July 22, 2013

Review: The Story Of Us

It's summer so apparently that means I'm drawn to sunny seaside YA contemporary like a nerd to a library, like a geek to binary. It would seem it also means that I'm drawn to books featuring protagonists struggling with change and the BIG question: What am I supposed to do with my life? (See my review of Jessi Kirby's Golden for similar themes.) This time, the MC asking the question is Cricket in Deb Caletti's The Story of Us. Here's the flap description:



Cricket has a very long week ahead of her -- her entire family has come together for her mom's wedding, and it's supposed to be a time for celebration. But for Cricket, the timing couldn't be worse.

For years Cricket's been half of the perfect couple, destined to be together forever. Now, because of what she's done -- something she would give anything to take back -- Janssen has walked away. Maybe for good.

Cricket has always panicked in the face of change. Now she is forced to face her fears and decide once and for al what she wants, and how she's going to get it.  Over the course of the week, secrets will be revealed, bonds will be tested, and Cricket's confusion --and her desires -- may very well send her spiraling down a path she never thought she'd take...with no idea where it will lead her.


Here's what I loved about this book:

1)  Setting
Quite frankly, beachy/seaside summer reads are my favourite thing when summer rolls around. Something to do with wishing I was there, living vicariously through the characters, and so on and so forth. The Story of Us, is just such a story. Cricket and her family spend the week leading up to her mother's wedding at a beach guest house. So much about this setting appealed to me.

2)  Characters
There was a fairly extensive cast of characters, some sort of irksome (reluctant stepsisters and immature guy friends), others I wish I knew in real life. Among my favourites were Cricket's older brother, Ben, and Cricket's mother, and I particularly loved the dynamic between the three of them. Perhaps two of the most surprising favourites were Jupiter, the aging family beagle, and Janssen, Cricket's erstwhile boyfriend who shows up almost exclusively in flashback sequences. It's weird, but this was enough for me to grow attached to him, despite other eligible male characters in Cricket's life in real time.

3)  Themes
Like so many other upper YA reads, The Story of Us deals with themes of growth and change. In Cricket's case this plays out as growing up, growing apart, moving on, and loss. As the title suggests, there's this notion of stories and memories binding us together no matter where life takes us. The "story of us"  can refer to Cricket and Janssen's story, Cricket's family's story, and even the story of Jupiter the beagle and the family that loves her. (That might sound weird, but there's actually a good deal of interesting relationship metaphors linked to dogs, specifically Jupiter, in Cricket's emails to Janssen. Surprisingly, it worked.) Aside from the question of what to do with her life, Cricket also needs to figure out who to keep holding onto and who to set free.

4)  Format
This book is partly epistolary in nature, something I'm not usually a big fan of, but since this is where Cricket and Janssen's story was told, I rather enjoyed it. Cricket and Janssen have recently parted ways, but they still communicate via email while Cricket's away for her mother's wedding. We're only privvy to Cricket's emails, but it's through these messages that she reminds Janssen of what their relationship has meant to her, where she reveals to the reader their love story. It's bittersweet, heartwarming, and at times suspenseful while we wait to find out what Cricket did to screw things up between them. (Spoiler: Nothing too horrible.)

The Story of Us was a fun, mostly light book (except for that one part that made me cry) even while it dealt with heavier themes so often found in contemporary YA. It was the perfect summer read and as such, has earned a spot on my Favourites shelf.





13 comments:

  1. I'm a big fan of Deb Caletti. Her writing is so great. I also enjoyed this book!

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    1. I'll definitely be checking out more of her stuff. Such an all-around good book. Thanks for stopping by, Ghenet! :)

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  2. Funnily enough, I added this to my summer reading list yesterday. The beach, a wedding, and a main character called Cricket- it sounds completely and utterly up my street. Skimming Goodreads, I was surprised to find I've only read one Deb Caletti book - people seem to only have good things to say about her work.

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    1. All of those things were right up my alley too! This is the only Deb Caletti book that I've read, but it makes me want to read more. :)

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  3. Oh boy, if it made you cry then I'll be a goner when I get around to reading this. I'll be sure to have some Kleenex close by (always do anyway). Even if Cricket didn't do something big to mess up the relationship, I'm still kind of curious as to what she did now. I can't remember if this one is already on my TBR list, but it it isn't, it probably should be. Great review!

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    1. It was just one thing in particular that choked me up and I think it would probably have the same effect on you. This was a really different story, particularly the way it told the reader about Cricket and Janssen's relationship. I thoroughly enjoyed it! :)

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  4. I also like beachy reads that explore friends and family--Moonglass is one of my all-time favorites :)

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    1. I mostly love them this time of year. Oddly, I still haven't read MOONGLASS, despite the fact that I've really enjoyed Jessi Kirby's other books. I really need to check that one out. Thanks for popping by, Stephanie! :)

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  5. See, I do like epistolary stories (usually) so this sounds very tempting. Also, I am intrigued by and nervous for the dog.

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    1. You know, I'm not sure if I can recall too many epistolary stories that I've read. I'm sure I've read some, but I tend to prefer stories that take place in real time. This one was good, though! :)

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  6. I've never read any Deb Calletti, but she sounds like a writer I'd love. I'm definitely in the mood for beachy reads right now and I am a huge fan of epistolary stories - Jaclyn Moriaty is my favourite especially THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS. thanks for the recommendation.

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    1. This is the first Deb Caletti book that I've read, but I was happy to discover that she's got plenty more for me to check out. This is definitely a good beachy read. I haven't heard of that Moriarty book. I'll have to check it out. Thanks! :)

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  7. I've read HONEY, BABY, SWEETHEART by Deb Caletti and I really enjoyed it. THE STORY OF US sounds even better, frankly, and I'm very much looking forward to reading it. Hopefully I'll be able to fit it in before the end of the summer. Thanks for the fantastic review, Jaime!

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