Tag Archives: mental health

ARC Review – Little Universes by Heather Demetrios

Title: Little Universes

Author: Heather Demetrios

Rating: ★★★★★

Synopsis: When a tsunami strikes the island where their parents are vacationing, it soon becomes clear that their mom and dad are never coming home. Forced to move to Boston from sunny California for the rest of their senior year, each girl struggles with secrets their parents’ death has brought to light, and with their uncertainty about the future. Instead of bringing them closer, it feels like the wave has torn the sisters apart.

Hannah is a secret poet who wants to be seen, but only knows how to hide. The pain pills she stole from her dead father hurl her onto the shores of an addiction she can’t shake and a dealer who turns her heart upside down. When it’s clear Hannah’s drowning, Mae, a budding astronaut suddenly launched into an existential crisis—and unexpected love—must choose between herself and the only family she has left.

Huge thank you to Raincoast for this ARC!

Sam’s Review:

I had mighty feelings from start-to-finish reading Little Universes. Heather Demetrios knows how to craft a story that is focused on difficult subject matters and just punch readers in their feelings. This is the story of two sisters who lose their parents in a plane crash, they are forced to relocate with their aunt to Boston from sunny California. Both girls are grieving in very different ways, with Mae obsessing over space while having an existential crisis, while Hannah is fostering an addiction that is struggling to kick the habit of.

Ooof. This book is an emotional roller coaster, and for someone like me who has had a sibling struggling with addiction and has gone to rehab, too much of this book was hitting close to home. A lot of Mae’s crisis and her feelings were all emotions I wrestled with in the past, and seeing her spiral in feeling helpless when it comes to Hannah was so difficult to read about. It was like looking in a mirror. Hannah’s side of the story was equally heartbreaking and challenging to read, because you want her to pull through, but she at times doesn’t want to. That last bit is SCARY. The idea that someone doesn’t WANT to get better, and they are willing to be okay with their behavior. It’s a lot, and for anyone who has dealt with addiction in some shape or form, keep that in mind before you consider checking this book out.

I loved this book, and while it’s over 400 pages, I read it in two long sittings and cried through chunks of it. Little Universes is a difficult read, and even more challenging if you’ve lived through what Hannah and Mae have. Demetrios continues to amazing me with each book she publishes, and I don’t think my heart can handle another book like Little Universes for a long while!

ARC Review – Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

22297294Title: Girl Against the Universe

Author: Paula Stokes

Rating: ★★★★

Synopsis: No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when Maguire is around. Like that time the rollercoaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or that time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash—and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.

It’s safest for Maguire to hide out in her room, where she can cause less damage and avoid meeting new people who she could hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star. Jordy is confident, talented, and lucky, and he’s convinced he can help Maguire break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for Jordy is to stay away. But it turns out staying away is harder than she thought.

Huge thank you to the publisher for sending me a copy of this for review!

Molly’s Review:

I really liked this book! I’ve always had a soft spot for books/movies/TV shows about people trying their best at a sport. Maybe because I’ve always wished that I could be good at a sport, but instead gave up on the one that I really loved 😦

ANYWAY! This is a book about Maguire, a girl who believes that she is bad luck. She thinks that she’s cursed and that the Universe is against her. Bad things seem to happen around her: her brother, father and Uncle died in a car crash while she survived, friends have gotten sick, accidents have happened, houses have burned. Maguire chooses to see the bad and she isolates herself from her family and friends. Her mother finally gets her into therapy and her therapist encourages her to make a list of challenges to face so that she can hopefully conquer her fears and go on an international trip with her mother to visit her grandmother.

I loved the topics dealt with in this book. Magical thinking is something that I don’t feel gets spoken about enough. Often YA books focus on the more “hot topic” mental illnesses (which is fine, I think that talking about depression and other mental illnesses is SUPER important). I think that everyone in the WORLD falls prey to magical thinking. I know that I often find that my husband and I fight around holiday celebrations and I often say things like “we shouldn’t even bother celebrating, only bad things happen when we do”. It’s also socially accepted to have good luck rituals (knocking on wood, blowing off eye lashes that have fallen onto someone’s cheek, etc) that are considered normal if we don’t view them as magical thinking. And ya know, some magical thinking CAN be good. Believing that you can do something, telling yourself that today is going to be good… that can all be very positive. But the focus on the negative magical thinking in this book was really well done, relate-able, and realistic.

The characters in this book were really fun and I loved watching Maguire grow. She makes friends, falls for a great guy, and gets closer to her family. She does have moments when she doesn’t believe in herself and she fails her challenges or regresses back to old habits, but that’s what made this book realistic. I LOVED how supportive everyone was of her and it was really hopeful feeling that if you do have something that might be considered “different” or “weird” that if you find the right people they’ll be totally supportive and accepting.

The positive portrayal of therapy was also very refreshing. I often times find that books for teens have very negative therapist-patient relationships and I really like it when they seem healthy and helpful.

I wasn’t quite sure how I felt about where the ending was going and was almost a little mad that things seemed to be coming full circle and I did NOT understand how Maguire was ever going to be able to move on with her life, but then when something really amazingly good came out of it, I just felt so happy and everything felt so right.

Def check out this book, it is SO good.