Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Back When You Were Easier to Love

Back When You Were Easier to LoveTitle: Back When You Were Easier to Love
Author: Emily Wing Smith
Publisher: Dutton Childrens Books
Publication Date: April, 2011
Genre/Format: Realistic Fiction-Romance/Novel
Summary: Zan is gone. He left with no good bye, no explanation, no anything. Joy doesn't understand why he left and she misses him. So, Joy feels like she must go find Zan and get closure. 

What I Think: I think that teenage Kellee would have loved this book a lot more than I did. Most teenagers at some point fall into what they feel is the love of their life. I did. This is a story about that. And about obsession and heart break. I think many, many teenage girls will connect with this book. 

But there are some things about it that will limit the connections and some things about it that I didn't like. The what I don't like gives away the ending, so I, unfortunately, can't rant and rave about it, but I can explain the other thing. 

Joy is Mormon. And I truly believe there needs to be a variety of protagonists and a variety of religions represented in literature (specifically YA), but as someone who doesn't know much about being Mormon, I felt disconnected from the characters because I didn't feel like it was explained very well. You were thrown into this town where everything is different than every where else and with a protagonist that doesn't like it, but I just never got it. I never got why Zan would want to leave. I never got why Joy didn't feel connected. I never got why she thought Noah was a bad guy. I just never got it. I wanted to and I kept reading hoping that I would, but the connection for me was just not there. 

What I did LOVE about this book was the way it was set up. It was set up as a mix of narration, flashbacks, lists, poetry and vignettes. The vignettes were my favorite! So beautifully written. This format is what made the book a 3 star-er for me instead of a 2. 

Lastly, I did like that Joy was a book lover and a good girl. 
I like that her love is clean and this book is available.  She IS really quite different than any other girl protagonist, but this story shows that no matter how different you are, girls still can fall head over heels in love with the wrong guy.

Read Together: Grades 8 to 10
Read Alone: Grades 7 to 12
Read With: Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins, Let it Snow by John Green/Maureen Johnson/Lauren Myracle
Snatch of Text: 
"I want to hold onto Zan the way a junkie resists rehab, or a dieter rationalizes a chocolate eclair; the way forbidden lovers run from inevitable consequence. The instant gratification of one last time makes me shake with satisfaction. But when his memory is gone I feel the aching return like a bruise that won't heal." (p. 91)

"I saw the best minds of my generation wasted
By conformity, dreams fading to black and
White. Cutouts
Dragging themselves through the pristine streets of a cardboard town looking for a 
There was a cardboard girl there, in the cardboard world, but I felt no connection
Even tearing down the walls
Each shard breathed promise they'd never know
They cry stagnant, hollow tears." (p. 197) 
Mentor Text for: Format, Flashback
Writing Prompts: Throughout Back When there are vignettes where Joy answers "People Ask Me What I Miss Most" which always ends with "I never had this. I miss it anyway."- in a similar format as Joy, write your own vignette focusing on what you miss most that you never had.
Topics Covered: Love, Obsession, Religion, Identity

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