Author: Jess Rothenberg (author website)
Release Date: Feb. 21st 2012 by Penguin
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal... err... kind of?
Fifteen is altogether way too young to die. Especially to die of a broken heart. So when sweet, funny, charming Brie is cut down in the prime of her teenage years, what do we get? Angst? A heart-warming Disney movie? Well, perhaps not quite what you expect. It's more than either. The Catastrophic History of You and Me is brimming with humour and charm and tempered with a perfect balance of heartbreak.
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?
Shortly before her sixteenth birthday, Brie Eagan’s boyfriend tells her he doesn’t love her... and she dies of a broken heart. No, not figuratively. Her heart literally breaks in two within her chest. True story. Well, the great pizza-parlour in the sky? NOT where she thought she’d wind up. And if she thought her afterlife couldn’t get much weirder than sitting in a vinyl booth eating slices and drinking Sprite, her tour guide to the afterlife is resident Lost Soul, Patrick: an irritating and slightly gorgeous mind-reading boy straight out of the eighties, complete with cheesy jokes and Top-Gun style bomber jacket. Yup. Dying of a broken heart? Just the beginning. If Brie wants to find her happily ever after-life she has to tackle the five stages of grief head-on... and let go of the life she’s not quite ready to leave behind.
The Catastrophic History of You and Me feels like a contemporary... and I suppose it is, despite its ‘paranormal’ twist. But we’re not talking about vampires and werewolves and supernatural beings... we’re talking about a normal girl, a normal world, and how on earth you come to terms with waking up dead.
Brie. Like the Cheese.I liked Brie immediately. I loved her humor, her go-to ‘your mom’ jokes when she’s lost for a comeback, her chatty, hyper voice and her constant Disney references. She’s a character you’d have to try hard not to like. She’s layered and she has her own personality, her own dreams, her own aspirations. She has real, deep attachments to the people in her life—her family, her dog, her incredibly close and beautiful circle of best friends. It’s watching her lose these, seeing them fall apart with her gone, then move on, and all along knowing Brie must let go that is so, so heart breaking to watch.
This is her story, make no mistake. Her navigating denial, anger, bargaining, sadness and acceptance... and shining throughout. It's wonderful to see a bright, vibrant character as the star of their own show. Whether Brie’s learning to ‘wish’ (wishes are just a matter of willpower in her ‘heaven’), learning to ‘zoom’ from her new plane to our own, or plotting ghostly revenge against one-time loved-ones. Even when she’s lost to her anger, or making terrible, terrible choices in bargaining—regardless of how selfless her motivations—she’s an amazing character. She’s compelling.
Deeper Down The Rabbit HoleThe Catastrophic History of You and Me is a surprisingly complex story. It flies effortlessly from Brie’s longing for her old life, to the grief of her family and friends left behind, to the strange mechanics of the amazing, magical purgatory she finds herself in. On a few occasions I caught glimpses of the amazing magic of Dead Like Me, or Annie’s storyline in Being Human. The detail, the heartbreak, the intensity, and the fun all rang true.
The depth of the world and the ‘secondary’ characters is extraordinary. Each and every person in Brie’s world is real and layered and explored in surprising detail. Black and white villains become flawed characters I loved, and forgave along with Brie. Characters—one in particular—I was deeply in love with were hiding secrets subtly hinted at, yet so artfully concealed and unravelled, my unsuspecting heart cracked open and bled at their revelation. Weeks after reading it, there is one particular moment in this glorious book I choke back a sob every time I recollect. So many minute, tiny details come together to create a vividly imagined world coexisting in, beside, and just beyond our own.
VerdictSweet, funny, charming, and just a little bit heartbreaking, The Catastrophic History of You and Me sucked me in and, like it’s protagonist, stubbornly refused to let go. I strongly recommend having a box of tissues and a cuddly, furry animal on standby while you read.
Jess Rothenberg creates a magical, quirky and entirely unforgettable world. Despite the (many) tears I shed over the course of the book, it’s certainly not a sad book. It’s brimming with hope and joy, and light moments shining through the darkness. It’s about coming to terms with loss, but also about learning to treasure the past while embracing the future. About learning to let go and live the journey... Because, well, "to the well-organized mind, death is but the next great adventure".