Read with Me: Chapter One of IGYtS

READ WITH ME: Chapter One

Welcome to my first book club post on I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson! This will focus only on the first chapter of the book. If you didn’t catch what my “Read with Me” series is about or what this particular book is about, go ahead and check out my previous post. Read on if you’re all caught up!

“This is how it all begins.”

I don’t know about you, but I found this to be such a powerful first sentence. It fills my belly with the promise of something. It’s too soon to tell if this something will be good or bad, but you know the unremarkable is going to happen. It will alter the narrator’s perspective forever—is there any better place to start a story?

I immediately fell in love with Noah. Here’s a thirteen-year-old boy who’s an artist and a closeted homosexual (though he knows people—and the toaster—have their suspicions). His voice is so strong on the page. It wasn’t a voice I clicked with right away, but I knew I loved the character. The longer I read from his point of view, the more I liked him and his way of telling the story.

The only thing that didn’t grow on me within the first chapter were the little titled artworks in parethesis. You know exactly what I’m talking about: “(A Series: Boy Inside a Box of Darkness)” or “(Family Portrait: Mom Communes with the Dead at Dinner).” I totally get what Nelson was going for, and in some ways, I think it works effectively. But for the most part, it just pulled me out of the story. By the end of that chapter, I stopped reading them altogether. What were your thoughts on these?

One thing I LOVED about this first chapter was the family dynamic. There’s Noah, the underdog with powerful thoughts but a reluctant mouth. Then there’s Jude. She’s a little louder, more vibrant, and completely in-sync with Noah. Mom and Dad are polar opposites of each other. Where Mom is spunky and an obvious artist, Dad is a cold skeptic. He’s not a fan of Noah, and Noah knows that, which made my heart ache.

I thought the final paragraph of chapter one was particularly powerful:

“Jude and I play a lot of games…The Drowning Game goes like this: If Mom and Dad were drowning, who would we save first? (Me: Mom, duh. Jude: depends on her mood.) And there’s the other variation: If we were drowning, who would Dad save first? (Jude.) For thirteen years, Mom’s stumped us. We had absolutely no idea who she’d dredge out of the water first.

Until now.

And without sharing a glance, we both know it.”

Wow, if that doesn’t hint at a shifting relationship between siblings, I don’t know what will. Parents playing favorites, the underdog finally winning anything. And when you’re thirteen, what your parents think means a lot. I expect tensions will be high between Jude and Noah in his coming chapters…but what do you think?

I can’t wait to read chapter two from Jude’s perspective. Eager to see where the future takes them!

Much love,

Anne L.

Read with Me: I’ll Give You the Sun

READ WITH ME: I’ll Give You the Sun

Have you ever started a book, and right away, you know: this is going to make me cry. That’s how I felt when I got a few pages into I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. The voice is raw, the characters are flawed yet lovable, and the situations are tense. Within the first chapter, I knew it was going to be one of those books that held a heavy impact on my life—No pressure, Jandy.

I barely finished Chapter One when I had a new thought: I wish there was someone reading this with me. I’ve never been in a book club, and honestly, I read a bit too quickly for book clubs anyway. But this thought inspired me to start a Read with Me blog. Never heard of it? Me either, but I think we’ll have a fun time.

Here’s the basic premise: I’ll write a blog post for every chapter I read. Yes, every chapter! And then, you can follow along at your own pace. Read my thoughts, and then, comment your own. It’s okay if we disagree, just remember to always be polite. I’ll respect your opinions, and hopefully, you’ll respect mine. I think this will be the perfect book to initiate this project. We can laugh together and cry (sob like soap opera actors) together.

For those of you who have never heard of I’ll Give You the Sun, go ahead and crawl out from under that rock. Just kidding—but seriously. Here’s a quick synopsis from the book itself:

“At first, Jude and her twin brother are NoahandJude: inseparable. Noah draws constantly and is falling in love with the charismatic boy nex door, while daredevil Jude cliff-dives and does all the talking for both of them.

Years later, they are barely speaking. Something has happened to change the twins in different yet devastating ways…but then Jude meets an intriguing, irresistible boy and a mysterious new mentor.

The early years are Noah’s to tell; the later years are Jude’s. But they each have only half the story, and if they can find their way back to one another, they’ll have a chance to remake their world.”

Crying yet? It’s okay, me too. This powerful book is going to rock our socks off, so I hope you’ll join me in reading. I’ll start posting soon, so go ahead and grab your copy as soon as possible. I’ll leave a buy link below!

 

Buy Links:  I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

 

Much love,

Anne L.

Book Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

BOOK REVIEW

TITLE: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

AUTHOR: Jenny Han

GENRE: YA, Romance

REVIEWER: Anne Lutz

RATING: ★★★☆☆

 

Yesterday, I devoured Jenny Han’s To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. It’s been sitting on my shelf for a while, and I finally picked it up. The concept is interesting and the cover is simply gorgeous. The book follows Lara Jean after her private love letters (to each of the five boys she’s ever loved) are sent out by accident. There’s a great amount of tension, humor, and a lovable male lead. However, I did find some problems with the book.☆☆

For one, Lara Jean is not a protagonist you fall in love with. At least, I never did. She has her moments, but for the most part, she is incredibly annoying and unsympathetic. I read one review that stated she was unrealistic in her age, which I somewhat agree with. However, I’ve met girls like Lara Jean. Sixteen-year-old girls who always stay far from the edge, disapprove of sex, and complain, complain, complain. She overreacts about every little thing, and the whole time, the reader is rooting for Peter instead of Lara Jean.

Still, I view Lara Jean, not as an unrealistic character, but as an extremely flawed character. It would’ve been nice to root for her a little bit more, but I’ve always enjoyed reading about people who view the world differently than me. Plus, for anyone who’s read Sink or Swim, I was once a big fan of “annoying” main characters. 😉

My favorite aspect of the book, however, was not Lara Jean or her complicated romances or even the overall concept. I’m a huge sucker for sister stories. I loved the close, tight-knit relationship of Lara Jean, her older sister Margot, and their younger sister Kitty. It was a wonderful story of the struggles sister’s go through, especially when they’re close in age, like Lara Jean and Margot.

But while the sister relationship was my favorite aspect of the book, it was also the most disappointing. Throughout the story, Han built up so much tension about Lara Jean’s wavering relationship with Margot. And then, at the end, the conclusion just steamrolled over any realistic resolution. They just magically forgave each other and hugged it out.

Now, I understand that in real life this can happen, but the betrayal was fairly intense. I thought of my relationship with my sister, of my friends’ relationships with their sisters. It felt wildly unrealistic that they’d forgive each other so quickly. It didn’t feel in character, and honestly, it ruined the book a little for me. I just kept thinking…that would never happen. Or, c’mon, give me something!

The book definitely has it’s pros and cons. I loved the writing style—Han has a great way of moving you through the pages at a quick pace. I didn’t love the characters all that much or the resolution at all. But overall, I think it was a good read. I would give it 3 out of 5 stars. If you’re looking for a frustrating character and some good drama, this book is for you.

As a side note, I of course picked up the sequel, too. So far, I really don’t like it. But that’s another story. I’ll probably write a review on that when I’m done. Stay tuned!

 

Lots of love,

Anne Lutz

2017 – Welcoming the New Year

Wow, 2016 was a big year for me. I studied abroad in Wales, self-published my first novel, and graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in creative writing and English. Although there were a few heartbreaks in 2016, the year was, overall, very good to me. I felt challenged to do better, to be better. Every hardship reminded me of the importance of reaching my goals. Nothing worth doing comes easily, as they say, and I’m determined to be among the few who never stop fighting for their dreams.

But to me, January isn’t about looking at the past—it’s about looking toward the future. There are so many exciting things to look forward to for 2017. I already have a lot planned for my Wattpad accounts, my writing and publishing, and of course, my personal life. While some aspects are beyond my control, I still have high hopes for what is to come in the new year.

    1. WATTPAD
      1. I always look forward to meeting my new followers, whether on my @AnneLutz or @youngadultreads account. Three hundred sixty-five days promises new followers, as well as new opportunities to connect with them and to provide them with ways to improve their Wattpad experiences.
      2. My latest Wattpad novel is Phoenix. It’s actually a re-written version of the very first book I ever completed. I was only sixteen, so some aspects are a little rough, but I still LOVE the story line and the characters. And don’t worry, most of the roughness is currently being edited away!
      3. The Teen Fiction Awards officially closed on the first of January. I’m incredibly honored to host a contest for so many talented writers. I can’t wait to highlight the winners of these awards. And remember, this contest is based purely on merit—so undiscovered writers have an equal shot at winning!
    2. WRITING
      1. For the first time, I’m venturing into the world of middle grade! I couldn’t be more excited. It’s something I’ve thought about for a long time, and while I’ve started a MG novel in the past, this is the first time I’ll finish one. It’s an upper MG fantasy about a group of young teens who discover magical gems. I don’t want to give anything away, but I believe many of my readers, even the adults, will fall in love with Peter’s story.
    3. PUBLISHING
      1. It isn’t set in stone yet, but I’m hoping to attend the Storyteller’s Conference in Provo, UT. The conference takes place in May, and two of my favorite agents will be there (Ammi-Joan Paquette and Sara Crowe). The opportunity to meet them face-to-face could be life-changing!
      2. Because of this quickly-approaching deadline, I have to finish my WIP as soon as possible. That way, I’ll be able to get beta readers, edit their suggestions, and polish my work before the conference. As you know, it’s important to have as perfect a manuscript as possible.
    4. PERSONAL
      1. Now that I’m graduated with college, it’s time to move into the “real world.” I am currently applying to a wide variety of opportunities, from editorial internships to entry-level jobs at publishing houses and literary agencies. Hopefully, I’ll get something lined up in the next few months. If you know of any job openings, be sure to let me know! 😉

Thank you and welcome to my shiny new author website. I look forward to meeting all of you. Please share your 2017 goals in the comments!

Lots of love,

Anne L.