I received a copy from Atria Books via Netgalley. Thank you.
This book is beautiful. It has soul. Before, I thought it is impossible for a book to make me simultaneously laugh and cry. Oh boy was I wrong. This book did that to me. For a moment I looked crazy. Crying then laughing the next second. There were still tears running down my cheek but I was laughing. That’s rare for me. And the mere fact that it elicited emotions from me made this book so beautiful. Often times I get the book. I get the writing. I get the story. I get the characters. I get the reason. But the book and I don’t connect emotionally. But when a story past its way to my emotional duct and into my heart, I know reading it was meaningful.
I haven’t heard of the book until now. I haven’t even heard of slam poetry. And I regret my lack of knowledge right now. Good thing I saw this on netgalley. I found out that this book was initially a self-pub and was already out. Glad it’s available on paperback because I’m so grabbing myself a copy. One of the best contemporary books I read this year. It’s been a while since I cried over a book. So, so while. The funny thing though, it wasn’t that angsty, emotional wrenching story. It was just…right. Like other books that led me to tears, it tackles love, life and the inevitable thing in life—death.
Layken (Lake) with her mom and her little brother Kel moved after her dad died. Kel easily got acquainted to Caulder, their new neighbor and the same age as Kel. They became best of friends. Caulder has an older brother, Will. And just like their little brothers, Lake and Will hit off pretty quickly. Just when they thought was the start of their relationship when she found out that Will was her teacher. Will asked her to let go because he needs the job. For Caulder. He loves his brother so much and he is his main priority. And she deserves better than that. But it so hard for her especially if she sees him every day. Plus, she had huge issue with her mother. It was difficult to face them all and she needed support. And the only person who can understand her was Will.
Actually the part where I was really sobbing was when these boys decided to be lungs for Halloween. It was for Kel’s mom and when the principal called their guardian (because the costume was offensive), Lake told the principal the reason. I was so touched with her speech that I cried. And when the boys asked why (they were called), she said the principal wants to be ‘hemorrhoid’ next year. I was laughing so hard. I was so impressed how the story managed to juggle my emotions in a snap of a finger. I was more impressed that I’m emotionally invested. Gosh, I so love the feeling.
It’s not even the romance that captivated me. It was the characters. I love all the characters here. Lake. Will. Julia (Lake’s mom). Eddie. Gavin. And the little boys Caulder and Kel. I enjoyed every interaction of the characters—whether they were pissed, happy, or sad. I also loved that it wasn’t melodramatic just because someone’s dying. I like the positivity it promotes. It’s painful but that is life.
“…But when you said it again at the end of the poem, you didn’t emphasize the word death, you emphasized the word life. You put the emphasis on life at the end. I get it, Will. You’re right. She’s not trying to prepare us for her death. She’s trying to prepare us for her life. For what she has left of it.”
There are lots of parts that I loved. And lots of quotes to quote. I just don’t know which one I should pick. But I definitely loved all the slam poetry and I think I’m a fan of the Avett Brother myself. Their words? It speaks volumes.
When Will told Eddie and Lake why he did what he did. It moved me as well. And just like Eddie I had the exact same reaction:
“How do you not fall in love with him?”
How is it impossible not to fall in love with Will? Because at that moment I think I just did.