Tag Archives: depression

Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Margaret-Peterson-Haddix-image-margaret-peterson-haddix-36328311-284-475

“She told me once that her failing was pride. I didn’t know what she meant then, but maybe that’s what she was talking about.”
-Tish

Told using journal entries for an English class, Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs. Dunphrey is the heartbreaking story of sophomore Tish Bonner. Since Mrs. Dunphrey promised not to read any entries marked “don’t read this,” Tish uses this project to confess her deepest secrets about her father’s abusive behavior, mother’s neglect, and struggle to take care of her eight-year-old brother on her own.

I don’t know how to describe this book without using the word “depressing.” Honestly, this book was one of the saddest books I’ve ever read. It starts off a bit slow, but the descriptions of neglect and abandonment that Tish and her little brother go through is sometimes hard to read and constantly threatening to make you cry with the turn of each page. It also makes you really think, what if that had been me?

I know this is a very short review, but this book was a short read and there isn’t much else to say. Just try to avoid it if you’re overly sensitive, because it’ll definitely stick in your head for much longer than you think.

-J

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The Divergent Trilogy (Divergent, Insurgent, Allegiant) by Veronica Roth

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“A brave man acknowledges the strength of others.”
-Four, Divergent

Many years in the future, the city of Chicago has been split into five factions: Abnegation, the selfless; Amity, the peaceful; Candor, the honest; Dauntless, the brave; and Erudite, the intelligent. Each faction has specific jobs and requirements that must be made in order to join. At the age of sixteen, a choice must be made: whether to leave the faction of your parents that you’ve grown up in, or to transfer to another faction. After a simulation that is supposed to show her what her strongest aptitude is, Beatrice Prior learns that she is Divergent, or has equal aptitude for three different factions. This revelation causes her to rethink her previous idea about the factions, and her decision will transform her into a completely different person.

I tried to write that summary without any spoilers, so I apologize if it seems a little vague and uninteresting, because it’s truly anything but. The Divergent trilogy is reminiscent of trilogies like The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, due to the dystopian future and survival themes, and this trilogy is just as action-packed and compelling. If it weren’t for the trouble I had finding the second and third books, I would’ve had this entire series read within a few days.

Not only do I love the action and suspense in these books, but the numerous themes are also a big deal to me. It’s like Veronica Roth just decided to write about absolutely everything she could think of to try to fit the books into every category possible. And I don’t just mean that this is an action/romance/sci-fi/suspense novel, but the fact that she decided to take nearly every problem a person could be faced with and let the characters struggle with them. The ability to do all of that and still make it work, I think, is what makes this series even more incredible than it would have been.

This trilogy also has a growing fandom, and that fact is an even better reason to try out these books. Although Allegiant, the final book in the trilogy, was released only two months ago, Veronica Roth has already announced a series of short stories from Four’s point of view will be published as an anthology in February. Additionally (and yes, I realize I’ve been ending a lot of my reviews with this sort of statement, but that just means they’re good books, right?), the film adaption for Divergent will be out in March, starring Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort (who will also be playing Augustus and Hazel in the The Fault in Our Stars film adaption) as Beatrice and her brother Caleb.

I’m going to use the end of this post to do a little promotion for the Divergent Fandom WordPress blog, in case you’ve already read the series and want to check it out. It’s a great site that you should definitely check into if you’ve read and enjoyed the series. Thanks for reading, and happy New Year!

-J

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The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon

The Burn Journals

“The only problem with seeing people you know is that they know you.”
-Brent

This is my second attempt at reviewing this book, so hopefully it doesn’t get deleted like the last one. The Burn Journals is a true memoir of Brent Runyon, who doused himself in gasoline and lit a match when he was only fourteen. He spent almost a year in treatment for his injuries and depression, and over this time learns to accept himself.

The thing I really love about this book is that you can tell he wrote it straight out of his fourteen-year-old mind. The language he uses, his sentence structure, everything is an indicator that he is not at all an adult yet. It isn’t told in the “this happened to me” way; it’s told in the present tense, to emphasize his youth. Even his thoughts and actions point toward childhood, and I think it’s brilliant. Also, the things Brent Runyon included in the story that he could have easily removed to save himself embarrassment are the greatest parts of the book, since it shows you how real everything was.

The Burn Journals is definitely a painful and depressing story, and its subject matter of attempted suicide and recovery is very strong. But that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone, even those who are considering suicide. Actually, I think it’s the perfect book for someone who struggles with depression or suicidal behavior, because it shows the repercussions suicide has on everyone around you, and that everyone can get better with proper treatment and time.

Sorry it took me a while to get this review up, but I should have another one either today or tomorrow. Thanks for reading!

-J

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Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac by Gabrielle Zevin (with bonus songs)

Memoirs

“You forget all of it anyway. First, you forget everything you learned– the dates of the Hay-Herran Treaty and the Pythagorean theorem. You especially forget everything you didn’t really learn, but just memorized the night before. You forget the names of all but one or two of your teachers, and eventually you’ll forget those, too. You forget your junior year class schedule and where you used to sit and your best friend’s home phone number and the lyrics to that song you must have played a million times. For me, it was something by Simon & Garfunkel. Who knows what it’ll be for you? And eventually, but slowly, oh so slowly, you forget your humiliations– even the ones that seemed indelible just fade away. You forget who was cool and who was not, who was pretty, smart, athletic, and not. Who went to a good college. Who threw the best parties. Who could get you pot. You forget all of them. Even the ones you said you loved, and even the ones you actually did. They’re the last to go. And then once you’ve forgotten enough, you love someone else.”
-Grant Porter

Depending on how long you’ve been following my reviews, you may or may not remember my previous attempt to review this book. Sadly, as I had just finished writing and was about to post, the entire thing erased itself, save for the “bonus playlist” I added at the end. So here I am, ready to review this book over again.

After losing a coin toss and having to go back to school to retrieve a camera, Naomi fell down the stairs in front of her school and hit her head. She awoke in an ambulance, confused and scared. By the time she got to the hospital, she discovered that all of her memory from the past four years was gone. Now, Naomi struggles to fit in and figure out everything she’s forgotten– including her best friend, boyfriend, her parents’ divorce, and the birth of her younger sister.

My review probably didn’t do this book justice, but trust me, it was a great book. It’s clear that Gabrielle Zevin did her research, because everything seemed very believable and accurate. Her character development was great, and the slow memory regaining made me not want to stop reading. I think the best thing about the entire book, though, is the tension between Naomi and the three guys she has to pick from– her boyfriend Ace, her best friend Will, and James, the boy she just met who saved her during her accident.

Since I can’t add the playlist (it’s still posted here), I’ll add my favorite song of the entire playlist in the back, which somehow didn’t make it onto the first list. It’s called “A Certain Romance” by the Arctic Monkeys, one of my favorite bands of the moment. And, just for a little something extra, I’ll add a link to the song I haven’t been able to stop listening to for about a week now: “Evolution of Get Lucky” by PV Nova on YouTube. Basically, he took the song “Get Lucky” by Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams, and he did one of those “how music changes over the decades” things with it. It’s hard to explain, so it would probably be best if you just listened to it. I promise, it’s incredible.

Thanks for reading, guys, and I’ll see you soon!

-J

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Impulse by Ellen Hopkins

Impulse

“Love means holding on to someone just as hard as you can because if you don’t, one blink and they might disappear forever.”
-Tony

Sometimes life just gets too hard. Sometimes everything piles up until it feels like you’ve been left with one option: to end it all. That’s what Conner, Tony, and Vanessa thought, at least– but after failing at each of their suicide attempts, they end up in Aspen Springs for recovery. Now they’ve been given a second chance at life… Will they take it or opt out once again?

I know I start a lot of reviews like this, but I really love this book. The re-read for this review was probably the third or fourth, and I never get sick of it. Although I’m in love with all of Ellen Hopkins’s books, this one is definitely my favorite. It’s the first I ever read by her and what made me fall in love with her writing style and writing, period. It’s a little strange to read at first, but if you give it a chance you’ll adapt quickly and end up loving her too.

As I’ve said in previous reviews, books are always more exciting with multiple narrators. This adds to my love for this book, but I don’t think that is the main reason I like it so much. I’ve always been really into books about mental hospital/group home sort of things, as you may know by my numerous reviews about the subject, and the entire book is about this. Plus, it deals with some really important issues and “taboos,” in such a way that I strongly believe everyone should read this book at least once– especially for those who judge by reputation or first impressions, this book should be a real eye-opener.

And, like I say about all of Ellen Hopkins’s books, it’s powerful. I cry just as much now as I did the first time I read it. It really changed my opinion and views on certain things, but I won’t talk about that… spoilers and all.

What I will talk about before I go, though, is the sequel, Perfect. I don’t own it, I haven’t read it, and I haven’t seen it in any bookstores yet, but I really want to read it. From what I’ve heard, it’s three completely different narrators– two of which I remember as Cara, Conner’s twin sister, and Kendra, Conner’s ex-girlfriend who made a brief appearance in Impulse, but I don’t remember the other at all. I think it sounds like it’ll be incredible, and as soon as I find and read it, you’ll be the first to know.

Once again, I forgot to write this review, so the review for the book I’m about halfway done with now (a big surprise, I bet, but I will say it’s a classic) will most likely be up tomorrow. Thanks for reading, and see you then!

-J

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Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Speak

“When people don’t express themselves, they die one piece at a time. You’d be shocked at how many adults are really dead inside– walking through their days with no idea who they are, just waiting for a heart attack or cancer or a Mack truck to come along and finish the job. It’s the saddest thing I know.”
-Mr. Freeman

Speak tells the story of Melinda Sordino, a freshman at Merryweather High who, just before school started, called the cops at a party. Everyone hates her– she’s left alone, desperate to fit in with someone. But they don’t know what really happened at the party, and when the story gets out, nothing will be the same.

I don’t want to spoil anything, but it’s nearly impossible to talk about this book without doing so, so this will be a fairly short review. This is one powerful book. It says so much, while Melinda says so little. But getting this look inside of the mind of a girl who has been through everything Melinda has– it’s powerful stuff. This is one of those books that really makes you think about how you treat other people, and it should not be missed.

Speak also has a Lifetime movie adaption, which I’m unsure whether to watch because A. I hate Lifetime and B. I don’t know if it’ll be worth it. The cast includes Kristen Stewart as Melinda, that kid from Sky High, and Steve Zahn, which I find to be a very strange cast, so yeah. If I do watch it, I’ll let you guys know whether it’s worth it.

And although I really like the story, I think the most powerful thing about the entire book is Laurie Halse Anderson’s little poem at the beginning. I don’t think all of the versions of this book include the poem, considering it’s about people’s reactions to the book, and it has some spoilers, but I’d like to share it here:

LISTEN

You write to us
from Houston, Brooklyn, Peoria, Rye, NY,
LA, DC, Everyanywhere USA to my mailbox, My
Space Face
Book
A livejournal of bffs whispering
Onehundredthousand whispers to Melinda and
Me.

You:
I was raped, too
sexually assaulted in seventh grade,
tenth grade, the summer after graduation
at a party
i was 16
i was 14
i was 5 and he did it for three years
i loved him
i didn’t even know him.
He was my best friend’s brother,
my grandfather, father, mommy’s boyfriend,
my date
my cousin
my coach
i met him for the first time that night and–
four guys took turns, and–
i’m a boy and this happened to me, and–

. . . I got pregnant I gave up my daughter for adoption . . .
did it happen to you, too?
U 2?

You:
i wasn’t raped, but
my dad drinks, but
i hate talking, but
my brother was shot, but
i am outcast, but
my parents split up, but
i am clanless, but
we lost our house, but
i have secrets– seven years of secrets
and i cut
myself my friends cut
we all cut cut cut
to let out the pain

. . . my 5-year-old cousin was raped– he’s beginning to act out now . . .
do you have suicidal thoughts?
do you want to kill him?

You:
Melinda is a lot like this girl I know
No she’s a lot like
(me)
i am MelindaSarah
i am MelindaRogelio i am MelindaMegan,
MelindaAmberMelindaStephenToriPhillipNavdiaTiara-
MateoKristinaBeth
it keeps hurting, but
but
but
but
this book cracked my shell
it keeps hurting I hurt, but
but your book cracked my shell.

You:
I cried when I read it.
I laughed when I read it
is that dumb?
I sat with the girl–
you know, that girl–
I sat with her because nobody sits with her at lunch
and I’m a cheerleader, so there.
speak changed my life
cracked my shell
made me think
about parties
gave me
wings this book
opened my mouth
i whispered, cried
rolled up my sleeves i
hate talking but
I am trying.

You made me remember who I am.
Thanks.

PS. Our class is gonna analyze this thing to death.

Me:
Me:
Me: weeping

With the exceptions of the first and last stanzas, this poem comes from lines and words taken from the thousands of letters and e-mails that Laurie has gotten in the past twelve years.

That’s all. I’ll leave you to digest that. Thanks for reading!

-J

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It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

It's Kind of a Funny Story

“It’s so hard to talk when you want to kill yourself. That’s above and beyond everything else, and it’s not a mental complaint– it’s a physical thing, like it’s physically hard to open your mouth and make the words come out. They don’t come out smooth and in conjunction with your brain the way normal people’s words do; they come out in chunks as if from a crushed-ice dispenser; you stumble on them as they gather behind your lower lip. So you just keep quiet.”
-Craig

After nearly committing suicide one night, depressed teenager Craig Gilner decides to check himself into the hospital. He is given a few days to stay in the adult psychiatric ward, where he meets a schizophrenic, some drug addicts, and a girl who scarred her face with scissors. (I don’t want to say too much else for fear of spoiling anything, so I’ll just awkwardly stop this summary here.)

Once again, I’ve forgotten to write a review. It’s been a few days since I’ve finished this incredible book, but I can still recall it rather well. No matter how messed up he is, Craig is relatable to everyone in some way. His thoughts and opinions generally make sense, even if they’re a little far-fetched. He’s a really good guy, despite the bad decisions he may make, and I think we can all relate to that somehow.

It’s rare that I truly find a book funny. Sure, I have a sense of humor, but finding an actual laugh-out-loud-funny is an unusual thing for me. This book was one of the few exceptions so far. Similar to One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, It’s Kind of a Funny Story pokes fun at the mentality of the people in the ward without being offensive or rude, and I admire Ned Vizzini and Ken Kesey for being able to do that.

Now, just today I found out that this book has a film adaption. How I didn’t know beats me, especially because the cast includes people like Zach Galifinakis, Jim Gaffigan, and Emma Roberts. As of now, all I know is I need to see this movie.

And since I took so long for this review, the next review will most likely be up tomorrow. One more book to go and I’ll be book-hunting again, so please leave me some recommendations! 🙂

-J

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Fall to Pieces by Mary Forsberg Weiland

Fall to Pieces

“I hate to say this, but, God– what have you sent me to love?”
-Mary Forsberg Weiland

Mary Forsberg Weiland, famous 90s model and ex-wife of Stone Temple Pilots/Velvet Revolver frontman Scott Weiland, has been to hell and back. She’s had her fair share of the tabloids’ distorted versions of the truth, and in her autobiography, she sets the record straight. Fall to Pieces is a walk through her modeling career, relationships, addiction, recovery, relapse, mental illness, and everything in between.

I absolutely adore this book, and I’ll tell you why. I first read it last year, when I needed a nonfiction book for a report for my freshman English class. I really wanted to read Girl, Interrupted, but since my parents had already bought me that book for Christmas and it was currently November, they brought Fall to Pieces home one day after shopping. I wasn’t a huge fan of Stone Temple Pilots or Velvet Revolver– I didn’t know many songs other than the big hits, like “Vasoline,” “Plush,” and “Fall to Pieces”– but I decided to give it a try anyway, considering the caption on the front of the book said it involved three of my favorite subjects to read about.

The book starts off with a memory of Mary’s first try at heroin, which automatically reeled me in. Unfortunately, it was just an attention-catching prologue, and I had to wait for page 72 before she even met Scott. Their relationship is heartbreaking, and although I really disliked Scott for the games he’d play with Mary, he eventually grew on me and came to be known as a really nice guy. Even while using heroin, he tried to protect Mary– when she first tried it at the very beginning of the book, he tried to stop her because he didn’t want her going down the same, dark path.

You may have heard the story, but you haven’t heard it like this: the truth, not over-exaggerated or glamorized. It’s not only great for fans of Scott Weiland’s bands or those who like it for its subject matter, though. It mentions encounters with various other celebrities as well: musicians like Anthony Kiedis of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Dave Navarro of Jane’s Addiction, and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols; actors and actresses like Robert Downey Jr. and Charlize Theron; and countless others. Fall to Pieces is dark and twisted, yet inspirational and beautiful in the aspect of recovery and always seeing the good in things, even when they don’t turn out the way you planned. Please, go out and buy this book– it won’t let you down.

-J

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The Immortals Series by Alyson Noel (Evermore, Blue Moon, Shadowland, Dark Flame, Night Star, Everlasting)

The Immortals Series

“Today’s worries are yesterday’s fears and tomorrow’s stories.” 

I’m not sure how many of you guys read my little note on my 100 Book Challenge page, but in case you didn’t and don’t feel like going back, I’ll just give you a quick explanation. I was planning on rereading Heaven Is for Real, that short and sweet book that’s been crazy popular for a while now, and reviewing it for you guys in a whiny but professional manner– as I usually do when I dislike a book, even a little bit. However, constant family issues and other personal problems posed a threat. I was a complete mess for a while and didn’t once think about my blogs. So one day, while I was a little cooled off, I decided to cancel the 100 Book Challenge and take a break from blogging for a while. And during my break, I finally finished Heaven Is for Real (it took me nine days total because of everything that was going on– which is sort of embarrassing considering that book is tiny) and reread the Hunger Games series and Immortals series. (No reviews for the Hunger Games series, though, just because I don’t know what I would say other than how much I love the books and how much I’m in love with the character of Finnick.)

But what I really came here to say is: Break’s over, guys. J’s back. And now, it’s back to the most popular time on this blog: reviewing time.

The Immortals series is an action-packed fantasy told from the point of view of Ever Bloom, a sixteen-year-old who recently lost her family to a devastating car crash. Ever wades through her new life in California, hiding beneath loud music and hoods to block out the constant noise that comes with the psychic powers she gained after the near-death experience. That is, until she meets Damen, who seems to be the one person that she can’t read– the one person who silences everything around her– the one person she can’t help but feel attracted to. But Damen is hiding a secret himself, and when it is revealed, it will change both of their lives forever.

Considering the name of the series, I highly doubt what I’m about to mention would be considered a spoiler. But, if you’re still determined not to learn a single thing that could be “spoiler-ish”, you may want to stop reading now.

In the first book, Evermore, we get a background on Ever’s life and how she adjusts to her new school and powers. She uses loud music to block out the endless stream of thoughts coming from everyone around her, avoids touching people at all costs for risk of seeing their entire life story, and learns to deal with seeing everyone’s aura and talking to the ghost of her little sister, Riley (who, eventually, got her own series, which I haven’t read yet but would really like to). Then we meet Damen, who arouses Ever’s suspicions when she can’t read his mind, can’t see his aura, and gets nothing with a touch. He seems to read her mind at times, taking her suspicions even further until he reveals his secret: Damen is immortal, and had made Ever immortal after the crash that claimed her family.

There’s never a dull moment in this six-part series, which constantly reveals new secrets, problems, and enemies. It’s exciting, it’s romantic, it’s philosophical– it’s everything you could ask for in a fantasy series. And just when you think you know everything, a new problem appears.

Just like with most series I read, the final book, Everlasting, was my favorite. After everything that had happened in the previous novels, I constantly wondered what Alyson Noel could do for a big finale without turning one of my favorite characters against them (as she had previously done, but I won’t get into that). The series definitely went out with a bang, though, and I loved every minute of it.

Although, numerous Goodreads users disagree entirely. I’d say it’s about a fourth of the readers out there that hate this series with a passion. I can tell they’re frustrated because Ever always seems to make terrible decisions under pressure– but Alyson Noel has her admit to it being her weak point, and besides, without terrible decisions, how could there be a plot in the first place? So yes, Immortals series-haters, I do understand where you’re coming from, because Ever’s decisions have frustrated me beyond belief as well. But everyone makes bad decisions at some point in their lives, and Alyson Noel is just acting upon this common weakness.

And before I wrap this review up and head off to bed, I want to take a minute to mention two things about Alyson Noel’s writing– one compliment, one constructive criticism. The compliment: I love how she uses unusual names for her characters. And although she does use them frequently in these books, she also uses them in other books– though I’ve yet to read all but one. A couple of my favorite names she has used are Echo, Ever, Haven, Evangeline, Misa, Rafe, Honor, Adelina, and Roman.

Now, some quick constructive criticism. Alyson Noel tends to recycle a lot of phrases when describing things, which tends to get somewhat annoying. While I’m writing this, two big examples are jumping out at me: the Shadowland and the Great Halls of Learning. The Shadowland first came into play in the eponymous third novel of the series, Shadowland, and was described as “The Shadowland. The home for lost souls.” And in every book since then, that’s exactly how she describes it. Along with the Great Halls of Learning, which, during their first appearance in Blue Moon, the second installment of the series, were described using the same monuments and repetition of the word “facade”. And guess how she describes it in every other book it appears in?

Anyway, I think that’s enough for tonight. I hope you enjoyed my review, hope it was worth it after all of the time I’ve been off. And, although I just came back, I’m going on vacation soon, which basically means I won’t have time or a way to review. I’m using this time to reread the Harry Potter series, if I can, which I was planning to do soon anyway but would cause me to disappear for a while again. But since I recently got four new books, and have at least three that I’ve read but haven’t reviewed yet, I promise I’ll return with more reviews as soon as possible. Until then, keep enjoying the summer! 🙂

-J

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Crash Into Me by Albert Borris

Crash Into Me

“Self-esteem is overrated. Anyone will think they color great if enough people tell them. Artificial praise. Down inside, compliments like that are hollow… Real self-worth comes from mastery, from getting good at something. It doesn’t matter what. Then you don’t have to worry about empty compliments. You don’t worry about what other people think. You have self-respect.”
-Mr. Clark

Frank, Audrey, Owen, and Jin-Ae are four suicidal teenagers with one common goal: a cross-country road trip to visit celebrity suicide sites ending in Death Valley, California, where they will kill themselves together. They spend the rest of their time completing bucket list items and sharing secrets, knowing that death is final and this is their only chance to finish what they’ve started. But will time during the road trip change their minds before they reach their final destination?

This is and always will be one of my favorite books, for a few reasons. One, the suspense. You just don’t know what will happen at the end. Everything is so completely unpredictable, even when you think you know exactly what’s going on. Two, the awesome subject matter. I’ve always been attracted to books about suicide (I’m not obsessed with death or anything, I promise), and this is a perfect choice for someone like me. Sad? Of course it is. But not as sad as you’d think, and it’s not an all-out tear fest. It’s just like any other book, just with a much darker subject matter.

And finally, number three deserves its own paragraph. This is one of those few books where I like all of the main and supporting characters. Owen, the narrator and main character of the story, is quiet and easily lovable boy you wish you knew in real life. He seems considerably more vulnerable compared to the other characters. Frank, the other male of the group, is mainly described as an awkward-looking “jock” who really likes beer and hates his father. Jin-Ae is the only gay member of the group, and also a cutter with a love for poetry. Audrey, the youngest member of the group, is an extremely outspoken Nirvana fanatic with a buzz cut and a large scar across her forehead. Despite their total oppositeness, together they make one awesome pack.

I’m kind of rambling now, but you get the main idea. As a whole, the book is great, and I believe everyone should take the time to read it at least once in their lifetime. This book is very underrated, so if you do read it or have read it before, please let me know what you think of it. (I haven’t found one person yet who has read it, and everyone I try to convince thinks it looks too depressing.) Have a great night, and happy June! 🙂

-J

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