Review: Catastrophic History of You and Me

The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg
Release Date ~ February 21, 2012
Penguin ~ Penguin Young Readers Group
ISBN13: 9780803737204
Received from: Penguin Canada for review

Goodreads Synopsis:
Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning.... Welcome to forever.
BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.
But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.
With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?

The Catastrohpic History of You and Me is something very different, and stands out all on its own in terms of plot and storyline.

Jess Rothenberg tackles such a complex and fascinating story, lending a sense of depth that isn't quite as common among books, combining it with humour and major character development.

  1. Character Development:
    Brie changes a lot throughout the story. Significantly. At the beginning she is frustratingly flawed, and completely self-obsessed and vindictive (but really, who can't relate to feeling that way after a painful break up? Oh, and dying. That might put someone over the edge). But very gradually, that starts to change and she begins to see things differently. She grows up, and it's only through doing so that she can finally realize what has happened to her and what she can do about it now.
  2. A little bittersweet:
    The ending is sweet, but there's still something tragic to all of it. So many of the character have overcome difficult and trying times to come out stronger in the end, but what it took for them to learn from these really left an impact on me. More so than Brie's story, I found myself deeply touched and impacted by Jacob and particularly Patrick himself. I don't want to spoil anything, but as soon as everything comes out in the open at the end and all is revelaed... well, the book is worth reading just for that. You might just tear up (I did).
  3. Unpredictable ending:
    You can't really see the ending coming, or at least I didn't. And for all the times I rolled my eyes at how unreasonable and self-absorbed Brie was being, I totally thought her impressions of what were happening were spot on, so I was surprised at some revelations which were eventually brought up. And they make a whole lot more sense then what we're initially led to believe as readers. (And I really hope I don't make it predictable for people by pointing this out- but I thought it was well done all the same).
It may be the nature of the story itself that makes my understanding of it rather hazy, as it revolves around the afterlife and Brie's struggles there, but I found the beginning to be a bit slower and while the ending was more exciting and a page turner, I felt like I was missing further explanation as to what happened. I felt like I had been left with a vague explanation, but perhaps it was meant to be presented that way, in a somewhat open-ended context. And I'm not fully convinced that the ending actually lined up with the structure of this afterlife that we had talked about for the entire book, so it almost felt like it had turned on itself.

I suppose the best way to sum it up is that while I really liked this book, I didn't LOVE it the way I had hoped I would. But it's clearly a rather creative concept, and tackles some heavier issues making it a worthwhile read.

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geekgirl said...

I'm still trying to decide whether I should pick this one up or not. Thanks for the great review hon!


Alexa said...

I'm glad you liked this story. I have heard some great things about it so I personally can't wait to read it. Plus I've flipped through my copy and saw all of the song titles for songs I love so I can't wait to see how the song fits with the chapter

Thanks for the great review

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