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Friday, 17 February 2012

Review: The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

Publisher: Puffin
Publication Date: 2 Feb 2012
Challenge: DAB
Source: Review Copy 
Rating: 3.5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads

Brie's life ends at sixteen: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart - "literally." But now that she's in heaven, Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend knows a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost - and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul who's been D&G (dead and gone) much longer than she? and who just might hold the key to her forever after. With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on? but how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?


There are 3 things I would like to mention before I get to the main review is that:

1) The synopsis is slightly inaccurate. To say how would spoil the plot. In my mind I pictured this book as a beautiful love story, you know the type love surviving death etc. but it really isn't the main part of the plot.

2) This for me was a book of 2 halves.The first half I found rather slow and Brie irritating on many levels however, the second half of the book changed pace really bringing the story to life.

3) The music reference and use of song lyrics is fantastic. The playlist is HERE and I urge you to go check it out.

The story is told from the perspective of Brie (which induced a cringe worthy number of cheese references within the narrative) at 15 her narrative voice is sometimes at odds with her actions. Veering between immature and rather bratty to a maturity I would rather a 15 year old not possess (if you know what I mean). The way in which she handles her first relationship while being relatable on a few levels e.g. the not eating, sleeping part while being completely scary and stalker-ish in other aspects. If she were my daughter I think I would be having a serious word with her about getting too serious too young.

The whole idea of a heart literally breaking was a case of poetic licence I felt. Although the idea was supported by additional events and justified at the conclusion.

The use of the five stages of grief  within the narrative itself added a depth of emotion to the entire story; not only are these stages for Brie to navigate but also the people left behind. Sections of the book are divided into these stages adding to the overall effect on the emotions. The portrayal of grief, the memorial service especially, was heart wrenching and very realistic. The way in which people deal with grief in different ways and how it can put a strain on relationships was also highlighted poignantly.

The portrayal of the afterlife in this book was very unique and not altogether pleasant. The inclusion of soul-mates is something I adore and this is what really stood out within the book for me. I loved the second part of the book so much more than the first. Brie's character development and journey of self-discovery made her far more like-able. The emotional journey was heart wrenching and heart warming in equal measure.

This book is not at all what I was expecting. If you are looking for something different in respect of death and bereavement with a measure of afterlife and soul-mates. Then you should definitely try this one.


  1. This sounds like an interesting one, though I think Brie sounds like the kind of character I would find hard work.

  2. hmmm, Im not sure how you really felt about this one Emma, Im dying (no pun intended) to read it but I'm hearing mixed things... I am still gunna get it soon!

  3. I'm reading this next. I'll be aware of you say about the second half being more when I'm reading :D


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