Listening to: Music
Reading: The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Watching: Pretty Little Liars :)
Eating: Mashed Potatoes
Since I'm finally writing again, I'm proud to say that this book is what The Four Letter Word would have been like if Nat had acted out more homicidally than suicidally. Hannah Ryan resembles Nat in almost no way in lifestyle, because she and her mom are extremely close and call one another every day once Hannah goes away for her freshman year of college. But they share something in personality that people always seem to miss about my characters: they're both artistic and reasonable/logical at the same time. Everyone who loves Nat does seem to forget that he excels at mathematics as much as he does writing; but I assure you, it won't be missed with Hannah, who hasn't written anything creatively in two years, and is on the pre-med track in school with a Microbiology major and who constantly reminds herself of these two distinct sides.
Because I can't really ever stray from crime too far, Hannah doesn't tag. She doesn't help steal or bully people. She plots and executes (? or does she, I can't give it away) the murder of eight individuals her first year at college. What I like about this book is that while both characters are reeling from events that occurred before the book begins, Nat's abuse is hidden until halfway through the book, when it becomes more apparent what he doesn't want to remember. Hannah deals with her abuse head-on (you could say viciously) and from the first chapter it's obvious (and just expands on it later). Hannah deals with what it means to move away from a loving family and some loving friends, and to lose people during abuse and during the natural process of transitioning to college. Like Nat, Hannah has dealt with, for years, what it means to blame abuse on yourself, and now she's in the process of realizing it isn't her fault.
Even though it explores the darker side of humanity, I expect there to be a lot of laughs and love here too. As happens during a freshman year, Hannah loses friends and gains new ones, namely Kieran, who she meets in support group and decides to murder people with. I have a sort of love affair with partners in crime, obviously, it's kind of my thing. As Kieran is a sophomore already, he introduces Hannah to his "group;" partially as a cover, so that she doesn't come across as a loner, doesn't-hang-posters stereotype to be singled out for the murders, and partially because he really does care about his friends, who don't know everything about him, and he thinks she will too. They're silly and loving, in a way reminiscent of Nat's friends, but there's a new layer here to the abuse story that I didn't work with so much with Nat. It's about learning to hate, and to blame, but to move on, and about how much Hannah and Kieran are unable to separate things that remind them of their abuser(s), people with whom they both had close relationships. And I think the biggest, and best question, really is whether or not it is good to hate, and whether anyone "deserves" to die.
I think my favorite part of these kinds of books are how there is no answer. It interests me how often, in "real life," people will say contradictory things depending. When it's domestic abuse between spouses or unmarried significant others especially, people tell the person to erase this abuser from their life, as well as when it is rape committed by someone the person knows. But when it is abuse, sexual or otherwise, from a family member, people are still undoubtedly going to say those things, but it is much easier to come across the message that you should just forgive family and try to keep them in your life. It really is an interesting message, and one that I think about from time to time. The people who hurt us most are almost always those who we care about most--those people have the most power to, after all. It reminds me of how John Green says "What a treacherous thing to believe a person is more than a person," in Paper Towns, which is something that is echoed in Looking for Alaska too (or should I say echoed in Paper Towns because Alaska came first?) and it's so true. We make people out to be often one thing or another, whether it's with complete love or complete hate, and it is often more complicated than that, and each person is a person. I tried to talk about this in The Four Letter Word too; Nat's abuser is a person, too, and all the people surrounding the situation who made the abuse possible and made it worse are people too. I'm really interested to see how Hannah and Kieran will deal with this, as they grow and develop personalities of their own.