My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Sweet but confusingly fickle teen love story.
Would I pick this book up if I was browsing at a store? 99% not. (Might have something to do with very toxic pink of the inside cover of Owlcrate edition, tbh.) The themes in this book are something I have absolutely no first-hand knowledge of, and could hardly relate to (hoods, black cultures, teenage dating). Doesn’t mean I wasn’t interested in them, I love to read from perspectives of different cultures, but it does mean that for the whole duration of this book I couldn’t really tell if I should be taking it seriously (believing what it was putting down), or not. In fact, I would actually like to know how people who relate to the background of this story (who come from the area and cultures described) felt about this book. Is it relatable or is it laying it too thick?
I would have given this book more stars, because it has its own world, and the writing is pleasant and charming, if not for one thing – the main character. And I honestly couldn’t tell if this was a writing quality problem of inconsistency of presentation, or if it was a realistic representation of type of a teenage girl mentality I simply didn’t want to know anything about… One minute she is clever and responsible, the next she is arrogantly blind and annoying. Is she calling this boy a ‘home’, and saying how it is easy, comfortable, and ‘right’ to be with him, or is she only going out with him to make the other boy jealous? One minute she says ‘you gotta have your boy’s back’, the next she believes what someone else told her about him withing a second. In fact, she kind of seems to believe whoever was the last to talk to her. I love him, I hate him, I love him, we can’t be together,… every three-four pages the main character changes what she thinks and feels and if that’s how teenage girls are supposed to be I’m glad I wasn’t really around for that phase.
The reason I’m more inclined to believe that this is a writing issue is that a lot of other characters are treated in the same way. A boy who was supposed to be in love with her sister for a very long time suddenly is in love with other girl and there isn’t any explanation, a girls who was almost an antagonist and bitchy as hell is suddenly all nice and helping, there are characters who get introduced and dismissed right away, and story points that could have gone somewhere being dropped and forgotten all over the place… Everything is just so… fickle.
This book felt like it could have a lot of potential the way it began, but about half way through it’s like it was all rushed through and scrambled, like the author just had to finish it and be done with it, leveling behind undone more than half of ideas that she had at some point.
Should probably also mention that this book is full of poetry, and it seems like it would be a big plus for those who enjoy it.
Overall, I feel like I wish this book could have been rewritten properly, with more depth and exploration, picking up all the little branches and focusing on its own details, and then I could have actually honestly liked it.