Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Catastrophic History of You and Me, Jess Rothenberg

Title: The Catastrophic History of You and Me
Author: Jess Rothenberg (author website)
Release Date: Feb. 21st 2012 by Penguin
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre: Paranormal... err... kind of?
My Rating:1 star2 star3 star4 star5 star

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.

From Goodreads:
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 Hole

The 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.

Verdict

Sweet, 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".

Want It?

Amazon | Booktopia | Book Depository | Dymocks | Fishpond

An enormous thank you to the amazing Nina from Nina Lost in Pages who sent me this book. I seriously can't explain how much I loved it *hugs

42 comments:

  1. I'm so incredibly jealous that you got to read this early. I've heard nothing but amazing things about this book . . . can't wait to get my own copy! Great review! Glad to hear it's living up to all the hype. ;)

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    1. Aw, Erin, I loved it SO. MUCH. Aaaaand, now I feel kind of bad :S
      I hope you get to read it soooon! I was just really lucky to get a copy from an amazing friend. It is SERIOUSLY amazing ♥

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  2. SARAH!!! What a fabulous review!! I admit I'm still hesitant to read this as I'm not sure if I'll love it or not, but your review definitely makes me think about picking myself up a copy!

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    1. Eee! Thank you Rachel! It's... it's just so sweet. It feels like YA contemp to read (like Anna and the French Kiss?), but with that bit of extra magic... I just... I really struggled to verbalise just how much I adored it ♥

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  3. Beauuuutiful review as always, Sarah! I don't know how you do it! I liked Brie immediately too, there's such an ease about her. There were parts where I definitely did not like her but overall, she was a sweet character. I totally get what you mean about the secondary characters. I was SO MAD at one in particular but then the revealed made me go, "oh." I wonder what's the part that makes you choke back a sob! I think I have an inkling. Hee, I love that you ended on a HP quote. PARFAIT.

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    1. Eleeeeeena! THANK YOU! ♥
      YES! YES! YES! To everything you said! There were parts when I wanted to grab Brie and shake her, and others when I just thought she was the sweetest, funniest, most charming girl. And YES! I think I know what character you're talking about... oh... but Patrick... when she finds him... and we find out what he... Just... *sobs*

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  4. AAaaaaaaaaaaaa Sarah* :) :) <3 <3 I can't wait to read this book! I'm waiting for the perfect mood ;) :)

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    1. NEA! YES! Squeeeee! I hope you love it every inch as much as I did! ♥

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  5. this sounds delightful...fantastic review..but then you like Dr. Who..so it was bound to be good ;)

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    1. hehehe! Kimba, it was FABULOUS! AND YES! Obviously Doctor Who fans have fabulous taste... it's, like, a given, right? :D

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  6. Aww, see this review makes me so incredibly happy that I sent you the book!!:) Totally worth it to see that you loved it as much as I did!

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    1. NIIIIINNA! Aaaah! I can't tell you how happy I am you sent me the book! *hugs* thank yooooou! I adored it so. SO. much! ♥

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  7. OOOh I'm in love with this cover!! Brie sounds like a really nice character and it must be interesting to learn more about her. Can't wait to discover this world.

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    1. Melliane, I love the cover to! AND THE BOOK! LOVE IT! ♥

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  8. I thought this book was so cute! I especially loved all of the cheese-related nicknames that Patrick had for Brie.

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    1. SQUEE! Sarah! YES! I love-love-LOVED them. SO. CUTE!

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  9. I WILL ADMIT that I wasn't entirely sold on reading this book. But, I don't know, Sarah, you say I have a way with words but listen to yourself. Geez, I'd have to be stupid to ignore your recommendation! You describe everything in a way that gives off the emotion you felt while reading the story, and I can see how genuinely in love with it you are.

    "The Catastrophic History of You and Me sucked me in and, like it’s protagonist, stubbornly refused to let go..."

    Such a clever line! It stuck the most for me.

    I totally just came back from the library with a copy of this in hand because of you. I was going to wait. Now I'm not. Thanks!

    Asher

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    1. Awwww! Asher! Thank you!!! And I'm gonna keep bullying you to read this one NOW! PRINCESS BRIDE! GENERAL ALL ROUND AWESOME! DISNEY!

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  10. YES. A box of tissues and a cuddly, furry animal. Why didn't anyone advise me of this before I started reading? Sigh. But oh my heavens, you said it all! Brie and Patrick and the sheer emotions Jess can draw from the reader... man, I loved everything about this book! And oh, that... moment... you speak of, oh god, I feel the exact same *sniffles*

    Also: Dead Like Me!! I watched about half of the first season a year or two ago and LOVED IT! I've been meaning to catch up on the rest, but never got around to it. I must add that to my list.

    Hee! And I love how you manage to slip in a Harry Potter quote :D AMAZING REVIEW, YOU RIDICULOUSLY TALENTED THING, YOU.

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    1. Hehehe! EVERYTHING NEEDS MORE HARRY QUOTES! I can't help it. I'm cracking out on Harry Potter at the moment. MORE MORE MORE!

      Ah, also? DEAD LIKE ME! EFFING LOVE IT! So much. Perfect and beautiful and a tiny bit heartbreaking ♥

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  11. I love a book that has some complexity to it. Sign me up! Ugh. Looks like I'm going to have to add this one to my wishlist too. It's starting to get ridiculous...lol.

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    1. Eeee! Natalie! I hope you love it every inch as much as I did! ♥

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  12. Oh wow! This review was incredible! I neeeed to get my hands on it!!

    I need this book for two simple facts: Reminiscent of Dead Like Me (which I haven't seen IN AGESSSSS but really should rewatch again) and DISNEY REFERENCES <3 You had me at Disney! I love Disney! I love this review! I love YOUUUUUUU <3

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    1. EEEEE! Taneika! Thank you!
      Hehe! Note to self: make more DLM and Disney references XD

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  13. Oh, this book sounds soooo good!!! I've never heard of it before now but with that beautiful cover and your amazing review it is going straight on my TBR list :)

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    1. Chrissie, I loved it SO much! It's so sweet and funny and absolutely heartbreaking... but happy :D
      Eee! I hope you love it! ♥

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  14. Sarah, I've already read your review on Goodreads but I'm happy to read it again. Because after reading your review (on goodreads), I begged my sister to buy it for me and I got it this week. EEeEeeee I'm SOOOOOO excited to read it. I'll be reading it VERY soon.

    Thanks for the WONDERFUL review, Sarah.

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    1. Aw, Mesa! I love you! THank you! SQUEE! I hope you adore it! ♥

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  15. Great review! I LOVED this book so much <3 *swoons over Patrick*

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    1. YESSSS! Hehe! Can *swoons over Patrick* be my review? XD

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  16. OH MY GOSH, I SO WANT TO READ THIS BOOK! <3 I've heard nothing but great things about it! Your review is ALWAYS PERFECTION, Sarah and I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

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    1. Celine, I ADORED it, and I KNOW you will too! AAAAAAAH! I want you to have it now!

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  17. Lol, her go-to ‘your mom’ jokes? Aww. Gosh, I so love the sound of this one and I can't even explain how much I want it! Seriously cannot wait to read itttt. Awesome review! You're one of the best at making me desperate for books. ;)

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    1. Eeek! Bex! That's... squee! Such an enormous compliment! THANK YOU! ♥

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  18. Hi Sarah,

    I have started reading this and am rather intrigued to see where it takes me.

    I haven't read your review just yet, until I finish my book, but I like the stars you gave it:D

    MIchelle

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    1. Oooh, Michelle! Can't wait for your review! Hehe! I loved it! More and more with every page! Hope you're enjoying it xx

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  19. Once again, Sarah, your review has me wanting another book. This sounds amazing. I'm adding it to me TBR list right now!

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  20. Great review, Sarah! I just read another review that said this book totally took over and now you said you couldn't put it down - I have to have it!!

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  21. Okay, I have been seeing this everywhere. And now that you gave it five stars I need to read it. I like how you described Brie, it makes me like her already, and luckily I love Brie the cheese too, so it works out. lol. And then you said it had reminded you a little of Dead Like Me and you had me. I freakin' loved Dean Like Me, so I am so there.

    And just so you know I had to steal from you just a bit. I was trying to find a way to break up my big block of writing in the good section of my reviews and I always loved your funny titles you make up. So I am kinda doing that on my blog, just for the Good section though. Hope you don't mind. :)

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    1. Wha? Are you serious? You can steal ANYTHING from me, except for my husband, phone, and kittehs ;D

      I was reading your Rachel Caine review (errr... Undone?) this morning and LOVED it. Your titles cracked me up!

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    2. Also: DEAD LIKE ME!!!!!!!!!!!!!! YESSSSS!

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  22. Jeeeeeze, you are like my tv show and movie double. How do we watch the same freakin shows? It's freaky. No one ever knows what I am talking about when it comes to these shows (Dead Like Me, Evil Dead...)

    Okay, movie suggestion: Ever watch the orig The Haunting (1963 version)? I think it's one of the scariest old movies EVER. I have to watch it at least once a year. Now, if you don't like old movies, it might not be for you, but it's pretty awesome for back then. Creeps me out still.

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