First and foremost: TRIGGER WARNING: Suicide, self-harm, and depression.
I bought this book while walking through a store, drawn to the cover. I had my feels destroyed by LaCour in previous books so I felt I was ready to be hurt again. I had no idea what I was in store for.
Short recap: Caitlin and Ingrid have been friends for what feels like forever. Ingrid kept some pretty serious and huge secrets from Caitlin during their friendship. Big secrets, thoughts, and feelings that lead to her committing suicide. Caitlin found herself alone with only Ingrid’s journal and illustrations. This prompts Caitlin to start a journey that leads to self discovery, hidden secrets, and some type of colsure.
This was a hauntingly beautiful story. It was not easy to read for obvious reasons. Several times I had to set the book down and walk away. I know this will not be everyone’s cup of tea but it was still a powerful read. LaCour tackled some pretty tough topics and she did it with grace. I applaud her for not shying away from this topic. I don’t want to say it the type of story that is necessary in YA but it certainly has its place. It is also one that, handled correctly, can do so much more good than harm.
I am not sure how to properly say how much I enjoyed the story as it is more character-driven than plot-driven. Caitlin was a deeply flawed character and that made her more believable and realistic. I felt for her as she went through her journey with Ingrid’s notebook. I also wanted her to be able to find some sort of peace.
The writing style itself was what stood out the most to me. LaCour has some type of magic she weaved into her words. Everything flowed and felt natural. I quickly turned pages, engrossed in the story, and before I knew it I was done with the story. I ended this with tears in my eyes and a piece of my heart missing. My feels still are not right.
If you have not read this yet, please give it a chance.
“Think of the White Gloves like the Junior League-by way of Skull and Bones?”
Reluctant debutante Sawyer Taft joined Southern high society for one reason and one reason alone: to identify and locate her biological father. But the answers Sawyer found during her debutante year only left her with more questions and one potentially life-ruining secret. When her cousin Lily ropes her into pledging a mysterious, elite, and all-female secret society called the White Gloves, Sawyer soon discovers that someone in the group’s ranks may have the answers she’s looking for. Things are looking up… until Sawyer and the White Gloves make a disturbing discover near the family’s summer home–and uncover a twisted secret, decades in the making.
Kit-with-a-small-k is navigating middle school with a really big, really strange secret: When she’s stressed, she turns into a naked mole rat.
It first happened after kit watched her best friend, Clem, fall and get hurt during an acrobatic performance on TV. Since then, the transformations keep happening—whether kit wants them to or not. Kit can’t tell Clem about it, because after the fall, Clem just hasn’t been herself. She’s sad and mad and gloomy, and keeping a secret of her own: the real reason she fell.
A year after the accident, kit and Clem still haven’t figured out how to deal with all the ways they have transformed—both inside and out. When their secrets come between them, the best friends get into a big fight. Somehow, kit has to save the day, but she doesn’t believe she can be that kind of hero. Turning into a naked mole rat isn’t really a superpower. Or is it?
Keep It Together
KIT’S MOM HAD A TATTOO THAT WOUND AROUND HER LEFT WRIST.
The ink was faded like
something that had been washed so many times it had gotten
thin and holey and was now just a blurry memory
If you looked closely at the tattoo, you could see that the leafy, twining ink wound its way around three tiny, fancy letters—k and i and t—which stood for keep it together. It also spelled kit’s name, which was kit, not Kit, because when kit was a baby, her mom said she was much too small for capital letters. Back then she fit inside her mom’s two hands, a funny wrinkled thing that looked not-quite-ready to be alive, more like a hair- less baby animal than a human being.
“My little naked
mole rat,” her mom would
say every time she saw the first
photo ever taken of kit, which
had been stuck on the fridge
for most of kit’s life.
Then she would put her hand
on her heart.
One day, kit took the picture down and slipped it
into a drawer and her mom didn’t say
it as much any- more, which
was good because
it didn’t exactly
feel like a compliment.
Kit’s mom had had the
tattoo for years before kit existed at all.
I knew you were coming,” she said.
mom often told
people that she was searching for kit for her whole life and the tattoo was the map
that she followed to find her. She
said that when she found kit,
she was saved.
Found made it sound to kit like she was not someone
who was born, but instead
someone who just appeared, maybe in a box on the doorstep. Even though
kit knew this wasn’t true, she sometimes dreamed of scraping her fingernails against cardboard walls, scrabbling to get out.
She also thought that being responsible for saving her mom was an awful lot of pressure. Not that she’d ever say anything; she knew her mom loved that story and the way she told it made kit feel things she didn’t usually feel. It made her feel heroic and kit normally had a pretty hard time imagining that she’d ever be able to save anyone from anything. She was too small to be a hero.
could still sometimes fit into clothes labeled 6x.
size in your shirt should be the same as your
age,” Clem told her once when they were shopping at the Brooklyn Flea, which was the best
place in the
world to find stuff you didn’t
know you needed, and kit had felt worse
than if Clem had reached over and
punched her right in the nose.
Clem was also small, but not nearly as small as kit. She was normal-small. Like kit, Clem and her twin
brother, Jorge, had been born
too early. But unlike kit, the only fallout for them was that Clem had super bad allergies and Jorge had had to wear glasses
since the age of two.
Small-ish and small were
two different things. That was the day kit had bought her favorite hoodie,
the black one with the small rainbow star on the front and the bigger rainbow star on the back. The color was as faded as kit’s mom’s tattoo. It had cost $5, which was the exact amount their moms gave them each to spend. “That looks . . . comfortable,” Clem observed, but she meant, “That looks old.”
Kit didn’t care that Clem didn’t like it. It was big and soft and as soon as she saw it, it looked like it belonged to her. It was already familiar. The fact that it was way too big only meant she wouldn’t grow out of it anytime soon. Clem had spent her $5 on a small glass turtle. “It’s not a very turtle-y turtle,” she said. “Don’t be such a turtle!” she told it.
A lot of what Clem said didn’t
make sense, but it was funny anyway or maybe it was just funny
because it didn’t make sense. They had both laughed
so hard that they had to sit down,
right there on the pavement, the crowd parting around them. Clem clutched the non- turtle-y turtle, tears running down their cheeks, while Jorge looked
dreamily off into the distance, not quite
paying attention to what was so funny. Jorge
was like that. There, but not always
“He has a rich inner life,” Clem said, which made kit
picture a whole miniature world existing inside Jorge. “But
his outer life needs work.”
Clem was someone who was almost always laugh- ing, at least back then. At first, kit had been friends with Jorge because she was friends with Jackson and Jackson was friends with Jorge. It had been the three of them. Clem had bugged her, with her always-laughing thing. But after not very long, kit started to find the same things funny that Clem did, and soon kit and Clem were the closest friends. Their friendship grew to be the biggest and the best. So even when Jackson and Jorge were busy—Jackson with his sports and Jorge with his “rich inner life”—Clem and kit were either together or talking on the phone.
Clem was the most important person in kit’s life, other than her mom. And Clem got it. She understood what kit’s mom was like. She knew what kit’s life was like and that kit had to look out for her mom because her mom had issues.
mom’s main issue was that she
was afraid. She was scared of cancer
and bad guys and fire. She was ter- rified of traffic and heights and
crowds. She was afraid of spiders and germs and blood. The list was
pretty long and always growing.
“K.i.t., keep it together,”
kit would say, and her mom would put on her brave smile
and hold up her wrist so that kit could see she was trying.
Sometimes, kit and her mom would go in the bath- room and perform magic over the tub or sink so the oils and “potions” didn’t spill anywhere that couldn’t be eas- ily cleaned up. They had a whole glass shelf of bottles and jars, labeled with things like bravery and truth or rosemary and sage.
Kit’s mom owned a hair salon. She was a hairdresser,
not a witch, but kit thought her only
employee (and her best friend), Samara,
might be both. If you didn’t know
Samara, you’d think she was just a nice, funny person—
she loved riddles—but once you got
to know her, you’d find out that she
also believed in magic the same way kit did. She believed in spells, believed they could give them courage or
love or money or luck, believed
in the possibility that herbs and
oils and words could really and
truly fix any problem.
Mostly it seemed to be luck that kit’s mom was con- juring, but kit thought she should
specify whether she wanted good luck
or bad. Everything was either one or the other, if you thought about it.
And anyway, details mattered.
“You’re as small as a detail and the details tell the story. You are the best story of all,” kit’s mom liked to say. “I’m not a story!” kit used to always say back, but now that everything had happened, she wasn’t sure this was true anymore.
After all, everybody has a story, even if the story doesn’t feel like a story when you are the one who is living it. It’s only afterward, in the telling, that it becomes the thing it was meant to be all along.
About the author:
Karen Rivers’s books have been nominated for a wide range of literary awards and have been published in multiple languages. When she’s not writing, reading, or visiting schools, she can usually be found hiking in the forest that flourishes behind her tiny old house in Victoria, British Columbia, where she lives with her two kids, two dogs, and two birds. Find her online at karenrivers.com and on Twitter: @karenrivers
Welcome to my blog post where I talk about the books I have been meaning to read, but just have not yet. You know what I am talking about – the books that have remained unread for various reasons yet when you see them you think, “You know, I really need to read that.” Instead you get distracted by another book, series, or something in your TBR pile. It happens to the best of us. I want to spotlight those books in the hope that I can persuade myself to move them up on my TBR list.
This week’s post is dedicated to:
Wild Swans by Jessica Spotswood
No solid reason why I haven’t read this yet 😦 Have you read it?
The epic conclusion to Marissa Meyer’s thrilling Renegades Trilogy finds Nova and Adrian struggling to keep their secret identities concealed while the battle rages on between their alter egos, their allies, and their greatest fears come to life. Secrets, lies, and betrayals are revealed as anarchy once again threatens to reclaim Gatlon City.
**I received an arc from the publisher in exchange for my honest review**
I’ve been struggling with my review of this book… it was a light and fluffy read but it just was not my cup of tea. I was not completely sold the idea for the book premise and I felt the execution was just not done very well. I know that I am the black sheep when it comes to my thoughts and feelings on this book, but it again proves that not every book is for every reader.
My biggest issue with this entire novel was that I did not connect with the voice of the MC, Simran. She came across immature for her age and more boy crazy than anything else. There were times she spoke and acted as if she just discovered boys for the first time. While her mom and aunt were self-proclaimed ‘match makers’, they pushed and pushed and pushed Simran to give into her “natural talents” and become a match maker herself – which she does but with technology (an app that was previously created for her mom/aunt that they refused to entertain). UH… ok. I can get behind the modern technology part of the story but not the rest of it. Simran spent nearly the entire book wondering if the boy she liked really did like her back. Not to mention this boy’s ex-girlfriend was extra for the sake of being extra. That ex was an intense bully who was allowed to get away with bullying. Not sure how that was possible but maybe it was written that way for the sake of the story. Regardless, it caused me to not connect with any part of the story.
The overall story, once I really got into it, felt choppy and underdeveloped. A high school dating app? I can understand the concept but is something like that necessary or was it just for fun? I don’t believe I would have signed up for something like that while I was in school. Those days/years were rough enough for me, I didn’t need to be rejected/made fun of on social media. Talk about adding insult to injury.
I don’t think I need to go on about how I didn’t jive with everything in this novel. I wanted to, I tried but it was just not for me. I am not upset that I read this, just upset at what I read. I needed the character to be a little more grown up and developed, the storyline needed just a little something more to make it… believable is the word I want to use, and the pacing needed to be cleaned up.