Monday, 13 February 2012

Notes to Self - Avery Sawyer

Sometimes when authors/publishers ask me to review a book of theirs, I find myself thinking that this is wrong. I guess it's because before blogging (and partly during blogging), I just a normal person reading constantly that HAD to wait for all the best, upcoming, great books to come out in England, instead of America. Which sucks.

But now, even though when I find myself saying 'Yeah sure!' to a review request, it feels still weird and slightly wrong. But then I get to find books that I probably would never have known about and it helps me to love blogging and what I do.
This is one of those books. I felt bad saying yes to this interesting sounding book but then, I start reading and I feel so glad I said yes.
Blogging rules sometimes.

Synopsis: One windy night at the end of summer in Florida, two teenage girls climb up a roller coaster. Two fall down. Only one wakes up.
That one person is Robin who after a traumatic brain injury, she tries relearn who she is and find out what happened that night in order to try and help Emily, her best friend, wake up.

Review: This is one short read, I can tell you. But boy, is it intense.
The book starts with just before the fall and much like Robin, the narrative jumps to when Robin wakes up. From then on, we, and Robin, are trying to find out her past and more importantly, the accident itself where something is nagging Robin that if she remembers, it will save Emily. This all happens in a series of flashbacks throughout the book which piece together all our questions ending in the ultimate and last flashback - the fall.

I liked how Sawyer didn't reveal everything straight away to us - it made it a much more interesting read. I would say this story is unique, because in some ways I think it is especially the way it is done. But there are a   lot of books out there that reminded me of this one while reading - Speak and If I Stay to name a few.

This book takes some time to break in. At first, while reading, I didn't like it at all - I got annoyed at Robin and I found the hospital scenes disturbing and uninteresting. Not a good mix, I assure you. But when Robin finally gets out of hospital and starts to try and find out what happened, the story suddenly lifts up. The thing about Robin is that she is someone I could relate to.
So I haven't broken anything, had concussion or hurt in any way part of my brain, I felt and understood what she was going through. For me, her point of view is written like a typical teenager and the problem of her not remembering anything was linked with other teenage 'tragedies' such as not sure if you like a guy and people being mean to you at school. Maybe I got the wrong end of the stick or I totally lost the whole point - but that's what I felt. I related to Robin because her injury was linked with things I have gone through in my teenagehood.

Robin, I thought was going to be annoying. I feel bad saying this but I get annoyed when something happens to the protagonist and they whine on and on about their problems. I would be the same, I know, but still. Surprisingly, Robin wasn't. She got on with her life and I liked the determination to find out what happened on that night. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that Robin was a great narrator and I liked her character and the way she just got on with everything after the accident.

The writing was easy to read and flowed really well. There are a lot of chapters for such a short book and almost act as episodes. Despite this, the narrative was never snappy or broken up, it all flowed into a wondering book very well. Because of the episodes, it became very visual in my head while reading and I can totally imagine this as a movie in the way it is written.
Although I thought the opening could have been better, the ending...well, let's say that some may expect it happening, I did not. I had already made my decision on what happened at the end but this was changed completely.

Now, my problems. Wow, Josie is a total bitch and the way the people treat Robin when she returns to school, wow, that is harsh. At times I felt that the story seemed a little...dramatised. Like the way people treated Robin at school - yes it happens but I don't think it would have been that bad especially as they know about her brain injury. Another example is Susan (I won't reveal why) but I was like 'Seriously? That's a bit too coincidental. It was like Sawyer wanted to get the mother out of the story so introduced her.

NOTES TO SELF tackles multiple issues that teenagers have to deal with as well as the ultimate and tragic problem of brain damage - something we all fear and hope will never happen to ourselves and those around us. Avery Sawyer has successful created a book where people can somehow relate to Robin, even though she is in a rare situation. The writing and characters craft this book into something that I think most people would enjoy at any age. With the length of this book, I think everyone should read this book - even if it isn't totally perfect.
Verdict: I would give it a go - but I don't think it is everyone's cup of tea.

I give it a 3.5 out of 5

Author's Website:
Pages: 107
Publisher: Self
Challenges: None

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