Saturday, February 23, 2013

Novel Review: The Sweet, Terrible, Glorious Year I Truly, Completely Lost It by Lisa Shanahan

Genre: YA Contemporary (Light-Romance)
Rating (Out of 5): ~3 (maybe 3.5)
Publisher: Random House (Delacorte Press)
Spoilers?: Very Minor.
Buy it here: Amazon.

Goodreads Synopsis:

IN MY FAMILY, when anyone rides the wave of their emotions, we say they're chucking a birkett. When the emotion drives out all common sense, we say they're chucking a big one. The telltale signs are: flaming cheeks, shortness of breath, bulging eyes, and a prolonged illogical outburst.

Gemma Stone is convinced that it's always unseemly to chuck a birkett and that it's actually insane to chuck one in front of a complete stranger. But that was before she fell for a boy who barely knows she exists, before she auditioned for the school play, before she met the family of freaks her sister Debbie is marrying into, before the unpredictable Raven De Head took an interest in her, and before she realized that at the right time and for the right reason, a birkett could be a beautiful thing.

Something Specific:

  •  "Love is more than a 'sit down on your throne while the doves swoon round your head and someone hand-feeds you grapes and chocolates' affair. It's just as much a 'get down on your knees and clean dog poo off a shoe' kind of thing." (Hardback, pg. 243) I just found this thought interesting. It's brought up more than once, and while I wouldn't have minded it being said less crudely, I did like the thought that love's not just butterflies, it's also hard work.


This book was not quite what I expected. I thought it would be much more cutesy and light, when it actually had some darker elements to it. And now I’m just not sure if I actually enjoyed it or not.
This book is about Gemma, who, despite always being terrified of speaking in front of people, tries out for the play and turns out to actually be pretty good at acting. She likes this boy Nick, only to start actually growing feelings for a boy who has always gotten on her nerves, Raven. Plus, her sister is getting married, and is forcing her to be the flower girl and wear this hideous swan-like outfit.
Gemma was alright. Her sister, Debbie, was very dramatic. I didn’t mind her parents.
I even kind of enjoyed the interactions between them all and Debbie’s fiance’s family. They’re all military crazy, and it was entertaining.
I did like Raven and his family. Especially his younger brothers. I was a bit surprised by this one violent scene between them, and thought that something more serious should have happened in conclusion because of it, and am a little confused as to why nothing did. And then there was something very sad that happened to one of them at the end, and I didn’t like that very much.
So, even though I did like Raven and Gemma together, there was a romantic element between her sister and her sister’s fiancĂ©, that was related to Gemma and Raven, and even her parents, that made it seem like they were all just settling, and I didn’t like that. I don’t like the thought of settling, though. But, I mean, maybe I’m wrong.
But, in particular, during the wedding scene, Debbie pauses before saying ‘I do’, and it just seemed like she was considering whether she was making the right choice, and when she finally chose to say yes, it seemed like she’d decided that she did want to settle with him, and I just didn’t like that. It probably doesn't help that I didn't think they were going to last, that some things hinted at them breaking up, and yet they stayed together anyway, without actually showing us why. Another thing about it that bothered me, I think, is the fact that it seemed like only the women were settling; we didn't get to see much on the men's side of it. Maybe it’s just me, though.
Then, while I think the title is actually kind of cute, it’s trying to hint and cause anticipation to when Gemma finally explodes and makes a big deal of something, and that moment was just horrible. I thought it would be great, maybe fist-pump worthy, but it was actually wince-worthy and made me embarrassed for her. I didn’t like it, and that disappointed me.
Other than that, though, I kind of enjoyed the book. I liked the way in which she got over Nick, and I liked the darker elements of the story, and all the scenes with Raven and his family. The writing wasn’t too bad, and it was especially Australian, and at points the humor was really good.
Overall, I think this was just a bit over average, and there were some things that I especially liked.

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