Saturday, May 14, 2016

seriously romantic: hello? by lisa wiemer

i picked up hello?  because i saw it on huntley fitzpatrick's goodreads list of books and since i liked huntley's books and other things she says she liked reading i thought, let's give this a try. i borrowed the book from the library, and i have to say that i wished maybe i had gotten an ebook version? i admit this was probably a difficult book to typeset, but it felt like the text ran almost to the edges and there was no space. the text felt so crowded. it made it hard to read at first, especially since my copy hadn't ever been taken out by anyone else, so it was totally like i was cracking open a new book and it didn't have any give.

what makes this book difficult to typeset is that there are 5 distinct main characters: tricia, emerson, angie, brenda, and brian. tricia, emerson and brian write in prose. brian has some illustrations in his sections, but there's mostly straight prose telling the story. angie and brenda write in poetry and screenplay form respectively. angie's poetry is that free verse stuff that teenagers and rosie o'donnell do. it's "poetry" except it's just choppily written prose. and then silly typographic stuff is done like writing down like:


d
o
w
n

or crying like:

    c
  r   r
 y   y
 i     i
n     n
g     g

yeah, i'm not a fan of that stuff. the screenplay bits worked a little better, but i think the other problem this book has is that it tried to cover so much that it felt like not enough time was really given to the characters in order for each of them to deal with their problems. tricia is griefstricken and suicidal, emerson suffers ptsd, angie is a terrible human being with an abusive father, brenda was raped, and brian is mostly lame and mooning after tricia. tricia and emerson are really the heart and soul of the book, even though actually the characters most connected to each other are angie, brenda and brian. but i feel like dividing these two sets of characters and inviting them to tell their own stories in two separate novels might have functioned a lot better.

also, there's a lot in this book about signs and spiritualism that i'm not convinced help tell a compelling story. a sixth character in the novel is supposed to be tricia's grandmother, especially since it is her death that precipitates so much of the story, but i'm not sure it works? i know spiritualism helps many who grieve, and yet i'm not sure that the kind of spiritualism these teenagers are talking about fits their story? especially since we don't actually spend enough time with either tricia or emerson until the end, and then their conversation about death, signs, connections kind of feels tacked on to bring things full circle without actually achieving that?

in the end though, it was a good read. i like the characters, i just wish they hadn't been given short shrift. i liked the writing, except for the cheesy poetry. i think the author did something interesting with form, i'm just not entirely sure she accomplished all she meant to. i debated listing this as a romance or just something literary. and i think i went with romance because at it's bare bones it is essentially a romance. it does some different things with form in a literary sense, but not enough to lose the ya romance label.

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