My Beautiful Failure, by Janet Ruth Young
Published On: November 12, 2013, by Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance, Suicide
The haunting account of a teen boy who volunteers at a suicide hotline and falls for a troubled caller.
As her life spirals out of control, Jenney’s calls become more desperate, more frequent. Billy, struggling with the deteriorating relationship with his depressed father, is the only one who understands. Through her pain, he sees hope. Through her tears, he feels her heart. And through her despair, he finds love. But is that enough?
Acclaimed author Janet Ruth Young has written a stunning and powerful story with no easy answers; it is about pain and heartbreak, reality and illusion, and finding redemption and the strength to forgive in the darkest of times.
What’s outrageously hilarious here is that I’m sitting here, dying of laughter while I’m writing this. I ACTUALLY LOVED THIS BOOK! *kisses the floor because of love* The thing is—you cannot even imagine how afraid I was to pick this up. I honestly expected so much worse. I was ready for dazing, daydreaming and procrastinating, anything to get me away from reading this book. But then, little did I know back then that I would finish the book in one short sitting, and that I’ll be sitting here, writing a positive review.
You see, when I read really good books, I’m not able to concentrate on anything else until I finish that book. This book started off amazing from the first page, but not as amazing as it turned out until the end. I sat there face-palming myself, over and over again, feeling mental and crazy because I was so rude to this book. YES, THEY HAVE FEELINGS, OKAY?
This book gave me a crazy amount of feels. I shipped, my ship sunk, and I cried.
I honestly wish that I was able to somehow film myself while reading this book and then post it onto here. I barely moved while reading, and I made such weird face expressions, as I remember. There were so many times when I was patting my heart, or where I was frowning. Like really, WHAT BOOK DOES THAT TO YOU? Let me tell you, only the keepers, my friends.
My Beautiful Failure was… exactly what I was hoping and praying for. It was so beautiful, and heart-breaking and crashing and shattering all at the same time. It was the cutest thing that you can ever imagine in a darker contemporary, and it dealt with such modern issues that many teens are sadly going through today. And plus, where did that idea of a suicide hotline worker come from? THAT WAS BRILLIANT, LET ME TELL YOU.
And for once, we have a love story with two broken people. Both Billy and Jenney were both struggling, with two different stories from behind. And to really understand how they both clicked and connected, you have to read in between the lines. In many ways, they both cured and helped each other, when no one else could have.
Billy is almost teared apart. Everyday when he comes home, his depressed father is getting closer and closer to the point where he won’t be able to take himself as a person. He’s strongly depressed, and as Billy sees this happening to the person who was there for him from the start, he also begins to not be able to take it. To keep himself busy from paying attention, he volunteers at a suicide hotline, where he feels like he may not be able to stand to not help someone who wants to commit suicide. His first few calls go okay, and he’s nervous, as expected. One of the next callers is Jenney, a girl who has went through so much in her life, including abuse and psychotic hating parents. Everyday, her calls become more frequent and needy, and as they communicate more, Billy finds that he’s falling for the girl who can only understand him, and as he is the same back to her.
This book was the cutest thing ever. The storyline is so deep and dark, all at the same time. There’s such a large bursting message that is popping out at us throughout reading the whole time, and I feel like I need more from Janet Ruth Young—master of contemporary literature for mature audiences. But really, you can have a young soul and still have to deal with such horrid things, as Jenney did. It really tears a hole in my heart as I’m not able to expect anything else.
Didn’t I already mention that this concept is the most beautiful thing ever? It was fitted out and sculpted and written to perfection, every single bit of it. Every word was like a new breath from a baby when it’s brought into the real world.
As I began reading, everything wasn’t as clear as it became to be when Billy joined the hotline. I had a few mishaps with confusion, but as the story unfolded, a sunrise came out and the water turned crystal clear. After that, there was no looking back and I wasn’t able to live without knowing what would happen and how everything would turn out. The writing was powerful, moving, and heart-tearing, at the same time. As watching the characters becoming more and more experienced with each other, I got goosebumps and shivers all over. This really shows how issues can be solved and turned into something healing and stressless.
But when you read and really listen to Billy and Jenney’s story, you feel for them, you don’t feel guilt, but you feel sadness and sorrow. They were such gorgeous and amazing characters, I didn’t have enough of them and their strong voices. Billy was like the therapist, but inside, he had his own personal issues. But at the same time, you realize how much he cares about the people he loves. Just, look at his dad and Jenney. He did everything for them, and in the end….
I was done, and so was he. THE ENDING HIT ME SO HARD. I just am still not able to let it go and realize that it’s all over. *sighs*
I cried, I literally died of sadness, but I’m sitting here smiling from head to toe. I see everything differently now, and I’m surely am not going to forget about this gorgeous story. It was all there, and I didn’t ever have enough. Beautiful characters + a gorgeous story and concept = a Happy Michelle. What else can we ask for? A Beautiful Failure? Yep.
Beauty of the Broken, by Tawni Waters
Published On: September 30, 2014, by Simon Pulse
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
In this lyrical, heartwrenching story about a forbidden first love, a teen seeks the courage to care for another girl despite her small town’s bigotry and her father’s violent threats.
Growing up in conservative small-town New Mexico, fifteen-year-old Mara was never given the choice to be different. Her parents—an abusive, close-minded father and a detached alcoholic mother—raised Mara to be like all the other girls in Barnaby: God-fearing, churchgoing, and straight. Mara wants nothing to do with any of it. She feels most at home with her best friend and older brother, Iggy, but Iggy hasn’t been the same since their father beat him and put him in the hospital with a concussion.
As Mara’s mother feeds her denial with bourbon and Iggy struggles with his own demons, Mara finds an escape with her classmate Xylia. A San Francisco transplant, Xylia is everything Mara dreams of being: free-spirited, open, wild. The closer Mara and Xylia become, the more Mara feels for her—even though their growing relationship is very much forbidden in Barnaby. Just as Mara begins to live a life she’s only imagined, the girls’ secret is threatened with exposure and Mara’s world is thrown into chaos.
Mara knows she can't live without Xylia, but can she live with an entire town who believes she is an abomination worse than the gravest sin?
Guess what? After reading this book, I can see the truth in everything. Broken-down contemporaries are simply the best, especially since the message behind them are so strong and gorgeous. Beauty of the Broken was a read that was absolutely fulfilled with all of those priceless elements that are found in a book, bound to make the reader wanting more.
“She lives through us, my momma. We’re her chance to make up for the life she lost when she got married. People say that you only live once, but that’s not quite true. You can live two, three, or even four times, depending on how many kids you have. It irritates me suddenly, like a mosquito buzzing my brain, the way my momma’s trying to steal my life away.”
This book was so fucking sad. I can easily say that it’s one of the saddest and most heart-breaking thing I’ve read this year. MY FEELS WERE TEARED APART and by the end, they were teared and ripped apart even more. During this book, there was no time indeed for recovery and for better. I cried, I got pissed—my feelings were all over the place. And that incredibly shows that the author, Tawni Waters, is a fantastic writer and can captivate readers in a snap.
What I’m trying to say here is that if you hate crying in books or getting depressed and sad, then you should run away, right now. But I really don’t recommend you doing that, because this book was SO GOOD!
A gorgeous brother-sister bond was present all throughout.
Stereotypically, you’d expect the big brother to protect the sister from the darkness and wonders of the world. It’s always known for that to happen, no matter what book or movie you read or watch. But in this book, it was the opposite, and that stood out for me. But throughout the whole book, both Mara and Iggy completed each other, and wouldn’t make it through the world without each other.
So really, that was the romance of the book, except the true love wasn’t incest. This simply was such a strong bond and friendship between the two, when they both were living in unloving and horrible conditions in their family. Iggy, Mara’s brother, got abused by their father, and there was no way out of it. Their mother felt bad, but she couldn’t do anything about it since the father had such an overpower all over everyone.
Picture the dad as a ferocious grizzly bear. Iggy’s the little fawn, but he gets picked on repeatedly instead. Mara was the little rabbit, spying in the corner, leading the fawn to safety. And the mother was a tree, just standing there. That was Mara’s bigoted family.
Now, as I explained the characters to you, you can probably already suspect what was happening in the book. Tawni Waters dealt with such sad subjects, but in the end, they were such huge messages that slammed onto us and stuck with us. I still hear Mara’s whimpers in my head, as her character is in my heart all the time. That kind of writing is absolutely memorable. They were all dealing with their own personal demons, and at the same time, Mara didn’t know who she was.
DON’T YOU DARE ROLL YOUR EYES, PEOPLE! Mara didn’t know ‘who she was’ because she wasn’t straight. She had feelings for a girl named Xylia, but for her to like her was forbidden in her small town. Their town was full of bigotries who thought that these types of behaviour was reckless and wrong to God.
As I was reading, I was wondering if things could get any worse for Mara and her brother. And of course, they did. I was really captivated from this story from the start, as I kept wondering what would happen, and I was left wrong every single time.
What I didn’t like so much was the ending, although it was tearing my heart to shreds. Poor Mara didn’t deserve to happen. Everything was GOING GREAT FOR HER… AND THEN THAT. I’m sorry guys, I’m raging a little too much today. But it’s just so… agonizing to even think about. WHYWHYWHYWHYWHYYYYY.
After reading, I felt like I needed to see a therapist because of my sorrow and injustice that was going on in the book. This is such a depressing but fantastic read. It’s mainly quick, but the meaning was so strong and a more in-between-the-lines thing. I absolutely recommend this if you’re looking for a read with strong but hurt characters. Because of its broken beauty, this will probably make your day. Just remember that’s it’s not perfect, but dangerous instead.