Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Review: Me Since You by Laura Wiess

Title: Me Since You
Author: Laura Wiess
Publisher: MTV Books
Release date: February 18th 2014
Pages: 368
Genre: Young Adult contemporary
Source: NetGalley - I received a free advance copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thanks!
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Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.
If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother — and herself — from the endless replay of heartache and grief.
Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?
My rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Me Since You was hard to get into, for me. The description is rather vague, and I didn't know much going into the novel, and this makes sense now that I've read it: nothing really happens for the first 100 pages or so.  I'm still not really sure how I feel about that - on the one hand, it works with the story, letting the plot develop in a very natural way. But on the other hand, this makes the story drag, because there seemed to be no real drive for the first part of the novel, and I think parts of it could have been cut to move the plot along a little faster.

Once the plot gets started, though, I really enjoyed the story. This is hard to talk about without spoiling anything, but I don't think I'm giving too much away when I say that this novel deals with grief. The emotions are exceptionally well-done, and I felt Rowan's raw grief throughout. The whole story is heart-wrenching; one of the most honest portrayals of grief I've ever read.

What I didn't love, though, are the characters. Even though I felt Rowan's grief, I don't feel like I ever got to know her outside of these emotions. The reader knows nothing about her interests, her goals, anything, which made it hard for me to connect with her. Considering the development of the story, I think it would have been especially important to get to know Rowan's parents' characters, but they stay one-dimensional as well. Even though she doesn't play a central role in the second half of the story, I would have liked to see some more in-depth development of Nadia, Rowan's best friend, too. The only character I somewhat liked is Eli, the romantic interest, but again, he is reduced to what he has been through, rather than who he is as a person, and what it is that him and Rowan connect, aside from their shared experience. The whole novel is very focused on how the characters move on from the traumatic events in their past, but we never get to see them simply as people.

Me Since You is a good book; I just didn't connect with it personally as much as I wanted to, mainly because of the slow-moving plot and the one-dimensional characters. I do still recommend it, though, if you're looking for something that deals with grief, because the depiction of grief in Me Since You is authentic, raw, and heart-wrenching.


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