musings

The Last Time I’ll Write About You by Dawn Lanuza

Have you ever felt that someone is just stuck in your mind long after their last steps have taken them walking out of your life?

Have you struggled with letting go of something that may have been toxic, that may have been a complete and TOTAL mess? I mean, you’re better off now. Right?

Have you found yourself reminiscing over all the what-ifs and what-could-have-beens? Are you stuck there? Or have you convinced yourself that you’re no LONGER there?

the last time i'll write about you -dawn lanuza

The Last Time I’ll Write About You resonated with me for that reason as I happen to know what all that felt like.

Love can be a wonderful experience, an emotional connection that takes us to the highest mountains and fills our heart and lungs with the elixir of life.

And yet, love can also be a very complicated thing. Another entire being that can dictate how we view the world, how we interact with it.

Breakups can be so messy because of this. It leaves us vulnerable. Wanting to close in again. And if you’re the one with the heart broken, anything can remind us of that person. Anything.

Dawn Lanuza pens a series of poems that speak to personal experience of such things. While a little rudimentary in style compared to other poets I’ve been reading lately, I think it’s still a collection worth browsing through.

For some people (including me), writing is cathartic. It’s like we have permission to feel the things we do once we pen it all down from our very cramped hearts onto paper (or a screen). And once it’s out there, it hopefully frees up some space inside the 4 chambers of our hearts to start healing.

For some other people, it’s cathartic to know that someone else understands what and how we feel. That we’re not alone in our feelings. That it is okay to be feeling this way. We’re not broken and weak. We’re just human.

This book reminded me of these things. That it’s okay to find it hard to let go sometimes. That it’s not just me who was dumb enough to hold onto something that was never meant to be.

Maybe it can do the same for you.

What resonated the most with me were these 2 poems that I’ll share with you.

1) sometimes the world around us may be reminders of that person in our life – and that’s okay

THE WORLD IS OUR SOUVENIR

The world remembers
What we try to forget
It’s in the embers
Of the things we left

It’s in the concrete,
The streets we used to tread
In the halls we used to meet
When we had hours to spend

It’s in the book you carried home
In this umbrella we shared
It’s in the stars you wished on
In your skin, your palms,
Your fingers: playing with my hair

It’s in your unmade bed
The wrinkle, the weight
It’s in the distance to the door I traveled
In the silence, partings unsaid.

2) hope that we can love again – and love again BETTER

EPILOGUE

Despite everything
I still thank the universe
For blessing me with you
As my first

If I could love you this much
For this long
– And on my first try –
Then surely,

I could love someone else more
Far better
Far longer.


I hope this finds you well in a moment where you may need the encouragement, the hope, that love can come again. Maybe even in a better form. It took me years to get out of this slump, and years where I denied the fact that it still held my heart captive in some ways.

But the freeing feeling of crying over that last poem showed me that maybe those last dredges are gone, and in the meantime, I have learned a lot more about myself through it all.

So whether you needed this encouragement or not, I ask of you today: what is love? And does it have a place in your future?

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4 star, YA

Review: Dead Girls Society by Michelle Krys

dead girls society -michelle krysYou are cordially invited to participate in a game of thrills and dares. Tell no one, and come alone. If you dare.

Hope is sick of everyone treating her like she’s breakable. Sure, she has cystic fibrosis (basically really bad lungs), but she’s tired of being babied by her mom and her overprotective best friend, Ethan, not to mention worrying about paying for her expensive medication and how she’s going to afford college. And she’s bored with life in her run-down New Orleans suburb.

When an invitation arrives from a mysterious group that calls itself the Society, Hope jumps at the chance for some excitement. This could be her ticket out. All she has to do is complete a few dares and she might win some real money.

But the Society isn’t all it seems . . . and soon Hope finds that playing the game isn’t a choice—it’s a requirement.


4 Drink Me Potions


5 girls. The Sick Girl, the Rich Girl, the Sporty Girl, the Smart Girl and the Badass Girl. What do they all have in common?

Dead Girls Society dramatically set up a mysterious air that mostly lived up to its conclusion. In the same vein as Pretty Little Liars (or so it felt), this book also centred on the unlikeliest friendships and familial relationships surrounding the girls dragged into this Dare Club Society.

Written by a Canadian author (yay, Canada represent!), I was excited about this book since I first heard of its publication. Mystery? Check. Secret societies leaving anonymous letters/clues? Check. Falling for your best friend? Check. It had all the makings of a book that spelled out I WOULD LIKE THIS.

Creepy, fast-paced and filled with things that kept you guessing at the Society’s identity as the girls followed along with the dares that promised a fulfilling ending, I was pleasantly surprised at how the story progressed.

The protagonist, Hope Callahan, was one of the biggest highlights of the book. Aside from the general “whodunit” kind of thread that most mysteries contain, I really enjoyed having a sick girl as the focus of the story. Yes, she knows she’s not going to live forever, but surviving isn’t the same as living (taken from a certain poetry book I’ve read recently). So within the mystery is an underlying vein of a girl who is pushing herself to do things outside of her comfort zone – outside of her mother’s comforts and maybe even her body’s – but for the first time is possibly finding herself since her cystic fibrosis diagnosis.

Honestly, I had some inkling about who may be behind the Society but it wasn’t until near the end that it all clicked into confirmation. Without ruining anything, I thought the motives (which are always important, not just the person) were reasonable although one of the red herrings made it all the more obvious as to the true identity of the Society.

Nonetheless, Dead Girls Society filled its pages with a list of possible suspects, a protagonist struggling to be like a normal girl for once, and a cute romance that didn’t feel like it took away from the main plotline. Secrets came into the light and the dangers escalated for these girls. What started as a daring game they chose to take part in became something a lot more.

My one comment would suggest that this book could’ve been a duology or something. It had such potential with unveiling the individuals in the Society, and the dangers our group of girls faced with each dare could have been prolonged. While this made the book feel more fast-paced, I think fleshing out these ideas could have been a good thing as well.

Overall, Dead Girls Society has something to offer for fans of mysteries, secrets you want to keep buried, and a romantic trope or two. It showcased a wonderful message that couldn’t be better summed up than this quote that I am going to close off with.

“I know I made a lot of mistakes…I did damage to my body, maybe even irreparable damage…But I’m not prepared to go back to my old life. With Mom so desperate to make sure I don’t die that she won’t let me live. To sit in that apartment collecting dust until I can’t breathe anymore. Until I turn to dust.
I can’t live with fear and limits dictating everything I do [anymore].”

Oh, and did I mention that ending? I thought it was the perfect amount of open-endedness.

Overall Recommendation:
Dead Girls Society met the standards of an engaging, fun mystery with characters you could cheer on as well as secretly guess their possible ulterior motives as potential suspects. I liked how this book didn’t heavily focus on Hope’s cystic fibrosis illness as some YA tropes do, but instead used it to showcase courage, bonds of friendship and living for oneself. Whether you picked up this book for the mystery, the cute little romance or the Secret Society-esque vibes, I’m sure there’s more than enough here to keep you wanting for more!

4 star, YA

Review: Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

Series: Dumplin’ #1

dumplin -julie murphySelf-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’” by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant—along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does. Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City—and maybe herself most of all.

With starry Texas nights, red candy suckers, Dolly Parton songs, and a wildly unforgettable heroine—Dumplin’ is guaranteed to steal your heart.


4 Drink Me Potions


[The song] is catchy and everyone knows the words, but to me, it’s this reminder that no matter who you are, there will always be someone prettier or smarter or thinner. Perfection is nothing more than a phantom shadow we’re all chasing.


Dumplin’ is that book about an atypical heroine you may think of based on the synopsis, but with way more heart and less cheese-y fluffiness than I had pegged it to be.

This book – and my thoughts on it – can be summarized in a few points.

1) Will’s voice as the protagonist was the perfect balance that didn’t overly make me want to sympathize with her yet also showed her vulnerabilities.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes reading stories about girls who are fat does neither of those things. They either lose weight and “get better” and we get to feel “happy” for them or they embrace themselves in such a way that I’m not sure is fully realistic either. This wasn’t the case here and that was surprising. I cheered her on when she was happy with her body and who she was, and was sad with her when she let her doubts get in the way of everything she could aspire to be.

2) The romance wasn’t the highlight.

Wait, what? That can’t be right. I’m saying I didn’t want the romance to be heavily laid on?
You betcha. I frankly didn’t really love Bo. He’s your average good looking guy who was a jerk (to someone else in the past) but now is all romantic and sweet ’cause he’s fallen hard – somehow, and no, we’re not given a reason why – for Will. He seemed too 2-dimensional for such a 3-dimensional girl. SO yeah, I’m quite happy that it wasn’t the focus, especially for the latter half of the book. (I’m sorry, romance fans!)

But don’t get me wrong. It was still sweet. For all of you who really look forward to this.

There’s some kind of peace that comes with knowing that for every person who is waiting to be found, there’s someone out there searching.


3) The ending was abrupt – but in a good way.

I know, how is that a good thing? Well, to me it left things a bit more ambiguous. Like how life is generally. It isn’t always tied up in a nice bow where all the family drama is solved immediately with a deep heart-to-heart talk or couples throwing themselves at each other in happiness after resolving the romantic tensions between them. (Yes, you can see that I’m feeling rather jaded at the moment towards love). I liked that it ended on a good note but without tying up all the loose threads completely.

4) Heartfelt messages for the win! Or life lessons, if that’s what you wanna call them

“Maybe Lucy wasn’t supposed to be your compass forever. Maybe she was there for you just long enough so you could learn how to be your own compass and find your own way.”


Losing her aunt Lucy was a major theme in this book as Will always felt closer to her due to their similar body size. But this isn’t one of those books where the death of a loved one is driving our protagonist crazy with grief or other kinds of pain. Yes, it’s present and it flares up on some days but it’s not just a plot device. It felt real with the lessons Will was able to draw from all the things she remembered and learned anew about her even after death.

5) Girl power!

This story is all about friendships. Will’s ups and downs with her bestie Ellen took a big chunk of this book. If you know what it feels to have someone you’ve just known and gone through so much crap with, this is how it should be portrayed. But aside from lifelong friends, the new ones Will gains in her journey to the pageant was great. I kinda wish there was less of Bo in these pages and more of these girls. They were atypical secondary characters. Not necessarily your characteristic beauties or smarties or sporties. Just…people who want to fit in but others have deemed them OTHER. I loved them, and I love Julie Murphy for creating a story where girls can support each other, even if it’s a bit unwilling at first.

Aside from these things, my only complaint was the slow pacing of the story in the beginning. You know she’s gonna enter a pageant and show everyone that just ’cause she’s fat doesn’t mean she shouldn’t be able to do this. I adore Will for this. But yeah, it was slow going at first, for at least the first half. I wouldn’t say I breezed through this book at all. Other than that, Dumplin’ holds a lot of good messages that warms my heart at the end of the day.

Overall Recommendation:
Dumplin’ features a cast of atypical girls at the heart of the story, and it’s like no other book I’ve read with fat girls in a starring role. While tugging at our heartstrings in sympathy, it doesn’t just stop there. This is a story of embracing who you are – no matter what size, shape or form – and the courage to be your true self and truly be comfortable with it. The girl friendships gained along the way were empowering. The romance was doable although I could’ve gone without it. Overall, a more remarkable book than I had initially boxed it in. And boy, am I glad for that.