Monday, December 12, 2016

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

I got this book in one of Book Riot’s quarterly boxes last year. I love the cover. I love all the silhouette book covers that came out a while back. You know the ones. Anyway. A Sense of the Infinite is my first Clear A Shelf book for December. And it was a pretty good way to start.
The (edited) Goodreads bit [Link to GR page]:
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.

My Review:
This is a book where nothing big happens. It is also a book in which many important things happen.

It’s the story of a 17 year old girl who discovers the secret of her controversial birth from a cruel cousin a week before her loving mother was going to tell her and then there is restoration. A girl who is vulnerable to losing herself in the identity of her friend because she doesn’t know who she is and then there is discovery. A girl who will exercise her right to make a choice in the middle of figuring out the kind of choices she wants to be able to make for herself. And there is lavender and there is love.

This book has a lot of THOSE issues in it: Disordered eating, suicidal ideation, rape, abortion, questionable sexuality, teen sex. It has a lot of THOSE OTHER issues, too: friendship, love, family, and reaching for your own stars. It has to have these issues because it is a realistic story about realistic people. The adults are also searching and making their way as best they can.

Things I loved:  Not all the adults were assholes. Not all the friends were interested in sleeping with each other. Not all the boys were sex- starved. Not all the girls were catty (though we can’t be rid of them). The mom was trying so hard. The main character was likable. The depressed boy is an honor to know. The Aunt tells the truth, but there are family co-conspirators.  I loved these things for their truthiness.

Thing I Might Have Liked to See: a brown- skinned person. But this book isn’t a book I’m knocking for being Lilly white, because Lilly white towns exist and are valid, too. And honestly, if we had to also deal with race-based issues, it wouldn't have been too much. There are plenty of issues going on. And if a random Mexican walked by, you’d wonder what the hell they were doing there.

This book does have several characters with possible non- heterosexual identities. I’ll give it half a WNDB stickers for a questioning lead character and a random peripheral lesbian. (You guys let me know if I missed some stuff!) 

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