TITLE: Read Me Like A Book
AUTHOR: Liz Kessler
PUBLISHER: Orion Children's Books
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, LGBT
RATING: 2/5 Stars
Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling - that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It's enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents' marriage troubles. There's just one thing bothering her . . .
Shouldn't it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way - not Miss Murray, her English teacher?
What I Liked:
- Okay well this if I had to pick something it would probably be the subject matter. It is difficult to find LGBT books, especially from a female perspective, and I'm pleased that Kessler chose to write about it. She did a decent enough job at portraying how that first crush feels, and the confusion that would come with the fact that it's for the same sex instead of the opposite. More books need to be written with sexual diversity, and I'm thankful to see it becoming a more prominent subject in YA literature.
What I Disliked:
- I think the first place to begin would be the characters, which should be the most important thing to get right in a book like this. The narrator of the story, Ashleigh, is anything but right. Despite the fact that she's going through a very tough time and I should be feeling sorry for her, she's also selfish, extremely immature (she acted about twelve throughout the entire book, but talked about guzzling vodka and taking A-Levels placing her at seventeen or eighteen really) and whines about everything being 'unfair'. The stereotypical angsty teenager normally gets on my nerves because it's such a lazy voice for Author's to give their characters, and it made Ashleigh feel repetitive. There's only so many times I can read her saying 'excuse me if it makes me a terrible person, but why is no one thinking about me' before I go crazy. The characters Kessler surrounded her with were pretty flimsy too, falling into more unlike-able stereotypes without a single ounce of complexity.
- World-building is everything to me and I don't think that, despite getting a few things right, Kessler really knew an awful lot about the current education system. Firstly, when Miss Murray off-handedly suggests that (with a deadline of the next day) Ashleigh should just fill in her UCAS form and see what happens I had to put the book down and sigh for a couple of minutes. UCAS forms take time and are not just a two second job, nor would any teacher be pressuring a student into doing it like that. Secondly, A-Level Results are sealed in envelopes and can only be picked up by the student on the day, or with written permission someone else, in the interests of privacy. The results are not posted on the school board so for everyone to see. Mistakes like this and more were frustrating to read and unrealistic for the target audience in mind.
Despite some great intentions and a cover to die for, this book let me down in so many ways. The plot was weak and predictable, but that would have been fine as I saw it as more of a character-focused story. Except the characters were not convincing in any way, shape or form. I didn't like any of them which made it hard for me to feel sorry for their messed up lives. As narrator's go, Ashleigh is definitely on the 'worst of' list and I felt like she rambled and moaned about such inconsequential things at times. The side characters were less than impressive, forgettable certainly and equally as annoying in their behaviours. A book with so much focus on what could potentially be one of the most important years of a teen's life needs to be well researched too and it just wasn't. I'm disappointed, as Kessler's name is one I've heard being highly complimented before. I don't know if I'll be giving any more of her books a try, sad to say.