A complimentary advanced reader copy of this book was provided by MTV Books in exchange for an honest review. (Thank you!) My review was in no way influenced by this consideration.
I’m struggling to find the words to begin this post. I’m not quite sure how to talk about Me Since You without giving away too much, and yet, it’s such a powerful book, it deserves quite a lot of discussion. Maybe I’ll start with the publisher’s synopsis:
Before and After. That’s how Rowan Areno sees her life now. Before: she was a normal sixteen-year-old—a little too sheltered by her police officer father and her mother. After: everything she once believed has been destroyed in the wake of a shattering tragedy, and every day is there to be survived.
If she had known, on that Friday in March when she cut school, that a random stranger’s shocking crime would have traumatic consequences, she never would have left campus. If the crime video never went viral, maybe she could have saved her mother, grandmother—and herself—from the endless replay of heartache and grief.
Finding a soul mate in Eli, a witness to the crime who is haunted by losses of his own, Rowan begins to see there is no simple, straightforward path to healing wounded hearts. Can she learn to trust, hope, and believe in happiness again?
If it sounds kind of heavy, that’s because it is. But there’s also something vulnerable about Me Since You, something delicate and contemplative. The entire book is full of cavernous (and sometimes devastating) emotions. There are extreme outbursts. There is extraordinary trauma. The beauty of it, perhaps, is the way in which Rowan and Eli manage to soldier through it all, and even find moments of normalcy and joy.
Weiss’ writing is, obviously, deeply emotive. She has a gift for realism, both in dialogue and in her ability to express thoughts and feelings. Weiss’ characters are flayed wide open for her readers, and we are the better for it. I came away from this novel feeling like I had a far greater understanding of depression, and the extreme helplessness it oppresses upon its sufferers. It’s something I honestly had little patience for before. In that, I related completely to Rowan when she says,
“And there it is, that flash of impatience mixed with helplessness creating the dilemma that twists me up inside: Stay or go? If I stay I embarrass him, will be late for work, feel like I’m coddling and encouraging him, but if I go I’m disregarding his pain, ignoring it, saying, Look, I know you’re sad but life goes on, and it makes me feel cold and uncaring and guilty.”
That little paragraph hit me right between the eyes. Rowan stays a moment, in case you’re wondering, and I realized I’m far too dismissive. Weiss is teaching something important in this novel, if only to me.
There are a couple of times where are some tiny little skips in psychological development–I wasn’t sure why someone felt or acted the way they did, suddenly. Also, the second chapter (only) changes point of view and is narrated in third person omniscient perspective. I can assume why it was done, but it’s a jarring shift. The relationships between Rowan and Eli and …well, frankly, everyone with each other, are wonderfully written, and made it worth reading, for me.
There is a fair amount of swearing in this book. The bulk of it–the worst–falls during scenes of extreme emotional crisis, so I was far more willing to overlook it than the usual gratuitous stuff. But if it were a movie, it’d be rated R, so be warned.
3.5 stars, leaning heavily toward 4.