Thursday, May 10, 2012

Review: Notes to Self by Avery Sawyer

Title: Notes to Self
Author: Avery Sawyer
Publisher: N/A
Release date: November 2011
Pages: N/A
Genre: Contemporary YA
Source: author
Two climbed up. Two fell down.
One woke up.
In the aftermath of a traumatic brain injury, Robin Saunders has to relearn who she is and find out what happened the night everything changed.
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

I was pleasantly surprised by Notes to Self! To say I had low expectations for this book would be an understatement, since I'd heard absolutely nothing about it and, even though I feel bad about, I'm always a little wary of self-published books. And even though it's far from perfect, I ended up really enjoying Notes to Self!

I loved the characters in Notes to Self - they're what make everything work. I loved Robin from the first page on. She's easy to relate to, and seeing how helpless she is after the accident is heartbreaking. Robin's best friend Emily is a good character, too - I didn't like her as a person, but I really liked reading about her. Robin and Emily's relationship is so interesting to read about - I love complex friendship stories like this one! Then there's the romance. The romance is cute, but I appreciate that the author didn't try to turn it into the main focus. I also loved the family dynamics - they're unique and interesting to read about as well.

The mystery aspect of trying to figure out what happened is also great. The brain-injury aspect is only okay, though, in my opinion. I found some of what Robin remembers and what she doesn't remember a little too convenient. The little details that are unnecessary for the story, like how to shower or how to open her locker, Robin doesn't remember, but she does remember every little thing about the characters - she can explain to us who's who, because otherwise the reader wouldn't understand the story. I get why the author made these choices, since she needs to show somehow that Robin lost parts of her memory but the readers still needs to get the story, but I just thought that was a little too convenient to be realistic.

***This paragraph is a little spoiler-y!***
I'm not a fan of the ending. At all. I'm sorry, but I don't like happy endings when they're forced. I want the story to develop in a natural way - a sad ending or a happy ending or an open ending all work, as long as it fits the story and is realistic. But the ending in Notes to Self does not develop naturally and does not feel realistic. I'm just not a fan of happy endings that seem forced, and that's the case in Notes to Self.

If you're worried about Notes to Self not being well-edited because it's self-published (like I was), don't be. The copy-editing is just as good as it is in any published book.

Notes to Self is a sweet coming-of-age story with some unique survivor's guilt and mystery aspects. It's a quick, enjoyable read that I ended up liking a lot more than I'd expected!


  1. I think it's a good example that this one is self-published yet some readers enjoyed it. And I'm glad you're one of them. The premise of this book is really intriguing. Robin's character sounds great and her friendship with Emily too sounds fun. I'm glad to know that there's a family part here as well! But the memory thing sounds a little weird. You mean she totally forgot some basic things while she didn't really forget about the people around her?

  2. Well, the premise is basically that because of her traumatic head injury, random parts of memory are missing, which I guess is medically possible. But to me, it didn't seem random - it seemed like everything fit the author's purpses a little too nicely. Like, she can't remember those basic things, but she does remember almost everything about the other characters and what they're like. And she can't remember what exactly happened the night she fell. It seemed a little like the author took the easy way out, having her MC remember the people around her, since her figuring out who's who would have taken some extra scenes and would have possibly been a little confusing to read about, if it isn't done perfectly. Her only not remembering those little things that aren't necessary for the story seemed unrealistic to me.

  3. I really like the sound of this story!

    I like that it focuses on friendship and family as well as a romance - and since she's recovering she'll need all of that support, the whole range of people in her life,  to be able to reclaim a life for herself.

    I'd seen a movie about that kind of injury, where simple mechanical things like showering or cooking weren't remembered, but that's because those things comprise of steps, it's sequential as opposed to recognizing people. I think it's a different part of the brain or something - they'd explained it in the movie, which was also a mystery/thriller. For instance the character with the injury couldn't remember to take his house keys with him before pulling the door closed behind him, but he remembered people and roads and where all the shops were and where his friends worked. 

    It would be interesting to know if this is customary in these kinds of injuries - any neuroscience majors out there?

    When it comes to self-published books, I have to tell you that my favorite book ever is self-published. It's called Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park, and the story combines a huge family secret that's heart-breaking, awesome unique characters and incredible dialogue. I can't recommend it enough:) It's YA contemporary

  4. And the romance is incredible!!

  5. Yeah, that's medically possible, actually. But with a book, I think it's kind of too convenient! But I'll see for myself. ;)

  6. Okay, then I guess I can't criticize that. It just seemed too convenient while I was reading it.

  7. I have no idea about stuff like that, so maybe it is realistic. It just seemed too convenient to me when I was reading it - but who knows :)

    I've heard really good things about Flat-Out Love, and I just saw that it's new adult, which I love - adding it to my wishlist :)

  8. Flat-Out Love is AMAZING!! It's New Adult (the main character's 18, just started college) and there's a mystery in the story, but one that has to do with family dynamics and relationships and their history.

    And you'll love the brother-sister relationship:) It's not done a lot but I love it and in this case it's very well done. And all the characters are completely well-developed.

    BTW even though it's a serious story, there are some parts that are absolutely hilarious!! 

    I'm still gushing about the book and thinking about it and it's been months since I read it.

  9. Wow, you make it sound amazing - I really have to get a copy of that book :)

  10. This one is not for me unfortunately! I don't like coming-to-age novels at all and honestly I'm not a fan of any kind of "dark contemporary" novels... Good review... but :/

  11.  I think I'm going to have to agree with this comment.  While I was on the fence about reading it when it was posted about before, I don't think this is going to be a book for me after all from reading your review.  Good review, but not my style.


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