The very astute readers amongst you will notice that this is part 1 of a post. That's because this is going to be a combination of book and music recommendations for you all! Over these last few weeks I have been fortunate enough to read some really brilliant books and I've ended up pretty immersed in fictional realities, so much so that I occasionally have to remind myself that these things aren't actually real. It also means that certain books and music have become tangled up in each other to create some enormous web of feelings and emotions. This post is about one such web! This entry will focus on the books, and then the next one will be about the music I associate with them.
Eleanor and Park - Rainbow Rowell
This book. THIS. FREAKING. BOOK.
I kind of love this book. You know that feeling you get when you start a really good book and it just consumes you. You feel like you've fallen into a vortex into this other reality and are filled with this fire in your stomach and you have to read on and on but at the same time you really don't want to because every page you read is a page closer to it ending and being over forever and that is unacceptable but there's nothing you can do about it because your body requires you to read. Is this is a thing for other people or am I just odd? Regardless, that's how I felt about this book. I just loved everything about it.
Rainbow Rowell has such an enjoyable writing style and I just really loved both Eleanor and Park and the way their relationship develops. Confession time: I'm never entirely sure how to go about interacting with people that I am romantically attracted to. I feel like the rest of the world understands this and I just float about mildly clueless doing my best but never being entirely sure whether or not the other person understands that I like them. I mostly just end up over enthusiastically recommending books and music and TV shows etc to them because I feel like it's a good way of sharing aspects of yourself with a person. I don't know about you, but the person that I am today has been constructed out of all of the media that I've consumed and enjoyed. So I feel like when you recommend a book that you love to someone, it's like you're inviting them to learn and understand a new side to you that is just really difficult to verbalise. I mean, hopefully you're also introducing them to something which they will enjoy, but there's still that element of sharing yourself which I just really like! And I feel like Eleanor and Park's relationship has this element. They share comics and music and make Star Wars references and it all helps them to bond and understand each other better. Their relationship is sweet and complicated and angsty at times and I just kind of love everything about it. Plus the hand holding scene on the bus KILLED ME OH MY GOD (hence the name of this post and playlist). The ending was kind of sad and kind of not and I cried a lot but I couldn't really imagine it ending any other way. If you haven't read this already, then you really should!
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Saenz
You guys, this book destroyed me. I'm not going to go into specifics because I don't want to spoil anything about it, but the last few pages of this absolutely killed me. I mean, I thoroughly enjoyed the whole book and thought it was really great, but I had such an intense emotional reaction to the end that it has really stayed with me. Suffice to say, the main character has some kind of realisation/thought type moment that for some reason that I can't entirely understand just resonated with me. I feel like there's a recurring theme throughout this book of trying to search for your identity and how hard it can be to negotiate the different aspects of yourself in a way that works with yourself and others and I kind of connected with that a bit. I won't lie, I cry over fictional characters a lot. I'm a bit of a pro at it by now. But when this book ended I genuinely sobbed. And not like, oh I got a bit sniffly but still retained by dignity kind of tears. Full on emotional sobbing. IT DESTROYED ME IN THE BEST WAY POSSIBLE. And that's all I'm going to say on it!
Lucy In Love - Leah Smith
Second confession of this blog post: I feel ever so slightly odd writing about this book. It was written by someone that I know in real life so I kind of feel a little bit weird writing about it in case they see it, but it's pretty vital to the emotional web that I have created so I don't want to miss it out. I visited some friends in Sheffield recently, which ended up being about 10 hours travel across a weekend so before setting off I fully charged the kindle and decided to give this a read! And I kind of loved it. Basic premise is thus: Lucy's diary is stolen which means her class mates find out that she's gay, so not only does she have to deal with bullying because of that but she has the stress of her mum (principal of her school) potentially finding out, so generally everything is a bit rubbish. Then she meets Blaine, the new girl at school, and general plot ensues! I'm going to do my best to be as vague and non-spoilery as possible so as not to spoil it (side note - if you want to read this you can download it for free here, and there is also a sequel)
I liked all of the characters in this book but I really wanted to wrap Blaine in a blanket and feed her ice cream and generally take care of her, because that girl has dealt with some crap let me tell you! I also really loved the relationship that developed between Lucy and Blaine. At times they were so adorable that it made me grin like a fool and at other times everything was so angsty that I had to grip my kindle really tight and will myself to read faster so I would know they would be okay again (which if I'm honest I kind of love because I am a sucker for angsty relationship drama in fiction even if it does stress me out and make me cry, I always come back for more because it usually results in beautiful reconciliatory moments that make me gooey and happy). I also really liked exploring Lucy's relationship with her parents, because if there's one thing I can empathise with it is vaguely dysfunctional families trying to find ways to work as a family again. The final thing I will mention is all of the references to things, whether it's music or films or whatever, I just really liked that and it usually made me grin and chuckle a bit (I'm pretty sure the girl sat next to me on the coach thought I was a bit of a wierdo!).
Harley's Angels - Leah Smith
I was raised on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer so even before I started this book, I thought I was going to like it. Which I did! A lot! (Side note - my dad seems mildly convinced that all I need to do at my job interviews is to tell them that by the time I was seven I knew ten different ways to kill a vampire. I'm not entirely sure what type of job he thinks I'm looking for?) This was a really fun read and there was just so much about it that I really enjoyed. The essential jist is that teenage angel Harley is assigned to protect living teenager Danny and they end up having to try and stop a coven of vampires from taking over the world.
The first thing I'll say about this book is it is just so much bloody fun! A lot of it takes place in areas around where I live which I enjoyed and I really liked the assortment of characters. I've already mentioned the Buffy connection but something about it really does make me think of early Buffy; not just the vampire element but also the pop culture references and I think maybe the collective group of characters makes me think of the Scooby Gang a little bit. I found both Harley and Danny very likeable, but my favourite character might have been Hal. I kind of love him. [WARNING: I AM ABOUT TO ENTER SPOILER TERRITORY. Skip to the next paragraph if you haven't read it yet!] I got very emotional at the end of this book for two reasons. I loved watching the relationship between Harley and Danny grow as the book went on. At the end, Harley has a conversation with Hal where she acknowledges that they can't actually be together (what with her being dead and all) and has to decide whether to stay or go and it kind of killed me a little bit. You know how in His Dark Materials Lyra and Will have to be separated forever and they talk about how love is like China and how when they die their atoms will fuse together and then you cry at how hopeless their situation is? It's like that except rather than never seeing him again, Harley could choose to watch Danny as he grows up and falls in love with someone else and has a whole life while she stays as a dead teenager and I CRY AND CRY AND CRY. And then there's Hal. OH HAL. I loved him anyway and then at the end when he makes the decision to die and asks Harley to say the words for him and "it's what's said, not how it's said" and then I cry even more and dissolve into a little puddle of salty salty tears.
Not that it needs repeating, but I really loved all of these books. I have shed many many tears over them, but I kind of love that they were good enough to get me that emotionally invested. The musical references in them shall be expanded upon in my next post, but there were also lots of other similarities between them that have tied them together in my mind. I quite like the web I've ended up with though. Let me know if you have read any of these and what your thoughts were!