Thursday, 22 August 2013

Review: The Truth About You and Me by Amanda Grace

Title: The Truth About You and Me
Author: Amanda Grace
Release date: September 8th 2013
Publisher: Flux
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Format: eARC
Pages: 235
Source: NetGalley

Smart girls aren't supposed to do stupid things.

Madelyn Hawkins is super smart. At sixteen, she's so gifted that she can attend college through a special program at her high school. On her first day, she meets Bennet. He's cute, funny, and kind. He understands Madelyn and what she's endured - and missed out on - in order to excel academically and please her parents. Now, for the first time in her life, she's falling in love.

There's only one problem. Bennet is Madelyn's college professor, and he thinks she's eighteen - because she hasn't told him the truth.

The story of their forbidden romance is told in letters that Madelyn writes to Bennet - both a heart-searing ode to their ill-fated love and an apology.

I wasn't sure if I would like the fact that this book is told through the format of letters, but I surprisingly enjoyed it. This is the first book I've read that's in second person instead of first or third, and it was cool to see how different that is. Since Madelyn is writing to Bennett, there are loads of 'you said' and things like that in this novel, but it didn't bother me much. I found this book really sad, and I was pretty depressed after I finished it. So if you're not a fan of sad books, I wouldn't recommend this for you! The Truth About You and Me is definitely an intriguing story, but you know right from the start that there isn't going to be a happy ending.

I loved the narration of this book. Madelyn is telling Bennett their whole story, relying on her memories of the two of them. Her memories are surprisingly clear. (I may go a little analytical on this aspect since I just finished writing a 4000-word essay about the role of memory in the narration of two novels, but bear with me) Anyway, I feel that Madelyn was definitely a reliable protagonist, because we want to believe her story, we want to hear her side of things. She's young, naïve, and in love. That helps to identify with her. The narrative shifts to present-day Madelyn sometimes, where she talks about what she's currently going through. There is a definite distinction between past-Madelyn and present-day Madelyn, since she knows her mistakes and she's sorry about what she did.

Madelyn is freaking smart, and so she takes part in this Running Start program, where she attends college classes while still in high school. In college, she meets Bennett Cartwright, her Biology professor, and they have an immediate connection. When they stumble across each other hiking on a weekend, their forbidden relationship begins. Though it's not, really. Bennett decides to wait until the 17th of December, when he will no longer be Madelyn's teacher. But what he doesn't know is that Madelyn is still in high school, and is about ten years younger than him.

I'm quite conflicted about Madelyn's character. On the one hand, I liked her because I could, in a sense, connect with her.
It’s hard to know who you want to be when you don’t want to be the only thing you’re good at.
See, I get that. I get her sometimes. She's only in high school, so she has no idea what she wants, but her parents keep pushing her and pushing her, moulding her into someone she doesn't want to be. Story of every Asian kid's life. Kidding! But seriously, I can relate to that. But then again, she makes some really stupid decisions, and she reminds me of Wren from The Infinite Moment of Us by Lauren Myracle. I really really didn't like Wren. Both of these protagonists complain about their perfect life and I hate that. Madelyn can to to MIT or Harvard if she wants to. She's good enough to get in. But she doesn't want to! Who in their right mind doesn't want to go an incredibly amazing university that they actually have a chance of getting into? Madelyn, that's who. Her brother put it very nicely when he gets pissed at her and says this - 

“You’re really complaining that you have every option in the world at your feet, and you want none of them.”
Madelyn seriously doesn't appreciate what she has. I get that she doesn't want to follow in her mom's footsteps, but she can pave her own path and still embrace the qualities she's inherited, the fact that everything comes easily to her. And she's so incredibly naïve! How could she think she could get away with having a relationship with someone nine years older than her when she's still a minor?

I did quite like Bennett, though. We don't get to know much of who he is, since everything we know is told through Madelyn's letters. But he definitely has a sense of right and wrong, which he demonstrates multiple times in the book. I just wish he'd bothered to find out exactly how old Madelyn was when they first began to meet up on weekends. He's really sweet to Madelyn from the beginning, which I guess is one of the reasons she became attracted to him. But I don't believe any of the crap she says about the two of them being meant for each other. Bennett knows that. I'm glad nothing too terrible happens to him in the end, because I was expecting the worst. Oh, one more thing. Bennett has a dog named Voldemort! How awesome is that? I'd totally want a dog called Voldemort!

What I really loved is Amanda Grace's writing. She uses all these cool metaphors, some of them extended ones. This one is my favourite -

See, the thing is, somewhere along the line, I’d realized I’d climbed aboard a plane and watched it take off, and all I could do was sit there with my seatbelt fastened, waiting for it to land at a predetermined destination, one I wasn’t sure I wanted anymore.
Amanda's writing made me really absorbed in the novel. Plus the fact that I've never read anything like it before. But that ending! It was bittersweet in a way, but so sad. I was almost in tears. Of course, I knew there would be no happily ever after, but still. The last words in the book were filled with sorrow and regret, and it was seeping through the page. The Truth About You and Me is a story of forbidden love, loss, and regret. And it's definitely worth checking out. Even though I disliked Madelyn most of the time, I can understand her and the reasons behind her thoughtless decisions. And I do feel for her despite everything. But that ending is still with me right now! This is the kind of book that really stays with you, if you know what I mean. At least for a while. If you're up to it, I'd definitely recommend this one.

*Thank you to Flux for providing an ARC for review*

Rating: 3/5

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