Published by Viking Juvenile on October 9, 2014
Genres: Friendship, Literary, Relationships, YA
Source: ARC borrowed thru Around the World ARC Tours
What if you live for the moment when life goes off the rails—and then one day there’s no one left to help you get it back on track?
Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six; she’s the fist-fighting instigator to his peacemaker, the artist whose vision balances his scientific bent. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. And then Althea makes the worst bad decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. He leaves town for a clinical study in New York, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain, while she gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.
Their journey will take them from the rooftops, keg parties, and all-ages shows of their North Carolina hometown to the pool halls, punk houses, and hospitals of New York City before they once more stand together and face their chances. Set in the DIY, mix tape, and zine culture of the mid-1990s, Cristina Moracho’s whip-smart debut is an achingly real story about identity, illness, and love—and why bad decisions sometimes feel so good.
~ I am a HUGE fan of a romance springing up from friendship. Love it. Could eat it up with a spoon like it was a creamy salted caramel gelatto. But this is not that kind of book.
~ Instead this book deals with feelings- the unrequited kind. Sometimes books, especially YA, make it seem like you will find your soul mate by age 18. That the super attractive guy next door you’ve yearned for will suddenly realize he loved you all along, or that even if he doesn’t that’s okay because some even hotter paranormal boy is waiting to sweep you off your feet and give you true love’s kiss. But honestly? You can fall hard for someone who just can’t return those feelings. This does not normally happen to female main characters (Althea is way more into Oliver than Oliver is into her), who are normally used to being fought over by at least two or three smoking hot males.
~ Once I realized that this book was not a contemporary, quirky YA romance, I was worried I wouldn’t like it. In fact, I didn’t really like Althea or Oliver all that much at first. I thought she was crazy obsessive and that he was a passive aggressive tease. The more I read though, the more they became like real teenagers I actually knew in the 90’s- they were screwed up and confused and trying to find where they fit in this world.
~ The opening scene is a game of Would You Rather, which I first played as a teen in the mid 90’s. Ah, the memories. 😉
~ Oliver is like sleeping beauty- I was really intrigued by his condition. I actually researched it on the internet because I was that interested. I also like that it was Oliver who was the sleepy, quiet, passive one. Althea got to be the aggressive, passionate and wide awake counterpart. Too often in books, it’s the other way around.
~ It’s kind of amazing to see how our childhood friends are based mostly on location, and less on shared interests.
~ As much as I love to sleep, losing two to three weeks of time terrifies me. I can’t imagine going that long without reading!
~ It is painful, at times, to watch Althea beat against Oliver like a moth battering against a light bulb. And then to watch her do other very impulsive things (Coby, I’m looking at you) again and again because she does not handle emotions particularly well.
~ There is one part of the book that is so FUBAR (google it, midnighters, if you don’t know what that means, since I don’t like to use a certain word on my blog), that I STILL don’t know what to think. However, the situation is one to debate endlessly with other readers, and that’s all I’m going to say about that.
~ As unfair as it is to Oliver, I’m so Team Althea, so I felt irrationally angry at his character for being such a putz at times.
~ One of my favorite lines, one that had me snorting, was when another character tells Althea that she and Oliver make a cute couple… in a Flowers in the Attic kin of way. If that doesn’t make you want to read the book, than I don’t know what will!
Althea- loves to cook, run, fight, draw and crush on Oliver. She’s angry and lost, and it isn’t until Oliver falls asleep that she begins to awaken.
Oliver- loves science, super smart, calm and friendly. He is not a fan of change, or deep feelings. Sleeps A LOT. 😉
Nicky- Oliver’s widowed mom, she’s tough and supportive. Smokes like a chimney.
Garth- Althea’s single college professor dad, a little too laid back at times.
Alice- Althea’s nomad mom.
Coby- tries to be a charming ahole, has huge crush on Althea.
Valerie- at first more Oliver’s friend than Althea’s, she reaches out to Althea when Oliver becomes a sleeping beauty.
Minty Fresh- think his real name is Scott, but friends with Valerie and A & O, he and Val volunteer at Bread & Roses, which is dumpster diving in order to help feed the homeless.
Kentucky- real name is Will, a fellow sleep disorder patient Oliver befriends.
The scene in the hospital when Oliver is listening to his fellow sleep disorder volunteers talk about the craziest stuff they did while in their strange awake moments during a deep sleep period, things they have no memory of, mostly embarrassing or horrifying. I laughed out loud over several of their most horrible moments.
Stop the Clock:
I don’t know that this book will be for everyone, it’s literary YA which I know some people avoid. I read this book in just a little over one day, so it was a very readable book, and the pacing was good. But it’s not a romp in YA romance land. Remember the movie Reality Bites? Well, this book captures that same spirit in YA, and as someone who was actually a teen at the same time as Althea and Oliver, it rings true for the mid 90’s vibe.
Althea & Oliver gets a Midnight Book rating of: