Tuesday, June 18, 2013

REVIEW: Promise Me Something by Sara Kocek

Promise Me SomethingThis is my very first publisher review. When I put my name in Net Galley, I initially did it just to see what all the fuss was about, and I certainly wasn’t expecting anything to come forth. But lo and behold 3 publishers replied almost instantly. I’m sure they just send out stuff anyways to any new joiner, but it made me realize that hell, I kinda do like reviewing. It’s what makes me go to work every day.
Promise Me Something by Sara Kocek is released in September 2013 and I do think people should go and read it. It is a great young adult read.

Unintentionally I read this on the heels of Thirteen Reason Why. And it was very similar subject matter, but it had its own specialty. However, I recommend not reading the two books back to back because you will no doubt draw parallels to them.
Now that that is out of the way, I enjoyed this book.  From the beginning it paints a good description of the setting. You get a feel that this is small town Connecticut which on the outset is liberal, but the people in it are far from it.
The story is written from Reyna’s point of view. She transfers to a new school due to the rezoning of her neighborhood. Meaning, she leaves her best friends behind and have to start new.   Reyna is trying to fit in, going from part of the popular clique to knowing nobody and having nobody talk to her. Left with no choice really, she befriends Olive, the only girl who actually talks to her.
Olive is a brutally honest girl that by the gods of high school is put on the bottom of the social totem pole.  Once you read more into the novel you realize why she is that way and you sympathize with it. 

Reyna and Olive eventually become good friends; realizing that they have a lot in common. Reyna lost her mother at an early age and Olive, essentially lost her mother to the drink.  Eventually they become close enough for Olive to divulge a big secret to her. That secret tears them apart.

My one thing that I did not like about this book is that it is strangely reminiscent of Mean Girls. Even the names are similar (Reyna FeyàTina Fey, Gretchen Palmer (the popular girl who befriends Reyna after Reyna realizes how ‘weird’ Olive is)àGretchen Wieners.  While the main plot is not the same, I kept feeling similarities that made me wonder if Sara Kocek watched the movie a lot before writing.
Without spoiling the ending, I enjoyed the twist at the end.  You go into it thinking that Reyna is the main character but nearing the end you end up seeing Olive as the protagonist. I also think the best character of the book was Levi. He is Reyna’s boy-toy and he is the most compassionate and open minded person in the book.  The teacher, man oh man, I wanted to punch him right up side the face. Once you read it you will understand why, and well if you don't- then you deserve a punch in the face too.  
I give it 4 stars and not just for the HP references throughout the book. It is a book that can resonate with many teens as it deals with issues such as popularity, bullying, suicide, homosexuality, religion and divorce- to name a few.

On a side note, I enjoy the cover art. Probably something I'd pick up without reading the back.
Thanks for NetGalley and Albert Whitman & Company for letting me review this book.

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