Friday, September 2, 2016

OUR CHEMICAL HEARTS BY KRYSTAL SUTHERLAND - BOOK REVIEW

Hello everyone!

I am back with another book review, of a book I LOVED, Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland. Thank you to Penguin Random House USA for giving me a copy of this book. I received it at BookCon and while a review was not solicited, I felt I should still write one as this is an advanced readers copy. As always, all opinions are my own.


Ok, this review may be a bit biased because I loved this book. Like one of my favourite reads of the year, loved it a lot. Now that we got that out of the way, let's talk about the story.

In a refreshing change of pace, we get a male POV, our main character Henry Page. At first, I thought it was going to be alternating perspectives, but I was pleasantly surprised to see it was all Henry, all the time. If you follow me on Instagram (shameless plug) and saw my Instagram Story around the time I was reading this story, you would have seen the various pictures I took of the hilariousness that was Henry's perspective. He was funny without trying too hard, and I loved his inner thoughts. When he first met Grace, she ripped a page out of a book and he was "horrified that she'd injured a book." I found a kindred spirit in Henry and loved the story even more because of it.

Grace, the love interest is a pretty, well, strange. She dresses in boys clothes and has a cane. She transferred senior year from her old school, but Henry doesn't know why, and Grace isn't too keen on sharing. While one of Henry's best friends, Lola, claims Grace is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, you can tell that whatever issues she has, they run deep. I won't say too much about Grace, because she is such an interesting, and truly broken character, that you have to experience her for yourself firsthand.

I don't think there was a "main" secondary character in this book I didn't like. Henry's friends Lola and Murray were great; Lola a tell-it-like-it-is kinda girl who doesn't take anything from anybody, but is always there for her friends, especially in time of heartbreak, and Murray, an Australian immigrant who plays up the stereotype to ridiculous levels and endless tries to win back his ex-girlfriend. Sadie, Henry's sister, older by about twelve years has just recently gone through a divorce and is spending more time at her childhood home with her son Ryan. Despite the fact that she had a rambunctious teen-life, she is a genius, now a 29-year old neuroscientist. She added some endearing sibling support, giving wisdom and relationship advice, although slightly cynical, a little more realistic than the gushy love their parents have.

I've talked briefly about the writing in terms of Henry's narration, but just in general it was spot on. His parents are hilarious, maybe because they've already had to deal with Sadie and her antics throughout high school, but they were always cracking up, and their interactions with Henry are literally laugh out loud funny.

I also want to address this concept of the MPDG and the comparison to John Green. I do think this was a fair comparison, both in terms of theme and the writing style on a general level. In both Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska, Green explores the idea that falling in love with an idea of a person, rather than the actual person, essentially the definition of a MPDG. This book follows a similar vein, Henry finds Grace's old Facebook page, before whatever happened to her happened, and he falls in love with the her a little more each day, getting glimpses of the person she used to be. Grace is a deeply broken girl, and I'm not sure she will ever be the same as she once was. I don't think, however, that Henry is only in love with the girl she could be, he obviously wouldn't still be around if he didn't like at least a small part of who she is know. But when things got tough, he would remind himself of who she was, and who she could be. I don't think he fell in love with the idea of her, I think he just didn't see how much was truly wrong inside her. Maybe that's the same thing.

Their romance was definitely a work in progress for most of the novel, she was so hot and cold, battling her own demons and he is such uncharted territory couldn't figure out her actions. In the end, this book truly was a bittersweet interpretation of first loves, both characters changed and grew by the end of the novel, Henry a little more realistic about love and Grace a little more optimistic about her future.

Overall, this book was genuine, hilarious and heartbreaking, a new favourite of mine. I cannot recommend it enough!

But get your tissues ready, because as Grace says;

"Stories with happy endings are just stories that aren't finished yet."