So my name is Rashika and I am weird. I read a lot (duh) and I watch a lot of TV. I also like to review. Check out my blog (where I co-blog with awesome people).
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato
When I first saw the blurb for this book, I, like many, felt the need to get my hands on a copy as soon as possible. I had incredibly high expectations right from the beginning but as other reviews started coming in, those already high expectations soared. When I finally dived into the book (along with Jasprit), I wasn’t sure I was ready but I knew I’d face the heartbreak that was bound to be in this book. All I can say is that it was worth it. This book was worth all the pain I experienced while reading it. This book was worth every second I spent reading it. This book was worth the fact that I didn’t get any homework done and instead had to do a lot more work the next day. This book was WORTH IT.
The story is told in dual narration, Sarah being one narrator and Linda being the other. The number one reason that this style works for this book, aside from the fact that it’s well written, is how the author manages to contrast these two narrative andthus truly showing us different sides.
Sarah is a young black woman who is taking part in an integration program and is part of the first group of African-Americans to attend Jefferson High. I am sure you already have a vague idea of how well that goes but I think what makes Sarah so heartbreakingly relatable is that she didn’t even want to be part of this group integrating the school in the first place. She did it to make her parents proud. I know if I were in her shoes, I would rather have had someone do the work for me so I wouldn’t have to go through everything they went through. What makes me love her as a character though is that in spite of the fact she wishes that she could go back to her whole school so she wouldn’t have to endure so much humiliation on such a regular basis, she still holds her head high and makes the best of her situation.
Linda on the other hand is hard to like at first. I was so ridiculously surprised when I realized SHE would be the love interest and that SHE was the other narrator. The first impression we got of her from Sarah’s POV was not the least bit flattering. She seemed like she would be a bully like the rest of the assholes and for a while she was. But that was the point. Linda has been told what is wrong and what is right her whole life. She has been fed lies and she believes them to be the truth so she isn’t just going to wake up one day and realize that everything that has been happening is wrong. She is going to want to cling on to her beliefs, like anyone else would! It doesn’t mean it makes her likeable but she was easy to sympathize with. Before I make you all vary of her, I should say this, she undergoes MAJOR character development and it’s a beautiful process. It’s worth sticking around for just to see her finally rise on her own feet and form her OWN opinions of what is right and what’s not.
None of them can touch me”
I felt the need to share that bit from the book in my review just because it’s so powerful. It’s not even necessarily a quote but I got the chills the first time I read it and I still do! It also kind of sums up the plot. I am sure it’s not that hard to imagine how heartbreaking this book will be and the kind of courage the characters must possess to endure all that they have and still carry on. It all just comes down to whether they are going to let themselves be affected by the words and the actions of the bullies (although bully is too feeble a word to describe some of those people). They don’t have the power to affect you unless you let them.
The romance was just as brilliantly crafted as the rest of the book. Can you imagine how hard Sarah must have it? Being an African-American during that period of time and on top of that finding out she isn’t attracted to guys? Well let’s just say it’s not easy. With that said, this book didn’t actually focus as much on Sarah’s sexual orientation since there were a lot more important things going on. The romance did, however, play an important role aside from just being there. The romance brought together Linda and Sarah and it gave Linda and opportunity to reassess her beliefs. Linda’s attraction to Sarah helped her grow into a person who was admirable and could stand up for herself and didn’t just parrot other people’s thoughts.
This is, very simply put, a book everyone needs in their lives. I am not saying it’s for everyone, because it isn’t, some people might find that they cannot bear the pain and others, for some unconceivable reason, might just not like it at all, but, this book is important. It has furthered the boundaries of YA and brought things up a notch. It reminds me of why I absolutely love YA and how finding gems in this demographic can be so absolutely worth it. So stop, drop and read this book.