my thoughts in a few sentences: Oh, gosh. *tries to breathe* Jess Rothenberg reins nothing in, leaving emotion strewn about in just about every place we stumble across through Brie's wrenching journey to peace and acceptance. Right within the first couple of chapters, my face was openly drenched for all to witness my sorrow and grief, mourning the loss of a young character's life—a character, incidentally, who I barely knew at the start yet I wept for this world Rothenberg exposes to us since it was now bereft of such a bright, happy girl with a deeply loving family, which includes a little brother who will be deprived of his older sister's presence in the years of his life to come. Literal heartbreak as a story concept isn't as corny as it initially sounds; a dagger breaks into our hearts every time Rothenberg pumps anguish into her words and into the discoveries she unveils.
hooking first line: "There's always that one guy who gets a hold on you."
Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning.... Welcome to forever.What do you do when the boy you're in love with tells you he doesn't feel the same way... anymore? The questions and uncertainties, the loss of self-confidence, the depletion of faith in love as a whole would surface, causing us to feel lost and heartbroken. And Brie is just that. Bewildered, heartbroken, and despairing, as the boy she loves tells her the one thing no one would ever want to hear. Now, you may be thinking: Okay, so her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her and her heart literally snaps in two halves. He's a tool and she's a loser for letting that get to her and blah blah. I've heard it all before. But it's nothing like that. As a teen, this can be such an awkward period for us, where we do and say things, look a certain way, that makes us feel... lacking, so we're easily torn down.
BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.
But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.
With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?
However, that feeling isn't just reserved to us teens, though, but people in general. Love, especially first love, is a wild and fragile thing, and I totally understood Brie's immediate sorrow. But her death is one of those freak accidents we just don't see coming, and it tears down our walls and acts as an onion to the eyes of our heart, inciting strong waves of salt and water with the single-minded purpose of escaping that do nothing to relieve this hollowness inside, leaving us dry and sad. Brie is a young girl, barely having lived her rather short life, just beginning to bloom, and, more than that, she's a person, one we become close to over a gradual, delicious period of time, which makes her death and the loss her family feels all the more insidious, unfair, and cruel. We too must come to terms, find peace, with her untimely death.
Gosh, which should we learn more about first? Patrick Darling... or the plot. Me thinks we should begin with Patrick. *grins* Yes, lets. Oh, Patrick. It's going to be difficult to speak so little of him in a single review. As soon as Brie enters the Afterlife, things start looking up, especially for us, because she immediately catches the attention of a very handsome motorcycle-riding, leather bomb jacket-wearing guy with an arsenal of witty retorts to Brie's pathetic, though hilarious yo' mama jokes and packed with 80s slang that just makes him all the more endearing. Add to that his fabulously cheesy (literally) names for Brie, since her name is Brie... like the cheese. He Ha Ha. He's better than the requisite Ben n Jerry ice cream binge for comfort in our darkest hours, more understanding of our personalities, needs than our shrinks, as sexy as Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club (at least for muah) with his mysterious secrets just minus the bad boy attitude and plus plus plus the sweetness.
The plot is sectioned off in five crucial parts, representing the five stages of grief, and each one layers the pain, the sadness, the shock until it becomes so much to bear, for us and for Brie. But as she deftly approaches acceptance of her death and its dreadful toll on her loved ones, we grow more and more proud of her as she understands herself, and does her best by the people she loves. And the romance, its peak... oh, geez, we melt and maybe even tear up a little, doing our best to wipe our eyes as discreetly as possible. The truths uncovered and several intense, exquisite kisses later and we're still not over the impact. The ending only sweetens the deal, a perfect layer of bittersweetness to top off a beautiful tale.
There is a reason why The Catastrophic History of You and Me is blurbed by Lauren Oliver. Disney, Princess Bride, and 80s songs references aside, our imaginations are ignited and we wonder what lay in the beyond awaiting our souls as we our introduced to Rothenberg's gorgeous, inventive take. The Catastrophic History of You and Me is about love and its strange, wonderful, unpredictable facets—the love we reserve for family, friends, love interests, and so forth—and reminds us of its imperfect beauty and absolute significance. People die for love every day, so it's only right that when we die we, like Brie, find love as well.
* I had the perfect quote, but I lost the tiny piece of paper I wrote the page number on. Darn it!
** Also, credit to Sarah @ Saz101 for doing her damnedest to get me to read this. She was so right!