Title: The Story of Us
Author: Deb Caletti
Genre: YA Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: April 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages
ISBN-10: 1442423463 (Simon Pulse)
ISBN-13: 978-1442423466 (Simon Pulse)
Reviewed by: Macie
Cricket’s on a self-imposed break from her longtime boyfriend—but she’s picked a bad week to sort out her love life. For one thing, her mother’s romance is taking center stage: After jilting two previous fiancÉs, her mom is finally marrying Dan Jax, whom Cricket loves. But as wedding attendees arrive for a week of festivities at a guesthouse whose hippie owners have a sweet, sexy son—Ash—complications arise:
Cricket’s future stepsisters make it clear they’re not happy about the marriage. An old friend decides this is the week to declare his love for Cricket. Grandpa chooses to reveal a big secret at a family gathering. Dan’s ex-wife shows up. And even the dogs—Cricket’s old, ill Jupiter and Dan’s young, lively Cruiser—seem to be declaring war.
While Cricket fears that Dan is in danger of becoming ditched husband-to-be number three, she’s also alarmed by her own desires. Because even though her boyfriend looms large in her mind, Ash is right in front of her….
Quick & Dirty: The Story of Us feels very personal, yet puts into words many things that people think about, but rarely voice.
Opening Sentence: I found out something a out myself as all those boxes piled up: I hate change.
The novel starts out with Cricket, who just graduated high school, moving away from her childhood home since her mother was remarrying. Cricket’s whole life seems to be changing since she is moving, starting the next chapter of her life after high school, gaining family members, and also going through a break up with her boyfriend Janssen. Her complicated situation speaks to many people since almost everyone has gone through at least one of these issues, if not all of them.
The novel is set from Cricket’s point of view as she endures the week before the wedding with fighting family members, and more drama than one family needs. Emails to Janssen are dispersed throughout the novel, but we never see his responses. In the emails, Cricket often recounts memories about when she and Janssen first meet up to the present. It was an interesting insight, almost like being confided in by a close friend. I felt like I knew Cricket. I had all of those same fears and feelings before, so I could relate. Also in the emails are lists about dogs, which I thought was a strong tie to the rest of the book because so much can be said about dogs, humans, and the relationships we have.
In the week before the wedding, all of the family convenes at a neutral location set on the beach where all sorts of chaos ensues. Cricket’s step-sisters-to-be will have nothing to do with her family. Her divorced grandparents bicker at each other. The hostess keeps sneaking away to smoke pot. Not to mention that Cricket is attracted to the host’s son, Ash, which confuses her even more about her situation with Janssen. There is a lot of tension in this book, but it really captures the true interactions of families, and people, coming together.
All of the characters, even the ones we don’t see like Janssen, are very well rounded. I felt like I could walk into the house from the book, and know who everyone was. Each character was different, but they all worked together in a way that felt real. The interactions had just the right amount of embarrassment and elation that I could definitely relate. That is one thing I could not stress enough is how real this book felt through the way characters acted and interacted with each other. This could be any family. The specific memories made it theirs, but the human interaction that came out through the novel could belong to anyone.
Cricket is going through a difficult time, but she handles it well. I was interested to know how everything would turn out, not to mention learning more about Cricket’s past, and the ending did not disappoint. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and would recommend it for anyone who enjoys thinking about how we communicate and interact with others, and what it means to grow up.
You know, Janssen, aside from the angel costume, I realize how much our dogs have patience with us. They put up with almost anything. We sing bad, stupid songs to them. We make them dance with us. Sometimes we’re really not nice, calling them names, or being short with them and hurting their feelings. We ignore them. A whole day goes by sometimes, and I remember I’ve hardly paid any attention to Jupiter at all, like she was a piece of furniture. But then I look and see that she’s still there, alive and breathing and standing by, with her watchful, loving eyes.
But it goes both ways, because they get into the garbage, they eat your good underwear, and you’ve got to pick up their crap, but you’re still crazy about them. They mope around sometimes, looking like you’re not giving them something they deeply desire, but you don’t think, “Jesus, she’s moody! I’m outta here!” They lie where it’s most inconvenient, and we just step over them. I guess it’s a different relationship. When someone has to turn three circles before lying down, maybe you feel they really need looking after. But I’m sure they look at what we do and think the same thing.
We hurt each other, is the point. Hurt, annoy, embarrass, but move on. People, it just doesn’t work that way. Your own feelings get so complicated that you forget the ways another human being can be vulnerable. You spend a lot of energy protecting yourself. All those layers and motivations and feelings. You get hurt, you stay hurt sometimes. The hurt affects your ability to go forward. And words. All the words between us. Words can be permanent. Certain ones are impossible to forgive.
We don’t have long, intense conversations with our dogs either (except those one-sided ones), so you don’t get distracted by who said what. No one says things they permanently regret. It makes forgiveness pretty easy to hand over. You focus on the fact that the next day comes and there you are, still loving each other. They are a good friend to you, and you try to be a good friend back. They look after you and care for you, and you look after them and care for them. It’s so simple. Pure. That’s what’s so great. That’s what you treasure. You’ll never get that anywhere else. It’s a unique, wordless friendship.
FTC Advisory: Simon & Schuster provided me with a copy of The Story of Us. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.
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