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But I didn't necessarily love it either. I read this aloud with my daughter. She read Sophie's chapters and I read Peter's. There were good things about this book like the blinders-on relationship Peter and Sophie had. It was interesting because a lot of YA romances are more cliché with love triangles or "bad boys" and the like. So the premise in general was excellent, I thought. A well-developed bisexual main character was also welcome when many books opt for simply straight or gay. I thoroughly enjoyed the subplot of Sophie's younger sister, Tabby, who'd gotten pregnant at 15 and was raising her baby.
Now for the reasons I only gave it three stars. The main reason was a fractured religious storyline in this book that I just really felt didn't belong - or simply could have been done better - or just not at all. I am only guessing that perhaps Judaism is meaningful to the author and she wanted to include it, which I appreciate. However, the way it was included was just... boring... and pretty much pointless... and slowed down the book big time. Spoiler I guess... Peter begins to explore his faith after his surgery, however, it barely goes anywhere and a TON of time was spent discussing it. And not in an interesting way... more in an "information dump on Judaism" versus "interesting fiction that moved the story forward." There were so many opportunities to make this great! I have loved many books that weaved faith through them, especially when I knew little about the religion. If you pulled every religious chapter and reference out of this book, it would be the same book... just honestly much better. That's how little it added, which is really unfortunate.
The vague parent storyline was also extremely boring (and I'm a parent!).
Now for the sexuality aspect: I am pretty open about sexuality in my house, but my daughter is thirteen. I would say that this book would be great for a 12-14 audience if it weren't for the two somewhat graphic sex scenes, which is kind of too bad. I saw it as a lost opportunity to reach a younger audience who could really benefit from seeing the drawbacks of being in an unhealthy/obsessive relationship. Spoiler/graphic content alert: For example, if you don't want your teen reading "he curls his hand around me and starts tugging up, down, *yes*." then don't pick this one. Having said that, everyone has a personal preference when it comes to how much or how little to describe sex in writing and this is fine for older teens.
Nitpicky stuff: The author used italics with extreme frequency. I get that she was trying to guide the reader on how to read the narrative, but italics were overused and distracting at times. Another probably-too-nitpicky thing that I didn't like was the overuse of last names in the book. Almost all characters had last names - and they were used over and over again. This might just be my take on it, but seemed like the easy way to throw diversity into the book beyond the two main characters and their families (all Jewish except one parent). Eleanor Kang. Josh Cho. Neeti Chadha. Emi Miyoshi. Montana Huang. Believe me, I love diversity! I just like to see it woven in well with more than some last names dropped. If the ethnicity of the characters wasn't important (which it almost always wasn't in this book), I can't see the point of the overuse of last names. Last nitpick--I thought Peter and Sophie's voices were very similar. So similar that sometimes I would forget that I was reading from Peter's POV and not Sophie's. If this was intentional to show how enmeshed the two characters were, then genius! But the parents and many of the friends in the book also seemed to have similar voices, so I'm not sure this was the case.
One more spoiler so don't read on if you don't want to know... the truly serious pain Sophie had intermittently was never resolved by the end of the book and it really should have been given that her post-operative pain was the catalyst for the climax.
The bottom line? If your teen likes music (Peter is a musician) and romance, they may like this book. I did care about the main characters and a couple of the secondary characters, too, and reading this out loud with my daughter was quite fun with the dual perspectives.
"A friendship breakup has got to be worse than a relationship breakup. With a relationship, you can go back to being friends. There's at least the possibility of it. But after a friendship ends, what do you go back to? Do you simply become nothing to each other? Fade away until you barely recognize each other anymore?"
Friendship stories always resonate with me more than relationship stories. And while I could relate to both characters at times, I really related to Sophie. My unrequited loves were never this powerful, but other aspects of her character are definitely me: feeling inexperienced compared to a younger sibling, not being able to be yourself around big groups of people, and then questioning why people want to hang out with you when they finally do. All of this was so me!
"There's something about big groups like this that makes me feel even more alone."
Even when Sophie finds her people, her dance teammates who encourage her to share her choreography with the world, she still has doubts. She actually asks one of her new friends why they want to be her friend, what they are getting out of it. She can't imagine anyone actually choosing her. This was what really hit home for me. I still feel that way sometimes. That every relationship will be short-lived because inevitably someone better will come along and I will not be able to compete. Like Sophie, I sometimes see myself as "a burnt-out light of a person" when trying to socialize with others. It's something I constantly work on, and seeing this portrayed realistically in this book was just amazing and so affirming.
After reading Solomon's incredible, poignant debut YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE, I never thought she could top all the emotion and messy but wholly lovable protagonists and raw realism in portraying the teen years, then OUR YEAR OF MAYBE happened. It's so, so easy to fall completely in love with protagonists Sophie and Peter, rooting for them both to find their happiness even when that ends up contradicting each other. Both characters are selfish and messy, but both are drawn with such depth and heart that there's no way to pick sides. Solomon's beautiful prose serves the two distinct voices in Peter and Sophie, the representation is excellent (Jewish rep, half-Jewish rep, chronic illness rep, bi rep, and dyslexia rep! so much rep!!), and it's the kind of book that, if you've ever experienced unrequited love, particularly at their age, it just punches you in the face and allows you to heal from those ripped open wounds by the haunting last sentence. A must buy. Everything by this author is a must-buy, though.
I didn't think I could love one of Rachel's books more than YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE, but this book was even better than her debut. I stayed up way too late last night finishing this and I have a massive book hangover right now.
Why did I love it so much? 1) SO MANY COMPLICATED FEELINGS. Sophie and Peter were ridiculously relatable. They toed the line between friends and more than friends and it really brought me back to all the relationships of my past that bordered on slightly-too-obsessed. The longing I felt throughout the book is painfully real and UGH I just loved it. 2) Extremely fleshed out characters. There are a lot of characters in this book and every single one of them feels like I know them as well as my best friends. I loved Montana and Liz and Chase and Tabby and Luna... so basically every single one of the side characters. Even the parents have many facets of their personalities and I just *knew* all of them so well. Extremely impressed with how individualized and relatable all the characters are. 3) Sex positivity. There are multiple scenes with BOTH characters showing the awkward truths about masturbation and sex. I don't see this much in YA fiction, so it was very refreshing to see the bumbling-ness and longing of it all without being too graphic. A+ job. Side note: I also loved the positivity and anti-slut shaming of Tabby, Sophie's teen-mom sister. She was shown truthfully, that it wasn't easy, and that Tabby was doing her best to be the best mom possible and I absolutely adored it. Their sister relationship was one of my favorite relationships in the book.
Absolutely pre-order this book, you'll thank yourself in Jan 2019 for sure! And also, keep some tissues handy, you're going to need them.
Last thoughts: the last line was amazing and I actually cried. Just fantastic.
I loved Solomon's first book, YOU'LL MISS ME WHEN I'M GONE, so I had so many hopes for her next book. Not only did OUR YEAR OF MAYBE not disappoint, it blew me away.
Solomon creates characters with such depth you cannot help but to be swept into their worlds. Sophie and Peter's relationship is both beautiful and heartbreaking, filled with conflicted feelings and relatably complicated desires. And I cannot overstate her ability to make you plead for both characters to achieve their version of happiness, even when they happen to be at odds with one another.
This is, without a doubt, the most nuanced portrayal of the messiness of friendship and unrequited love that I've ever seen in print. I loved the level of emotion Solomon brings to the page, and the ultimate conclusion that feels like it was always meant to be.
The book is wonderfully inclusive, feminist, and sex-positive, and the character's journeys are expertly crafted.
I've already pre-ordered my copy--this one is worth every inch of shelf space.
OUR YEAR OF MAYBE follows two teens, Sophie and Peter, as they enter the unknown: Sophie, in love with Peter, has given him a kidney transplant and hopes this seals their fate as boyfriend/girlfriend, while Peter is able to start public school for the first time in years. The story, told in dual point of view, is heartbreaking and moving, and beautiful to boot (Solomon's writing is just Jandy Nelson gorgeous). It feels more YA than her debut (which I thought skimmed the line of New Adult sometimes) with both teens still in high school and figuring stuff out. It is a worthy successor to her debut, You'll Miss Me When I'm Gone, and perfect for fans of Solomon's writing, Ashley Herring Blake, Corey Ann Haydu, and Jandy Nelson. Don't miss out on this one.
A beautiful story about friendship, love, and the fine line between self-sacrifice and selfishness. It was incredibly refreshing to read a book with Jewish main characters who grow as they explore their relationship with Judaism (or lack thereof). I particularly identified with Peter, who is half-Jewish, like me. I honestly can’t remember ever reading a book with a half-Jewish character, which seems wrong, because there are a lot of us out there! OYOM does not proselytize or preach, but rather explores religion as one part of these teen friends coming of age—an element that is missing from the vast majority of YA books. I read this book while recovering from a frightening acute illness, and Peter and Sophie’s recovery from their own medical traumas (Peter’s chronic illness, and both transplant surgeries) was at once terrifying and healing.
Perfect. Both heartbreaking and heartwarming -- a raw and true exploration of a codependent friendship, queer coming of age, unrequited love, growing up chronically ill, and the implications of when we place our identity entirely on one element of ourselves. Also: hello decadent prose. A definite reread <3
This book broke my heart and put it back together again. I've never read a book that handles friendship ups and downs and unrequited love with so much heart, care, and honesty. I don't want to spoil anything, so I will just say, I love these characters so much. They breathed off the page and were such a lovely reflection of all the things, the good and the bad, that make us human.