on May 31st 2016
Genres: young adult, contemporary
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Nanette O'Hare is an unassuming teen who has played the role of dutiful daughter, hardworking student, and star athlete for as long as she can remember. But when a beloved teacher gives her his worn copy of The Bugglegum Reaper--a mysterious, out-of-print cult classic--the rebel within Nanette awakens.
As she befriends the reclusive author, falls in love with a young troubled poet, and attempts to insert her true self into the world with wild abandon, Nanette learns the hard way that rebellion sometimes comes at a high price.
I totally understand why people are loving this one. I do. But it’s the type of book that you have to really connect with for it to have that special meaning in your life. And though I liked it, enjoyed it even, the pretentious dialogue, the philosophical ideas that would have felt okay coming out of an adult but not a teenager, were overkill.
I think I really like Matthew Quick’s ideas. I think he writes well. But I think our own high school experiences are going to come into play with whether we relate to this book or not. And in the end, though I get where Nanette was coming from, I felt she was pretty damn selfish. High school isn’t easy for 95% of us, but we don’t behave the way she did. At prom, at graduation, etc. Nanette says it’s about pressure to conform, and maybe that is some of it, and I get the feeling of wanting to rebel against societal norms, but that doesn’t mean you get to be an asshole.
It’s no secret that I have a mental illness. I can’t hold a regular 9-5 job, and I’m still not sure what is wrong with my brain. But someone like Nanette isn’t going to be able to hold a regular job either if she continues to act this way. No one will hire her.
And I’m trying to have empathy with her situation, but I think the point I am trying to make, is there has to be a happy medium. I don’t want someone else to go through what I’m going through, especially when they have the power to change it. Our personal experiences completely influence our reading, and in this case, though I cared for Nanette, I wanted the best for her. And I don’t think the path she chose was the best path for her.
The parts of the book I did enjoy were the ones where Nanette befriended Booker, Olive, and Alex. I loved the juxtaposition of being friends with someone younger than you, your age, and older than you. I truly related to Nanette’s friendship with Booker, because when I was a teen, my best friend was my grandmother. She always was, and she will always be the person I was closest to. Even more than my husband. Because…she understood every part of me, down to the very marrow in my bones. I could talk to her about anything and she NEVER judged me. I would have chosen to play bingo with her any day of the week over choosing to do anything else. And though I know Nanette’s relationship with Booker was not the same, I understood how a teenager would find value and meaning in a friendship with a senior.
So I did get a lot out of this book, but for me, the making or breaking of how successful a story is, hinges on how it makes me feel. There were no strong emotions were here. The writing was meaningful, and the voice of Nanette was very individual and different. But I didn’t particularly like any of the characters. I wasn’t obsessed with turning the pages. I walked away a lot. I’m going to give this one to Dan, though. I definitely think he would enjoy it because of how quirky it is, and since he went to high school with Matthew Quick, I think he’d like to read it.