Sunshine is Forever novel

Sunshine is Forever is a Great Depiction of Depression

Sunshine is Forever by Kyle T Cowan

Published by Inkshares; scheduled for August, 2017

Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary

Pages: 270 (ebook)

So! I have a lot of feelings about this book. There’s a lot to love here and some things I definitely didn’t dig. So let’s get into it!

Sunshine is Forever novel

All the Wrong Chords Book

After a life-changing decision, Hunter decides that he can’t go on…

…which lands him in Camp Sunshine, a rehab center for depressed teens. Hunter is determined to keep everyone there out of his head, especially his therapist. But when he meets Corin, a beautiful, mysterious, and confident fellow camper, all Hunter wants to do is open up to her, despite the fact that he’s been warned Corin is bad news.

When Corin devises a plan for them to break out of the camp, Hunter is faced with the ultimate choice — will he run from the traumatic incident he’s tried so hard to escape, or will he learn that his mistakes have landed him right where he’s meant to be?

The Characters

I really liked the secondary characters! Quint, a boy at Camp Sunshine is completely amazing. The other kids at CS are really unique and easy to keep straight, and I really enjoyed them.

Hunter, our narrator, is so easy to empathize with. Especially if you’ve ever been depressed. His character isn’t always likable, but he’s very real and completely easy to connect to.

Corin, though, Hunter’s love interest, I had some real problems with. And we’re going to get to that.

The Writing

Makes this such an easy read. It’s so humorous, so sharp, filled just enough with sarcasm and sadness and I love it. The pacing is spot on, carrying you through really quickly.

It’s also one of the most accurate depictions of this level of depression that I’ve seen. It’s first person narrative, so we get to experience with Hunter how he feels. He doesn’t want to get better, he assumes his life will end in suicide, and it’s not pretty, but it’s real.

There are a fair amount of triggers here, so be aware of that. Self-harm, talk of former sexual abuse, suicide attempts. That’s kind of just the nature of the beast here.

Problematic attitudes about sex

So, I’d like to make clear that I have never been a sixteen year old boy, so I can’t say how realistic this is, but Hunter is pretty sure that sex will cure his depression. His “love” for Corin is really just lust, and their relationship is really bothersome for me.

I can’t stand when two people have almost no interaction, but decide they’re in love. I get that they’re teenagers, I get that people can be intoxicating and you can meet someone who feels like your everything very quickly. But I didn’t feel an “aww!” about Corin and Hunter, I felt “What? Why? How?” And because of this, I could never root for them.

I also just genuinely didn’t like Corin. She felt very trope-y to me. She’s the crazy girl that’s so exciting and mysterious and seductive! But also mean and hateful and kind of awful? I couldn’t stand it. In nearly every interaction, she’d call Hunter a girl, tell him to man up, tell him to grow a pair, the list could go on forever. All my least favorite phrases came out of her mouth. Hunter even said he hated the name calling, she made him feel like less of a man, and her controlling nature bothered him. So their “love” for me was mostly upsetting.

My final thought

Sunshine is Forever is good for what it is. I think it’s a great conversation around depression and all forms of mental illness, I think there is some great stuff about taking accountability for yourself and your actions. But I also think the relationship between Corin and Hunter being labelled as love is extremely problematic, and only made more so by its being a book for teens.

Thanks to NetGalley for advanced access to this book in exchange for an honest review!



 

one of us is lying by karen mcmanus

One Of Us Is Lying: Less Breakfast Club, More Gossip Girl

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Published by Delacorte Press in 2017

Genre: YA Mystery

Pages: 360

One Of Us Is Lying is probably the book I was most excited for this year. So it makes me a little sad to say I have mixed feelings about it. I will say that overall it is a quick, enjoyable read, and one I would recommend to others.

one of us is lying book novel mcmanus

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M McManus

Pay close attention and you might solve this.

On Monday afternoon, five students at Bayview High walk into detention.

Bronwyn, the brain, is Yale-bound and never breaks a rule.

Addy, the beauty, is the picture-perfect homecoming princess.

Nate, the criminal, is already on probation for dealing.

Cooper, the athlete, is the all-star baseball pitcher.

And Simon, the outcast, is the creator of Bayview High’s notorious gossip app.

Only, Simon never makes it out of that classroom. Before the end of detention Simon’s dead. And according to investigators, his death wasn’t an accident. On Monday, he died. But on Tuesday, he’d planned to post juicy reveals about all four of his high-profile classmates, which makes all four of them suspects in his murder. Or are they the perfect patsies for a killer who’s still on the loose?

Everyone has secrets, right? What really matters is how far you would go to protect them.

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

Is what had me so completely and immediately intrigued. I had heard the pitch that many people had: that One Of Us Is Lying is The Breakfast Club meets Pretty Little Liars. I was ecstatic. Beyond ecstatic. I adore The Breakfast Club; it has been one of my favorite movies for around fifteen years. And while I’ve fallen off a little, I enjoyed the shit out of Pretty Little Liars for around five seasons. So needless to say I was pumped about this book.

For me, though, it wasn’t really like either of these. What it did have was a distinct Gossip Girl vibe, and I think that distinction is an important one.

When I heard the premise, I guess I had a different vision. The Breakfast Club is the comparison you can’t escape, it’s everywhere. But TBC is entirely set in the school, almost entirely in one room. So what I didn’t expect was the detention in this story to be over so quickly. Simon dies in the first couple pages, and while it sets everything in motion, the detention is just less of the story than I was expecting. I don’t know why that’s so important to me. Maybe because everyone is so determined to compare this to TBC, and the beauty of TBC is that these kids are forced to be together, in one room, with no way out. The kids in One Of Us Is Lying don’t even interact that much for a good portion of the book.

One Of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

I had thought that I would really hate the tropes. The bad boy, the good girl, the jock, the homecoming queen. We’ve seen these. We know these. (This, btw, is I think why it keeps getting compared to TBC, even though these stereotypical characters can be found in 90% of YA Lit.) Thankfully, the stereotypes are truly turned on their heads.

The Bayview Four kids are awesome. Truly. Wonderful characters, each with their own distinct personality, story arc, and agency. I adored them all by the big twist, and was horrified by the prospect of any of them having committed the murder. The secondary characters are also believable and incredibly likable; the siblings of the accused are phenomenal and even have their own shit to deal with.

I will say that one of the reasons this gave me a Gossip Girl vibe is that that is how the kids act. While they are being investigated as possible murderers, they are considerably more concerned with the seeming inevitability that their secrets could get out. I can’t imagine any scenario in which I or anyone I know would say “I know I’m being investigated for murder, but my boyfriend is going to find out…” Now, I’m a mother, and a decade away from having been a teenager, but still. I don’t remember being quite that irrational.

Is good. The slow release of information Is spot on for a fast-paced, easy-to-read story. It is less twisty than I expected, though. It all follows a pretty natural progression, and I didn’t have to keep reading until about the last 100 pages.

Now, I fancy myself a smarty-pants, but I didn’t see the twist coming until right before it happened. I was pleasantly surprised and amazed, and I LOVED how it worked out and everything that followed the reveal. I did see a lot of reviewers saying they figured it out pretty early on though, so keep that in mind

Is that this is a fun, exciting, quick and easy read that, at the very least, doesn’t disappoint in any major ways. I think it brings up a ton of great points about mental health and wellness, and a lot of the terrible shit that goes down in high school that we don’t give teenagers enough credit for dealing with.



Sylvia Plath's Poetry Collection

Why I’m Obsessed with Sylvia Plath’s Poetry Collection

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My recent poetry obsession is not one poem, but a collection! Sylvia Plath’s Poetry Collection.

I’ve liked Sylvia Plath for a long, long time, since I read The Bell Jar as a teenager. What I LOVE about this collection of her poetry is that it is chronological. So though she was always pretty morbid, we can really see her progression (or regression? Depends on your opinion, I suppose) as the years go on. Because we know she killed herself on February 11th, 1963, and her final poems are dated, we can see she was writing up until just a few days before her death. Sometimes three or four poems a day.

Which leads me to another point, which is that my girl could have maybe thrown some of these out. The intro explains that unlike a lot of artists, Sylvia kept everything she wrote. Even if she couldn’t get a poem to exactly where she wanted it, she got it to a point she was comfortable with and moved on. SO. I’m into her for the gruesome, macabre shit, but to find said shit, you have to get through a lot of poems about birds. Like a lot. So I end up feeling like: Sylvia, girl, birds are gross. Tell me more about how you feel like a cow that’s been gutted.

You may love poems about birds just as much as you love poems about carpet drenched in blood! If you’re that person, definitely pick up a copy of Sylvia Plath’s Collected Poems.

 

Here are some highlights for your perusal:

 

Excerpt from “Street Song” (1956):

By a mad miracle I go intact

Among the common rout

Thronging sidewalk, street,

And bickering shops;

Nobody blinks a lid, gapes,

Or cries that this raw flesh

Reeks of the butcher’s cleaver,

Its heart and guts hung hooked

And bloodied as a cow’s split frame

Parceled out by white-jacketed assassins.

 

Who hasn’t felt that way after a break up?! I mean.

 

Excerpt from “Spinster” (1956):

And round her house she set

Such a barricade of barb and check

Against mutinous weather

As no mere insurgent man could hope to break

With curse, fist, threat

Or love, either.

 

 

“Mirror” (1961):

I am silver and exact. I have no preconceptions.

Whatever I see I swallow immediately

Just as it is, unmisted by love or dislike.

I am not cruel, only truthful

The eye of a little god, four-cornered.

Most of the time I meditate on the opposite wall.

It is pink, with speckles. I have looked at it so long

I think it is a part of my heart. But it flickers.

Faces and darkness separate us over and over.

Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,

Searching my reaches for what she really is.

Then she turns to those liars, the candles or the moon.

I see her back, and reflect it faithfully.

She rewards me with tears and an agitation of hands.

I am important to her. She comes and goes.

Each morning it is her face that replaces the darkness.

In me she has drowned a young girl, and in me an old woman

Rises toward her day after day, like a terrible fish.

 

Y’all! Something about this poem was so deeply, unsettlingly beautiful for me. I reward my mirror for its faithful service with tears and agitation sometimes (maybe often). Do you?

 

In 1962, Plath wrote a group of poems about bees. Yes, bees. I mean, it’s not really about bees. But it’s about bees. Whatever! Read it. To write them all out here would be insane, as they’re each fairly long. Look them up if you like:

“The Bee Meeting”

“The Arrival of the Bee Box”

“Stings”

“The Swarm”

 

Stings, independent of this little collection, is one of my all-time favorite poems.

 

My favorite stanza from “Stings”:

They thought death was worth it, but I

Have a self to recover, a queen.

Is she dead, is she sleeping?

Where has she been,

With her lion-red body, her wings of glass?

 

On the real, when I’m miserable and know I need to turn shit around, I say to myself: “I have a self to recover, a queen.” And it genuinely makes me feel better. Try it.

 

There is SO much content in here. So much we could go over. But because I’ve already given you a lot to mull over, I’ll leave you with two final poems.

 

Excerpt from “The Fearful” (November 1962):

 

She hates

 

The thought of a baby-

Stealer of cells, stealer of beauty-

 

She would rather be dead than fat,

Dead and perfect, like Nefertit,

 

Hearing the fierce mask magnify

The silver limbo of each eye

 

Where the child can never swim,

Where there is only him and him.

 

 

Only three months away from her death and you can see how sad her poetry has become. It is worth pointing out, I think, that she had two babies at this time. One two years old, and one still under a year. I would think any mother writing this way about children may need some intervention.

 

And, finally,

 

“Edge”:

 

The woman is perfected.

Her dead

 

Body wears the smile of accomplishment,

The illusion of a Greek necessity

 

Flows in the scrolls of her toga,

Her bare

 

Feet seem to be saying:

We have come so far, it is over.

 

Each dead child coiled, a white serpent,

One at each little

 

Pitcher of milk, now empty.

She has folded

 

Them back into her body as petals

Of a rose close when the garden

 

Stiffens and odors bleed

From the sweet, deep throats of the night flower.

 

The moon has nothing to be sad about,

Staring from her hood of bone.

 

She is used to this sort of thing.

Her blacks crackle and drag.

 

This was written on February fifth, 1963. Just six days before her death, and was, as far as we know, her final poem.

Sylvia Plath

 

Here’s a link in case you’d like to purchase Sylvia Plath’s Collected Poems on Amazon!

*I only link up books I’d give 5 stars to, and believe in 100%*

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this!