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I Belong


Review: A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith

A Sense of the InfiniteTitle: A Sense of the Infinite

Author: Hilary T. Smith

Genre: YA Contemporary

Series: N/A

Publication Date: May 19, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 400 Pages

ISBN-10: 0062184717 (HarperTeen)

ISBN-13: 978-0062184719 (HarperTeen)

Reviewed by: Zed

Synopsis:

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.

Quick & Dirty: A tortured friendship and far too many bottled secrets.

Opening Sentence: On the first day of Noe, the raspberries are always ripe.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

I adored this read because I felt it was unique in terms of the other books I have read of late. There is so much heartbreak and feeling that I couldn’t help but fall in love with the characters and their stories. First off, there is Annabeth, who frustrated me at the beginning with her god-like worship of Noe, but soon enough she became my favourite. I understand why she felt indebted to Noe because she was her first friend and like a saviour at a hard time in her life, but Annabeth was almost obsessed with her, which was a leeetle creepy.

Noe, on the other hand, was a horribly fickle friend and I did not care for her in the least. I knew straight away that she would cause major problems later on. I didn’t like her personality, especially when she kept implying that Anna was the one with all the problems. It was clear from the way Anna admired her that their friendship was too one-sided and wouldn’t last but even still, their broken relationship was painful to read about.

Some friendships ended all at once and some were like Athenian ships, each part slowly replaced over the years until one day, even if you had never left the deck, you couldn’t recognise it anymore. Lately when I talked to Noe I felt like one of the old people who came to the ice-cream shop year after year; even though the soul of the place had long ago drained out of it: they knew it wasn’t the same anymore, but they simply didn’t know where else to go.

Anna had problems that no teenager should have to deal with. Clearly, she depended on Noe too much but then had to learn the hard way how to be strong and rely on yourself. This story showed how difficult it is to make your own path and the pressure of having overpowering friends.

My favourite relationship was Anna and Steven’s friendship. It wasn’t romantic but oh so sweet. Both were the quirky kind of kindred spirits that it’s almost impossible to stumble upon; ‘pee sisters’ as they were. Steven is odd but sweet and I loved his sense of humour.

“Pleased to make your official acquaintance, Annabeth. Let’s be friends.”
“Okay,” I said. Then, because I felt guilty, I burst, “I didn’t mean that we weren’t already sort of friends. By association.”
“I don’t like knowing people through people,” he said evenly. “It feels too much like regurgitation.”

Reading about children/teenagers with issues like depression, haunting pasts, and bulimia is always difficult. Anna’s story was heart-breaking, especially hearing her thoughts about feeling like a monster because of something that was not her fault and that she had no control over. Anna’s fear of speaking about her past because of being judged is a huge problem that definitely needs greater awareness and I’m glad this book picked up on it. Her ability to keep things bottled up was shocking, I don’t think I could do it even though I don’t like talking about personal issues either.

“That’s different. Need some time, okay. Nobody can ever love me after this, not okay. I can’t love myself after this, not okay. Would you feel bad for meeting a cute boy if Oliver was the one having the appointment?”

Overall, a touching read told from a young girl’s perspective and covering a vast array of intriguing topics that I believe need greater awareness.

Notable Scene:

I opened my mouth again. “I know you’re going to say that plans change and you never promised anything, but it’s more than that. Sometimes I feel like our friendship is this leaky boat but nobody’s allowed to admit the boat is leaking. We just sit there with our feet getting wet, but I can’t say, Hey, my feet are wet, because you’ll throw me overboard.”

“Nobody’s throwing you overboard,” said Noe calmly. “You’re having a bad day.”

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FTC Advisory: Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins provided me with a copy of A Sense of the Infinite. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.

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