10.9.18

We Can(ada) Read: Sam @ Spines in a Line - #Review: PAST TENSE by Star Spider

We Can(ada) Read is by Canadians for EVERYONE to learn more about some amazing Canadian authors! It is a highlight of Canadian Literature and those of us who promote it as much as possible.

For a full schedule of events, please check out the Kick-Off post!


Thank you to Moonbeam Books for sponsoring the amazing giveaway! Scroll to the bottom!
Sam is a twenty-something Master’s student from Canada, currently in the final year of her program before she finally leaves school for good and has to face the real world. Blogging for a little over two years but tracking her reading since grade school, she loves to read all genres but has a special fondness for mysteries and thrillers. Sam posts reviews, author interviews, and other bookish things over on her blog, as well as her Music Monday features, which are fun book/music mash-ups! Feel free to drop by to chat, offer book recs, or share your own Music Monday posts!

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PAST TENSE

Author: Star Spider
Series: N/A
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Summary:
How do you live after death?

Julie Nolan is a pretty average girl with pretty average problems. She’s been in love with her best friend, Lorelei, ever since they met in grade three. Only Lorelei doesn’t know about it — she’s too busy trying to set Julie up with Henry, her ex, who Julie finds, in a word, vapid.

But life gets more complicated when Julie comes home to find her mother insisting that her heart is gone. Pretty soon it becomes clear: Julie’s mom believes that she has died.


How is Julie supposed to navigate her first year of high school now, while she’s making midnight trips to the graveyard to cover her mother with dirt, lay flowers and make up eulogies? And why is Henry the only person Julie feels comfortable turning to? If she wants to get through this, Julie’s going to have to find the strength she never knew she had, and to learn how to listen to both her mom’s heart and her own.
Purchase:
I’m going to start my review with a quick blurb about the story because when I first heard it, I was stunned and then immediately added it to my TBR, so I want to bring you all on the same page.

Ninth-grader Julie is dealing with pretty average teenage problems (in love with her best friend, you know how it is) but one day she finds her mom standing stock-still by the sink, hands resting in freezing dishwater, saying that her heart is gone. As Julie reels from this admission and her mom’s strange detachment in the coming weeks, she struggles to find a way to get her mom back to normal while keeping her condition secret from everyone else. But high school brings more drama, and Julie’s secrets are threatening to overwhelm her.

So weird and cool, right?

I found the storyline involving her mother really impressive and so original. We don’t get to meet the mom beforehand, only after she believes she has died, but she’s still such an interesting character. It perhaps didn’t have to do so much with who she is, though firefighter extraordinaire is nothing to scoff at, but in the ways that the subtleness of her silence and disinterest can have such an impact on Julie. It starts to break Julie, having her main confidant suddenly absent in her life. Her growing stress as her secrets pile up and the pain of being abandoned by her mother come across so strongly on the page that I could easily empathize with her. 

My main problem was with the MC’s age. Her behaviour with her best friend (as well as her best friend’s behaviour) at the beginning of the book seems so young and immature! I know ninth graders aren’t the beacons of maturity but these girls come across more like seventh graders fresh out of elementary. It does get better as the book goes on, and there are some shining moments that are right on the mark for freshmen, but it isn’t consistent throughout. I think the characters could’ve easily been in seventh grade without too much change to the storyline and it would’ve been very believable. For that reason, it took me longer to like Julie because she sounds so young but again, the emotional connection the author draws out makes up for this.

There are some awkward discussions among the characters, like those surrounding sexuality and religion, which feel like they leave a bit to be desired in terms of offering strong representation but they do read as a likely teenage conversation and all the confusion and beliefs they wade through before coming to a conclusion. One thing that rubbed me the wrong way was how Julie always refers to her mother, currently on maternity leave, as a past-tense firefighter, like her time off somehow ended her career. However, this was also solely from a teenager’s perspective so I feel like it was again in line with how they may think about the situation, though it would’ve been nice to get another voice on the matter.

Some plot points may have been a bit predictable but I honestly found that it flowed really well. There are some points that seem unsuited to the overall story but they are obscure enough that it didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book. It’s an unusual premise but one that’s handled with emotional grace. I think I would’ve preferred if the whole story had focused on the mother rather than all the intersecting plots but even with a reduced part, she manages to steal the show and the book is better for it.
Star Spider is a writer from Toronto, Canada where she lives and works with her awesome husband Ben Badger. Star is represented by Carrie Plitt of Conville & Walsh and has her first novel coming out soon. Star writes in the realm of magic realism but also dabbles in non-fiction, contemporary and speculative fiction and sometimes corporate copy writing as well. Since committing herself to writing full-time in 2013 she has written over fifty short stories, four novels and a novella.

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PAST TENSE

Author: Star Spider
Series: N/A
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication Date: April 10, 2018
Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Summary:
How do you live after death?

Julie Nolan is a pretty average girl with pretty average problems. She’s been in love with her best friend, Lorelei, ever since they met in grade three. Only Lorelei doesn’t know about it — she’s too busy trying to set Julie up with Henry, her ex, who Julie finds, in a word, vapid.

But life gets more complicated when Julie comes home to find her mother insisting that her heart is gone. Pretty soon it becomes clear: Julie’s mom believes that she has died.


How is Julie supposed to navigate her first year of high school now, while she’s making midnight trips to the graveyard to cover her mother with dirt, lay flowers and make up eulogies? And why is Henry the only person Julie feels comfortable turning to? If she wants to get through this, Julie’s going to have to find the strength she never knew she had, and to learn how to listen to both her mom’s heart and her own.
Purchase:
This giveaway is sponsored by Moonbeam Books, an independent bookstore in Toronto, Ontario! 



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