Friday, August 5, 2016

Dual Review: The Museum of Heartbreak by Meg Leder + Nora & Kettle by Lauren Nicolle Taylor


Published: June 7th 2016
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Welcome to the Museum of Heartbreak.

Well, actually, to Penelope Marx’s personal museum. The one she creates after coming face to face with the devastating, lonely-making butt-kicking phenomenon known as heartbreak.

Heartbreak comes in all forms: There’s Keats, the charmingly handsome new guy who couldn’t be more perfect for her. There’s possibly the worst person in the world, Cherisse, whose mission in life is to make Penelope miserable. There’s Penelope’s increasingly distant best friend Audrey. And then there’s Penelope’s other best friend, the equal-parts-infuriating-and-yet-somehow-amazing Eph, who has been all kinds of confusing lately.

But sometimes the biggest heartbreak of all is learning to let go of that wondrous time before you ever knew things could be broken. - Goodreads



Short and sweet, this was a charming read, though a few things did bother me about this book.

I thought the romance was sweet, and I adored the love interest, who was one of the sweetest boys I have ever read about. Reading about Penelope and him made the romantic in me soar, and it made me completely mushy at times. I found him to be a sweetheart and some of his kind gestures were truly thoughtful that it broke my heart towards the end.

Penelope herself was an endearing main character and narrator. She adores Anne of Green Gables, one of my childhood favorites, and is a idealistic romantic. I related to her social blunders and desire to stay with her friends forever, along with the fear of changing and growing out of things. And most of all, her earnest belief in the magic of true love and epic love stories like the movies won me over.

The Nevermore magazine group was a charm to read about and I really liked their introduction into this story. Grace and Miles were so warm and I really enjoyed seeing Penelope getting to know them.

While Penelope was a sweet girl and I connected with her wide-eyed demeanor, I admit that it made me sad to see her describe other girls, who may or may not be romantic rivals, in a negative manner. Slut-shaming or girl-shaming is really a trend that needs to disappear from YA, and I was disappointed that it appeared in this book.

Secondly, after reading the synopsis, I could clearly see how the plot of this book would flow, but I wish that the supporting characters had been a little more fleshed out and dimensional. For instance, Cherisse and Audrey were very stale in comparison to the other characters in my opinion, and I could not muster much emotion besides maybe annoyance at times.

"I thought that maybe that was the point—that instead of happy endings, you get beginnings. Hundreds of little beginnings happening every moment, each of them layering into histories deep and tangled and new, histories you count on to remain, no matter what changes the world throws at you." - (~ARC p260)

Thank you to Netgalley and Simon Pulse for the review copy.

My Rating:★★★(3.5 stars)


Published: March 15th 2016
Publisher: Clean Teen Publishing
Purchase: Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Book Depository
Seventeen-year-old Kettle has had his share of adversity. As an orphaned Japanese American struggling to make a life in the aftermath of an event in history not often referred to the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II and the removal of children from orphanages for having "one drop of Japanese blood in them" things are finally looking up. He has his hideout in an abandoned subway tunnel, a job, and his gang of Lost Boys.

Desperate to run away, the world outside her oppressive brownstone calls to naive, eighteen-year-old Nora the privileged daughter of a controlling and violent civil rights lawyer who is building a compensation case for the interned Japanese Americans. But she is trapped, enduring abuse to protect her younger sister Frankie and wishing on the stars every night for things to change.

For months, they've lived side by side, their paths crossing yet never meeting. But when Nora is nearly killed and her sister taken away, their worlds collide as Kettle, grief stricken at the loss of a friend, angrily pulls Nora from her window.

In her honeyed eyes, Kettle sees sadness and suffering. In his, Nora sees the chance to take to the window and fly away. - Goodreads

One of the more haunting retellings that I have ever encountered, this book gave a whole new outtake on the beloved tale of Peter Pan, grounded it in reality and harsh truths. It's not magical like the original is, but there is a certain lyrical quality to this writing that I inhaled as I read.

I wouldn't say it is a pleasant tale to read, but it's a myriad of light and dark, from the desperation that clouds Kettle's days and the fear that shrouds Nora to the moments of joy and happiness they feel around those they care about. The abuse and hurt that Nora feels is painful to read about, and her hopeless life is bleak with little light besides her younger sister. She may seem more privileged than most but that privilege is marred by the ugly bruises she has. On the other hand there is Kettle, the orphan with little besides his fellow Lost Boys and his brother Kin, desperately scrounging a life together, haunted by the past and heritage he shoulders. Both characters are fearful, afraid of missteps yet burdened by a load that they are far too young and innocent to be shouldering.

While the book didn't go into much detail about the internment camps themselves, I commend the way the author treated the aftermath, the pain and uncertainty that Japanese Americans felt after being treated as the enemy in their own country.

I was a left bereft by the ending however, and I do wish we'd received a bit more in terms of closure, but I appreciate the hope it gave to the characters.

There is a wonderful flow to Taylor's writing and I am keen to read more books by her, after seeing how she has handled the theme of Japanese Americans and my favorite tale of Peter Pan.

Thank you to Netgalley and Xpresso Book Tours for the review copy.

My Rating:★★★★

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