(Pre)School’s Out For Summer!

This might be one of my best inventions – it bought me at least ten minutes of down time 😉

Little Do We Know

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Thank you to Disney Hyperion for providing me with a copy of this arc!

Little Do We Know is a touching and compulsive read. It’s told from the dual POV of best friends Hannah and Emory, who have drifted apart due to a fight. The description states that there is a boy caught in the middle, which originally lead me to believe that Hannah was interested in her BFF’s boyfriend (or they would soon become involved), so I was glad when it turned out to be that Hannah and Luke were simply friends in their own right. It was refreshing that Emory and Luke’s romance was more of a subplot and that the main story focused on Hannah and Emory’s friendship.

Both Hannah and Emory grew as characters throughout the novel. Hannah questioned her Christian beliefs, specifically whether or not they were hers or her parents’, and Emory confronted a traumatic event that happened with her mother’s fiancé and struggled with the decision of whether or not to tell her mother. The novel ultimately revolves around this event and the miscommunication between Emory and Hanna that occurred immediately after, but Luke’s subplot tied the story together and gave the two friends a reason to make up (which is why he referred to himself as “the glue”). I enjoyed the element of mysticism/religion in Luke’s story, how he died but came back to life and it shook his entire belief system.

The subplot I found problematic and felt didn’t add to the story was the budding romance between Hannah and her teacher (or teacher assistant? Doesn’t matter). He was 23 or 24 and had already graduated from college, and she was in senior year, so either 17 or 18. Even if she was 18, he was still her teacher she was still in high school, so I found it creepy he would be interested in her. I think the book could have done without that romantic subplot, since the friendship between Hannah and Luke provided enough substance to carry her story.

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a YA book about friendship and the ways we can fall apart but find our way back to each other.

Luckiest Girl Alive

I read this book in two days (which is saying a lot when you’re at home with a preschooler and a toddler and the toddler is on a nap strike!)

TifAni FaNello has reinvented herself as “Ani” following a terrible high school experience that put her in the news. She is engaged to a good looking man with a solid career, and she has her own solid career as an editor at a well known magazine in NYC. When a director approaches her to be in a documentary that will shed light on the events fourteen years ago, Ani jumps at the chance to tell her side of the story and clear her name. However, participating in the documentary forces her to relive terrible events and face a part of herself of which is she ashamed.

The narrative structure of this novel is unique in that it felt like reading an adult novel and a young adult novel at the same time. The first chapter takes place during present day when Ani is 28, engaged and successful. The second chapter takes place fourteen years earlier, when Ani begins to attend the prestigious Bradley school where her life as she knows it will begin to unravel. As the story progresses in the present, more of the past is revealed, with Jessica Knoll deftly revealing just enough new information to keep up the suspense.

What impressed me was how authentically Jessica Knoll handles the aftermath of sexual assault. Not just in terms of the victim’s and perpetrator’s feelings of guilt, but Ani’s uncertainty as to whether or not a crime had actually been committed against her when both parties had been drinking. To the reader it’s obvious a crime was committed, but to fourteen year-old Ani, it isn’t quite so clear. The characters and their actions were so realistic that it often felt like reading a work of non-fiction rather than fiction. I struggled to like Ani sometimes due to her downright b!tchy personality, but overall I understood her edge (and at times, her cruelty) because of everything she went through and the lack of support she received. She was raw.

I suppose the only aspect of the book I didn’t enjoy was Ani’s preoccupation with the world of privilege. I got a bit tired of the name and brand dropping, as well as hearing about the “rules” required to fit into New York’s “elite”. It felt like a page out of Gossip Girl.

I recommend this book and will definitely be checking out other books by this author!