Thursday, August 24, 2017

[Review] The Whole Stupid Way We Are by N. Griffin

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Publication (dd/mm/yyyy)04/02/2014
Publisher: Atheneum Books
Pages: 368
Source: Library
Genre: YA {Contemporary}

Violence | Sexual Content | Profanity

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My Rating

My thoughts

Oh dear. I had to force myself to finish reading this one, and I only wanted to push through so that I could dust off my hands and start on something that might be more palatable. Since this one was borrowed from the library, and not a book that I feel I need to do justice by my review, I'm just going to rant and talk about it informally.

The Whole Stupid Way We Are follows two teenagers, Dinah and Skint. They have been friends for as long as anyone can remember, and they are inseparable. There's a barely-there plot, focusing more on the day-to-day lives and happenings of the two and some other characters. Determined to help the needy, they plot and scheme ways to help help help. Meanwhile, Skint's family is crumbling apart: Mr Gilbert, Skint's dad's dementia is getting worse and worse.

At first, I liked the subdued tone and chilly atmosphere and mood set in the book. Griffin does not let you forget about the freezing temperatures, and the fact that Skint always goes out without a coat is shocking and confronting. I liked the setting of Maine, and I think that Griffin did a nice job of placing the reader within the location, making this one a great winter read.

This book is written in present-tense third-person perspective. We mainly read from Dinah's perspective, but there were also bits where we gain further insight into Skint's life, separate from Dinah. The parts that Dinah doesn't know about until much later. The writing unfortunately fell flat for me. I felt so much disconnect from the plot and the characters, and I found myself not really caring what happened to them. I feel like in this instance, first-person would have allowed us to gain more of an understanding as to why Skint was acting out in a certain way. Instead, I found him to be erratic, rash and extremely angry, but I couldn't get a feel for what was in his heart, so instead of being able to empathise with him I began to cast him off as being overly reactive and rebellious, rather than try to see things from his perspective. Same with Dinah.

Dinah and Skint were apparently fifteen years old but they acted much, much younger than that. I'm not sure if the author was trying to convey a grand point here, something about how their home situations stunted their emotional intelligence and thus made them act out in immature ways. In either case, it just made me feel tired trying to follow their thought processes (see above: I did not understand how/why they thought what they thought). I just didn't care. Oh, and Skint swore. A lot. Which is fine, since they're fifteen, whatever. But when he acted like a ten-year-old and swore like a fifteen-year-old, it just didn't sit right with me. Eh...

This book is SLOW. Not much really happens. While that doesn't normally automatically constitute a boring book, in my opinion, unfortunately in this case I almost fell asleep way too many times to count. I did like some of the things that Skint and Dinah get up to, and I liked their concept of finding FoEs around the sleepy town. But. It meanders.

The dementia aspect was okay, I guess. I think parts of it were really spot-on. There are lots of families who struggle immensely and are stuck in that denial phase, trying to care for that person and pretending that things are fine--we don't need a carer or to put him/her in a home, thanks. It was quite sad to see how much help they needed, this shows an example of what happens when the system fails to adequately support a family in need. You can see that the mother has completely lost the plot, and Skint is unable to live a normal life, determined to keep his father at home rather than in a carer facility.

Oh, and it felt so overly dramatic at times. I was left feeling like I was reading a soap opera, it was just too much. And it was only over the last, like, 80 pages.

Speaking of the last 80 pages, the ending? Ugh. Sorry, the deeper meaning was lost on me. I'm sure it was meant to be super deep and meaningful, but I felt so much anticlimax.

So yay for me for not DNFing this one! Now I can return this one to the library and never ever again wonder what if. For the longest time I had been wanting to read this one, unfortunately it was a complete flop for me. Read this one if you're having trouble sleeping at night. Or if you want to read a book about friendship (one win: NO ROMANCE!).


First lines:

"Skint's in the pit because of Dinah. So she figures  she better get cracking and effect his speedy release.

AUSTRALIA: A&R | Booktopia | Boomerang Books

INTERNATIONAL: Abe Books | Book Depository | Wordery

I have received this review copy in return for an honest review.

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