Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

Publisher: Penguin Young Readers GroupPages: 375Series or Stand Alone: Stand Alone
Summary: Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning.... Welcome to forever.
BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.
But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.
With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?

I went back and forth on whether or not to read this one. On the one hand, I thought that the whole dying-of-a-broken-heart-thing was pure cheese. When I gave it a shot, Brie’s voice won me over enough for me to read the whole thing through. Plus, I haven’t read too many dead girl books, so I’m giving the whole topic a shot.
Here’s the deal: Brie’s heart literally splits in half after her boyfriend breaks up with her, sending her to that big pizza place in the sky (I’m serious). With the help of fellow dead person and apparent spirit guide Patrick, a boy who looks like he kicked it in the 80s, Brie observes her family and friends in her absence. At first Brie is snarky, but when she notices how quickly things are falling apart, she becomes devastated and desperate. Once Brie goes through the five stages of grief, she might find that there may be more to her afterlife than she previously thought.
Brie wasn’t your average “dead girl book” heroine--rather than become an ethereal, drifting soul that becomes a wonderful, repentant, serene observer, she remains exactly who she was when she died. She was a teenage girl with a broken heart and a decent amount of anger. She was pissed off, she was pretty snarky, and she was a delight to read--at first.
Her issues with her boyfriend and friends spur on acts of cruelty that did not endear her to me at all. I felt that the physical and mental implications of her actions made her seem almost sociopathic rather than merely upset. This was such a strong read in the beginning, but the story clearly tapered off for me at some point. The middle seemed to lack focus. What I started reading in the beginning in no way prepared me for the ending of the story, which I found to be both a good and bad thing.
Side note: this story reminded me strongly of the “Tale of the Prom Queen” episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark. It made me want to watch it quite badly. Now that I’m talking about it, I want to watch it all over again. Curses!
All and all, I have an entirely mixed review for Jess Rothenberg’s The Catastrophic History of You and Me. However, due to the many benefits the beginning of the story had (and I’ll say the end as well), I’m excited to see what Jess Rothenberg has in store for us next!

Rating: 3 - fair.

1 comment:

  1. I am in total agreement with your review- we had very similar mixed reactions to the book. I think the author has a great writing style and voice, so it'll be really interesting to see what topic she tackles next.