Sunday, June 9, 2013

7 Heart Review: Our Song by Jordanna Fraiberg

Read my fascinating interview with the author—which gives so much insight to the book—by clicking here!

Our Song
Jordanna Fraiberg

Page Count: 352

Release Date: 2 May 2013
Publisher: Razorbill (Penguin Group)
Source: Complimentary ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review for the Itching for Books virtual book tour (thank you!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Olive Bell has spent her entire life in the beautiful suburb of Vista Valley, with a picture-perfect home, a loving family, and a seemingly perfect boyfriend. But after a near-fatal car accident, she's haunted by a broken heart and a melody that she cannot place.

Then Olive meets Nick. He's dark, handsome, mysterious... and Olive feels connected to him in a way she can’t explain. Is there such a thing as fate? The two embark on a whirlwind romance—until Nick makes a troubling confession.

Heartbroken, Olive pieces together what really happened the night of her accident and arrives at a startling revelation. Only by facing the truth can she uncover the mystery behind the song and the power of what it means to love someone.
Olive's carefully constructed life comes crashing down in the wake of an accident that should have, and almost, left her dead. For the first time she is forced—against her Martha Stewart-mother's will—to face imperfection, to face flaws, and it is only when she finally admits to them, she begins to see clearly who the ones that love her are, and just how special a place they hold.

Olive doesn't want to satisfy the expectations of her mother—the mother who prunes her social circle as she prunes her petunias—and realizes she needs to escape the suffocating grasp of Vista Valley, where she hasn't ventured more than a hundred miles past since she was born, all the more. Enter: Nick, a brooding, devastating British bad boy with a penchant for spontaneity and a wicked, wicked smile. And suddenly, Olive is free. Olive is happy. And if she allows herself to, Olive just might find what she's looking for...

Simply put, Our Song is a sweet, coming-of-age YA romance—nothing riveting, but accurately tender in some parts and emotive of teenage angst, insecurity, and heartache in others. There are so many different issues raised in this teen novel, including friendship, rebellion, sexuality, dating danger(ously handsome boys...), the aftermath of a near-death, and of course, Olive's haunting song. They're all great topics, but I was disappointed by how none of them are fully explored, just sort of dabbled in, and then neglected. They do have proper ties at the end of the book, but it's like the author introduced these great plot points, ignored them, and then brought them back up in the closing chapters just to form a clean conclusion.

I had a bit of an issue with Olive. It's not that she's difficult to sympathize with—in fact, I'd say her frustrations and hard-headed determination are easy to relate to—but she just isn't portrayed in a very likable light; through the story's progression, she grows and realizes her mistakes and, as with most young adult novels, she learns from them, but her general attitude towards her friends and naïve ignorance of her surroundings makes her a hard character to grow on. This was mainly a problem for me since she narrates the story first-person; whenever I got annoyed with her, I was still stuck with her because we only ever get to see through her (narrow) perspective.

Nick, on the other hand... I could use a guy like him in my life! He's wonderfully portrayed (let's not kid anyone here, I had a big-time swoon-fest while reading about him), but poorly developed. As a person he seems wonderful and charming and BRITISH♥ but as a book character, he's too quick in his affections for Olive—making him rather unrealistic—and two-dimensional. I thought his troubling past would really add depth to him, but there's really no suspense nor a huge bang leading up to his "dark" secret... it's just suddenly revealed, which was not only anticlimactic, but also further weakened his character.

Fraiberg is a storyteller at heart and really knows how to integrate the protagonist's point of view into the novel. Stylistically, Our Song is straightforward and contemporary in tone; this could be your own diary.

Pros


Great voice // Fraiberg captures teen spirit perfectly // Authentic depiction of high school horrors // I want Annie as my best friend! // Story moves quickly and smoothly; constantly left me wanting more // Evocative of Los Angeles and surrounding areas // Clean, chaste romance

Cons


Olive is rather bratty // As much as I loved Nick, he isn't anything special... mostly because he's underdeveloped as a character and because his big dark "secret" is too hurried at the end // Olive's romance with Nick, mysterious song, emotional healing, and coming-to-terms with self are all a bit disjointed

Love

There was just a thin piece of cotton separating us, and I could practically feel his warm skin through my sleeve. It was like the charged cackle of static electricity. We weren't touching, but almost. Maybe it was better this way, standing on the edge, suspended in between, where you can't get your hopes up too high or your heart broken.

Verdict


Jordanna Fraiberg's newest novel is a fast-moving account of Olive's post-tragedy struggles that touches upon the pain of heartbreak, the true meaning of love and companionship, and the importance of accepting second chances. As heavy as the topics of this book are, the story itself doesn't go too deeply into them, so for the most part, this was a light, undemanding read—although it does have its share of bleak, depressing notes. I was disappointed by the lack of complexity and weightier content, but still enjoyed Our Song regardless. This is a fun, believable, and ultimately touching book, and simultaneously a fantastic addition to the YA and middle-grade genres Americanflag

7 hearts: Not perfect, but overall enjoyable (x)

Read my fascinating interview with the author—which gives so much insight to the book—by clicking here!