This was a Very Good Book.
For a start, I thought it was a refreshing take on the theme of grief. It had a believability that other titles - in particular, I'm thinking of All the Bright Places
- I've read recently lack. I felt like the relationship between Lennie and her sister was completely honest. I could really see that they had been close, that the way they interacted was true to my experience of female friendships and what I imagine it would be to have a sister. Lennie's reaction to her sister's death (not a spoiler, it's in the first few pages) is something I could really relate to. It's neither histrionic nor unrealistically easy. Bereavements can be tricky to write (as opposed to deaths) and I think this is something that is really well portrayed here. I can give it no higher praise than to say that I would recommend it for someone who is experiencing or coming to terms with feelings of grief. Possibly not directly in the middle of the grief, but afterwards. I know I could certainly find elements of my experience with grief in here.
Lennie is such a fantastic character. I think she's such a good portrayal of a strong woman who is nuanced and complex. She makes a lot of mistakes, but they're completely believable in the context. She isn't a wallflower, but she's not a ridiculous "strong female character" (those are okay in some scenarios, but I tend to prefer my characters with a fraction of light and shade - more light, than shade, but still). I was always rooting for her throughout the story, even when she fucks up. I also never felt like the narrative was shaming her for her actions - she blames herself, naturally, but everyone else can see the bigger picture.
Joe was a decent love interest too. He's definitely overly pretentious, but he pretty much fit the profile of every overly pretentious musician I ever knew at school, so I think that works. It's interesting that while he's pretty much justified in his anger at Lennie (though, to be fair, they weren't actually going out, I suppose) you definitely feel a little like he's being unfair. That is the nature of being stuck in the main character's head, though - and like I said, I was rooting for Lennie the whole time. The renunion at the end is pretty sweet - I definitely would have liked that at Lennie's age. I did like a lot of the secondary characters too. Lennie's gran and uncle really made up for her shitty excuse for a mum.
Agh, I never know what to say about books that I love. This was just a sweet and true book, and I'll be reading it again some day.