Sunday, April 15, 2012

21. The Catastrophic History Of You And Me

Book #21: The Catastrophic History Of You And Me
Author: Jess Rothenberg
Published: February 21, 2012
400 pages
4 Gold Stars

(summary from Goodreads)

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?

After reading Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver, I decided it was time to give books about dead girls another chance. Awhile ago I read The Lovely Bones and it was lovely but too sad for me. But Oliver's take on death seemed less sad and more touching. So I took another shot and ended up feeling almost as happy as when I had finished Before I Fall. Rothenberg captured the spirit of a 15-year-old girl perfectly. Where the world revolves around boys, friends, Disney and nothing else. When you're 15, it's the end of the world when a boy doesn't love you, and for Brie, it actually was. She dies of a actual broken heart after her boyfriend breaks up with her and we find ourselves in limbo with her as she goes through the five stages of grief. 

With the help of a very cute dead boy from the '80s, Brie navigates through her afterlife, trying to figure out why she died and how her friends and family are getting along without her. She discovers things she didn't want to know and some things that make her look at the world differently. Her emotions are real. Her grief is real. Her voice sings across the pages and leaves a hole where your heart used to be just so you can feel how she feels. The way she deals with death is as realistic as you could imagine it to be. And Patrick is the perfect companion to her grieving. He's been through it all before and he just wants to help her realize that there's no going back, but that there is a new life for her in Heaven. 

Rothenberg paints a world much like ours, only it's not. Brie's vision of limbo is a mirror of her real life. As she comes to terms with her situation, her world changes with her. It gets ugly when she's mad and depressing when she's sad. Her take on death is refreshing: they can go into the real world but can't touch anything unless they concentrate very hard. They can also do this to make themselves known to the people around them and Brie uses this to her advantage when she's in the Anger stage. 

Brie discovers things about her family, her friends, and even herself. In the confusing world of the afterlife, her adventures are just the beginning. There's something to be said about knowing what would happen after death, and this book is a welcome addition to the ideas of it.

“No matter how much you think you know a person - no matter how pretty they act, or how popular they seem, you can never know what their lives are really like.” 

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