Letting Ana Go

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Hey everyone, so for this week’s blog post I decided I would pick a book that has been a staple in my collection now for the past few years. I picked up this book at a bookstore in New Jersey one afternoon because I needed some good beach reading material, but after reading through it once I fell in love with it. I have proceeded to read it many more times, too many to count really. The book is called Letting Ana Go by Anonymous. This book is from the same publishers who put out Go Ask Alice, which is a very popular book and I believe many people have heard of. This book is in the same style of Go Ask Alice, but the topic it covers is completely different.

Letting Ana Go is the real diary of a young sixteen year old girl. The reader never learns her name and the names of all the people she mentions in the book have been changed, but the message is not lost. The author of this diary starts it as a food diary by the request of her track coach, who wants to encourage healthy eating behaviors in her runners and to make sure the team is eating the way they should. The main character, who I will refer to as She, starts off not really caring about the diary and just using it to enter the calories her track coach wants to see. She has a best friend named Jill, who is training to be a ballerina, who slowly drags her into the world of restrictive eating. Due to the stress of her arguing parents and the need to be accepted, She goes along with Jill to appease her best friend. However, restrictive eating quickly becomes an obsession for Her, spurred on by Jill, the stress in Her life, and the need to be loved by the boy in her life, Jack. This diary is the real life chronicle of this young girl and her descent into the world of anorexia.

I apologize for a semi brief and possibly vague summary of this book. I am doing so for a reason. The first time I read this book, the only knowledge I had about it was from the back excerpt, and that is what I am trying to limit my description to. Giving away what She talks about doing and thinking in this diary would ruin the effect it has on the reader. The first time I read this book, I cried. Full on sobbed, because the thought that any human being would go through this disease and be so controlled by it to think that what they were doing was okay was heartbreaking. If eating disorders are any kind of trigger for you, I would not recommend reading this book. The topics and emotions written about are hard to read sometimes, and it is elevated by the fact that this is the diary of a real person.

I hope I haven’t scared anyone away from reading this book. Yes, it gets intense sometimes. Yes, it discusses difficult topics. Yes, there are things She goes through that may make you upset. But I think the books that bring out emotions are the best ones, because they are the ones we remember. And this book has been memorable for me for so many reasons. I love it because it is so honest and real. Many time in the media anorexia is glamorized or played down as “not a real disease” and that drives me crazy because that is just not true. I love it because it is the words of a real teenage girl, someone I can connect to on multiple levels. I love it because it reminds me that while my body may not look perfect according to society’s standards, it is the only one I have, and I have to love it for all of the wonderful things it allows me to do everyday. I love this book because it shows young women that you do not have to restrict your eating or do anything extreme to change the way you look to have beautiful people and adventures in your life.

I have never had anorexia nor any eating disorder, nor do I claim to be the expert on them. I don’t firsthand know what it is like to struggle with an eating disorder. However, I strongly believe this book should be read by all young women, so educate them on the effects of anorexia and show them how the disease can not only affect your body but your mind and the way you see yourself in the mirror. The writing style and the grammar doesn’t really matter in this book; it is about the content and the messages you can take away.

I give this book a 4.8/ 5. As I mentioned in my last blog post two weeks ago, I’m saving my five for a few very special books that I will probably discuss in the coming weeks. But this one comes extremely close to those. I really hope you give this book a try. I hope it helps you learn to love your body and the blessings you have in your life like it helped me with mine. Whenever I have a bad day, I remember the struggles of the girl in this book and it empowers me to not think negative body thoughts, but positive ones. I hope that is what She would want by people reading her diary.

Hopefully this blog post wasn’t too much of a downer, but I hope you enjoyed it. I shall try to alternate between heavy topic books (those are some of my favorites, which is why I will talk about them) and lighter books. Anyway, I truly hope you read this book. Have a wonderful weekend, and remember to think positively and always love yourself.

Much Love,

Tina

Letting Ana Go

Someday, Someday, Maybe

IMG_5804When I was watching Gilmore Girls on Netflix this summer, I fell in love with Lauren Graham as I watched her bring Lorelai Gilmore to life. I did a google search to see what else Lauren has done and when I saw that she wrote a book, I knew immediately that I wanted to read it… and I’m glad that I did.

In the debut novel, it’s 1995 and Franny Banks has just six months left of her three year deadline to make it as an actress. She has no agent and so far and the only job she’s booked is a commercial. She has the support from her father and her two roommates, her best friend and roommate from college, Jane, Dan, an aspiring writer. However, Franny finds herself wondering, does she really have a future as an actress or is she holding on to a dream that she should have let go of a long time ago?

Another way to explain it: this book is about making choices. Franny makes several choices in this book: the choice of what agent she should sign with, the choice on who she should date and the choice on weather or not she should give up on her dreams.

It didn’t take me long to fall in love with Franny. She’s the kind of character that you can’t help but fall in love with and cheer for. She’s very relatable with her lack of confidence, self-esteem and her curly hair that has a mind of it’s own. There were times in the novel where I cried with Franny, I celebrated with her and times where I wanted to crawl through the pages of the novel and tell her not to give up on herself.

Something I thought was done beautifully was the references to J.D Salinger’s Franny and Zooey. I liked how they were in there, yet explained (in a not obvious way). When I was reading Someday, Someday, Maybe I had not read Franny and Zooey, so I liked that I was able to get the connection that Lauren was trying to make. Laruen’s novel did get me to pick up the short stories and I was abel to see the connection between the Frannys.

Another thing I applaud is the use of dialogue. I love dialogue and I love seeing how the characters interact with each other.(I love writing dialogue too.) It tells you so much about the character. Yet, dialogue is something that i’ve noticed many authors shy away from. Not only is dialogue used in this novel it’s used well. I loved the whiteness of it and the realness of it.

The story took place in 1995. Yes, were talking about the days of land lines, answering machines and the filo fax.I loved that in the novel you get to see the messages that people are leaving on her answering machine, the pages of the script that Franny was receiving from the fax machine and my favorite part, the inside of Franny’s planner. I still use a paper planner (shout out to my Erin Condren planner) and if you flipped through it, you would learn things about me that you wouldn’t know from seeing me day to day. I loved that I got to see that side of Franny, perhaps, it may even be my favorite part of the novel.

“Imagine the best for yourself now and then. Won’t you, hon?” This is my favorite quote from the book, possibly one of my favorite quotes. I felt the need to include it in this post somehow. I think it’s a reminder that we all need every once in a while. I actually look at it every day because I had a cover for my planner made with that quote on it.

This following paragraph may be considered a spoiler, so if you haven’t read the novel, you may want to skip it.

Lauren, if by some chance you are reading this, I want you to know, I AM DYING TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS. Does Franny get the acting job? Do Franny and Dan end up together? Does he answer the phone while she is talking in to the machine? I was outside reading in my back yard when I finished the book and I stared yelling those questions out loud (pretty sure the neighbors think i’m psychotic now too. Really the ending was a total surprise to me. Now, as a writer, I know that when a reader has this kind of reaction to your work, it gives you a warm fuzzy feeling inside. So, let me ask you this: are you still woking on another novel? I heard you say in an interview that was forever ago that you were working on another novel that wasn’t a sequel but more like a companion. I really hope that’s true because I really loved your writing and I’m really dying to know what happens to Franny.

Possible spoiler section over.

In case you didn’t gather earlier, I really liked this novel. If I had to give it a rating, i’d give it 4/5 stars. It’s not five stars because the ending left me with too many questions.

Have you read Someday, Someday, Maybe?  Do you agree with me or not? Are you obsessed with Gilmore Girls like I am? Do you just adore Lauren Graham (also like me)? Tell me all about it in the comments!

Much Love,

Kate

Someday, Someday, Maybe

Burned

burned

For my first blog post ever, I wanted to choose a book that was not only crazy good but also covered topics I felt a lot of other young people could relate to. So for this week’s book review, I am going to talk about Burned, by Ellen Hopkins. Hopkins is one of my favorite authors; before I even read this book I fell in love with her writing through her Crank series (which I may talk about in the future so stayed tuned). Her verse-oriented writing style and honest wit is something I have always enjoyed, so going into the beginning of Burned I had high expectations. And boy, did she not disappoint.

Burned focuses on Pattyn Von Stratten, a young woman who comes from a highly religious- and abusive- family. Due to the strictness of her religion, she is not allowed to have any sort of a relationship with a boy, especially one outside of her religion. All of this changes the day she meets a boy outside of her church whose interest in her results into a full-blown secret relationship, one that escalates until her father catches her in a less than appealing position. Pattyn is sent to live with an aunt she has never met in Nevada in order to be “straightened out”. While there, Pattyn finds what she never expected to: acceptance and friendship from a family member who can relate to what she is going through and real love from a boy who truly wants to be with her. But when faced with returning home, she will have to confront all of the feelings and people she left behind, and possibly even face a new challenge head on, in order to find out who she truly is meant to be.

First of all, if it was not clear when I hinted to it in my opening paragraph, I absolutely loved this book. The plot was so much deeper and had more twists than I expected, but it made for one exciting, interesting, and thought-provoking story. Pattyn is a character that I believe everyone can relate to. We all want to be accepted by our family and peers, we all want to find love, and we all go through that awkward stage when we are just trying to understand who we are physically and emotionally. Hopkins writes Pattyn as a real teenage girl, someone who I could find bits of myself in as I read the novel.

My favorite part of Burned, and all of Hopkins’ novels, has to be how she honestly talks about the issues that her novel was centered around. There is no “dumbing down” of the topics she handles in this book, which I as the reader found very refreshing. She talks about the struggles of being a teenage girl and the path to find understanding and acceptance as if she was still a teenager herself. It is this aspect of the book that I feel a lot of young people can relate to, that wanting to learn more about your body and your emotions in order to grow as a person. Hopkins handles this gracefully in Burned.

If when I mentioned earlier that Hopkins writes her novels in verse you got a bit scared, don’t be. The way her words are arranged on the page heighten the emotions of the novel to a level that cannot be reached by traditionally written novels. The story will suck you in so much that you will forget you are even reading a novel in prose; all you will be able to focus on is the incredible story of Pattyn.

If I had to put a rating on this book, I would give it a 4.5/5. I am trying to reserve my 5 out of 5 rating for the books that completely and utterly blow me away, and while this book came extremely close, I have to compare it to some of the other novels I have read in order to give it an honest rating. But this is certainly in my list of top books, and one that I will not hesitate to pick up again. If you have read this book or any other Ellen Hopkins novels, let me know in the comments!

Much Love,

Tina

Burned

Hello, I Love You

FullSizeRenderIn the novel by Katie M. Stout, Grace Wilde’s family are stars in country music. Her father is the owner of the hottest record label and her brother, Nathan Cross is one of the hottest singers in county music. Grace has had enough of music, fame and her family. So in order to escape it all, Grace leaves Nashville and goes to a boarding school in South Korea for her senior year of high school. It turns out that Grace’s roommate, Sophie, has a twin brother  who is the lead singer of the insanely popular k-pop band, Eden, and Grace finds her self back in the very same world that she was trying to escape from. When Grace realizes that she had feelings for Jason, it only complicates everything.

I initially bought this book because the author was at a panel at my local bookshop. I’ll admit, I was a bit skeptical when i started reading it. I mean, the plot about a girl going off to a foreign country and falling in love is a popular plot in young adult romances lately( Anna and the French Kiss, Isla and the Happily Ever After,  Just One Day, Just One Year, Wish You Were Italian) and after reading several of those, the plot gets to be a bit repetitive. (Yes, I’ve read most of the books I just listed and own all of them, so be on the book out for reviews on them.) And while the plot did appear to me to be basic at first, it was anything but. I found myself not wanting to put this book down.

I loved that this book took place in South Korea; the country was a character in the novel itself.  The descriptions of Seoul made me want to visit South Korea and the descriptions of the food made me seriously crave asian food. The author did a great job. I’m amazed that she wrote the book with out having gone to South Korea because the descriptions were so vivid and on point.

I also liked that I wasn’t able to predict the ending. There was a plot twist about 70 or so pages from the end of the book that actually made me gasp and yell plot twist out loud.

Mostly, I fell in love with Grace, the main character. I feel like I’m not that much like her but I was able to relate to her and I was able to empathize with her. I felt for her and there were times where I just wanted to crawl through the pages of the book to hug her and tell her it’s going to be alright. I’m not able to fully love a book if I don’t fall in love with the main character.

The author also did a good job with the non main characters. They all had their purpose to the story and there wasn’t an excessive amount of them. Grace’s sister, Jane made me laugh. Grace’s roommate, Sophie, is the cutest thing ever and i want her to be my BFF in real life. And while I wasn’t a fan of Jason at first, I grew to love him with Grace, and I love them together.

Something else I found cool was that the author wrote a blog post on her website about what happens to the characters after the book ends. Warning though, that post contains spoliers and you should read it only if you have read Hello, I Love You.

Overall, i enjoyed this book. It was very well written with a good developed plot and characters. I gave  this book 4/5 stars on good reads and defiantly would recommend it to a friend.

Have you read Hello, I Love You? Tell me about what you thought in the commits section!

Much Love,

Kate

Hello, I Love You