On the day Liz Emerson tries to die, they had reviewed Newton’s laws of motion in physics class. Then, after school, she put them into practice by running her Mercedes off the road. Why? Why did Liz Emerson decide that the world would be better off without her? Why did she give up? Vividly told by an unexpected and surprising narrator, this heartbreaking and nonlinear novel pieces together the short and devastating life of Meridian High’s most popular junior girl. Mass, acceleration, momentum, force—Liz didn’t understand it in physics, and even as her Mercedes hurtles toward the tree, she doesn’t understand it now. How do we impact one another? How do our actions reverberate? What does it mean to be a friend? To love someone? To be a daughter? Or a mother? Is life truly more than cause and effect? Amy Zhang’s haunting and universal story will appeal to fans of Lauren Oliver, Gayle Forman, and Jay Asher.
Yesterday was the longest I’ve ever taken to write a review, and this is the shortest! Talk about improvement 😉 Okay, so the book you came here to read about. Right, moving onto that!
I was very prepared for this book. I had my box of tissues at the ready, and wasn’t even reading a Kindle book simultaneously. I’d planned on devoting all the attention and all the feels to it.
I didn’t exactly get my mountain of feels, but I did get some damn good writing. First, a confession: I love a short chapter. Love. This book changes chapters quickly, changes setting and time period quickly, and I kind of loved it. It made for a very devourable book, even with some of the problems I had.
There was a definite urgency to find out what had happened to Liz of course. Not just the outcome of the accident, but what could have led up to it. What made Liz make such a devastating choice, and how do her friends and family feel? Great questions, of course. But I suppose the problem was twofold:
1. I did not like Liz. Honestly, I don’t get why anyone else did either. I suppose people were scared of Liz, fascinated by Liz, in awe of Liz, and I understood that perspective. But aside from her mother… why? She was kind of awful to everyone around her, and I never completely understood why. Yeah, she had a couple rough breaks but there was really no excuse for her to behave in the ways she did. No one escaped her wrath, and she seemed to it for the sole reason that she could.
2. Why was everyone else such a mess? Okay fine, Liz is an evil warlord. She’s clearly got issues and is a big old meanie. But… what the hell is up with the rest of the town? Her best friends, Julia and Kennie were messes. Her mom was a mess. All the boyfriends seemed to be the douchiest douches in all the land. A random (at the beginning) guy named Liam was nice enough, though he was down with everyone else treating him like garbage, so he was a mess too. And I know this is going to be me completely aging myself, but do teens really act like this?
The debauchery was pretty epic, and I can’t help but wonder if things really could have changed that much since I was in school? Sure, there was a certain level of rebellion, but goodness! I was seriously terrified for our future as a society. And now I feel like someone’s grandma.
And because I didn’t like Liz, I didn’t quite care as much what happened to her. Tragic? Sure. But she never really felt apologetic to me, she felt more… resigned. Resigned to never changing, and just ending it all instead. Well, talk about a cowardly way out.
I did, however, connect with her mother’s emotions. I couldn’t even imagine being afraid to lose my child two floors away from where I’d had her. That was definitely hard to read. Of course, then I wanted to smack the mother, and kind of blame her. She certainly wasn’t winning any parenting awards herself.
As the story progressed, I did grow to care about the lives of Kennie and Julia. They seemed much more real (and truthfully, less awful) than Liz, and I held out hope that they’d turn things around.
Bottom Line: In some senses, I loved the book. It was original, well-written, and definitely had me staying up too late to read. But in the end, I simply couldn’t connect with the main character, and the tissue box stayed unopened.