Review: Hyacinth Girls by Lauren Frankel

hyacinth girls

Publisher: Crown Publishing
Publication Date: May 12th, 2015

Synopsis: A stunning debut about a young teenager on the brink and a parent desperate to find the truth before it’s too late.

Thirteen year old Callie is accused of bullying at school, but Rebecca knows the gentle girl she’s raised must be innocent. After Callie is exonerated, she begins to receive threatening notes from the girl who accused her, and as these notes become desperate, Rebecca feels compelled to intervene. As she tries to save this unbalanced girl, Rebecca remembers her own intense betrayals and best-friendships as a teenager, when her failure to understand those closest to her led to tragedy. She’ll do anything to make this story end differently. But Rebecca doesn’t understand what’s happening or who is truly a victim, and now Callie is in terrible danger.
This raw and beautiful story about the intensity of adolescent emotions and the complex identity of a teenage girl looks unflinchingly at how cruelty exists in all of us, and how our worst impulses can estrange us from ourselves – or even save us.

My Review:

One of the most memorable books that I have come across is probably Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher.  Hyacinth Girls reminds me so much of that book, only much deeper.  This book, as well as a few other books about bullying and the drastic consequences that it has on its victims, tend to shed light on the issue, and give it the light it deserves so that more attention can be paid to it, and everyone can understand what a serious problem bullying is.

This book starts off with one of our main characters, Rebecca, being called away from work into the principal’s office of the fourteen year old girl she has guardianship over.  According to the art teacher, Callie walked over to her peer, Robyn, and threw red paint all over her.  Rebecca cannot believe that Callie would be this cruel, and Callie’s friends lie and say that Robyn dumped paint on herself to get Callie in trouble.  Things escalate from there, with notes showing up at Callie’s mother’s grave, at their apartment, and so on, and Rebecca’s and Callie’s stories come to light.  We don’t exactly find out what really happens until almost the end of the novel, but we are given bits and pieces of it throughout the book.  Between chapters are Callie’s interactions with Robyn, from memories to e-mails and instant messages.

I read this book in less than a day, because I was completely hooked and wanted to see what was going to come of Callie’s story.  It was a fast, enjoyable read that really left an impression.

Hyacinth Girls is a heartbreaking look at how bullying can affect pretty much everyone…and the harrowing depths that it can push those victims to.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Review: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry by Fredrik Backman

my grandmother asked me to tell you she's sorry

Publication Date: June 16th, 2015
Publisher: Atria Books

Synopsis: From the author of the internationally bestselling A Man Called Ove, a charming, warmhearted novel about a young girl whose grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters, sending her on a journey that brings to life the world of her grandmother’s fairy tales.

Elsa is seven years old and different. Her grandmother is seventy-seven years old and crazy, standing-on-the-balcony-firing-paintball-guns-at-men-who-want-to-talk-about-Jesus-crazy. She is also Elsa’s best, and only, friend. At night Elsa takes refuge in her grandmother’s stories, in the Land of Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal.

When Elsa’s grandmother dies and leaves behind a series of letters apologizing to people she has wronged, Elsa’s greatest adventure begins. Her grandmother’s letters lead her to an apartment building full of drunks, monsters, attack dogs, and totally ordinary old crones, but also to the truth about fairytales and kingdoms and a grandmother like no other.

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry is told with the same comic accuracy and beating heart as Fredrik Backman’s internationally bestselling debut novel, A Man Called Ove. It is a story about life and death and an ode to one of the most important human rights: the right to be different.

My Review:

I absolutely loved A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman.  It was one of the most touching, important books that I have read, probably in my lifetime.  It had a wonderful message and it was such a touching story that I’m not sure if any other books could ever come close to it for me.

This book was on my list of highly anticipated books of 2015.  I was so excited to read it and get drawn into the story like I did with A Man Called Ove, and that definitely happened.  I enjoyed the story and the characters, for the most part.  I loved how mature Elsa seemed for her age (although I’m not sure it was completely believable all the time), and how close she was to her grandmother.

I thoroughly enjoyed the fairy tale theme that went on in this story, about the Land-of-Almost-Awake (Elsa’s grandmother told her tons of fairy tales, and they are all incredibly important to the story line, so don’t be tempted to skim these) and all the kingdoms and characters (that eventually tie in to Elsa’s real life).

While I didn’t find myself as drawn to this book as I was drawn into A Man Called Ove, mostly because it seemed a bit drawn out, and some of the characters (like Elsa’s parents) really irritated me, it was a book that I can truthfully recommend to fans of Fredrik Backman’s debut novel, or anyone who enjoys a good story that has the ability to transport you into a whole other world.  It was funny, it was happy, it was sad, and sometimes it was all three at the same time, but no matter what it was, it was a great story of how love can last, and how people you love will always be with you, even when it doesn’t seem like it.

Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Review: A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman

a man called ove
Publication Date: July 15th, 2014
Publisher: Atria Books

Synopsis: In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

In this bestselling and delightfully quirky debut novel from Sweden, a grumpy yet loveable man finds his solitary world turned on its head when a boisterous young family moves in next door.

Meet Ove. He’s a curmudgeon—the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him “the bitter neighbor from hell.” But must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?

Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.

A feel-good story in the spirit of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, Fredrik Backman’s novel about the angry old man next door is a thoughtful and charming exploration of the profound impact one life has on countless others.

My Review:

With the upcoming release of Fredrik Backman’s new novel, My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry, I thought that I would do a special review of his debut novel, A Man Called Ove.  I had originally reviewed this book on GoodReads, but since I’ll be reviewing My Grandmother asked Me to Tell You She’s Sorry this coming week, I thought it would be a good plan to post a review on A Man Called Ove, because it truly is an amazing book.

When I first stumbled across this book, it was by accident.  I was looking at Amazon Kindle books, to find something new to read, and I saw this listed as a daily deal for only $1.99, so I decided to give it a go.  Everyone seemed to have good things to say about this book, so I figured it might end up being a really good read, and if not, well it was cheap, so it wouldn’t be a big deal.

Wow, was I really blown away by this novel.  It’s a heartwarming story about a man named Ove (and while he’s not really that old in the book, for some reason I always pictured him being much older), who is incredibly grumpy and doesn’t want to be bothered with anything or anyone.  Ove’s wife had passed away, and now that he is alone, he really doesn’t know what to do with himself.  He spends time doing his usual checks of the neighborhood, the recycling, and parking situations.   When he gets laid off from his job, he finds himself landed with more free time, in which he thinks about his wife, and gets incredibly depressed to the point that he doesn’t want to live without her any longer.  So, he does the only thing that he thinks will solve this dilemma – he plans to take his own life.  However, the doorbell rings, and Ove’s adventures with the neighbors truly begin.  They bring him cookies.  They need his help with their children.  They ask for driving lessons.  They interrupt his quiet, lonely life, and at first, Ove hates it.  He wants to be left alone to miss his wife in peace, but after a while, Ove discovers that they aren’t the only ones who need someone…but deep down, maybe Ove needs them, too.

This book is absolutely hilarious in some places, and in others it tends to be heartbreaking and meaningful.  It made me appreciate life and those that are in it, and it has a message that has stayed with me months after reading it.  At any cost, this has been one of the best books I’ve read, and I cannot recommend it enough to those who haven’t had the delightful experience of picking this one up yet.