July 2, 2015

Mini Reviews | My thoughts on nonfiction, misfits, and summer

As a result of my first readathon, I have a pile of books to review. So, I am going to make this easier for myself and for you, my wonderful readers, and I am going to compile all of the reviews in a mini* post.

At the same time, I will be discussing my thoughts on nonfiction, misfits, and summer, which are the main topics of the books that I picked.

*By the time I was finished writing these reviews, I realized that they were not as "mini" as I hoped.

The Opposite of Loneliness by Marina Keegan

Initially, I picked this books up because of the inspiring story behind the making of the novel. Marina Keegan, a top student at Yale and an aspiring writer, died a week after her graduation. Her family and a team of her professors joined together to compile the best of her work into a book. So inspiring, right? So I thought that the book would be just as inspiring, but I was disappointed.

The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and StoriesThe book is split into two sections, fiction (short stories) and non-fiction (articles and essays published in the Yale newspaper, The New Yorker, and even the New York Times.

I was not thrilled with fiction. All of the short stories (nine in total) all kind of blended together. The protagonists all radiated the same depressed and discouraged tone. Most of the stories ended on a melancholy, if not down right depressing, note. Normally, I do not have a problem with sad stories, but nine in a row is more than enough for me.

On the other hand, I loved the nonfiction. As a hopeful journalist myself, I admired both the journalistic elements and the stories told in each of the articles. There was a lot more diversity and variety in the nonfiction pieces than with the short stories.

I particularly liked: Why We Care about Whales (which is about a lot more than mammals that dwell in saltwater), I Kill for Money (but do not worry, nobody actually dies, it is a creative piece about a local eccentric exterminator), and Song for the Special (which was obviously written about me).

All of the pieces included incredible detail that described everything I could ever want from the story without bogging down the article.

If you are interested in reading some unique, detailed, and insightful journalistic pieces, check out this book, but skip the fiction stories.

The Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

I would definitely consider myself a misfit, most nerds do, but the main focus of this book was not on misfits. The main character, who is supposedly the "misfit," is described as the "third most popular girl in school." I do not know about you, but that does not exactly seem like a misfit to me. Also, two boys are vying for her attention AT THE SAME TIME, which has not happened to any misfit that I know. 
Anatomy of a Misfit
Other than the title of the book lying to me, the rest of the book is not that great either. The writing is funny and unique, but random most of the time and somewhat hard to follow. Anecdotes were thrown in at random points and disrupted the flow of the story, instead of enhancing it.

The one thing that I loved the most about the book was the breaks in between chapters that had poetry that foreshadowed the last events of the book. These poems were scattered throughout the novel, but I never would I used what they were hinting at. These little blocks of suspense were undoubtedly the most exciting part of the book. 

I also liked the detail that was included in the book. Almost everything was described with brilliant clarity and it managed to be interesting in the voice of a sophomore "misfit."

Occasionally a promising character would pop up in the plot, but they would quickly disappear in the wake of more (unnecessary) teenage drama (and not even the good kind).

In the end, this is basically a remake of Mean Girls, but with sophomores who do not know the definition of a misfit. 

The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han

I did not think that I was going to like this book when I started it. I thought it was going to be another sappy, fluffy summer read. In a way, it was, but not in the traditional aspect that everyone expects. To me, summer reads leave you feeling relatively happy with those familiar warm fuzzies cuddling in your stomach. I felt like I was punched in the stomach after I finished this book and all of the warm fuzzies were causalities. Which may not sound like a good thing, but it is one of the best compliments I can give a book. 

The Summer I Turned Pretty (Summer, #1)I love books that make me feel something. Regardless of whether they strum on my heartstrings or snap all of them in a single swipe, I love emotions when I am reading. And The Summer I Turned Pretty brought on all kinds of emotions. 

I was sucker-punched with nostalgia for my childhood summers. My memories of summer resurfaced as I read Belly's  I longed for the days when I spent every waking moment outside, without a care of work, responsibilities, or even sunburn.

I was also struck with the bittersweet realization that my summers are numbered. There are only so many sun-soaked, care-free summers left until my life evolves into the real world. The days spent by the pool with turn into days spent in an office or wherever I choose to live the rest of my working life (which I am still trying to figure out). 

This book succeeded in burying me in a mountain of feels, but there were some flaws. The plot was rather simple and somewhat predictable. There is some pretty complicated love geometry, a lot more than a triangle. Most of the time it was executed well, but I knew from the first ten pages who Belly was going to pick, so the other romantic complications seemed unnecessary.

Because of the rampant emotions that this book caused in my heart, I am definitely recommending it. If you want to relive your summer days or learn how to appreciate the ones you have left, pick up this book. 

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