Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Review: Year of Mistaken Discoveries by Eileen Cook


Year of Mistaken Discoveries by Eileen Cook
Series: Standalone
Published: February 25th, 2014
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
272 pages (ARC)
Genre: Contemporary young adult
Acquired this book: From Simon & Schuster Canada in exchange for an honest review
Warning: May contain spoilers
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As first graders, Avery and Nora bonded over a special trait they shared - they were both adopted.
Years later, Avery is smart, popular, and on the cheerleading squad, while Nora spends her time on the fringes of school society, wearing black, reading esoteric poetry, and listening to obscure music. They never interact...until the night Nora approaches Avery at a party, saying it's urgent. She tells Avery that she thought she found her birth mom, but it turned out to be a cruel lie. Avery feels for Nora, but returns to her friends at the party.


Then Avery learns that Nora overdosed on pills. Left to cope with Nora's loss and questioning her own actions, Avery decides to honour her friend by launching a search for her own birth mother. Aided by Brody, a friend of Nora's who is also looking for a way to respect Nora's legacy, Avery embarks on an emotional quest. But what she's really seeking might go far deeper than just genetics.

Avery and Nora bonded as kids over the fact they were both adopted. They were best friends until high school, when they grew apart and started hanging out with different crowds. Avery became popular, while Nora preferred to stay far away from the spotlight. They still spoke to each other, but they weren’t close anymore. When Nora dies of an overdose, Avery is left with a lot of guilt. She thinks she should have made more of an effort with Nora, and she feels like she might have been able to do something to stop Nora from killing herself.

Avery had a very distinct voice, which I liked. I thought she was well fleshed-out and the author did a great job of capturing the voice of a seventeen-year-old girl. While I didn’t love Avery, I feel like I understood her in a lot of ways. Her entire life was basically spent doing things to make other people happy and impress them. She didn’t know who she was beyond the adopted daughter of incredibly intelligent people, a cheerleader, the girlfriend of a popular guy, and a good student. She was very focused, but none of it was really for herself - she wanted to make her parents and teachers happy.  
 
I thought Avery’s grief was very realistic. She was sad but she was also angry - at herself, and also at the people around her, who never gave Nora a chance in life but were acting as if her death was their loss. I liked the memories of Nora and Avery as kids that were sprinkled throughout the book. I’ve known my childhood best friend for 25 years, so it made me nostalgic; we’re like Avery and Nora in a way - the only thing we have in common now is a shared past, but that bond will always be there.

I liked Brody - he was sweet and understanding - but I didn’t feel like we got to know him very well. I kept hoping for more - from him and from his relationship with Avery. I appreciated that they were friends first and things moved slowly between them, but I never really connected with him.

The one part of this book I loved was the ending. Not necessarily the actual end, but the last couple chapters. Avery learned a lot in a short space of time, and I appreciated her growth and how strong she was. It was really the only time I connected with the story and truly felt anything.

Year of Mistaken Discovers tackles a lot of tough subjects - suicide, adoption, finding your place in life. It was fast-paced, and while I was glad it didn’t drag, it felt like several things could have been expanded a bit. It didn’t draw much emotion from me, and I was never really all that invested in Avery’s story. While there were moments I really enjoyed, much of the book fell flat for me. 
  
 
  
Have you read Year of Mistaken Discoveries? What did you think? If you haven't read it, does it sound like something you'd be interested in?
 

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