March 30, 2014

Review: From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas

From What I Remember
Author: Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas
Release Date: May 15th, 2012
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Page Count: 462
Source: Purchased
First Reaction: An absurd trip to Mexico that had way more heart than I thought it would.
KYLIE: Mexico? What a nightmare! I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY! Wait! Is this a wedding band on my finger??

MAX: It started with Kylie's laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics and it ended in Ensenada. It was hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we're stranded here, with less than twenty-four hours before graduation.

WILL: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was stuck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border but there's no reason to rush back home right away. This party is just getting started.

LILY: This cannot be happening. It's like some cruel joke. Or a bad dream. I close my eyes and when I reopen them, they're still there. Max and Kylie Flores, freak of the century. In bed together. If Kylie thinks I'm giving him up without a fight, she's dead wrong.

[Summary Source: Goodreads]


Kylie's queen of uptight - she's a loner who can't wait to graduate and get out. Will's her gay best friend who spends most of his time purposely not fitting in and making everyone feel as uncomfortable as possible. Max is the jock who doesn't seem to care about anything or anyone. Lily is the prima donna popular girl who happens to be dating Max. This book answers the question: What happens when Kylie, Will, Max, and Lily's lives collide?

By character please...

Kylie: Kylie's pretty much the driving force of this book. She insists on doing this project with Max. It's her laptop that gets stolen. She insists on her and Max chasing down the guy who stole her laptop. She accidentally gets herself and Max kidnapped by guys with a truck full of stolen goods. This truck then drive two passport-less teens to Mexico. It's one big mess that would have never happened without Kylie. This, however, is not a bad thing. Kylie is a force to be reckoned with. She's headstrong and stubborn, loyal and pretty much as straight arrow as they come. All of these qualities make for a great main character who is more than capable of pulling a book behind her and getting through all kinds of crazy situations (because, y'know, this book is called From What I Remember...)

Max: Max is the popular guy. He's the one who just coasts through everything and doesn't actually feel anything. It's not that he's unhappy with his lot in life, he's just not happy either. He does what people tell him to do and his heart is definitely not in it. Until Kylie comes in and shakes everything up. Yeah, she got him kidnapped, but she also tore Max out of his status quo life - something that desperately needed doing. The mistakes he makes and the way he changes throughout the book (whether because of Kylie or not) are really impressive and entirely enjoyable to read.

Will: Will's not the main focus of this book but I love that he gets his own chapters. He's a secondary character with a lot of depth that I want to know more about. He also gives an outsider's perspective of who Kylie really is (most people see her as an outcast, but Will really knows her since he's her only friend) and that helped develop the story a lot. I'm also really glad he gets his own chapters because he struggles a lot with his identity throughout the book and the way he shifts into a new way of thinking is both gradual and enlightening.

Lily: Lily is the mean girl. You'd think this would mean I wouldn't want anything to do with her, but, somehow, by the end of it all, I care. A lot. I even get mad at Max for basically cheating on her and not really caring about her - because he's such a boy I can't even handle it. But at the end of it all, I can't really hate her or Max. They're both are who they are and they're not suddenly going to become perfect, relatable characters. They, especially Lily, stay in character, but prove they're worthy of the reader's affection (and, in Max's case, Kylie's affection) all the same.

Jake: Jake is Kylie's autistic little brother. He only has a few chapters from his POV and they're absolutely fantastic. I don't really have much more to say than that. But he's worth noting, at the very least.

More things I loved: 
1. The Parents - They don't get a lot of on-page action, but what they think, their worries, and all that other stuff is very heavily factored into the book and all of the characters actions and I love that.
2. The Shenanigans - I was told this book was the YA version of The Hangover when it comes to the level of Shenanigans. I haven't seen The Hangover and I'm not sure how realistic the series of events this book presents are, but I definitely enjoyed the read all the same.
3. The deep family stuff - Each character has a bucket full of family drama and all of it somehow pieces into the larger story. It's great and I love it. Very Love, Actually, but on a much smaller scale.

Basically, From What I Remember is a well thought-out, wild ride that you'd never believe takes place over the course of just a few days. Except it does. And it works.

The long and short of it?

Plot: Intricate but well pieced together and full of shenanigans I loved.
World Building: I still don't know how probable this series of events in, but I liked how once those things happened and characters were put in certain situations, nothing was convenient and everything had to be carefully sorted out to get our everyone to graduation.
Character Development: This book takes place in a very short amount of time and yet these characters grow brilliantly in leaps and bounds. It's crazy to think how quickly big changes can sweep through your life and completely alter your outlook on things.
Prose: Absolutely devour-able. And each character has a distinct voice, which is perfection.
Would I Recommend This Book?: Love realistic fiction that's light, fun and crazy with just a dash of serious stuff that may or may not make your chest feel heavy and your eyes water just a little bit? Maybe you're into multi-point-of-view books with a page count that's up there? This is the book for you.

Do you shy away from chunkers like this one? Or maybe the multi-POV and The Hangover-esque summary help you past that. Perhaps you've already read this book and you know how good it is. Whatever the case, let me know what you're thinking in the comments!