Friday, November 4, 2011

This post started out with one idea, but ended up with me in a state of reflection.

I read Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins in just over 24 hours. I wasn't really going for a review, but I wanted to give a quick shout of love. This book has lots of the elements I love about YA, and I'm so glad that I have the blog-o-sphere to recommend 'good reads.' (More on that in a moment.)

Here are the things I loved in Lola:

San Fransisco is a character in this story. It made me miss California and our years there, and also sad that my children won't remember our weekend visits to the zoo and the wharf.

Lola perceives the world in her own unique way. I especially liked how she observed the relationships around her. Seeing the world through Lola's POV shows more about her than it tells.

And of course I fell in love with Cricket Bell. (If you've read it, enough said.)

I normally like to summarize a book for a review on my own; I enjoy the challenge. Each time I tried with this book, my paragraph blurb just came out cheesy, so I hopped over to GoodReads to check out their summary. (Here's a link, if you are so inclined.) It was several paragraphs long, but that's not what caught my attention.

I spent far too long there reading reviews, and I was crushed. Don't get me wrong, this book has a very high star rating, and it's a GoodReads 2011 Choice Nominee for Best YA Novel. (Go vote!) But I read more than a few comments that disparaged the elements I loved most.

Why did it bother me so much, enough to not publish my post? Is it the writer in me, hurt by a few negative comments? (Maybe.) Did I rethink my initial reaction? (No, not at all.) After a full day to contemplate, I've determined that I was most stymied because I'd like to have a conversation (book club, anyone?) to understand why those commenters felt the way they did.

See, I'm all about sharing the love. I've followed Charlaine Harris for years now, and that lady is as mad a reader as she is a writer. (In a fantastic way.) She reads tons of books, and she reviews around one or two per week. But she only reviews the books she likes and recommends. I don't think I've ever read a negative review in four years. I am in favor of discussing what worked for a given reader, or what didn't, more than writing a negative review. If I love a book, I tell people. If I didn't love a book, I recommend it to people who I think may love it, but I try not to tear anyone down.

So, am I alone in this ra-ra rave-fest? Should we warn fellow readers when we find a book that really misses the mark, or should we keep everything lovey-dovey?

Music for today: I teared up today when I heard Stay Young, Go Dancing by Death Cab. Sad to see the end of Ben and Zooey, my favorite, quirky celeb couple. :(

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