Yes I know, it’s been far too long and I should be posting up more blogs on here but I’ve been a little busy writing three books, blogging for Diary Of A Young Writer go check it out click here and here. I also have two jobs, one of which is working in a bookshop, though I feel like I have a dozen jobs really (I mean who has holidays these days?). So I’m sorry, I’ve not had much time to read and I’ve been attempting the classics, which dear god, some of the classic fiction is really tough to get through. So far I’ve read books by Jane Austen, Joseph Conrad, George Eliot, Anne Bronte and Emily Bronte.
So in order to try and post out more content here I’m going to change the blogging format for my book reviews, the old templates were fun to do but they are quite intensive and take a lot of time to complete. I’ll keep the old ones that I’ve already done so you can see them but from now on, you’ll see book reviews that are shorter, more informal but hopefully still informative and fun.
First a bit of backstory, you can scroll down for the review if you wish to skip this part…
Back in January this year, I visited Newcastle-upon-Tyne with my sister for two nights. We arrived late on Jan 24th, ate at Zaap Thai where I can thoroughly recommend the Chicken Pad Thai Bo Ran and the Chicken Pad See Aew, and then we stayed at the Hilton, and due to my sister currently working for the Hilton, we had a great room with an amazing view of the city and castle on the first night.
Unfortunately, a combination of night shifts and being in a new place meant that my sister didn’t sleep particularly well that night. So when I was up early and bursting with energy to go and see the city, my sister was cursing me to the seventh circle of hell. I got my way though, we had breakfast, moved our bags to the Hampton for our second night, saw the castle and keep, visited the Cathedral Church of St. Nicholas (gorgeous architecture), then we went shopping by which point my sister was dragging her feet.
At around two in the afternoon my sister resigned and left me to go and catch a few hours of sleep at the Hampton before we went out for dinner later that night with one of my old school friends. I however, having heard about this Seven Stories Children’s Museum which had it’s own bookshop, was determined to go and see it. So I walked there, and it was a bloody long walk, not to mention I went the wrong way once and had to go back on myself. My IPhone also decided that it had had enough and the battery died, I know, privileged problems, but still, I wasn’t that familiar with the city having only visited a couple of times before.
I did make it to the Museum eventually but quickly realised that I didn’t have a huge amount of time and that all of the exhibits inside seemed to be designed for small children. I was hoping that there would be some history of children’s books that adults might at least be interested in, but it didn’t seem like there was any such thing. On saying that, the Seven Stories Museum does seem like a great place for families with young children. I decided that my best bet was the bookshop, which thankfully had a YA section, and this is where I found Deb Caletti’s Essential Maps For The Lost. Yay, aching feet, burning legs and anxiety induced feelings were not completely spent on a wasted trip.
I did manage to find my way back to the Hampton, stopping briefly by the Millennium Bridge to buy a sausage roll, a cookie and a bottle of water for a homeless man (I know this seems like shameless attention seeking on my part, but really I just wanted to highlight the homeless man. There were a few in the city and yeah, most of them really appreciate it when you give them food and water. I can’t walk past homeless people and not feel my heart squeeze painfully from a mixture of sadness, my desire to help them and my social anxiety, though my guess is that homeless people probably would like social interaction and to be treated as human beings, human beings who have fallen into unfortunate situations but human beings nonetheless). When I got back to the room, I collapsed on my bed and complained excessively about my feet and legs. My sister seemed amused by this and even said that she had been worried about me and was going to call me (Haha good luck with that). Despite feeling like the world’s unhealthiest person, I had a new book and a pink Seven Stories Museum pen (FYI I bought the pen too). I had also been alone in a big city surrounded by people for more than a couple of hours without being stopped by some stranger and without having to dive into a big shop just to escape, it felt like an achievement.
On To The Book Review….
What do you do when you have a mother who is trying to control your life and you accidently swim into the dead body of a woman in a lake? Why you stalk their son of course… (haha) that’s not exactly what happens but it’s close. It’s a moment, a freaky coincidence which completely alters Madison’s life. In some ways this moment wakes Madison up to the world around her and she starts to notice other coincidences, like witnessing the dead woman’s son, Billy, commit a crime. Suddenly Billy is just there, always, even when Madison plans to escape but ends up in the park instead because she really can’t bring herself to commit her own crime, Billy is there. Madison knows she can’t, she shouldn’t get close to this boy, not after what happened, especially when he doesn’t know who she is, but you know, love needs no reasons. And Billy, well he is just trying to make sense of the world and deal with his unreasonable grandmother. He’s also really cute. I wish I could say more but I will be giving far too much away but god I wish I had known a Billy when I was a teenager.
Despite the tragedy these characters work really well together and even the minor characters feel real. I’m not even a fan of dogs that much and I felt sorry for the dogs in this story. This book is really about how life can be unfair and cruel, how what you say and how you treat people (and animals) can be the difference between life and death, and how the opinions and hopes of your family members can be hard to deal with. It’s also filled with teenage relationships, I mean, one character in particular made me wish I could throw a heavy book at their head, and no, it was not the grandmother. I loved the addition of the map and the book ‘From The Mixed Up Files Of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler’, I even bought this children’s book and read it just because of Caletti’s book.
In the interest of fairness and honesty, you know I like to point out both good and bad comments which other readers have made about the book I’m reviewing. The overwhelming majority have rated Essential Maps For The Lost at 3* or more on Goodreads and Amazon. So overall most people agree that it is a good book, but you know, not everyone agrees all the time.
The best good comment I most agree with is…
‘Caletti’s prose is fresh and quirky without ever getting irritating; optimistic without being saccharine. As in her other YA novels, the teenage protagonists being the central focus doesn’t mean that the others – the adults, the children, and the dogs – In their world aren’t carefully characterised as well.’
‘Another fantastic book by Deb Caletti…
Does this book have a dog? This book has lots of dogs!’
A bad comment but maybe a fair point depending on your preferences…
‘The writing is short and choppy, making it difficult to read, and the constantly changing POVS don’t help. Making the chapters and sentences a littler longer with a better flow to them would’ve been a good idea for this book’…. ‘it was more like reading 5 chapters and being too exhausted to finish. It really is exhausting trying to process the writing. This is just the kind of book you either love or hate, I guess. I may have hated it, but I really hope you love it.’
‘I read two pages of this book and wanted to throw it away. The tone and voice is stupid.’
I mean really? Two pages? Jeez you didn’t even give it a chance. I made this mistake when I was thirteen when I tried to read Harry Potter for the first time. I read one chapter and put it down because I thought it was rubbish, turns out a couple of years later I started it again and read the first three chapters. I loved it so much I went on to read most of the series, that is, until J.K. Rowling killed off Dumbledore, I never did forgive her for that and I never read the last book. (Harry Potter fans please do not crucify me!)
Essential Maps For The Lost is a beautifully written book. Personally for me, I was able to imagine people I already know as the characters in this book which of course made the story even more enticing for me. It deals with topics such as death, love, depression, and that really difficult period in life where some teenagers are desperate to please their parents but also want to make their own decisions regarding their futures. It’s a mess of emotions but I love it because emotions and feelings drive everything in life, literally everything. I like to pride myself on choosing great books, I feel like I have a knack for it but of course I’m bias, I choose stuff that I like and it doesn’t mean everyone else is going to like it too. However, if you want an emotional book, a book which touches nerves and makes you question what is right and what is wrong, then Essential Maps For The Lost is worth a try.
Essential Maps For The Lost is a YA book and was published on April 5th 2016. It is written by award winning and National Book award finalist, American author, Deb Caletti.
You can find out more about Deb Caletti and her work at http://debcaletti.com/
Well Adios for now, hopefully I will be back soon but I can’t make any promises. I do have a new book cover to show you if you haven’t already seen it on my other social media platforms so there may be a post about that soon, otherwise, Happy Reading Bibliophiles and Authors, Keep On Writing.