Claudia's ever seen. As Claudia's world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.
My Rating: ★★★★☆
I received this book in the December Uppercase Box and am so glad that it was chosen to be featured. The story follows Claudia, who, at the beginning of the book, ends up overhearing the breakup of the meanest girl at school and her girlfriend. When school starts back up, they are being forced to write a paper together and eventually, try out for the school play. The idea of fate and unlikely relationships is a recurring one throughout the novel and a magnificent one, too.
One of my favorite things about the book overall is the voice that Emma Mills uses for Claudia’s narration and the way she writes the dialogue for the characters. Claudia not only provides us insight into what is happening around her but always does so with just a sprinkle of salt or sarcasm whenever she can. I appreciate that because irony and poking fun at situations is my kind of humor as well. Whenever a story features a narrator like Claudia, I am guaranteed to embarrass myself by laughing out in public, in a superb way, of course. (Including this time. I was reading before one of my basketball games. I may or may not have gotten some weird looks from my teammates…) Mills also takes the style of internal dialogue that Claudia has and weaves it into what other characters say, too. Gideon’s charm and one-liners helped make a good impression on me as the reader, and also never failed to make me laugh at myself. I also loved when Iris pipes in with a smarta** comment every once in a while.
Another element of this book that I enjoyed is the interests that each of the characters has in the book. A big bonding point for Claudia, Zoe, Alex, and Julia is an online role-playing game called Battle Quest. If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you will know that I love seeing all types of video games in books. I’m not sure if it’s because I was a big gamer (Minecraft, specifically) when I was younger, or if it’s because I’ve always enjoyed stories and games, but what I do know is that I’ve regularly enjoyed books with this element. My only disappointment with the Battle Quest story arc is that towards the end of the novel, the author ultimately drops this subplot of the book! I know that it isn’t a significant part of the story, and the characters use the game as a tool to interact in the book, but I want to know what happens after the last Battle Quest session between Claudia, Alex, and Zoe. (I’m probably the only person who has read the book who wants to know this…) The other interest that was prominent in the book is TION, which is the boy band in the story that Claudia and Iris end up bonding over. It is another point in the novel that I related to my own experiences. We’ve all had a band that we’ve fangirled (or fanboyed) over in the past (or currently do), and I loved being able to connect with the girls on a particular level over a similar love.
I can’t mention character interests without shouting out the theatre nerds in the book. I have just started rehearsals for my high school’s production of The Sound of Music, (where your featured blogger will be playing the role of Sister Berthe. #nunlife) and reading about Claudia’s rehearsals made me more excited to start spending evenings with my cast and crew. I also found it fascinating that in the story, Del creates and assembles all the costumes for the production. Since I go to a small school, we don’t have the budget or personnel to make each ensemble, but it sounds like a marvelous experience.
I think one of the biggest things that struck me about this book was how real the relationships between the characters are. Not every single friendship or romantic endeavor is perfect, and the way some situations are handled mirror real high school interactions. I imagine that even though I haven’t had the same experiences that Claudia has had, I would have dealt with her situations in much the same manner, which kept adding to the relatability of this story.
Overall, I think that this book was a great contemporary read, and if you are looking for a book with equal parts romance, bromance, sibling and LGBTQ representation, and fangirling, this is the book for you.
'It just feels like...' Her voice small. 'Sometimes it just feels like I'm faking.'
― Emma Mills, Foolish Hearts
Ashton is a high school girl with a passion for books. She also participates in other activities such as sports and musical groups.