The Selective Collective: Level 2 Discussion


Welcome to The Selective Collective. Together with our friends at The Book Addict’s Guide, Gone Pecan, The Grown Up YA and Teen Lit Rocks, we’ll be exploring a new release in its entirety, from review to author spotlight, to a roundtable chat, among other fun things.

This week we’re discussing Level 2 by Lenore Appelhans. You guys, I loved this book. It was awesome.

Level 2

Since her untimely death the day before her eighteenth birthday, Felicia Ward has been trapped in Level 2, a stark white afterlife located between our world and the next.  Along with her fellow prisoners, Felicia passes the endless hours reliving memories of her time on Earth and mourning what she’s lost–family, friends, and the boy she loved, Neil.

Then a girl in a neighboring chamber disappears, and nobody but Felicia seems to recall she existed in the first place.  Something is obviously very wrong. When Julian–a dangerously charming guy Felicia knew in life–comes to offer Felicia a way out, she learns the truth: A rebellion is brewing to overthrow the Morati, the guardians of Level 2.

Felicia is reluctant to trust Julian, but them her promises what she wants most–to be with Neil again–if only she’ll join the rebels. Suspended between heaven and Earth, Felicia finds herself in the center of an age-old struggle between good and evil. As memories from her life come back to haunt her, and as the Morati hunt her down, Felicia will discover it’s not just her own redemption at stake..but the salvation of mankind. (Inside cover)

This week I get the chance to host a roundtable discussion with my fellow SC ladies and you know what? It’s hard to come up with questions that don’t have spoilers! Ack! But here we go:

1. The drones in Felicia’s hive spend endless hours viewing memories of their human lives before hopefully moving on to the next level. How can their insistence on viewing only their happiest memories help or hurt their ability to pass on?

The drones do spend endless hours viewing only their happiest memories.  Of course, it’s only natural.  Who wouldn’t want to see those happiest of moments in their lives over and over again?  Just imagine being able to see moments like that “miraculous” Christmas morning when Santa brought that most desired toy, the day that you passed your driving test, your first kiss, your wedding day, or  the birth of your child.  There are so many moments in life that are taken for granted.  The drones have an opportunity not only to view them, but to appreciate them.  However, our lives are not made up solely of happy moments.  Everyone has memories that are painful.  Dealing with painful experiences help us grow emotionally and spiritually.  It is also all of our experiences that help shape us into the people that we are.  The drones were missing out on the opportunity to grow stronger by viewing those painful moments.  In the same way that those experiences shaped them into becoming the people that they were before their deaths, the memories of those experiences would help them become stronger and come to terms with their lives.  Then they would be ready to move on to the next level.  Unfortunately, the drones continue in this manner because of circumstances beyond their control.  Once Felicia discovers the truth, she begins to go back and view her painful memories and they do begin to empower her.   She begins to feel the power that those painful memories bring to her and as she comes to terms with the consequences of those memories.  -Diana @ Teen Lit Rocks

2. The author uses a creative mixture of religion, mythology and a unique, almost space-age backdrop to create a dystopic afterlife. How do these themes compare to your own ideas of life after death?

I thought it was interesting that the author created this section between earth (Level 1) and Heaven (Level 3) that people essentially wait in until they figure out their purpose on earth before going on to Heaven. I think a few different religions/denominations believe in this waiting area, or a Limbo, while you are waiting to go to Heaven. As someone who doesn’t believe in this place (Limbo), though, I’ve personally never thought about a waiting area before getting to Heaven. I’ve just thought that you die and then your soul goes to Heaven, no waiting required. Probably not the way it works, but I like believing it does! I did, however, love seeing this idea of a Limbo area being explored and how unique it was – at first the idea of sitting around watching memories was odd to me, but I loved what the purpose of it was. Don’t want to add that for spoilers! I also really enjoyed the mix of the angels’ fall and their “revenge” on God – was definitely different to see that in there! As for my ideas of life after death, I haven’t quite figured out what I think will happen or where I’ll go. I don’t think I’ll go anywhere to sit around and wait, but I like the idea of just hanging out and getting to relive memories, especially if it’s like YouTube! – Candice @ The Grown Up YA

3. There are moments of symbolism that run between Felicia’s memories and her life in Level 2 (the bee keeping, the hives, the figure eights). What do you think the author was trying to convey?

I loved the symbolism in this book, but I’m not entirely sure the author was trying to convey a deep message in them. More than anything, I think she was giving symmetry between Felicia’s life and her afterlife. And I think she was, in Felicia’s life on Earth, foreshadowing some of the things that might be meaningful to her in her death–things like the special knock Julian does to get around Level 2 (the same secret knock she and Neil create during the lock-in at church) or the set up of the hives in Level 2 being reminiscent of a particularly sweet memory she had with Neil.  In any case, I loved they ways these ideas and images repeated both in Felicia’s memories and in her “life” on Level 2. – Tee @ YA Crush

4. Felicia is convinced of her love for Neil and she constantly relives her memories of him. Watching her evolution through those flashbacks, do you think Neil was good or bad for her?

This is a really hard question to answer! I was conflicted the whole book about Felicia’s driving need to reunite with Neil because I felt like it was both helpful and harmful at the same time. Her connection with Neil was so strong that it really gave her something to fight for in Level 2 and gave her a purpose to keep moving and pushing through when she struggled. At the same time, Neil was kind of a blinder for Felicia. She was SO determined to reach him that she would do it at any cost, including pushing herself when she didn’t have the strength or putting others in danger as well as herself because all she could see was Neil. Was he more helpful or harmful to Felicia’s cause? I guess the readers will just have to pick up the book to find out! :)- Brittany @ The Book Addict’s Guide

5. During her life on Earth, Felicia seemed plagued by guilt from past decisions–things that affected Autumn, Julian and her family. Do you think her guilt was justified or was she being too hard on herself?

Felicia’s situation with Julian and Autumn put her in a near impossible position.  She gave into temptation and her lust for Julian all the while knowing what it would do to Autumn if she were to find out.  If I were in her position, I would feel tremendous guilt, too.  In this case, I don’t think she was being too hard on herself.  Would she have been better off telling Autumn from the beginning about Julian’s interest in her or should she have just not given into him?  I don’t know.  I still don’t understand why she gave in, anyway, despite her attraction to him because she didn’t actually seem to like him.  But on the other hand, there’s no reason to keep reliving it because what’s past is past and she cannot change it.  Going forward from here, she would be wise to accept her bad decisions and learn from them.  Also, a sincere apology is called for in both the situation with Autumn and her family.- Daphne @ Gone Pecan

Please be sure to visit my blogging partners in The Selective Collective and check out the great things they have in store:

The Book Addict’s Guide- Review

Gone Pecan-Author Q&A

The Grown Up YA- Casting Call

Teen Lit Rocks- Edgy Girls & Good Boys

Sincere thanks to Simon & Schuster for sending all of the SC girls review copies of Level 2!

The Selective Collective: Wentworth Hall Author Interview and Giveaway


Welcome to The Selective Collective. Together with our friends at The Book Addict’s Guide, Gone Pecan, The Grown Up YA and Teen Lit Rocks, we’ll be exploring a new release in its entirety, from review to author spotlight, to a roundtable chat, among other fun things.

This week, we’re discussing Wentworth Hall by Abby Grahame

Wentworth Hall


I’m so excited to have Abby, debut author of Wentworth Hall, here to discuss her book, writing, and her biggest literary crushes.

Abby, who has influenced you most as a writer?

I have two big inspirations. One started in childhood when I discovered “Little Women” as a girl and went on to read everything else its author Louisa May Alcott ever wrote, including some of the romances she dashed off just for the paycheck. Her main character Jo March was such a role model of passion, empathy, and independence. In addition Alcott wrote in such a way that I felt I was in the story with the characters and it was always a place I wanted to be.

 

My other big inspiration is, to this day, the author Margaret Atwood. I admire her writing so much, her humor and her originality. She gets behind the surface of things in a way that just knocks me out.

I’ve read that your love of Downtown Abbey inspired you to write Wentworth Hall (I must confess, though it’s currently in my Netflix queue, I haven’t watched an episode yet. Don’t hate me!). Were there other parts of your book, be it experiences or people, that were inspired by your own life or was it all pure imagination?

Every writer uses his or her life when writing fiction. It’s a lot like the “method” in acting where one reaches for the emotional truth of the characters based on ones own emotional memory. As a younger person I did a lot of restaurant work to pay my way through college. That made me familiar with the behind the scenes goings on of kitchens and waiting on people. Since that time I have stayed in fancy hotels and good restaurants as a customer. I have had the experience of being both the served and the server. I know how the served can be oblivious to the ones serving and I also know how it feels to be invisible to those one is serving, and also the camaraderie of being part of a wait staff. This, I think, gave me excellent insight into all the characters.  I also have sisters and brothers and know something of the dynamics between older and younger siblings.  Also, I have been in love—both failed and successful—and so know something of that, as well. The only part that was imagination was the setting.

(I would never hate you for missing “Downton Abbey.” But you should check it out.)

 

 What type of research did you do in preparation to write Wentworth Hall?

 

I am a huge lover of history and always have been. I particularly love the early 1900s. There was so much technology happening in terms of electricity, communications like the phone, the radio, the telegraph and travel innovations like the car and air travel. Social mores where shifting around. Under this very staid surface there was a veritable earthquake of change. The old aristocratic systems where crumbling which is a big part of the story of “Wentworth Hall.”

 

Since this is my first novel it was very daunting. I immersed myself in the period first by reading as much about the clothing and historical events of the period. Then I moved on to period novels. I particularly like Anna Godbersen’s Luxe  books (though they’re set a bit earlier, 1899) and Suzanne Weyn’s Distant Waves.  The movie Titanic  was a help in visualizing the clothing and so was, of course, “Downton Abbey.” (I adore the rich, sumptuous clothing of the period.)

 

What do you do when you aren’t writing (and watching Downtown Abbey, obviously)?

 

I like to hike, and kayak on a nearby lake.  I enjoy going out with friends to dance to several of my favorite local bands. I am a lover of restaurants. If I have a stretch of free time I will travel. Last summer I went to Edinburgh Scotland and loved it.

What is the best thing about being a writer? The worst thing?

I’ll start with the worst. It is the precariousness of making a living. A writer is always on the hunt for the next publishing opportunity. Since I have just been published for the first time and Wentworth Hall has been so well received, I am hoping things will be easier from now on.

 

I LOVE being a writer. I’m not chained to a desk. I can make my own hours and since I am a night person that matters to me. But mostly I love being consumed by an art form that means everything to me. I’m always looking at landscapes, listening to people talk, reading stories, watching movies, viewing art, and generally living my life with an eye to how it could enrich my writing. Being a writer is not a job but a way of life.

This blog is one inspired by massive, sigh-inducing crushes on literary characters and my overall need to spazz over my favorite authors and books. Which author(s) and/or literary characters would give you cause to fangirl?

When I was a girl I had a huge crush on Sherlock Holmes and read every story about him. I also thought Mr. Rochester in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre was pretty cool in a dark, mysterious way. After that I shifted my fantasy love interests to movie and rock stars.  Most lately I thought Thad in Distant Waves was awfully dreamy.

I definitely hear you on Mr. Rochester. Love him.  Thanks so much for stopping by, Abby!

 Please be sure to visit my blogging partners in The Selective Collective and check out the fabulous things they have in store:

The Book Addict’s Guide- Casting Call

Gone Pecan- Book Review

The Grown Up YA- Wentworth Hall Fashion

Teen Lit Rocks- Roundtable Discussion

Giveaway:

If you’d like to win a copy of Wentworth Hall, leave a comment with your e-mail address in the comment section. The contest closes on January 16th (one week from now) at 9pm PST.  The winner will be chosen at random using Randomizer. Good luck!

Many thanks to Simon and Schuster for sending all of The Selective Collective ladies copies of Wentworth Hall.

The Selective Collective: Great Workplace Friendships


Welcome to one of our newest features, The Selective Collective. Together with our friends at The Book Addict’s Guide, Gone Pecan, The Grown Up YA and Teen Lit Rocks, we’ll be exploring a new release in its entirety, from review to author spotlight, to a roundtable chat, among other fun things.

This week, we’re discussing Love and Other Perishable Items by Laura Buzo.

LOVE

Love and Other Perishable Items, Random House

Love is awkward, Amelia should know.

From the moment she sets eyes on Chris, she is a goner. Lost. Sunk. Head over heels infatuated with him. It’s problematic, since Chris, 21, is a sophisticated university student, while Amelia, is 15.

Amelia isn’t stupid. She knows it’s not gonna happen. So she plays it cool around Chris—at least, as cool as she can. Working checkout together at the local supermarket, they strike up a friendship: swapping life stories, bantering about everything from classic books to B movies, and cataloging the many injustices of growing up. As time goes on, Amelia’s crush doesn’t seem so one-sided anymore. But if Chris likes her back, what then? Can two people in such different places in life really be together?

Through a year of befuddling firsts—first love, first job, first party, and first hangover—debut author Laura Buzo shows how the things that break your heart can still crack you up. (Goodreads)

Amelia knows  Chris—her first heartbreaking, soul-gripping crush—because they work together at the cash registers of Coles Supermarket. In fact, Chris trained Amelia. And while Love and Other Perishable Items is very much about Amelia and her infatuation with Chris, life at Coles, including the various other co-workers—the stoners, the make out partners that shouldn’t have been, the friends, the misunderstood—plays an integral part in the story. Here Buzo sets up a realistic background, one to which we can all relate. The conversations, the conflicts and the banter all ring true and offer up a confirmation that the relationships created in such circumstances, for better or worse, make a deep impression on us all.

In discussing this with my SC partners, Sandie at Teen Lit Rocks suggested that we explore books with powerful workplace relationships. It didn’t take long for us to come up with a list of books with memorable casts surrounding characters who were often experiencing their first jobs, first exposure to the drama, the fun of the fights, the meddling and the laughs.  Here are just a few memorable ones:

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen

the truth about foreverWhen Macy’s boyfriend goes away to Brain Camp (yeah, you read that right) and dumps her via e-mail, she stumbles upon a job at Wish Catering. Here she meets the crushworthiest of guys, Wes, but she also gains an impressive, if not somewhat kooky, group of friends in Bert (Wes’s brother), Kristy and Monica. It’s through these friends that Macy is invigorated. She finds herself and discovers what she loves about life again. I really don’t think that would have happened without these friends who welcomed her into their “family” and accepted her.

Lola and The Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins

LolaFirst of all, Lola has what may be one of the coolest part-time jobs ever. She works in a movie theater!  She develops a relationship with co-worker, Anna (of Anna and The French Kiss) and Anna’s boyfriend St. Clair (le sigh), who doesn’t actually work there but hangs around so much that he probably should just give in and get hired.  It’s through this couple that Lola really sees what she wants out of romantic love. They exemplify all that is sweet and real about love and devotion, and this causes Lola to evaluate her current boyfriend situation as well as her relationship with Cricket, the boy she grew up crushing on.  This is truly one of the cutest relationships ever.

Past Perfect by Leila Sales

Past PerfectThis book focuses almost entirely on the workplace. Maybe it’s because Chelsea works at Essex Historical Colonial Village (she gets to wear colonial clothing in the dead heat of summer. Jealous?). Or maybe it’s because of the epic war the kids at Essex have going on with the ones who work across the way at Civil War Renactmentland. All I know is, this book is hilarious, from the conversations that happen with Chelsea’s fellow employees (their insistence on calling those from Civil War Renactmentland farbs, which stands for far be it from authentic, should clue you in on the level of nerdiness here), to the ex-boyfriend who just had to get a summer gig at Essex, to Chelsea’s utter contempt for her job, Leila Sales nailed the little annoyances, the laughs and the strange sense of unity that comes from a group of people who are forced by circumstance to be a team.

Getting Over Garrett Delaney by Abby McDonald

Getting Over Garrett DelaneyOver the summer, Sadie, in an effort to stop missing her BFF and silent crush, Garrett, gets a job at Totally Wired, a local coffee shop she frequents. It’s here that Sadie meets Josh, LuAnn and Dominique, the crew that watches her daily lamenting over Garrett and his latest love, sees how willing she is to change herself to make him want her, and they work little by little to convince her otherwise.  This book not only explores the power (and fun) or such relationships with co-workers, but it also opens up valuable discussions on self-worth and how far one should be willing to go to make compromises to win or keep the one they love.  It has such a great message.

Such a Rush by Jennifer Echols

Such a RushLeah has worked for Hall Aviation for years, earning some much-needed spare cash and discounted flying lessons. In her years there she’s developed a tumultuous relationship with one of the Hall boys, Grayson. His twin brother, Alex is very kind to Leah, but Grayson sometimes treats her with disdain. When the boys’ father dies, against all odds the three try to keep his business running. Here they’re very much a team, almost like a real family. I loved the dynamic they shared; there was love, romance, friendship and jealousy, sibling rivalry and secrets. And most of the book took place right there at the airport.

These were just a few examples. Let me know if you have a favorite I’ve missed! Also, please be sure to visit my blogging partners in The Selective Collective and check out the great things they have in store:

The Book Addict’s Guide- Author Q & A

Gone Pecan- Roundtable Discussion

The Grown Up YA- Review

Teen Lit Rocks- Casting Call

Thank you to Random House for sending us all copies of Love  and Other Perishable Items.  I really enjoyed it!

The Selective Collective: Meant to Be


Welcome to one of our newest features, The Selective Collective. Together with our friends at The Book Addict’s Guide, Gone Pecan, The Grown Up YA and Teen Lit Rocks, we’ll be exploring a new release in its entirety, from review to author spotlight, to a roundtable chat, among other fun things.

This week, we’re discussing Meant to Be by Lauren Morrill:

Meant to be or not meant to be . . . that is the question. 

It’s one thing to fall head over heels into a puddle of hazelnut coffee, and quite another to fall for the—gasp—wrong guy. Straight-A junior Julia may be accident prone, but she’s queen of following rules and being prepared. That’s why she keeps a pencil sharpener in her purse and a pocket Shakespeare in her, well, pocket. And that’s also why she’s chosen Mark Bixford, her childhood crush, as her MTB (“meant to be”).But this spring break, Julia’s rules are about to get defenestrated (SAT word: to be thrown from a window) when she’s partnered with her personal nemesis, class-clown Jason, on a school trip to London. After one wild party, Julia starts receiving romantic texts . . . from an unknown number! Jason promises to help discover the identity of her mysterious new suitor if she agrees to break a few rules along the way. And thus begins a wild goose chase through London, leading Julia closer and closer to the biggest surprise of all: true love.Because sometimes the things you least expect are the most meant to be. (Goodreads)

OK so, if I could squeal with giddy excitement I would. This book is adorable, full of funny moments and sweetness and total awkwardness.  I loved it. And it takes place in London!  Sign me up.

I have the awesome job of casting the main characters. As much as I loved them, man this was difficult!  I just adored these people and I felt no one could really do them justice…but I think I came close (thanks to some help from my fellow SC blogging friends).

Julia

Hailee Steinfeld

Julia is cute in an unassuming way. She’s an uptight smartypants who always, always goes by the book and as a result, she’s really unintentionally funny. On her trip to London she gets paired with slacker, Jason, and she learns to loosen up a bit, break a few rules and have some fun in the process.  I think Hailee Steinfeld would be perfect if there were ever a film made (yes, please!).

Jason

Cameron Monaghan

Oh, my word, I had a tough time with Jason. This is because there seems to be a shortage of cute, ginger guys in Hollywood.  And it didn’t help matters that I pictured Simon Woods (also known as Mr. Bingley from the Keira Knightly version of Pride and Prejudice) the entire time. Obviously that wouldn’t work because, cute as he is, Mr. Woods is too old to play Jason.

And that’s where Cameron Monaghan comes in.  He’s got the hair, and there’s just something about his face that says Jason to me.  Jason is a smart guy, but he’s naughty, not in a bad-boy sort of way, but in a prankster, funny, I’m the guy everyone loves sort of way. It’s impossible not to like him, especially because he knows how to get under Julia’s skin.

Mark

Asher Book

Mark is perfect. He’s Julia’s one and only. He’s her Meant to Be. I mean, he doesn’t know that, but Julia does.  I don’t want to give away too much about him except to say that in Julia’s eyes, he’s everything a boyfriend should be: handsome, smart, talented and sensitive and he’s probably just waiting for the right moment to tell her she’s the one.

Ahem.

Phoebe

Malese Jow

Phoebe is Julia’s best friend. She’s a voice of sanity and a source of support to Julia in all of her MTB craziness and irritability over Jason.  We don’t see a ton of her since she isn’t on the trip to London, but through texts and flashbacks we get a feel for their relationship and for the honest loyalty there.

I instantly pictured Malese Jow as Phoebe. I think she’d have that perfect amount of self-confidence and sass to be Julia’s no nonsense sidekick.

Please be sure to visit by blogging partners in The Selective Collective and check out the cool things they have in store:

The Book Addict’s Guide- Book Review

Gone Pecan- Author Spotlight

The Grown Up YA- Roundtable Q &A

Teen Lit Rocks- Opposites Attract

Thank you to Random House for sending us all copies of Meant to Be. I loved it!  It’s in stores now.

The Selective Collective: The Elementals


Welcome to our first edition of The Selective Collective. Together with our friends at The Book Addict’s Guide, Gone Pecan, The Grown Up YA and Teen Lit Rocks, we’ll be exploring a new release in its entirety, from review to author spotlight, to a roundtable chat, among other fun things.

This week, we’re discussing The Elementals by Francesca Lia Block:

Ariel Silverman is a normal girl, making plans for college, when her mother reveals she has breast cancer. On top of this, Ariel is still recovering from the loss of her best friend, Jeni, who vanished without a trace on a school trip to Berkeley. This event has closed Ariel’s heart and changed her forever.

As she tries to adjust to college life in a new city, Ariel cannot let the mystery of Jeni’s disappearance rest and finally takes the now-dormant investigation upon herself.

Ariel’s journey will take her into a world of astonishing beauty, sexual discovery, and danger. In an old house in the Berkeley hills she will meet three enigmatic strangers who make her feel fully alive for the first time since she lost Jeni.

But there is more to these three than meets the eye, and through them Ariel will face a chilling choice and unravel just what happened to her missing friend. (inside cover)

The Story:

Since the disappearance of her best friend Jeni one year ago, Ariel has been sleepwalking through life.  The pain she feels over this traumatic loss is compounded when she learns upon leaving for college that her mom has breast cancer.  Faced with being separated from her family through this devastating battle and beginning a new life at Berkeley–the school Ariel and Jeni planned to attend together and the last place Jeni was ever seen–Ariel slips into a lonely, convoluted depression. She’s detached from her parents, who desire to protect her from the truth about her mother’s difficulties, and she leads an anti-social sort of existence, her main concern being investigating Jeni’s whereabouts. This need consumes her and leads her to places she shouldn’t explore, but it’s almost as if this search is the only thing keeping her afloat.

Deeply mired in loneliness, Ariel stumbles upon three enticing strangers in a wonderful old home in the hills.  They have this incredible magnetism, drawing her in, making her feel welcomed and desired. She’s entranced by Tania, the woman of the house. She, her lover, Perry and their friend John begin to open Ariel’s  eyes to a completely different world.  They’re intoxicating and strange and there are times when Ariel’s with them that she almost forgets about that dull ache she usually lives with. She’s captivated by all of them, but she’s especially drawn to John, the handsome, quiet one who seems equally pulled to her.  The three take Ariel on quite an emotional journey, but in the end, she can’t escape Jeni and her deep need to know what happened; she can’t hide from her mother’s cancer forever.  And though Tania, Perry and John are seductive, what they ask in return for their love is sometimes too much.

My Take:

This type of book was a huge departure for me, but really liked it. The story was sad, but there was this underlying sense of mystery and magic in the life Ariel found with Tania, Perry and John.  Before meeting them, her pain was so vivid as she struggled with a sense of guilt because she was  living the life she and Jeni had once mapped out together.  That guilt overflowed into everything, affecting the way she did everything and ultimately leading her in a desperate search for her missing friend. And when she meets these three strangers, the pain and the guilt are still there, but it’s as if Ariel is suddenly lit up inside.  She still longs for Jeni, she still feels fear and pain over her mother’s illness, but she’s also consumed by this new love with John and her infatuation with the threesome.

The relationship she has with the group is strange, to say the least. There seems to be no clear boundaries in the household and, while both Tania and Perry want to envelop her into the fold, there are many questions about exactly where John fits into the situation. There’s clearly a sordid past there, complete with sex, and love and tragedy, but Ariel never quite manages to ask the right questions at the right times. Instead, she dives in head first to an intense, passionate romance with John.  He clearly cares for her and as they begin to explore both an emotional and physical relationship, they border on being somewhat obsessive. It’s hard to describe actually. There are good things there, but there are also red flags that just scream “unhealthy.”

I think Ariel is beautiful in her honest vulnerability. She’s practically on the verge of losing it when the story begins, and it takes her a great deal of exploration to truly find herself and her place both in a life without Jeni, and in a world with a seriously ill mom. I understood the draw of Tania, Perry and John because they appeared when she was so desperately lost, but I was never completely sold on the friendship or the love story.  Still, I liked this story and I couldn’t put it down.

Memorable Quotes

Ariel’s thoughts on her mom:

…I thought of how, when I was a little, sleepless girl, my mom would come in my bed with me and curl up at the bottom.

“I love you,” I’d say. “You’re the best mommy in the world.” And she’d say, “I love you more.” We went on like that back and forth. One night she added, “Someday I hope you meet a man who loves you as much as I do. Because every girl deserves that much love.” I reached out and took her hand and that was how I had been able to sleep.

There were no nightmares then, not real ones, no malignancies, no missing girls.

Ariel on life without Jeni:

Everywhere I went I imagined she was walking with me. I tried to see things through her eyes; it wasn’t hard. I knew how she thought. The faces she would find beautiful or interesting, the scruffy and disabled dogs she would stop to pet, the jewelry she would lift from the black velvet on the street vendor’s table, examining to see how it was made, the buildings she would want to live in. I recorded anything that seemed important in the notebook I always carried. Sometimes I wrote stories trying to understand more about a wild world that made no sense to me…

Sometimes when I saw the campus police or passed the station I wondered to myself what I would say to them.

“I want her back,” I would say. “Can you help me find her?”

Ariel on spying on the threesome:

They looked like the perfect friends I dreamed of having, I had dreamed of having since I lost the only real friend I had ever had. But I was not part of this world, I told myself. Why even try? John held the blonde as if she were his lover. They had no need for me. It was worse that the world of the dorms. At least I didn’t care if I was rejected there. So I turned away from the house where part of me still remained.

Be sure to visit by bogging partners in The Selective Collective:

The Book Addict’s Guide- What is New Adult?

Gone Pecan- Roundtable Q & A

The Grown Up YA- Author Spotlight

Teen Lit Rocks- Casting Call

Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for sending us all copies of The Elementals!