My rating in stars: 4 stars
My rating in words: Really liked this
What it’s about:
In his twisty, gritty, profoundly moving debut—called “mandatory reading” by the New York Times—Adam Silvera brings to life a charged, dangerous near-future summer in the Bronx.
In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.
When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.
Why does happiness have to be so hard?
“Memories: some can be sucker punching, others carry you forward; some stay with you forever, others you forget on your own. You can’t really know which ones you’ll survive if you don’t stay on the battlefield, bad times shooting at you like bullets. But if you’re lucky, you’ll have plenty of good times to shield you.”
Aww man. I knew going into this book that it was gonna be rough. I knew this was not gonna be a fluffy book. I thought I was emotionally prepared. I was not. I thought I knew how the story was gonna go. I did not. This story managed to completely sucker-punch me and I will carry it with me for a long time still, that’s for sure.
I agree with the New York Times, this book should be mandatory reading. Because the topics it explores are super tough, but also important. Homophobia, acceptance, depression, suicide, friendship, love, mourning, family, denial, memories and the pursuit of happiness are some of the main themes and they are handled exquisitely. This book makes you think. And it makes you think outside of the box and put yourself in someone else’s shoes.
There may be times you want to put this book down and stop reading. I know I did. Some of the characters are despicable. Some of their thoughts and motivations are depressing and frustrating. Even our main character, who despite his lovable personality, is still super flawed and makes some bad calls. But that makes the whole thing so much more realistic. And luckily there are still some lighter, funny moments in the book to balance it out and to help you keep going.
This may be one of my shortest reviews ever, but I don’t want to spoil anything else for you. Please just dive into this and let the story take you along for the ride. It is a masterpiece of a book and if this was his debut, I am super curious to read more by Adam Silvera.
“I realize I’m crying a little, too. I remember. Sometimes pain is so unmanageable that the idea of spending another day with it seems impossible. Other times pain acts as a compass to help you through the messier tunnels of growing up. But pain can only help you find happiness if you remember it.”
“From the shapes cast by the green paper lantern, you would never know that there were two boys sitting closely to one another trying to find themselves. You would only see shadows hugging, indiscriminate.”
“If there’s happiness tucked away in my tragedies, I’ll find it no matter what. If the blind can find joy in music, and the deaf can discover it with colors, I will do my best to always find the sun in the darkness because my life isn’t one sad ending – it’s a series of endless happy beginnings.”