By: Rainbow Rowell
I'm going to preface this review by saying I don't truly enjoy much contemporary. I understand why a lot of people enjoy it, I just generally don't. Usually it is much too meandering for me. BUT, this book was one of the best books I've ever read, contemporary or otherwise. It was near perfect. I loved every bit of it straight to pieces. I get being in fandoms. It's a part of my life and so I was able to connect with that aspect of the book on a fundamental level (I don't write or read fanfiction or anything, but I do participate in other aspects of fandom life). This book sort of addresses the other side of
Cath: Wow. I related to her on nearly every level. She's nerdy, socially awkward, and has anxiety. She was genuine. I feel like she is a real person who exists in the world. I loved that this book was never about changing Cath. She grew quite a bit, but she didn't have to change the way she dressed or spent a lot of her time for the story to progress. It was always okay for her to be a nerdy writer who spent a lot of time, well, writing.
I loved that she learned to trust other people, like Levi and Reagan, and even learned to trust Wren and her dad. And most importantly she began trusting and utilizing her own voice in her writing toward the end and it was beautiful.
Levi: CAN I JUST HAVE A LEVI? PLEEASE? Someone find me one, quick. Levi is like this adorable, dorky teddy-bear. I love it when he smiled, which he did every two seconds. I think it's not overly often that you find a love interest that isn't even slightly interested in being brooding or mysterious. Levi was charming and goofy and smiley most of the time. It was endearing.
Then the part when Levi thought Cath was embarrassed of his grades. "I'm not angry, sweetheart."
And when they had a tiny spat about her writing but then he realized he was wrong and waited outside the door for her.
And I loved how he insisted on calling her Cather most of the time.
And I loved that he came rushing to the hospital when she needed him because he just had to be there for her, even for just a few minutes. He's a gem.
And Levi having Cath read to him and really listening to her writing.
"I'm sorry I yelled at you," he said.
"Did you yell at me?"
"I raised my voice."
I seriously cannot stand how adorable he is. I think...(and this is a big deal, folks)... I think I have a new all-time favorite book crush. It's Levi. Always Levi.
And now for some of my favorite Levi-Cath-moments:
"And I just want to know---are you rooting for me? Are you hoping I pull this off?"
"I would like to welcome you to East Campus."
"I like it," Cath said, looking around. "It's dark. There are trees."
"You can park your snark at the gate, Omaha."
(a text message) "back in Arnold. gorgeous day. did you know Arnold has loess canyons and hills? the biological diversity would make you weep Cather Avery. call me sweetheart. and by that I mean that you should call me..not that you should call me sweetheart tho you can if you want. call me call me call me."
"Maybe we should go on lots of double dates," Cath said, "and then we can get married on the same day in a double ceremony, in matching dresses, and the four of us will light the unity candle all at the same time."
"Pfft," Levi said, "I'm picking out my own dress."
Most of all what I loved about him was that he wasn't JUST a love interest. He was his own, well-defined, genuinely well-written character who also happened to be an adorable love interest for Cath.
Reagan: She cracked me up constantly. I love that she was truly a good friend to Cath in her own, sort of offbeat way. I love that the two girls could have been made to resort to petty drama, but instead they were allowed to be mature characters who handled things in an adult manner. The beautiful thing is that this book didn't have to resort to drama to hold the reader's attention. It was charming enough on its own.
Wren: She took some warming up to, but I loved her because Cath loved her. And I ended up loving her toward the end when we really got to see what the sister relationship had been like between them before all the trouble started.
Arthur: I keep using this word in the review, but he was PRECIOUS. I loved his dynamic with the girls. He also had his own interesting arc in the story. He learned how to let go of his girls as they went off to college, but also how to be the authority figure that they needed when they needed one. I mean, I loved when he pulled out this line,
"Don't talk to me about your life, kid. You've shown complete disregard for your life."
I loved the whole groups' kind of odd friendship vibes when they were all together in a scene. For example, the scene where Reagan, Wren, and Levi were all there for Cath with Nick. FREAKING PRECIOUS.
Rainbow Rowell's writing style (at least in the two books of hers that I have read) always seems to fit her subject matter and her character's voice brilliantly. I loved some of the phrasing in this book. I think that quirky style she has just made this book shine brighter. Example,
"Levi's smile broke free and devoured his whole face. It started to devour her face, too."
This book was precious and beautiful and incredible and heart-warming. I wish I could re-read it for the first time again so I could experience it again. I know this will end up on my favorite books of the year list and I'm pretty dang sure I'll be picking up every book Rainbow Rowell ever writes.
"In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you."
"They were just stories, but stories weren't just anything."
"tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow."
"To really be a nerd, she decided, you had to prefer fictional worlds to the real one."
"Happily ever after, or even just together ever after, is not cheesy."
"Sometimes writing is running downhill, your fingers jerking behind you on the keyboard the way your legs do when they can't quite keep up with gravity.