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Book DetailsISBN: 9780141334479
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Book Review: Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg - Reviewed by Brodie (10 Mar 2012)
Brie's heart broke in half the minute her boyfriend said he didn't love her. And I don't mean that figuratively, it literally snapped in two. Death by heartbreak. Could your life end anymore tragically? It's an almost implausible concept, yet Jess Rothenberg pulled the premise off flawlessly. I fell in love with this book from the first page. Brie's voice hooks you in instantly, so funny and compelling and FRESH. She's a character who you can't help but adore - young, vibrant and romantic and sure, she's sometimes naive, but she grows wiser over the course of the novel. I loved seeing her grow. Her life was cut short too soon, but what follows is a lifetime's worth of emotions. Of love, pain, confusion and some difficult choices that all come together to form this outstanding debut.
Oh gosh, Patrick. I LOVED HIM. He was one of souls Brie met in her afterlife and sort of took it upon himself to help guide her through the stages of death. With his leather pilot jacket and smooth 80's charm, he claimed territory in my heart almost instantly. I don't care if some of his lines were totally corny, he's the type of character who can hold them with dignity and woo the pants off you. His 'cheesy' nicknames for Brie (and I mean this in the Cheescake, Chedster, Cheeto kind of 'cheesy') could have become annoying, but that boy made every one of them endearing. It's undeniable there was instant chemistry between these two, but no, before the thought even enters your mind, there is not the slightest hint of a 'insta-love' in this. It's a beautiful, bantering friendship that may eventually grow into something even deeper. And nor does a love triangle ever come into play. Jess handled the romance stunningly, with a few well timed shocks up her sleeves where both boys are concerned.
Catastrophic History put my emotions through as much of a rollercoaster ride as it did Brie's. I laughed so many times through her Denial phase, it was easy to slip into the fun and quirky mindset of Brie, almost forgetting there was a serious issue of her death at hand. And then as the Anger phase rolled in, I wanted to scream at some of her decisions. Decisions that I could understand, given the information she had and her turbulent emotions, but I didn't agree with them. I could sense there was something else going on with the situation that she wasn't seeing and I wanted to reach through and shake her by the shoulders to tell her to STOP. She's angry and upset and she wants justice, so it's a time where she takes what she sees at face value and everything just snaps inside her.
And yet this isn't a negative about the novel, instead it's brilliant how Jess dragged the reader along emotionally for every step of the journey. I could forgive Brie for those moments when I wanted to growl at her, because this entire novel is one of growth. She doesn't stay in denial, she doesn't stay angry, she doesn't stay depressed, she realistically moves through a vast range of emotions and each feels genuine, each evokes a reaction from you and each adds more depth to her character and the story. Jess explored this with such a delicate balance, from laughter to frustration, to tears and regret and hope. And it wasn't just Brie with baggage to sort through. Each of the secondary characters were all so thoughtfully constructed, with a history and personality and their own issues to deal with. I loved that they weren't just there to serve as a 2D character to fit the title of boyfriend, father, best friend, etc. Each was fleshed out over the course of the story and some even hiding some shocking secrets of their own.
The Catastrophic History of You and Me is laugh-out-loud funny, heartwarming, inspiring and bittersweet. It's a touching journey of life, death, love and acceptance that give both your ribs and tear ducts a healthy workout. It's a book I could easily reread again. The characters and dialogue beg for a revisit and the emotionally moving tale is one you want to explore many times over to pick apart layer by layer. Not a book you want to miss!
Book Review: Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg - Reviewed by DLN (02 Mar 2012)
Jess Rothenberg’s debut novel won my heart over. Brie and Patrick’s relationship was one that I warmed up to almost immediately. Maybe it was the fact that I imagined Patrick as a bit of a greaser (see, my love for The Outsiders takes over once again), or that he seemed so lovingly fascinated by Brie. I liked the two of them together.
The story moved at a steady, ever-changing pace. TCHOYAM is split into five parts (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Sadness, Acceptance), and each part flowed effortlessly into the next. The dialogue between the characters was written flawlessly! Really, this book is fabulous; so perfect and happy and teary and wonderful. The ending made me smile like a lunatic and want to hug the book close.
Jess Rothenberg grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, graduated from Vassar College, and spent most of her twenties editing books for young readers. She lives in Brooklyn where she writes full-time, dances interpretively, and dreams of one day owning a sheepdog named Leo. The Catastrophic History of You and Me is her first novel.
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