23 Following

Reading, Writing and Being Generally Awesome

I have no idea what I'm doing.
Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend - Louise Rozett Here's how excited I was (am) about this book: I signed up to review it on my birthday. That's right today I'm twenty-something-or-other and telling you about the wondrous novel that is Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend! Last year, I fell in love with Louise Rozett's debut, Confessions of an Angry Girl. I waited, for what felt like forever, for the sequel to be released. I just knew I would love it. There are just some books that are destined to be loved, and this was one of them. Forgive me--this review is going to be long, personal and emotional because so much of this book, this series really, resonates with me.What I love about Rozett's work is that it is very realistic, and it deals with subjects that many people want to avoid because they are socially unacceptable and taboo. We see bullying, homophobia, peer pressure, abuse, drug use, alcohol addiction and mental illness. All of these issues are part of our daily lives, whether we face them or not. Rozett is not afraid to acknowledge them, and make you look them straight in the eye. It's gritty. It's fierce. And it'll tear you to shreds.Beginning just a bit after book one left off, Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend is about Rose Zarelli's sophomore year of high school. She swears she's going to change this year. Good-bye old Rose, hello Rose 2.0. Too bad she's in counseling with her mother, already involved in a scandal, her brother's behavior is out of control and Jamie's returned after an entire summer of not speaking to her. When push comes to shove, Rose has to look past the struggles and decide who she's going to be while letting go of what she can't control, but things are always more difficult than they first seem… Rose is a true character. She's realistic, and endearing in her character development. I really connect with Rose because she's everything I was at her age, and in many ways, who I am today: self-conscious, angry, depressed, confused, anxious, heartbroken and stressed. She stuck in situations that she can't control, and that's killing her. She's trying to do the right thing, but it ends up hurting people no matter what she does. I've been in situations so eerily similar to hers that it's almost like I'm reading my own story. I know the feeling of not being heard, of wanting people to understand without you having to shove the truth in someone's face. You never want to do that because that makes you vulnerable and susceptible to pain, or even worse happiness. You may be thinking… "What? Why would someone be afraid of being happy?" Because depression isn't rational. Because the minds of (most) teenagers aren't rational. Hell, the minds of (most) adults aren't rational either. Because life isn't rational. Since I was (mis)diagnosed with depression, I've had a constant. I've had a fall back. I've understood that it's not really me getting so angry that I start throwing things and crying because my favorite shirt has a stain on it even though I told my mom to spray it with Shout three different times before she put it in the washer. I was diagnosed with severe depression when I was ten years old. My mom was battling cancer for the second time (she would later beat the disease two more times). My parents were getting divorced. My dad was moving to Arizona. My mom was moving us across the city, forcing me to leave all of the friends I'd grown up with. My grandma had just died. My aunt had just died. Everything in my life was falling apart. So my mom took me to the doctor. He put me on some pills. They sent me to a shrink, who I fought every step of the way. (She wore pantyhose and didn't shave her legs. Who was she to give me advice?) For a long while, things seemed to get better. Then I entered college. I had left the state where I'd had the worst times of my life and now I was living on my own, getting all A's, making friends, meeting guys, experimenting--pretty much just having your average college experience. When I came back for my second semester after winter break, everything fell apart again. This time, I wasn't getting out of bed. I was failing three of my four classes. I wasn't showering. I wasn't sleeping. I either was eating a ton, or not at all. I was crying at the drop of a hat. I was angry all the time. My friends were terrified for me. I was terrified for myself. My two best friends from school took me to the school counseling center where I met with a kind man who informed me that I was not in fact depressed, but suffering from Bi-Polar II Depression disorder, and a whole slew of more minor, but still pretty serious mental illnesses. His recommendation? Withdraw for the semester. Go home. Get help. Return when I'm better. So I did the first two (and a half). I spent four months after that stewing in my own issues and ignoring the world around me. I lost a lot of friends, who didn't understand, who didn't care, or who didn't know at all. Why am I telling you all of this? Because I mean it when I said some people won't allow themselves to be happy, and are too afraid to be themselves. My issues stemmed (mostly) from my illness, but a lot of it has to do with the attitude toward life that I've let myself fall into that started in a depressive state and I continued when I stabilized. As soon as things are working well for me, I sabotage them because I don't trust myself, and I don't trust the people around me--no matter how much they mean to me. I rarely tell people how I really feel. I hide behind sarcasm, anger and books. The only thing I can trust, that I can rely on is my illness. So I lay in bed, and pretend that I'm okay being alone. This is why books are so important to me. This is why books with Big Issues are so important to me and important PERIOD. This is why I appreciate Rozett and I appreciate authors who make them real for everyone and not just those who suffer.Whew. Let's talk about the actual book now, okay?Rozett writes another book that's impossible to put down. Much like when starting the first book, I said I was only going to read a few chapters and then go to sleep. Three hours later my body is sore, my eyes are heavy and I can't stop yawning because I read it straight through to the end. The writing is personable and realistic. This is one author who's work you shouldn't miss. She provides a truly wonderful read that will have the audience in the palm of her hands. The plot moves steadily, and never wavered. There was enough happening in the story that it moved well, without being completely ridiculous. This is a drama-filled, angst-ridden, heart-pounding read. I want everyone to read and enjoy this series as much as I do. Books like this are why I read, ladies and gents. It's not only entertaining, but it evokes powerful emotion as well. So, so good.The way Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend ended is killing me. I am shaky, red-faced and jittery from that experience and I finished almost an hour ago. This book is going to be weighing on my mind for quite some time. I sincerely hope Louise plans to expand the series. This is one that will stay with me always. I'm giving this one five stars, which means I'm definitely recommending it. Everyone should read this! Even if you don't enjoy it, I'm so curious to know what people think of this series!I received an e-copy of this novel from the publisher and YA Bound for my honest opinion and review via Netgalley.This review can be seen here on my blog as well.