Release Date: April 10th, 2014
Date Read: 2/28/15 to 3/5/15
Loyalty. Envy. Obligation. Dreams. Disappointment. Fear. Negligence. Coping. Elation. Lust. Nature. Freedom. Heartbreak. Insouciance. Audacity. Gluttony. Belief. God. Karma. Knowing what you want (there is probably a French word for it). Saying Yes. Destiny. Truth. Devotion. Forgiveness. Life. Happiness (ever after).
Hannah and Zoe haven’t had much in their lives, but they’ve always had each other. So when Zoe tells Hannah she needs to get out of their down-and-out New Jersey town, they pile into Hannah’s beat-up old Le Mans and head west, putting everything—their deadbeat parents, their disappointing love lives, their inevitable enrollment at community college—behind them.
As they chase storms and make new friends, Zoe tells Hannah she wants more for her. She wants her to live bigger, dream grander, aim higher. And so Zoe begins teaching Hannah all about life’s intangible things, concepts sadly missing from her existence—things like audacity, insouciance, karma, and even happiness.
The cover of this book lied to me. I picked it up expecting a sort of cute hipstery light read about some girlfriends doing fun stuff on a road trip. Instead I was treated to a story that dealt with bad parents, an alcoholic father, lower-middle class struggles with money, and the toll mental illness can take on a person and their relationships. So be warned, if you pick this up don't be expecting a light-easy read.
I'm not giving anything away when I say that Zoe has bipolar disorder, you find out within the first chapter. And I think, even though it's told from Hannah's point-of-view, that this book is more about Zoe, her disorder, and how it affects their friendship. Hannah and Zoe are pretty much exact opposites. Hannah is firmly rooted in her place in life, and cares about her parents to the extent that she's more or less taking care of them instead of them taking care of her. Zoe on the other hand, possibly due to her manic tendencies, is much more impulsive, confident, and everything Hannah is not.
I really appreciated this book's portrayal of mental illness. It doesn't shy away from the debilitating effects of mental illness, and doesn't try to romanticize it in anyway. We saw Hannah both in her manic and in her depressive phases, and how terrifying both stages can be. Initially it was just little offhand remarks and things that made me aware that it was just there in the background. One example is earlier one after Zoe is coming out of a bad depressive phase, Hannah hugs her and mentally makes a note of being able to feel her collar-bone, alerting her that Zoe was doing that "not eating thing again". As the story goes on and her illness became more important to the story more time was spent exploring it, but I just really appreciated all the little realistic hints that were scattered throughout the story.
I also liked how this book portrayed friendship. Hannah and Zoe are without a doubt the most important person and each other's lives, and the book doesn't just simply tell us that. It SHOWS us it so, so well. And I love how Hannah is understanding of Zoe's illness, and does her best to help her in her own way. However, without giving too much away, there came a point during this road trip that I thought that Hannah was too much of an enabler, and could have done more to help, even if caused Zoe to mad at her. Because this trip started out as a way for them to clear their heads from their crappy town and situations at home, but eventually I began feeling that Hannah should have put her foot down. And this is one of the main reasons I only gave this book 3 stars.
Also theres this side romantic plot line that Hannah has with some dude she's been crushing on since she was like seven and I just didn't see the point in it at all.
He is literally a manic pixie dream boy and I just couldn't stand it. He seems to serve no real purpose other than making Hannah feel better and he's too perfect and bland that it's annoying. And theres a point when Zoe, who's an a severe manic state and is most definitely a danger to herself, goes missing for a bit. AND HANNAH AND HER BOYTOY STOP TO DO THE FRICK-FRACK THE BACK OF THE CAR AND I'M JUST LIKE IS THIS SERIOUSLY THE TIME TO BE DOING THAT???
Ugh. Those were my two main complaints with the book. It's an okay read, I would say read if for its portrayal of friendship and mental illness. It is a good story but just the fact that Hannah couldn't keep it in her pants annoyed the crap out of me. You guys should read this book and tell me what you think about it!