I have been stewing for days on how to properly write my review for this one. I won an ARC of the book on Goodreads and if that hadn’t happened, I wouldn’t have picked this up on my own. I hadn’t won anything in awhile so I was excited! Boy was that short lived. The only thing this story has going for it is that it is a quick read. The entire story is written in the format of emails and texts so there is that.
Short recap: Best friends, Ava and Gen, are starting their Freshman years at colleges on opposite sides of the US. They have sworn to keep in touch every day by writing emails and sending texts.
That’s all I have to say about the recap. I’m keeping that part short because everything else about the story was all over the charts. I did finish the story but I was not happy when it was over, other than I didn’t have to read it anymore. I realized that I never connected to any of the characters and I didn’t care what was happening in the story, But let’s be honest, when a story is written in this type of format, how much story can really be given/told? There is NO world building other than what is given in emails. Hell, I never even knew what the characters looked like other than one was brunette and one was blonde. I never figured out the ultimate reason for this story, other than to see if two “best friends” could truly survive being so far away from each other? Shrug. Here is what really chapped my ass about this book: there are some very serious topics discussed yet none of them are resolved by the end. None. You cannot honestly expect to drop such serious/heavy topics into a book and then glaze over them, can you, Dunn & Raskin? Here are the topics I’m talking about:
- Mental illness
- Self harm
- Past suicide attempts/thoughts of current suicide attempts
All of these were mentioned several times but none of them came to any resolution. They were almost used like punchlines of bad jokes. I cannot have any respect for authors that don’t take these topics seriously.
Both characters, Gen and Ava, have one or more of the above issues but I felt the way they were handled was horrid. Gen came out to Ava about being queer and being part of the LBGTQ+ community. Ava did not react well and asked if it was a phase (ouch). Plus, anytime Ava had questions or didn’t agree with how Gen was behaving, Gen immediately called her a homophobe and shut down. Uh… probably not the right way to respond. Your BFF just wants to understand so how about you help her instead of being a bitch? On top of that, Gen’s father is a long time alcoholic which lead Gen to some very bad and reckless decisions as an adult. Did Gen ever get help for her father’s problems, which spilled into her life? No. No she did not. She never talked about them to anyone but Ava but was defensive when therapy was suggested. Ava, while having some serious issues of her own, seemed to be slightly more stable than Gen and that’s saying something. Ava was the one with a mental illness (other than OCD and severe anxiety, nothing else is discussed but it is always hinted that something serious happened when she was little that caused her to go on Prozac at the age of 10), had a past suicide attempt, and was currently doing self harm. Ava does constantly complain about her inexperienced therapist and whined about being on medication but nothing else really happened. Ava claims she has the most wonderful and loving parents but the don’t seem concerned about her current behaviors of hurting herself. They also do not check in regularly about her therapy sessions. What in the actual?! These two characters are seriously all over the place. I wanted to root for them but how could I? They were both self-destructive in their own ways and refused to seek help. They also shut down when the other called them out on stupid stuff they were doing. Between the two, I tended to side more with Ava when she was calling Gen out on her wrongdoings but I’ll be damned if Gen wasn’t the hurtful one. Ava was clearly the dependent one in this relationship and that was troubling. It felt as if she couldn’t cope or survive if Gen wasn’t her friend. That is not healthy.
In the beginning of this story, I was willing to stick it out. It quickly turned into a massive trainwreck that I couldn’t look away from. This was supposed to be a humorous story, as each friend experiences several “firsts” during their Freshman year, but this story was anything but funny. This story was so heavily packed with super current topics/references/phrases/slang that it will quickly be dated, if it isn’t already and it hasn’t released yet. And while we are at it – let’s be real for a moment… nobody really talks like these two friends did. Nobody is that on point with their witty retorts and snarky comebacks. Nobody. Gen was having a bad day and BOOM! Ava would hit back with just the right quip to make things better. I call BS on that. There was so much slang and jargon that I found myself Googling what they were saying because I was lost on what was being said. (Yep, it was that bad.) The part that really got my goat and actually pissed me off was when these authors (loose term) dropped the name and actual link to their YouTube channel. No lie. It was added as a PS to an email and I nearly set the book in fire to be rid of it. Are you effing kidding me?! GIVE ME A BREAK! How desperate are you?! How tacky can you get?! The answer is “very” in case you were wondering.
I’m sure you can guess that I did not like this book. The one and only thing it had going for it was that it was a quick read. But let’s be real, you can’t be expected to write too much of a compelling story if everything is in snarky email comments and two worded texts, am I right? Do I recommend this? Not a snowball’s chance in hell. This was a steaming pile of what the eff and I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. It was insulting, not funny, and the story goes nowhere. There really is too much crammed into this story and none of it is handled well, if at all. It’s like these authors (loose term) wanted to take every serious topic they could get their hands on and put it into one 288 page book. Not a good idea because this did not work. Not one bit. Will I read anything else from either of these people? Nope. No way.