In her book Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, Anne Lamott says, “For some of us, books are as important as almost anything else on earth. What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.”


My hope is that this is what books become to you—as important as almost anything else on earth. This blog is about helping you find the miracle in these small, flat, rigid squares of paper while you are in middle school and beyond. Once you read alongside me, you are forever a member of my tribe of readers. No matter how you old you are, when you need to be reminded of the power of a good story, you will find me here, waiting to place one in your hands.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME by Jess Rothenberg


copyright date: February 2012
primarily marketed for: (a mature) 12 and up

Ever wonder what becomes of the broken hearted?  Read the Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg to find out. 

Aubrie, or Brie as she referred to by friends, heard the words she never wanted to hear from her boyfriend: I don’t love you.  Moments later she was dead.  Her heart had literally split in two.  She died of acute broken heart syndrome. 

Her story picks up after Brie’s death and follows her journey towards acceptance and, ultimately, peace.  Along the way, she meets a host of interesting characters—including Patrick, her sarcastic guide, who looks like he is ready to attend a costume party dressed as Tom Cruise from Top Gun.  Brie also learns more than she ever thought she might about her family, her ex-boyfriend and the best friends she left behind.  She even discovers she might not be the Brie she always thought she was.   

In addition to an intriguing plot (who doesn’t love a book that starts with death?), this book is laced with sarcastic humor, quirky 80s references, and oodles of cheese jokes.  To add to the quirky charm, each chapter title is a line from a different song about hearts and/or love. 

While this is not the book to read if you want thorough explanation of the afterlife world Rothenberg has created, or if you want a standard plot line leading to a typical climax, it is an entertaining story that ends up carrying off deeper ideas than the story and characters initially promise.  The rules and circumstances of Brie’s post-life are provided to readers on a need to know basis, and as a reader that suited me just fine. 

Brie is a likeable character with whom I enjoyed hanging out, even when she was more upset about losing her boyfriend than losing her life.  I was rooting for her from page one, where she reeled me quickly into her story by nailing teenage girl angst.  If sarcastic dead teen girl angst is your thing, then The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg is the book for you. 

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