Welcome back to Reading, Reading, Reading!
Bonjour, this was written by Alyssa Cohen circa November 2018, so some of these references may be referring to quite a few months ago. Enjoy!
I recently just created a new NetGalley account, as my old one was full of really old e-ARCs that I never read (oops!). Since creating the new account, I have been really into reading e-ARCs on my iPad. I always find that I read eARCs/eBooks significantly quicker than the amount of time it normally takes me to read physical books, and I think it’s because I don’t get intimidated by the size of the book, but rather keep reading until I am finished the book. For instance, I ended up reading this book in one sitting!
Senior Ariel Stone is the perfect college applicant: first chair violin, dedicated community volunteer, and expected valedictorian. He works hard – really hard – to make his life look effortless. A failed Calculus quiz is not part of that plan. Not when he’s number one. Not when his peers can smell weakness like a freshman’s body spray. Figuring a few all-nighters will preserve his class rank, Ariel throws himself into studying. His friends will understand if he skips a few plans, and he can sleep when he graduates. Except Ariel’s grade continues to slide. Reluctantly, he gets a tutor. Amir and Ariel have never gotten along, but Amir excels in Calculus, and Ariel is out of options. Ariel may not like Calc, but he might like Amir. Except adding a new relationship to his long list of commitments may just push him past his limit.
I absolutely adored this book. Everything about it was phenomenal, and I honestly think it is one of my new favourite books!
One of my favourite parts of this book had to do with the religious aspect. Ariel and his family are Jewish, and take their Jewish values/traditions very seriously. My family and I are Jewish, just like Ariel’s family. I felt very connected to his family and himself, as I was able to connect with the religious aspects and the way he was raised. While you can (and should) still 100% read this book if you are not Jewish, religion was one of the main themes that I loved about it.
I also felt very connected and appreciated all of the characters involved in this story. Not only did I feel connected to Ariel because of his religion, but I also connected with him because I understood his thoughts and emotions while being in high school. I too am in high school, so I am going through a lot of the same feelings that he went through in this novel. I also loved all of his friends. He surrounded himself with a very caring and smart bunch of people, which motivated him to do well in school. However, it also pushed him to his limits and made him overwhelmed with the amount of work he was doing to try and succeed to the highest possible level in school. His friends also felt this way even though he was not aware of that, which goes to show that you never really know what someone else is going through.
Another one of the main themes that I adored was Ariel’s family dynamic. His parents and sister, Rachel, were very involved in his life. Although, they never pushed him to do anything he didn’t want to do. They respected his space, but also made sure that they knew what was going on with him at all times. Rachel played a big role in Ariel’s life, especially since she was a lot younger than him (I believe they were around seven years apart). They had a very special relationship, and tried to make each other happy when the other was down.
The high school setting of the book was obvious after reading the synopsis, but it was still very important to the story overall. His teachers and guidance counsellor played a crucial part in the story, as they tried to help Ariel succeed and fulfill his academic goals. The guidance counsellor was more prevalent during the second-half of the story, but she acted as a life coach and a therapist, rather than just a guidance counsellor in a ginormous school. She helped Ariel when he was stressed and anxious about school, which felt very real and relatable.
To be completely honest, the plot/storyline in this book was nothing special, but the writing style blew me away. The twists were unexpected, but made a lot of sense and were perfectly explained. Laura wrote clearly and made this book very easy to read, but she included several hidden messages that students of all ages could connect with. Something about the writing made me want to keep on reading and never put the book down. I ended up reading it in just one sitting!
This holds a story of minorities. A jewish gay boy is not typically seen in the YA category, but it was so important for this story to be published. The relationship between Ariel’s boyfriend, and his extremely accepting family was so special to read about, and I enjoyed every second of it. I think this book should be made mandatory for all high school students to read. So many of us think we are alone in high school, especially when it comes to stress about the future. This book goes to show that while not everybody may not be going through the exact same thing, we are all going through similar things to achieve our goals and be successful.
Overall, I absolutely loved this book and gave it 5/5 stars. It was so beautifully written and blew me away! To read my initial thoughts while I was reading the book, click here!
Are you planning on picking this book up? IT’S OUT TODAY!
Thank you to NetGalley/Sourcebooks Fire for providing me with an eARC of this book, I’m so thankful for this opportunity!
Good Night Book Owls!