Book Review: I Know It’s Over

ikiocover2I recently read I Know It’s Over by C. K. Kelly Martin, and I have to say I enjoyed it a lot.  I picked it up because the cover struck me.  I love that the girl is in the foreground walking away, and the boy is lying on the bed.  Having now read it, I can say that it really encapsulates the whole mood of the book.

What I Liked About the Book

1.  The relationships

The main relationship in the book is, of course, Nick and Sasha, and it’s really well layered and suitably frustrating.  It’s clear why he is so infatuated/in love with her and also why he has such a hard time understanding her.  I don’t entirely understand her myself, which marks really good storytelling…or bad, I guess, depending on who you ask.  But I’m pretty sure that’s part of the point of the novel.

I also really liked Nick’s relationships with his parents, which are also well layered and suitably frustrating.  Nick’s feeling that he needs to be nice to his dad because his sister won’t and that he has to protect his mom’s feelings even when he himself is hurting are super believable and add different shades to his relationship with Sasha.

Then there are his two best friends who are so different but serve different functions.  I like that they all started out interested in the same thing (hockey) but that as they have gotten older, that’s not quite enough to keep the three of them together.  I also love how he identifies Keelor as his best friend, but as a reader, I felt that his true best friend is actually Nathan.  However, he needs different things from both guys so, essentially, they are both his best friends for different reasons.  I love that.

Also, near the end he befriends a girl, and the way they connect is very honest and believable as well.

2.  Teen pregnancy

I did not know this book is about teen pregnancy until I started reading it, and then I was pleasantly surprised.  I really enjoy the way it’s handled.  The book starts with the announcement of the pregnancy, and then goes back to show how Sasha and Nick got to that point.  So instead of the book being ABOUT the pregnancy, necessarily, it’s really moreso about their relationship, so that by the time it circles back to The Pregnancy, even that becomes more about their relationship than anything else.

(If I weren’t studying representations of female friendship, I would probably be studying representations of teen pregnancy, so I am always up for a book on the subject.)

3.  The format

As I said, the book starts with Sasha telling Nick that she’s pregnant, and then moves to a chronicle of their relationship up to that point, and the final third is about how they deal with the pregnancy and answer the question of whether their relationship is really and truly over.  (See title for that answer.)  I also enjoy that you know their relationship is doomed from the start, pregnancy or no, but the book is set up so that you’re constantly hoping they can work it out.

4.  The emotional honesty

The book is emotionally raw, which makes it both easy and hard to read at times.  Nick’s feelings are just all over the page, and, as stated previously, his frustrations with Sasha, his parents, his friends, and himself are just crystal clear.  It reminds me a lot of Coe Booth’s Kendra in that it was almost too overwhelming at times.

What I Didn’t Like About the Book

There was one part where a hockey game was explained in detail.  Okay, I’m mostly being facetious here.  I honestly can’t think of anything I didn’t like.

If you haven’t read it, I’d definitely add it to the to-read pile.

do I stay or do I go now?

The other day when I was in the library, I picked up a book by an author I have mixed feelings about and checked it out.  I don’t even know why I did it.  I have been disappointed in some way by every single one of said author’s stories I’ve read, to the point that I am looking at the book cover right now and asking myself, “Seriously?  SERIOUSLY?”

I think the problem is that I want to like her books.  Frequently, they have interesting premises or interesting characters, and it’s not like I expect every book I read to be perfect; I just kind of want the books to get to the ballpark of good instead of acceptable.  Or good instead of absolute hatred.  Which happened with the last book.  And which is why I’m really wary of reading the new one.

It’s also entirely possible the book will be a fun, fast read and won’t be worth any of the angst (light though it may be) I’m having about it.  I mean, the cover is pretty inviting.

I guess I’ll just have to read it and see.

The book, by the way, is Dirty Girls on Top by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez.  The book of hers I hated is, appropriately titled enough, Haters.  I liked Dirty Girls Social Club and Playing with Boys and even her short story in Girls Night In, but I really hated Haters just that much.  So much so that I totally said I didn’t like any of her stories in the first paragraph, which I just contradicted by saying that I did like three of her stories.  Wow, maybe I should read Dirty Girls on Top just to get the bad taste of Haters out of my mouth.

(You can read my review of Haters at my old blog.)

Diversity Roll Call: Short Story Stroll

The current Diversity Roll Call is for short stories, and I have decided to share three of my favorite short story collections.

Twice Told:  Original Stories Inspired by Original Artwork by Scott Hunt – The concept for this collection is pretty simple:  two authors were sent one drawing by Scott Hunt and then asked to write a story about it.  The brilliance of this collection is that the stories very often deal with very similar things to resolve the picture.  It’s kind of uncanny.  For example, one of the pictures is of an axe on a table with a cake; both stories deal with gender expectations.  One picture is of a little kid in a bunny suit; both stories deal with inappropriate sexual attention.  One picture is of a man in front of a donut shop; both stories are about girls scared to confront their pasts.  The other great thing is that I read that book two years ago at least, and I still remember those stories clearly.

I Believe in Water:  Twelve Brushes with Religion by Marilyn Singer – This short story collection is all about religion, and the different encounters and struggles people have with it.  Great collection because it opens up possibilities and understanding.

Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer – I don’t remember all of the stories in this collection because I read it several years ago, but the one about the teacher rang especially true with me (and I think even inspired a lesson plan).  And I do remember that Packer is an awesome writer and reading this collection led me to seek out more of her work.

what I'm reading

Alicia does brief posts wherein she says what book she’s currently reading.  I’ve been flirting with doing something similar except, well, what I’m currently reading constantly changes.  This is largely because I start and stop books frequently, tossing aside books that seemed interesting but are not.  Sometimes it’s because I’m catching up on my O magazine (yes, I actually read that now…I don’t even know what to say about it except I also have Oprah on my season pass list) or House Beautiful or I have entered a reading slump.

I am currently in a reading slump.  I read pretty voraciously, going through 90+ books per year, but sometimes–and it’s usually during the summer or winter breaks–I just kind of don’t read.  I can’t find anything interesting or the books I get seem unappealing.  And it’s not that I don’t want to read them, but there’s always something else I could be doing.

At any rate, even when I’m in a reading slump, I am reading something, even if it’s taking me eons longer to get through said something than usual.  So.  What I’m currently reading, annotated.

  • Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier – I am reading this for my dissertation (topic:  representations of female friendship in ya lit).  It’s been about two years since I’ve read it, and I have to say I am enjoying it a lot this time around.  Mostly, I am completely in love with Dimple’s parents who are completely amazing.  Both Gwyn and Dimple are infuriating at times (so very infuriating), but her mom and dad are so adorable and delightful, and I love them both lots and lots.
  • Girl Friends #1: Draw the Line by Nicole Grey – I have read a lot of book series in my life.  A lot.  This series is one of my absolute favorites.  I am talking definitely in the top three.  First of all, the five featured girls are so diverse, which is something I hungered for a lot as a teenager.  (And by diverse, I mean only one is white.  ONE.  OUT OF FIVE.)  So, yes, there are five main girls, and even though Janis (the white character) is listed first on the back of the book, the first character we meet is Stephanie Ling, then Maria Torres, then cousins Cassandra and Natalie Bell, and then Janis.  Amazing.  And although the books deal with a lot of issues (relationship violence, drug abuse, racism, school shootings–pre-Columbine, mind), they aren’t preachy AT ALL.  The only thing I don’t like about the series is that it was only ten books, and it ended with several cliffhangers.  That is not on.  Also, the books are seriously out of print, so it’s not like I can really get anyone else hooked on them.  For shame.  They are delightful.  So fantastic.  I keep stopping and starting reading the book, but since I know how everything turns out, I keep telling myself that’s okay.  (The author’s new website is here.)
  • Prom Kings and Drama Queens by Dorian Cirrone – I just started this the other day, and it’s a fast read.  I picked it up because I liked the author’s book Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You, which did interesting things with gender, so I’m curious to see how this one will go.
  • Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch – Honestly, this has probably been the biggest drain on my interest in reading novels for the past week.  The book is huge and kind of overwhelming, but I have taken a targeted approach to it by reading up on the conditions I’m most interested in.
  • Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling as read by Jim Dale – My daughter and I are listening to the entire series on audiobook in the car.  We just finished book four , and I have to say the audiobooks are a lot of fun.  I don’t like Jim Dale’s Hermione, but she’s distinctive, and we always know it’s her even before he reads the tag announcing that it is.  Honestly, that’s my only complaint about the books. My daughter doesn’t like reading the Harry Potter books from the page, but loves hearing them read to her.  The bonus is that I get to reread the books as she reads them for the first time.

I should be finished with Born Confused in the next couple of days, and I’m guessing that once I am, my slump will be over.  Because then I’ll be avoiding work, and that’s one of my favorite times to read.