Rating: 3.5 Murky Stars
Published: April 21 2015
Genre: YA// Contemporary
Molly is counting down the days until she leaves for college in Boston. Last year, she ran away from her problems because her mom wrote a best-selling book based on her boy troubles. When her boyfriend, Patrick, found out that it was mostly true, everything went to hell in a hand basket. Now, she’s back for the summer in her same small town and the only person willing to talk to her is Patrick’s brother, Gabe. That night that Molly & Gabe shared was so long ago but still fresh in her mind since he’s the only one who doesn’t think she’s a pariah. When they start to get closer, Molly can’t help but think about Patrick and how everything was let unresolved. She misses her best friend but can’t figure out a way to fix their relationship. In the 99 days she has until she leaves for college, Molly tries her best to move on and figure everything out before she leaves again.
This is a hard one to review. It’s honest. It’s hard to read at times but it’s wonderfully written. I don’t agree with Molly’s decisions but I understand them. There are times when you need to get someone out of your head so you fall back to them. It’s not until they do something horrid that makes you snap out of it. Fair warning, this is a book that you’re either going to love or hate (generally). Also, be prepared for spoilers. This review is riddled with them and this is your only warning.
The whole premise of this book was based on slut shaming. I can’t condone that. However, the way it’s used in this book is to show the effect of slut shaming on a person and the toll it takes. It talks about how the girl is the one that’s always blamed and the boy isn’t affected at all. It’s an important topic to discuss.
One thing I don’t like is that we condemn cheating in books (but it is a thing that happens not that it’s good but it’s life) but if the significant other that’s being cheated on is a prick, then it’s okay. Or if a character has feelings for another character but doesn’t act on them, it’s okay. Though that’s technically still emotional cheating especially if they’re not being courageous enough to end it. I’m not saying Molly is in the right at all, because she’s not, but she’s young. She’s still figuring her shit out. She never got closure. Neither her nor Patrick did. I think what happened was inevitable but I also don’t think what happened was THAT bad. I mean, not a ton of details were given. It’s safe to assume that nothing major happened. It’s still shitty.But not AS shitty. (To be clear, I’m not taking about what happened with Gabe in the beginning of the book, but what happened with Patrick when she was still with Gabe). All I’m saying is that nothing is black and white. There’s a lot of grey areas and kids are still growing up. Mistakes happen. Especially when you’re learning who you are and what you want. Everyone makes mistakes and writing about those mistakes is courageous.
While it may technically be a love triangle, I don’t really see it that way. I just think that life is messy, complicated, and often times, feelings get left unresolved. At least she’s able to see how things play out. While I don’t agree with her methods, I don’t think all the blame should be on her. She’s confused. She didn’t get closure and it takes two people to cheat, not just one. I don’t think everything with Gabe should have been blown that far out of proportion to begin with but it did make for some interesting circumstances. I ultimately don’t know how I feel about Molly.
Turning to positive, I like that every character, like in real life, was flawed. No one was inherently perfect like in a lot of YA. Life is messy and imperfect. There’s so much learning to be done and that happens when you make mistakes. There were a couple of details that were just thrown in there and not expanded upon, which I didn’t like, however. (Like the random challenge between Gabe + Patrick that was just kinda thrown in there just because). Ultimately, even if I don’t like the character’s decisions doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy reading it or that I didn’t get something out of it.
“I don’t think I’ve ever done a proper girls’ night, but Imogen’s an old pro, the smell of steam and burning as she flatirons my hair and a bottle of Apple Pucker she pulled from her purse like Mary Poppins, witchy green and syrupy like melted-down lollipops.”
But it was extremely readable. I was compelled to read it, finishing it over the course of a day and a half (between working / sleeping/ errands). I think the initial premise is what lacks the most. Because really, what author would flat out write secrets and then confess who said them? Never mind secrets that were her daughters. That’s shitty. Though, that also shows how the mother was flawed. Though, I had a really hard time believing that mother-daughter relationship. Second, Molly + Patrick were broken up (not on a break like Ross + Rachel) when Molly hooked up with Gabe. It shouldn’t had been made THAT big of a deal. And even if she ruined the relationships she had with the siblings, things shouldn’t have escalated the way they did. Third, why mention a challenge and then not follow through with an explanation. I’m looking at you Gabe.
One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is Molly’s relationship with her best friend, Imogen. And all I’m really going to say is that I’m on Imogen’s side. Molly ruined all of the relationships that she had. She was looking for forgiveness but didn’t really do anything to try to earn it. Molly expected a lot of things to just work out for her but she just felt a lot of self-pity. I really would like to revisit Molly once she’s been through college to see how she’s grown as a person. High school makes you crazy, I think. It’s your decisions throughout college that turn you into a real adult. The book is an interesting snippet into the summer of a girl’s life who really doesn’t have any of her shit figured out yet.
Overall; I liked it. I thought it was a good summer read. It makes you think about the topics the book discusses. It shows a different side of Contemporary YA that I think is important to read. Not every book should be wrapped up nicely with a big bow on top. Some things are more an exploration of characters wants/desires/thought processes (or lack there of). So, I really think I like this more for the balls that it takes to write something so controversial as this story than the actual story line. Katie Cotugno is a great writer. I loved How to Love and while this novel for me isn’t on the same level, you can see her wonderful writing shining through. I think the cover is gorgeous. I couldn’t help but buy it because it’s so pretty. You have to see this book in person.
Have you read 99 Days? What did you think? I think what’s interesting about this book is that it’s sparked a lot of conversation.