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Review: Cures for Heartbreak by Margo Rabb

in a sentence or so: Mia's mom was diagnosed with cancer and died two weeks later. now Mia, her sister
Alex, and their dad are bumbling through their lives, trying to cure their heartbreak.

Mia and her mom were close. they had all of their favorite things in common - shopping, makeup, talking about anything and everything - and they spent much of their time together.  so when her mom's whirlwind of an illness suddenly removes her from the picture, Mia is lost. her sister Alex isn't much help. she's a tomboy in the most extreme sense and is off for college in a few months...which just leaves Mia and her unkempt, socially awkward dad.

this is a story about moving on, without letting go. Mia discovers more about her mother through stories her father shares and ones that she reflects upon in her past. she realizes that while her mother is gone, there are pieces of her that she never knew. that new discoveries about the person she loves so dearly are still possible.

Mia's observations about people and her grieving process are quirky. always starting shallow (physical descriptions) and then on to other traits - endearing or otherwise.  Mia is sarcastic, flawed, bumbling, wounded, hopeful, and devoted.

i read a titch of the notes at the end, and discovered this is a quasi-memoir. which makes a lot of sense - since some of the details felt unnecessary (they were a non-practicing Jewish family, set in the late 1980s, etc).  and some of the frustrations i had - the grief felt insincere, the random appearance of a best friend, the shifts in personality - are consistent with my experience with memoirs.  there was a lack of patient development or exploration into these different areas, partially because with a memoir - it's so personal that it's hard to remember the audience isn't moving at the same pace as the author who lived it.

this is a story about readjusting your life after loss, coming to terms with who people really are, and...boys. i mean, Mia is 15 and all, so boys are still kind of a big priority. there's some funny encounters that are worth the read.  just don't expect to really get cures for heartbreak...just explore Mia's life post-mother.

fave quote: "If grief had a permanence, then didn't also love?" (150 | 159 Nook version)

fix er up: i was surprised at the balance of grief with very ordinary life. i would have appreciated more exploration into Mia's grief. her character felt a bit 2 dimensional.

title: Cures for Heartbreak
author: Margo Rabb
genre: Death, Coming of Age

Review: The Boyfriend List (Ruby Oliver Quartet) by E. Lockhart

in a sentence or so: Lia's got a bad case of panic attacks. it could be because her friends aren't talking to her. or because she inadvertently gained a reputation as a slut.  or it could be because her boyfriend (who she was totally in love with) dumped her for her best friend...

Lia starts going to see a therapist, after her first panic attack in front of her parents (actually, her third panic attack total).  she'd been trying to keep her life together as best as she could. but really, her life has been a lot to handle lately.  Lia and Kim were best friends for years, and then all of the sudden, that's gone. her friendship with her other friends - gone. her social status - gone. not just unpopular, but a total leper. that's thanks to Lia's therapist, who suggested she make a boyfriend list, to try to get at the root of her panic attacks. although, it was Lia's fault to throw away the list (which weren't all boyfriends, by the way) that had her name on it where anyone could grab it and make a zillion xerox copies of it.

we get an analysis of Lia's actions through therapy, which allows us to see her grow.  each chapter is a title of a different 'boyfriend', and so we get some back story along with some current plot development at the same time. the multiple timelines work seamlessly, as if you're having a conversation with a friend.  the footnotes were a fun break from the narrative and supports the familiarity between Lia and the reader.  you feel like you really know her, and what she's about.

i appreciated the lack of a fairy tale ending, however abrupt.  this was light, easy to relate to, and had some fun (and good) advice about friends, relationships, and life. a fun and light read i'd recommend to girls, for sure.

fave quote: "It's all a lie. When you hate someone you used to love, and you think he's done something awful--he probably has. You're not going to love him again. He's not going to apologize, or come back to you. He probably doesn't ever think about you at all, because he's too busy thinking about someone else. Face it. There's not going to be a happy ending...at least not with this hero." (50 | 174 Nook edition)

fix er up: the ending came all of the sudden for me - partially because i'm using an e-reader (and couldn't really tell when the end of the book was) and partially because the resolution was not what i expected at all and left me wanting more closure.

title: The boyfriend list
author: E. Lockhart
genre: Chick Lit, Drama

Review: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

in a sentence or so: Lia and Cassie are friends. were friends, back in the day. back in the day where they obsessed about weight, being the thinnest, most beautiful, most dedicated. Cassie is found dead, alone, in a hotel room and Lia's world falls apart...if it was ever really together.

Lia's anorexic. Cassie is/was bulimic. they drifted apart over the years, mainly because Cassie's parents thought Lia was a bad influence. you can't blame them really, she was. what they didn't know was Cassie was suffering with or without Lia. they try to make sense of her death while Lia tries to get on with her life...which isn't easy considering Cassie's ghost is haunting her. encouraging her to keep getting thinner. fight harder. work longer to join her forever.

there is some mystery in here - how Cassie died, what Lia did/didn't have to do with it.  mostly this is an in depth examination of eating disorders.  the writing is raw, intense, emotional, vivid, and haunting.  we get the first person perspective of Lia's struggle, and are with her every step of the way - forward or backward.

the family dynamics were loosely established, but enough so for us to get an idea of Lia's life inside and outside her head.

ultimately, this showcased Halse Anderson's lyrically intense and emotionally charged writing and an expose of eating disorders. i felt like the plot - while solid and mostly interesting - was merely a background to the character study.  all in all, i recommend this as an excellent ya read, from an amazing writer.

fave quote: "The pills I took an hour ago bang through my veins like metal trash cans blowing down the street.  The snakes in my head wake up, slither down my brain stem, and snap at the dozing vultures.  The birds flap their nightwings once, twice, three times, and circle high in the air.  Their shadows blot out the sun." (181, Nook version)

fix er up: i would have liked a bit more plot/mystery/development with minor characters from time to time.

author: Laurie Halse Anderson
genre: Death, Edgy