August 23, 2013

Let's Get Personal

Fact: I don't like coffee. I just like saying Coffee Clutch in my best and deepest New York accent. Considering I'm a New Yorker, I'm pretty freaking good at it. So I've got my tea and I hope you have your heated beverage of choice, because it's time to gab the day away.

Every now and again I'll read a book that I can REALLYREALLYREALLY relate to. There'll be this personal connection that either makes me smirk or sob or nod at every page. Usually it's because I've gone through something the character(s) in the book have gone through. Or maybe it's because I've felt the way the character(s) in the book felt, even if that feeling was caused by something completely different.

I've actually had this happen to me with 3 books over the last couple of months:

1. Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland
I actually wrote Leila an e-mail because I nodded at the whole friend break-up aspect of this book. Friend break-ups truly suck. They're confusing and depressing, even if said break-ups make sense or truly need to happen for one reason or another. It's all very stressful and unhappy. Which is annoying because I've gone through quite a few. 

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
This book's main character could have been named Gaby. Even though I don't have a twin and, as far as I know, no REALLY CUTE, understanding guys named Levi crushed on me in college. But, like, whoa Cath and I have a lot in common. I was a serious shut in in college. Like, my friends stopped inviting my places because they didn't think I'd want to come. By the time I hit the middle of sophomore year I wanted to transfer so badly. And I'm pretty sure this is the first time I've ever really admitted how close I came to acting on that desire. In the end, fear kept me where I was. Which I feel also fits with this book. So. Yeah. Cath, we should be friends. Or not. Because, like, no one needs a shut in enabler.

3. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Again, no cute boys and definitely not Paris, but I totally, entirely and completely understand being in a complicated friend situation. (Sans the romance, of course. Why is my life always sans the romance and cute boys?)

I feel like I can talk more about number 2 (and I probably will when I get to writing my Fangirl review) because it's my story and only my story. But numbers 1 and 3 involve interactions with other people and I just can't. But both hit me hard and both made me think about my choices when I was in those situations. Actually, all three made me thing about my choices when I was in those situations. They make me wonder if I made the right choices and they made me wish I'd had those books when I WAS going through those situations. They could have been like guidebooks for me, y'know?

Jennifer Lawrence gets it.
And I think that's how these authors know they've done a good job with the writing. (Or at least that's how I know these authors have done a good job with the writing.)

But it's also how I (and everyone else) should know that YA is so incredibly relevant to the age group it's meant for (because I really, really, really could have at the very least used Anna and the French Kiss much earlier in my life) but also how relevant it is to me NOW, as a 23 year-old. Do I think/know adult fiction isn't relevant for me, too? No. I don't. But right now, my personality requires YA to help me untangle my brain. It's also wonderful at cheering me up, making me laugh, tugging the heart strings, making me all nostalgic, reminding me to be happy a bad part of my life is over or will be soon and a whole bunch of other really good things.

But I digress. This post isn't really about why YA is relevant and awesome. It's more about my personal experience with YA - and yours.
So, do me a favor and take a second to think of a book or two that REALLY resonated with you. Jot them down in the comments below. You don't have to say why. I'd just like to know. Maybe they could be good for someone else too!


  1. "But right now, my personality requires YA to help me untangle my brain."

    OMG, yes. Yes, yes, everything you've said. Also that Fangirl also really spoke to me about my college experience... in which I *did* end up transferring. But sometimes books speak so much to your personal experience that's kind of magical and painful at the same time. Perfect post, Gaby :)

  2. OMG Anna and the French Kiss hit me right in the feels on a personal level too. So did ummm. Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin :/. I REALLY expected to connect with Fangirl (because I AM ONE.) butttt, while I liked it, Cath wasn't a book BFF.

    More recently THIS SONG WILL SAVE YOUR LIFE OMGGGGG. That one really really got me personally and it was amazing.

  3. I never wanted to live in a book as much as I wanted to live in Fangirl because I understood Cath THAT much. <33

    Lovely post as always!

  4. Oh my gosh, I feel the same way about Cath from Fangirl. It was crazy, and I talk about it in my review of Fangirl, too. Not only did I prefer to stay in, but I had a similar problem that she had with her sister. Although my issue was not about my sister (I'm an only child) but with my friend.

    It's almost too much, sometimes, when I identify with a character so strongly.

  5. It's funny how when I was 17 I was reading books for people my age, and now that I'm my age, I'm reading books that I probably should have read when I was 17. I think that sometimes we do need YA to help untangle our brains (ps I loved that sentence!). But it's so much more than that. Adult novels are great. I think they can speak to us in ways that YA cannot. But I think that YA, for some people, speaks to them in the way that they need. Maybe that's why I find it so relatable - I've been through that age and have come out okay. It's wonderful finding books that have characters who are going through things that I went through - it's like an outlet to find deeper meaning in my own life!

  6. Forgot to comment on this earlier!

    For me that book is Paper Towns by John Green. It's a book about moving on and growing up and cutting ties that need to be cut. I read it the summer after my freshman year of college, when all those things were happening to me, and I was only 18. Perfect book at the perfect time. I'll always love it for that reason.


  7. I am still trying to recover from your comment that you don't like coffee! LOL I get exactly what you are talking about. The character and I do not necessarily have had to go through the same experience, but rather the way she/he feels brings back similar memories of my own feelings or how I would feel in the situation.

  8. Friend break-ups are HORRIBLE. I've been there, about two years ago and in some ways I'm still getting over mine because it was a long-time friendship. I'm sorry you've been there too, girl.

    BUT ANNA. I'm so so happy you loved Anna. :)

  9. This is part of why I wish "New Adult" could be a real thing and encompass other genres instead of being so romance-heavy. Sure, people at that age are going to have relationships, often some pretty defining relationships... but there's just so much more that could be done. I know I "discovered" myself a lot more in my 20's than I did in my teens, and I would love to read more coming-of-age kind of stories where the characters are out of high school, or even out of college.

    As for a character that I personally connect to... I just read Lauren Graham's Someday, Someday, Maybe (which, perhaps not so coincidentally, could be considered the kind of "New Adult" I'm looking for, though I've never heard it marketed as such) and the main character Franny... I totally get her. Her awkwardness, the fact that she's always over-thinking everything, always in her head... yeah, I get that big-time.

  10. I LOVE THIS! Books that resonate with me like these three did with you are ones that end up being my all time favorites, if only because of that one aspect. It makes me feel like I'm not alone in the world, and like everything I feel is not something I alone feel. If that makes sense. This is exactly why Gayle Forman's Just One Day speaks to me so much. Sure, I love that Willem is Dutch and that it takes place in Paris and that the writing is beautiful, but I could also REALLY relate to Allyson. Not the entire time, but at the parts I thought were most crucial: the start of her college year, and the way this makes her feel. I, too, have felt depressed like that when I first started college. Reading about someone, even if it's a character, that feels the same is a relief. Just One Day, for me, is mostly about that time after high school when you're "trying to find yourself", which sounds silly but it's the truth. This is why I can't *really* deal with people criticizing that book. It feels too personal.

  11. This is an awesome post. My top three (incidentally all read this summer) Catching Liam by Sophia Bleu, OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu and The Moon and More by Sarah Dessen.

    I really resonated with Jillian in Catching Liam because we both have health problems and we are both afraid to let any man close to us emotionally.

    I resonated with Bea in OCD Love Story because I too have OCD (Much milder than she does)but I understood her so well.

    I resonated with Emaline from The Moon and More because we both have basically absent fathers in our lives. Only difference is that she won the stepdad jackpot.

  12. I adore this post because I completely agree -- sometimes books really speak to me because I can relate to the characters and what they're going through. Two good examples for you: Just One Day and Golden.

  13. Ahhhh! I love this topic. Also, I share one of your responses, the only one I've read: Fangirl. That book. Seriously MY FEELS. I can't even about how much that book meant to me and how much I related to Cath, even if I'm not quite to that level of socially awkward and socially terrified. Seriously, with the nodding every page. Meant to Be was another one. Julia is a lot like me, only way motivated with school work.

    A.S. King and John Green are sort of like that, but it's less the characters than the writing. Basically every line is something I want to slap on a t-shirt because it's exactly how I feel about the world.

    Oh, oh. Also Mira Grant's Newsflesh. They are my sarcasm/cynicism in book form.


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