Full disclosure time: in 2016, this book was shortlisted for the Text Prize for Unpublished Children’s and Young Adult Writing along with a book I’d written and three by other writers. Clearly, my book and those three others didn’t win and this one did. I was always going to read Beautiful Mess because 1) it won a writing prize and that’s a pretty great endorsement, 2) I wanted to know what Claire Christian had done better than me and use it as a learning process, and 3) I’m a little masochistic (but mostly the first two). I’m very pleased to report that it’s an amazing book because 1) it justifies that it won the Text Prize and 2) I get to write a glowing book review and avoid looking like a sore loser.Continue reading
There are a lot of things that I just don’t understand why other people like them: Justin Beiber, Justin Beiber’s music, Justin Bieber’s hair, Game of Thrones. Unfortunately (I genuinely mean that, I am genuinely disappointed that I didn’t like this book more), I am adding Will Grayson, Will Grayson to the list.
The novel is narrated in alternate chapters by Will Grayson #1 and Will Grayson #2 (thus the title), two teenage boys struggling through their formative high school years. Will Grayson #1 is straight, single and attempting not to care about anything as a means of protecting himself from getting hurt. Will Grayson #2 is gay, desperately in love with his internet boyfriend and managing his depression diagnosis with medication and his mother’s help.
Perhaps a little strangely then, this isn’t actually Will Grayson’s story. It’s not even the other Will Grayson’s story. Both Wills are just supporting characters in a tale about the overweight, gay football player and musical enthusiast, Tiny Cooper. Tiny is Will Grayson #1’s best friend and Will Grayson #2’s potential love interest.Continue reading
I bought two books recently that had something in common, which was that they both had quotes of endorsement on their covers from SJ Watson. It made me wonder two things. One, is there any value in them, something that makes readers gravitate towards books with them and choose them over books without them? And two, who the hell is SJ Watson?
Okay, so I know now that SJ Watson is the author of Before I Go to Sleep, which was made into a movie starring Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. I haven’t read the book or seen the film (and didn’t know who he was) so clearly when I was choosing those two books, the presence of his endorsement was not a consideration for me. But then again, I read so many books that maybe I don’t need to whittle them down to a chosen few. For those who have less time to devote to reading than I do, perhaps those testimonials really are useful.Continue reading
I wanted to hate this book. I wanted it to be Twilight-eqsue, capturing the imagination of the young and crossover mainstream reading public in spite of the fact that it was okay rather than great. I wanted to get to the end of the book and feel superior in some way. I wanted to be able to hate this book. But I don’t. I can’t. Because it is a great book.
This is the story of Hazel and Gus and how they fall in love. Sounds cheesy, right? Sounds like it’s been done in young adult novels a hundred times before, right? Hazel has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Gus is in remission but has had a leg amputated. Okay, a little less cheesy but cancer? So Jodi Picoult, right? Still been done before, right? Except even though the concept feels like it’s been done before, it’s never been done this well before.Continue reading