiple shelves (like NA and Adult) is probably due to marketing towards a wider audience to prevent limiting its influence/sales.

Here’s a compiled list of things distinctly wrong with the NA genre that I can think off the top of my head:

  •  Lack of diversity– How is it possible in a world, especially college, to have a complete homogeneous mixture of the same race? Listen up, there is a thing called diversity in college where the school actually makes an effort to accept students of all types of ethnicities. I already have a problem with the majority of young adult books written about white, usually blonde, blue-eyed models posing on the front covers. The main characters are white and even if they aren’t, they are riddled with stereotypes or have characteristics that are inaccurately portrayed. This white privilege is especially prominent because a lot of readers assume ALL of the characters to be white unless otherwise stated. Here’s a way to test this: Think of any YA/NA books in which a non-white plays a significant role. Got anything?

(P.S. In Julie Kagawa‘s The Immortal Rules, Allie Sekemoto is explicitly stated as Asian [Japanese, going by her last name] and yet the book cover features a white girl.) 

  • Inaccuracy of College Life– Um, the attention spent on the fun aspects are unrealistically focused on parties which are portrayed to make up 90% of what everyone’s time is devoted to. Party life is not something people go to every night because first, academic work is more rigorous and more than in high school and second, sleep deprivation happens when there’s that 8AM class to go to. Sure, students are more than welcome to skip class since attendance is mandatory. But what kind of shitty college do you go to that you do not even go to classes that you/your parents paid for? People don’t have disputes in dining halls and neither do they in class because it’s embarrassing and disruptive to other students and faculty. Maybe in high school, fights happen but you don’t want to risk expulsion or getting documented in college which might affect your future in getting hired or an internship. Yes, all NA books are romance-driven so it’s the main focus but college must not function as a background but be incorporated into how it shapes the characters’ identities. This requires a skill called “World-Building” and it should exist in the plot instead of letting readers go on their own assumptions because each college has differences markedly distinguishable from one another. The sheer propensity of multiple prof-student love affairs, scandalous class flirting interplay, and the ambiguous dynamics of professors’ teachings and grading simply are ridiculous in a real life setting. There are no excuses for late work unless the person has a disability or has a medical excuse (as in, a broken leg not a puny flu). If this happens all the time at college, then it must be a mediocre college to hire these incompetent professors.
  • Trigger Topic #1: Sexuality & Gender Stereotype– These two go hand in hand whenever books mention a character’s number of partners and frequency of sexytime. Women are casually labeled whores and sluts but men can get away with laying different girls each night without any stigma attached to them. Sure, girls may be warned against them. Or, these guys become ‘legends’ and gain a reputation of being alluring and desirable. There’s a circulating popular icon of girls acting seductive while staying pure and virginal. Oh sure, it’s okay for guys to flirt back at other girls because they can’t help it that they have so many admirers.

They can have many girls as simple friends but girls who have a lot of guy friends are frowned upon and looked at suspiciously. If a girl has multiple sexual partners, whoaaa, an uproar and reputation just from that one act!! A guy does that and it’s normalized. This is the crux of the problem: the author normalizes it instead of pointing out the hypocrisy or giving the protagonist clarity to think upon the double standards.

Sure, this book may simply be reflecting society’s views and it does not mean that the author supports calling girls whores/sluts/bitches but the presence of those words in the book promotes slut-shaming culture and by not commenting on it, the passivity is presumed to be agreement.

  • Trigger Topic #2: Rape/Family Dysfunction– If this is really NA, believe it or not, rape and family issues will come up eventually in some shape or form. Rape might be the deep dark secret that the girl is hiding (this is so popular that it’s ridiculous). Someone else was assaulted or raped. Someone might have sex but it was forced or consent was not precisely given. The character’s family are dead, struggle with money, lack affection, are abusive, etc. Either way, rarely has it been handled well because the blame, guilt, anger, and peer reactions is very shallow and pitched as an angst that keeps the couple apart. It becomes a tool utilized in the book that makes the characters feel insecure and unable to be loved. In actuality, I prefer conflict that does not ride on the backs of “healing or fixing” the beloved one. Everyone is a little broken but NA lingers too long on the angst when the book can be so easily cut down on a hundred pages. Who wants to read 450 pages worth of whining and rumination?

The issue of money, time, and effort these students must place into maintaining grades and paying tuition hardly seem to ever show up. Why? Finance is important enough in YA to be mentioned in contemporary novels. These New Adult characters are so privileged that money is not the first thing they worry about upon waking up. These are often not a barrier or conflict in NA books. There are no economic problems, only love problems. And that in itself is a problem.

It’s safe to say I’m avoiding Breaking Nova for now because I’m not the ideal reader for it. We’ll see what changes time will make so that I may one day be able to stomach it.

Disclaimer: This is only my opinion, I know there are books out there that challenge these notions, and I’d be more than happy to take suggestions. I, in no way, am targeting specific books and I’m open to discussion. I wish you luck on your endeavors into any genre!