Monday, February 24, 2014

Book Review: 18 Things by Jamie Ayres

Title: 18 Things
Author: Jamie Ayres
Publication Date: January 24, 2013
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Format: e-book
Links: GoodReads - Barnes & Noble - Amazon
SynopsisCan eighteen things save a life? 

Olga Gay Worontzoff thinks her biggest problems are an awful name (after her grandmothers of course) and not attending prom with Conner, her best friend and secret crush since kindergarten. 

Then Conner is killed in a freak boating accident and Olga feels responsible. When she downs an entire bottle of pills to deal with the emotional pain, her parents force her into counseling. There, her therapist writes a prescription in the form of a life list titled 18 Things. Eighteen quests to complete the year of her eighteenth birthday. 

All she has to do is fire-walk, try out for the cheerleading squad, break a world record, and err . . . go on her first date. Good thing Nate, a new hottie in town, enters her life with perfect timing. He brings the fun factor to her list and helps her discover the beauty and strength inside herself, then complicates things by falling in love with her. 

But there's more to Olga’s quests than meets the eye and when her therapist reveals a terrifying secret, her world is shaken. 

There’s only one thing she knows for certain: her choices won’t just affect her future, but all eternity. (via GoodReads)

My Review

18 Things is a solemn tale of death, grief, and acceptance. Jamie Ayres touches on a few darker themes throughout the novel-namely death and moving on when someone close to you passes on with a few other dark tones scattered throughout.

Olga and Conner are best friends-they always have been. Unfortunately, their friendship is cut short when they're out sailing one day when a lightening storm arrives and lightening strikes Conner. In mere moments, Olga loses her best friend and the love of her life. The story follows Olga as she tries to move on. Her therapist suggests that she write down 18 "bucket list" items, so to speak, that can help her cope and eventually move on. With the help of her friends, she completes these bucket list items over the course of a year. 

While the book was a little slow for me at some points, I thought the story was very well written. Dealing with loss and grief is not an easy thing, but the process was represented well. I, like Olga, have lost someone close to me so I could relate well to the different things that Olga was feeling. I felt her pain as she lost her best friend and I feel like I went through all the steps of the grieving process with her.

For the most part, the characters were well written. I sometimes wondered how Olga and her friends actually became friends because they seem so different, but they all fit together in a weird way. My only qualm was the way that the teenagers spoke to one another. I honestly don't know any teenagers who use such loose vernacular (I can't think of any specifics right now but "Oh My Gawd" was used a lot)…I don't know, maybe I just don't know a lot of teenagers!

I also loved that the big touched on the religious aspect of death and loss. I am a religious person, though, so touching on religion was relatable for me. 

Another thing that I enjoyed were the quotes and focus questions that could be found at the end of the chapters. It might be the teacher in me, but I enjoy a good focus question and being able to reflect on what happened in the book. 

Overall, the book was very well written and dealt with very heavy topics. I cried and cried throughout the book. It's been a long time since a book has touched me enough to make me cry! As far as the plot twist at the end, I just have one word: WOW. I would suggest this book for an older audience as it is pretty heavy, but it's definitely worth the read.

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