Title: The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things
Author: Ann Aguirre
Genre: YA Contemporary
Source: won from publisher
Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. He’s got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn’t expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage.
But love doesn’t mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again…
I almost didn't even read this book, as I didn't think it was really my type of book. I've actually been in quite a reading slump, so I picked this one up on a whim, and ended up enjoying it so much.
I loved Sage. This is definitely a character-driven novel, so it's even more important that the characters were done well, and I definitely think they were. Sage is quite interesting. She has a dark past, that she is trying to cover up by being perfect. She doesn't have many friends, except for her best friend Ryan. She lives with her Aunt Gabby. She has been nicknamed Princess Post-It by her classmates, thanks to the post-its she leaves on kids' lockers to help cheer them up. But what I found most interesting about her was the person inside that she was covering up. Sage was very level-headed and logical when it came to pushing that person down, not letting anyone see the other side of her. She refused to get angry, or even upset, from fear that she dark shadow in her would come rising back up. She did everything she could to hide her true self away from her peers, and so that her aunt wouldn't send her away.
Then she meets Sage, a lonely, antisocial musician who is just trying to make it through high school without any more issues. He just wants to be done so he can get out. I thought Shane was a very well-rounded and fleshed out character. We got to see into him, the puzzle pieces that make up his life.
I'm usually not one for angst or romance. But while this book was heavily focused on Sage and Shane and their budding romance, it was also about more. I loved reading about the two together, but they both have really deep, dark stuff hidden in their past. We get to see the two open up, make friends, and find out who they really are. Sage realizes that she's not alone, and starts to make some new friends, and find out what she wants from life. Shane starts to realize that he's not alone. I loved the supporting cast, from Lila to Aunt Debby, to the sophomores, and Ryan, even when he messed up.
Of course, everything has to hit the roof before it can settle down with a happy ending, but I thought it was handled really well. I like that we got to see multiple sides of the story and the characters, even the "villain". While some might consider this "just" a romance story, I thought it was so much more than that. There were parts where I teared up, and I never tear up at books. It was such a deep, powerful coming-of-age story that I think will resonate with readers, even if your past isn't hiding things quite as dark as our MC's.
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