I’m going to start off with saying that I’m sad that I don’t have a physical copy of the book to hold and cherish (it looks beautiful, and if you have two copies, the front and back covers make a butterfly), but I did get to read an ARC from NetGalley a few months ahead of the book’s release, in exchange for an honest review. Shoutout to NetGalley.
So, this is the debut novel of C.G. Drews, who has a blog called Paper Fury. If you’ve seen a few of my posts or any of my YouTube videos, you will know that I’m obsessed with her, and I’ve been dying for the chance to read her book. I read this book in one sitting – only a few hours. It’s the most unputdownable book I’ve read this year, full of thrills and feels, and this beautiful musical heart that mine is breaking for.
I’ll start off by saying that the plot of this book is very different to many of the contemporaries that I’ve read recently. Not in a bad way, not at all. This plot is subtle, and it’s fuelled by characters and desires and thoughts and feelings rather than events that occur to drive the story on. That means that all the characters are spectacularly and beautifully written. And I love the style in which the story is told – it has a very conversational tone that dragged me into the story from the very first page.
+ Good Family
This is an interesting point as Beck deserves so much more than the mother he has, but his younger sister Joey is a delight and he is a loving older brother. I don’t think we get enough brother/sister relationships in contemporary, so this one made my heart feel all warm and soft on the inside. The only thing that keeps Beck going is protecting Joey. In contrast to Beck’s monster mother, August has an amazing family. They provided a moment of light and hope in what was otherwise a very dark moment, and that’s refreshing to read since so many books like to give all character’s family problems.
+ True Friendship / Slowburn Romance
Beck is a grumpy cinnamon roll and August is a ray of sunshine and snark. They’re paired together for a school project, and Beck tries to be cold and distant, but August easily breaks him down and the purest friendship starts. This book has romance. A tiny bit of romance that doesn’t affect the story at all, but it’s there and it’s pure and it’s beautiful. It’s not InstaLove at all: it’s a mutual love that’s born out of one of my favourite friendships I’ve ever read in a contemporary. It was hardly noticeable but still absolutely stunning. And heartbreaking. Very heartbreaking.
I might have brushed on it briefly before, but I can’t stand when in films or books the characters are about to sit down for a meal then are suddenly like, “I gotta go.” But this book had so much food. And it was eaten. And I loved everything about it. Beck’s home diet is cereal and sandwiches, but August’s food is practically magical in comparison. It’s so refreshing to read a book that cherishes food so much – especially since I know the author is a foodie – and that I could feel myself salivating while reading the descriptions. They were delicious.
This book made me feel so much. Lots of it hurt me to the core, but the rest of it was so wonderfully real and made me welcome the pain. This is a book that makes me want to live and breathe, slightly ironic as I spent a majority of it holding my breath and just hurting for Beck.
This may only be C.G. Drew’s debut novel, but I can’t wait to see where she goes with her next book. I am already a lifelong fan.
Rating: ★★★★★ (4.5 stars)
– “He can’t care about anything else. He can’t. The music in his head is his pocket of relief, the only thing he passionately cares about.”
– “Cheerfulness is irritating, but it suits some people. Some people are born for sunlight and orange peel smiles and running on the beach and wild flowers in their hair. Other people are born for nonexistence.”
– “He wants to be invisible. An invisible boy with an invisible song in his head.”
– “Beck closes his eyes. Forgets. Zones out so far he reaches the place deep inside where his own music lies. Little notes clamouring to be free. His own notes. His own creations. His fingers tap a tattoo against his other clammy palm. If people cut him open, they’d never accuse him of being empty.”
– “But the notes inside him roil and break and press so hard against his skin they’ll rip the seams and he’ll burst and – maybe they’ll call him empty after all. Maybe no one can see his music, his own music, but him.”