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Sunday, November 22, 2015

ARC Auburn: Outcasts and Underdogs by Valerie Thomas

We were the lost. We were the broken. We were the freaks, the losers and loners hiding in the corners of the world.
And then we weren’t. Every morning I had to pick up the jigsaw puzzle of my life and rebuild it into something vaguely resembling a person. A hazy shadow of the happiness I was faking.
And then I didn’t. I didn’t become whole. No, there was no glue that could bind me back together. No remedy to fix any of us. We weren’t lost anymore, but we remembered losing our way. We weren’t freaks, but we remembered living on the fringe. We weren’t losers or loners, but we still remembered hiding from the world.
We were Auburn. I was Auburn. And this is my story.

I received a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

The first thing I noticed about this novel was that the main character has anxiety/depression pretty bad and the author does a great job of describing all those horrible thoughts that go through your mind, that you cannot stop during an extreme bout. Having anxiety myself I really liked that.

Ashley was a relate-able character, high school girl who has social problems and doesn't fit in anywhere. Though she had a bit more of a Mary Sue quality than I normally like: great writer, good singer, pretty, but feels like an outcast.

Her band mates are well written, from nice sweet Charlie to jerk Joey, who is only a jerk because it's a defense mechanism.

Then there is Jessica, who is the villain...Though the first time she is introduced her first interaction is funny and accurate. She is talking about the song Ashley is currently writing. (Later Jessica because such a horrible B, that you hate her.)
“Honey, the best band in the world could perform it, and it would still be a boring song about how no one likes you.”  I kind of agree, while beautifully written, Ashley's songs DO feel like emo poetry.  This moment is important for the end however, in an interesting twist by the author.

The author seems to either know what she is talking about music wise or did research which I appreciated. She also made sure the band, Auburn, isn't a hit right away...They don't just get together and go "Wow we are Awesome!" They practice and get better over time.

This novel had a very 90's feel (aside from the facebook references) to it that I enjoyed, made me think about being a Freshman in High-school again. There is a romance between Charlie and Ashley, while props for the no insta love I don't think the plot needed it, the story and writing could have stood on its own.

There is a bit where the principal shows up to serve what's basically a truancy notice to Ashley, which was the most unbelievable part of the whole novel and the reason this is getting 3.5 instead of 4 stars. Not only would the principal not make a house call but three unexcused absences is not a reason to be recommend to the truancy department. I have kids in school, takes way more than this. Also she would contact Ashley's mom directly and not Ashley herself. I get why the author put this in, but it would have been better through a social worker or the school counselor. Though their conversation DOES lead into a good segue about the issue of online bullying in schools right now.

The book ends as if there is going to be a sequel, I don't think it needs one. I think the author did a good job wrapping everything up at the end, Ashley didn't grow as much as I thought she would, but she did grow and made some good and bad choices, just like normal teenagers.

This is a slightly emo "coming-of-age" type story that has bullying trigger warnings.  Not quite what I am normally into, but a good read and one that puts some of the harsher realities of being a teen into perspective.

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