Review: Gayle Forman’s and Myra McEntire’s stories from My True Love Gave to Me

My True Love Gave to MeOoops. I forgot to post a My True Love Gave to Me review yesterday! Okay, mostly I just did nothing yesterday and I didn’t even open my laptop. So, as a result, I’ll be posting a review of two stories today from My True Love Gave to Me. So far I’ve reviewed Rainbow Rowell’s “Midnights”“The Lady and the Fox” by Kelly Link, and Matt de la Peña’s “Angels in the Snow”Jenny Han’s “Polaris is Where You’ll Find Me”, Stephanie Perkins’ “It’s a Yuletide Miracle, Charlie Brown”, David Levithan’s “Your Temporary Santa”, and Holly Black’s “Krampuslauf”.

Today I’m reviewing Gayle Forman’s “What the Hell Have You Done, Sophie Roth?” and Myra McEntire’s “Beer Buckets and Baby Jesus”.

WHAT THE HELL HAVE YOU DONE, SOPHIE ROTH?

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So I know that a lot of people love Gayle Forman. Like, everyone, it seems. I read If I Stay, and I just wasn’t a fan. At all. I’m sure you can guess that I wasn’t really looking forward to Forman’s story in My True Love Gave to Me. You should have seen the look on my face when I finished this story. It was probably a mix of genuine shock, confusion, and happiness. I actually liked Gayle Forman’s story!

Sophie Roth has a lot of moments in which she questions her actions and words, but she comes to change her mind about one of them: she decides to go to a caroling performance at her university (in a middle-of-nowhere, pastoral town) but she ends up meeting a boy there who she at once has a lot in common with and a lot of differences.

I liked the diversity and the genuinely cute story. I liked Sophie and Russell together. They’re different but similar and they have a lot of great banter. The characters felt realistic and developed. Also, the ending was just beautiful. I quite liked this one.

BEER BUCKETS AND BABY JESUS

IMG_20141222_201134First page of this story and you get these two quotes:

“The whole mess started when I lit the church on fire.”

“Put this on your list of things to know: the combination of tinsel, baby angel wings, and manger hay burns like weed at a Miley Cyrus concert.” – both from page 203

Started off this story laughing. A lot. Vaughn is the class clown; he likes pranks and creating chaos, but sometimes he goes too far, like when he accidentally lit the church barn on fire. This causes a chain of events that lead to him volunteering to help run the church Christmas pageant. Fortunately for Vaughn, the pastor’s daughter is not too bad on the eyes and not what you’d first think, sort of like Vaughn.

So this is probably one of the most cliché plots out there: bad boy turns good and good girl has some edge. But despite that, I thought this one was pretty good. I don’t think it quite lived up to its first page, but I had several more laughs and I wasn’t bored. I liked Vaughn’s character quite a bit and was happy he had a second chance.

Not one of my favorites but still enjoyable and cute.

Book Review: If I Stay by Gayle Forman

If I Stay

Title: If I Stay

Author: Gayle Forman

Genre: Paranormal, young adult, romance

Publisher: Speak

Publication Date:

Paperback: 234

Stand alone or series: First in a series

How did I get this book: Borrowed

 

Let’s start with a brief synopsis (from the back cover):

On a day that started like any other…

Mia had everything: a loving family, a gorgeous, adoring boyfriend, and a bright future full of music and full of choices. Then, in an instant, almost all of that is taken from her. Caught between life and death, between a happy past and an unknowable future, Mia spends one critical day contemplating the only decision she has left—the most important decision she’ll ever make.

Simultaneously tragic and hopeful, this is a romantic, riveting, and ultimately uplifting story about memory, music, living, dying, loving.

What I thought:

Blaaaaaah.

Is that enough? Can I be done?

No? Okay, I’ll try to put into words how I feel.

I did not emotionally connect with this book. At all. There was one scene close to the middle that made me pretty sad, but mostly because I imagined what it would be like if that happened to me. I don’t want to give anything away, but I have a younger brother too, so I could relate. But I didn’t feel anything because the narrative made me feel that way, but rather because I could imagine it for myself.

Everything I read or heard about this book made it seem like I was going to cry and be devastated and that I would remember/be thinking about this book for a long time after I’d done reading it. In fact, the back cover quotes the Sacramento Bee as saying, “Long after its last moment, readers may find themselves dwelling on how the story resonates in their own lives.” Honestly, I doubt I’ll think about this book after I finish this review.

The “romance” in this novel is non-existent, at least to me, until the last 5 pages. The relationship has been having problems since the beginning; Mia actually says that. She says that her relationship with Adam started off rocky and that the last several months of their relationship has been problematic as well because they’ve been moving in different directions in life. Mia says that the middle of the relationship was wonderful; they were in love, blah blah blah. But the reader doesn’t actually see that.

Everything that the reader is supposed to feel in this novel is, I guess, implied, but even Mia doesn’t feel anything. In the state she’s in, she doesn’t feel: not the physical pain of her injuries nor the emotional pain of the tragedy that’s occurred. How in the world are WE supposed to feel anything if she doesn’t?? Seriously. I don’t get it. Also, you can’t tell me I’m supposed to be sad. You have to show me, you have to make me feel it through the narrative. I just didn’t, and, therefore, I didn’t connect.

I will say that If I Stay was an easy read. I read it quite quickly. For some reason I can’t actually explain, I will probably read the sequel. I guess it’s mostly because I’m curious. And because I know it’ll probably be as quick a read as this one was. The writing style was easy and simple, which was nice.

I honestly don’t know if maybe I just read this at the wrong time. Maybe after the other books I read this week, this one just didn’t live up to those or something. I do think this book was overrated, and that my opinion might have suffered from the hype surrounding it. It was not “devastating” as the synopsis said. Sad, sure, but only because of the subject matter and not from the way it made me feel. I was just kind of bored with it, to be honest.

The bottom line:

I couldn’t connect with this book. And if I can’t connect with it, I’m not going to like it.

Rating: 4 – Eh. This is bad.

Reading next: The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

Have you read this book? What did you think?