Published by Katherine Tegen Books on May 19, 2015
Source: ARC borrowed thru Around the World ARC Tours
By the author of the critically acclaimed Wild Awake, a beautiful coming-of-age story about deep friendship, the weight of secrets, and the healing power of nature.
It's senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready—ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn't prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe's new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is wearing and fraying. And like the way the secret she's been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe.
But most especially, she isn't prepared to lose Noe.
For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans and dreams that don't involve Annabeth. Without Noe's constant companionship, Annabeth's world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further and further away from Noe, she finds herself closer and closer to discovering who she's really meant to be—with her best friend or without.
Hilary T. Smith's second novel is a gorgeously written meditation on identity, loss, and the bonds of friendship.
I read this book in one day because I could not put it down. There are a lot of trigger topics in this book- eating disorders, abortion, rape, suicide, depression, but the book never feels like an issues book. It feels like real life. The only thing I can possibly criticize is that in the arc copy I read it was hard to tell who was saying what in the text conversations, but I’m sure that will be fixed by the time the book is released.
I read and loved the author’s first book, Wild Awake, and this book definitely captured the same feel that I loved in WA. I wasn’t even that sure I wanted to read this one based on the summary, but I thought that about Wild Awake too. There is just something magical about the writing and characters and the way Smith addresses subjects few YA authors touch on. Giving a shout out to Miranda Kenneally, who also isn’t afraid to write about tough subjects. Both authors manage to do it without ever making it feel like an After School Special.
Annabeth is an amazing character, at times she’s frustrating (especially when around Noe) and other times she’s inspiring and completely relatable. The supporting characters are also wonderful, from Steven to Ava, from Loren to Win- even their small rolls flash brilliantly across the page.
And then there’s Noe. Charismatic, talented, authoritative, charming, careless Noe. I wanted to dislike her, and at times I did, but I also felt so sad for her and the life she has ahead of her. I knew someone a lot like Noe in high school, and her life turned out much the way I suspect Noe’s will, and it makes me a little sad to think of that.
There are just so many moments in this book where I just was completely owned by it- in the beginning when Ava tells Annabeth the truth behind her dad, the school nurse who hears anorexia when someone mentions vegetarianism, the first meeting with Bob, the way Annabeth started to change her college plans because Noe fell in love with Gailer, the way Carly Ocean smells like eggs, how Ava has changed from her teenage self and apologizes to Annabeth, Ava’s wonderful roommates, Pauline’s loyalty to Leslie, Steven’s story arc, Pee Sisters (seriously, one of my favorite inside jokes of the book), and I could literally go on. Hilary T. Smith is officially on my Automatic Buy list.
There is no happy, shiny ending. The future is still unknown, but there is hope for some of the characters. I wish them well, and I’m going to miss them.
Annabeth- our main character, very co-dependent on bestie Noe.
Noe- Annabeth’s bestie, but she’s slowly pulling away.
Steven- Noe’s current boyfriend, funny, artistic and talented.
Ava- Annabeth’s older cousin and college student.
Bob- the nutritionist that Annabeth has to see, and I adored him. He likes to listen to audiobooks.
Oliver- former classmate who crashes the homecoming dance, and worked for the botanical gardens like Annabeth.
Leslie- Annabeth’s kind of amazing mom.
Pauline- Leslie’s best friend since college.
Loren- very friendly college tour guide.
Win- Steven’s friend.
As awful at the moment was for Annabeth, it was when the gymnastics coach asks about Noe. I felt awful for Annabeth to be put in that position, but it was such a pivotal moment for her character.
Stop the Clock:
I love Hilary T. Smith’s books! She’s definitely an author I want all my friends to read and love too. I can’t wait to read her future books. A Sense of the Infinite is really about finding yourself, of coping with the good and the bad, and learning that there is so much more to the world around us then our own little tiny corner of it. Annabeth starts off with such a narrow, tiny existence, and she has her reasons, but watching her grow into her own identity was heartbreaking and beautiful even when it was awful and ugly.
A Sense of the Infinite gets a Midnight Book rating of: