Genre: Young-Adult, Fantasy, Magical Realism, LGBT
Audiobook Duration: 8 hours and 18 minutes
Narrator: Raviv Ullman, and Bailey Carr
Release Date: October 4, 2016
Publisher: Thomas Dunne Books/Audible Studios
I listened to another audiobook! And I actually finished it this time, thank God. I tend to not be very good at that. But anyway, this was a good experience. I loved the female narrator. I think she did an amazing job with the voices of all the character and with conveying the perfect amount of emotion. The male narrator, in comparison, was a bit monotonous. Though I do see why it was significant to have a male narrator for Sam.
Sam is a teenage boy with a secret only a few people in his life know. One is his mother. Another is his best friend Miel.
This book has a surrealistic setting. On one hand, we’re in the real world. On the other hand, there are people who can cure heartsickness and people who have roses growing from their arm. Miel came to the town when an old water tower was tipped and broken by the townspeople. She came out of the water tower. People find her to be peculiar because of that, and because the bottom of her skirt is always a little damp and because roses grow from her wrist.
Sam befriended her the moment she came. Sam, who’s also a bit peculiar, being the boy who paints and hangs moons all over town. The two live close by. They’re the same age. And Sam’s mother is friends with Miel’s guardian, Aracely, aka my favourite character.
But before I get to her, I want to stress that this book is absolutely gorgeous. The writing is magical and it makes you feel like you’re gliding with the poetry of it. It’s also very diverse book. Sam’s family is from Pakistan and the culture and stories he’s heard deeply affect him. You can tell that the author has a lot of respect for all that she’s writing because it shines through in the way she tells the stories. There are other factors that makes the book special, but I’m not sure if they would be considered spoilers so I’ll avoid them.
Getting to the characters. We have many. There are, of course, Sam and Miel. There’s Sam’s mother, and Aracely. We also have the Bonner sisters. The four sisters who could make any boy fall for them but are now losing that ability. And they think Miel’s roses will fix everything and are willing to do whatever it takes. They’re the villains, but they’re also just young girls and so much more complicated.
Every character is complex and well-developed, with flaws and vulnerabilities and things that make them want to be strong. I can’t explain, exactly, what it is about Aracely that makes me love her. I think it’s because of how unfazed she is by most things. She also has no patience for whining or moping or rude behavior. She’s so confident in herself and you can tell that she’s worked hard to achieve that. She’s probably the most fascinating character, and so is Sam’s mother. I honestly liked the adults more than the kids.
Not that I didn’t like the kids. But they could be very dramatic and inner monologue prone. Every time Aracely was in a scene, she made things more interesting. And the inner-monologue-prone-ness is my one issue with the novel.
I’ve already said this book is beautifully written. But toward the end, it got wearying. The prose is full of metaphors and similes relating to colours and smells. Its’s all about our senses. But if you were to read it all in one to three sittings, you might get tired of the paragraphs upon paragraphs of those descriptions. It felt repetitive and, when we were close to the end, unnecessary.
Overall, a beautiful book that I highly recommend. It sometimes goes overboard with the prose but everything else is perfect. The is exactly the kind of diversity we need. The kind that feels genuine and respectful, instead of diversity just for the sake of it.