Friday, November 29, 2013

On FALL FOR ANYTHING, Depression, and How Affecting Books Can Be

There are a few books out there that have really and truly affected me. That have found pieces of my heart I don't really talk about, and reminded me how important they are. Paper Towns by John Green is one of those books. The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater is one of those books. And Fall For Anything by Courtney Summers is one of those books. 

Well, how do I even begin this post?

There is one thing I ask of certain people reading this. If I know you personally apart from the blogging community, I ask you this: please don't ask me about what I'm writing here. If you read the post, that's fine, but don't message me with sympathies or questions. If I haven't told you yet, it's because I'm not ready to. So please, please, do not push me into being ready before I am.

(Note: there's some slight spoilers for Fall For Anything in this post. I'll tag them as best as I can)

I was kind of petrified to reread this book. Because I knew it was going to take me back into the place I was when I first read it. I'm not going to get into too many details. I could write a novel about what has happened over the last seven years but I am in no way ready to share that part of me. But, Fall for Anything means so much to me because of what has happened, so I knew I needed to say something about it. To put it simply: I started suffering from depression when I was 13. It wasn't that bad then. Lots of self-hatred, lots of memory loss, lots of tiredly pushing myself through the day. It progressively got worse though. To the point where I was barely functioning some days. At the age of 17, when I read Fall For Anything, I was worse than I had ever been before. This book is about grief, yes. It's also about depression. About getting to the point where you're desperate to just feel something. About feeling like your whole world is in pieces around you, and you cannot fathom how you'll put them back together again.

(Some spoilers in this paragraph) When I flipped to that last page, I felt ruined. I felt like Summers had ripped me open for everyone to see. I couldn't move. I couldn't breathe. I have literally never had such a physical reaction to a book like I did with Fall For Anything. I should've known (it is a Courtney Summers book after all) but I truly believed, no, truly needed to find out why. I'm one of those people that just needs to know as much as I can. I love knowledge. I love logic. There's always a reason for something. And there was a reason for Eddie's father's suicide. But, we never find out what it is. Eddie never finds why her father jumped. I don't think I realized how much I was clinging to the hope of finally finding out the why until the end of the novel. This book asked a question I would never have the answer to, and that rocked me to the core. I kept thinking to myself, "What if I had gone through with it?". Would people always wonder why? Would the agony of not knowing eat away at them, like it ate away at Eddie? The way it was eating at me right now? It was such a slap in the face to me. It woke me up. Because, despite all the death in this book, to me, it reminded me what it means to be alive.

The ending of FALL FOR ANYTHING isn't a happy one. But, it was the right one. And it gave me a sense of hope. That things are going to get better. That they're going to be horrible and awful and painful but eventually they will be better. That life won't stay this bad. That there's more out there to look forward to, instead of clinging to his hopelessness. 

In a way, I wish I read this book a month later. Because, that September brought with it about six months of absolute hell. And, I forgot. I forgot the feeling, forgot the questions I had, forgot what this book showed me. Not permanently. I still thought about it once in a while. I still had that aha moment. But, I had trouble concentrating on anything other than making it through the day. The thing is though, September was also the start of me (eventually) getting the help I needed. And, every time I look at FALL FOR ANYTHING, it gives me that reminder. 

I'm doing a lot better. Last summer, I was probably doing better than I have for the last five years. I was happy. It's one of those things that is hard no, not even just hard, near impossible for me to say. I didn't know what that meant for many years that now I even doubt myself. I feel a very tenuous hold on this state of mind and I never want to push it. At the moment, I've slipped back to my numb sort of phase. University always seems to bring that out in me. I don't really feel much of anything most days. But I have some really good ones. I have some really bad ones. I know I'm working my way towards better. It's a lot of work, but it's worth it. I have a very great support system now. Better than I ever have before. 

Anyways, what I really want to say is a giant THANK YOU to Courtney Summers for writing this book that, in a way, changed my life. And for writing books that don't shy away from topics like this. Because, people need them. I needed this book. And I'll be forever grateful for Courtney Summers for writing it.

(Also to Kelly for telling me she had an awesome author I needed to read).

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight) 

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Fall For Anything (Pages 60 - 115): Discussion Post

Hi all!

So much for me sticking to the schedule, right? In my defense, I still have around 15 books I need to read for school by December 5th and three essays to write in the meantime. So, I'm pretty behind on everything. Anyways, lets talk FALL FOR ANYTHING!

***WARNING: Spoilers for pages 1 - 115 of FALL FOR ANYTHING***

I neglected to talk about one of the major plot points in last week discussion, because I thought it would work better here. That plot point? One Culler Evans. I don't know about you guys, but I always had a very suspicious feeling about this guy. Maybe it's cause Eddie meets him in an abandoned warehouse where her father committed suicide, or maybe it's just his demener. Either way, I was pretty wary about Culler from the start. He doesn't really do anything to warrant these suspicions though. As a matter of fact, Culler has really only helped Eddie at this point. The thing that is so attractive about Culler (for Eddie at least) is his ability to show her more of her father. Culler offers a side of her dad Eddie never really knew, and with her grief becoming all-consuming, she's clearly desperate to hold on to as much of him as she can. Not only that, she seems to have found a person just as desperate to know why as she is. What are your opinions on Culler? Do you think he's going to be a helping hand, or lead Eddie to an even darker path?

One thing we also get in this section is a different, almost indifferent reaction to Eddie's father's death. Everyone thus far has been sympathetic to Eddie, but Maggie, despite having worked with her father, doesn't seem to really care about his death. She doesn't seem very sad about it. This scene kind of offers a sort of stark reality: that life is moving forward without her father, and Eddie just can't. I don't understand how people can be so unsympathetic. Clearly Maggie cares more about the rent money than she does people, and its angering. Eddie picks up what her father left behind, and it's less than she expected. Just one lone box. The box. The mysterious, promising box. It could be filled with just about anything and Eddie has a secret hope that maybe it'll finally give her the answer to her father's suicide. But, it's just a disappointment for her. Another mystery. I think we all were, in a way, expecting some sort of clue to his death. That the box was going to finally offer why. I know I hoped it would give me an answer. Or maybe a reason. But really, it just gave Eddie more hopelessness.

Then, after Eddie's emotional breakdown, Culler kisses her. I feel reading this scene, a weird kind of dichotomy. On one hand, I see how Eddie kind of needs this. She's craving some sort of feeling besides grief. She also wants to feel that connection, to know she's not completely alone in her sadness. "This is a kiss for the dead. We miss my father too much for it to mean more" she says. At the same time, as the reader, we can see how Culler may be taking advantage of the situation. I feel like this could end in more pain for Eddie, and I really don't want her to get hurt more than she already is. How did you guys feel about the kiss?

Early in this section, we get a really important scene between Eddie and Milo. This novel really gives us a glimpse into how grief affects everything around you. Particularly, your relationships. Eddie doesn't know how to connect to Milo anymore because she can't see around her grief for more than a few minutes. And Milo doesn't seem to be able to give Eddie what she wants (his knowledge about the night her father died) and together they can't seem to move forward. They're kind of at a stand-still. But, you can see how much they care about each other. Just that they can't seem to find away to make it okay.

Then Beth comes in and angers me even more.  Sometimes, you just can't handle it. Sometimes that pain is so great you can't keep  it bottled up anymore. And Eddie snapped at her mother. She didn't mean it, and she sure as hell did not deserve to be told by Beth that "She was trying and you ruined it." Ugh, that line made me feel a bit sick. It felt like a punch in the gut. I want to shake Beth, make her see that Eddie is trying her best but it's too much for her to handle. And you know what? Her mom is an adult. Beth is an adult. Eddie isn't. She's kid who lost her father. Yes, kids are stronger than most people give them credit for but that doesn't mean they should bear the burden of grief on their own. Beth seems to act like Eddie's grief doesn't matter. That she should, in a way, just get over it. Which, in my opinion, is frankly horrible. You can't pick and choose who gets to grieve and how they handle it. Maybe this isn't Beth's intention, but she doesn't seem to want to help Eddie either. What do you guys think about Beth?

Oddly enough, I kind of feel the same irrational dislike for Missy that Eddie feels. I simply love Eddie and Milo together. They have this kind of solid, powerful friendship which I'm kind of envious of. When Missy comes along, she threatens that and Eddie reacts accordingly. She's lost so much already, she can't lose Milo too. We find out at the end of this chapter that what we thought was going on between Milo and Missy isn't really what Eddie assumed (and what Milo didn't correct). But what's worse, we find out Milo told Missy about the night of Eddie's fathers suicide. It's a pretty harsh blow to Eddie. She feels like he, in a way, betrayed her. It really breaks my heart, this last scene, especially when she says "I'm always leaving, but I never have anywhere to go."

This book is going to ruin me again, I can just tell.

What did you guys think of this section?

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Friday, November 22, 2013

Guest Post: Christa from More Than Just Magic

Hi, everyone!

Today on the blog, I have Christa from More Than Just Magic who has written a fantastic and moving guest post about FALL FOR ANYTHING! I won't say much more, just read on!

Grief is a messy thing.

I'm always a little bit wary of novels that deal with grief. Mostly because I find that they fall into two categories 1) stories that strictly adhere to the seven stages of grief and 2) stories that don't. Everyone grieves differently of course but I personally think the seven stages are a tad simplistic. Like I said, grief is messy. It has its own agenda and schedule. And because of that I almost always prefer the second kind of story.

Courtney Summers gets that. Early on in Fall for Anything our protagonist, Eddie Reeves, states “grief can make your skin feel sore and bruised and electric" (p. 40) and its true. It does all those things and more. 

The story of Fall for Anything hit close to home for me. I also lost my father when I was a teenager and I saw so much of myself reflected in Eddie. There is nothing simple about losing a parent at a young age (or at any age). There's a part in the novel when Eddie is talking about sympathy cards and how useless all the messages feel and I felt myself nodding right along. She suggests one that says "Now you'll be a lesser person than you were" and while I don't really recommend sending someone a card that says that, it does sum up exactly how I felt when my father died. 

I think more often than going through the seven stages, people go through a "quest for answers" like Eddie does. No matter how someone dies there is always this pressing need to know "why." This is exactly what Fall For Anything is about - trying to answer, unanswerable questions and trying to get to a point where you can stop obsessing and keep going. Despite all the crazy things Eddie does in this novel, like returning to the spot where her father dies, or running off with an older boy she barely knows, I found her incredibly brave. She's a survivor and she's a fighter. And some days it's easier to fight than others. It's not a checklist you have to get through, its way more wibbly wobbly than that. But you can get through it.

Fall for Anything doesn't end with everything all wrapped up and happy again. But you do see small signs that Eddie is healing. I was particularly struck by the scene where she goes to get her hair cut and she realizes her father will never know this version of her - because I have had that same experience. I've had it a number of times over the years. And I think the lesson there is when you lose someone you may feel like a lesser than you were before but as you continue to grow as a person that feeling retracts. 

If you've ever lost someone close to you this novel is surprisingly comforting. It lets you know there are people out there who understand how it feels, who know that "sometimes you can think too much" (p. 46) and that sometimes you want to scream and cry and sleep and run all at the same time. It's a novel that gets under your skin and leaves a mark. Fall For Anything is an incredible story and I'm so happy Ciara had this read-a-long so I could experience it.

Thank you SO MUCH Christa for being on the blog today and sharing your thoughts with us. I'm so glad that this book affected you so much (in a good way). You guys, be sure to check out Christa's blog AND the YA Speculative Fiction magazine she co-runs called INACCURATE REALITIES. She is a very talent writer and blogger and such an awesome person to chat with. If you're not following her, you're missing out!

Up tomorrow, the second discussion post!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight) 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Fall For Anything (Pages 1 - 59): Discussion Post

Hey guys and gals!

Okay, let me just start off this post by saying: I'M SORRY. I should have had the discussion post up last week, but school has swamped me. I'm floundering, guys. My life has basically consisted of school, work, homework, passing out from exhaustion. I'm just barely scraping by and, sadly, the Read-Along has taken a backseat to not flunking out of school. I'm going to try and get my act together though, and keep up with the Read-Along. Today, I have the first discussion post and on Wednesday I'll be posting the second one. Then, I'll be hopefully sticking to the schedule!

If you're interested in participating in the Read-Along, check out this post!

**WARNING: Spoilers for pages 1 - 59 of Fall For Anything***

I'll admit, part of the reason I haven't kept up with the Read-Along is because reading Fall For Anything scares me. I was ruined for days afterwards, and I'm afraid of what it'll do this time. I asked my bestie earlier why in the world I would voluntarily reread this book, when it broke me the last time. It's because this book is so important. It's so beautiful and broken and painful. It's so filled with life even though its surrounded by death. And Fall For Anything is especially important to me, and I'm glad I get to experience it again.

I'm going to start this discussion post off a little differently. Let's talk about the cover of this book. Seriously, this book has one of my favorite covers of any book I've seen. It fits the book so perfectly. I love the photos in the background, strung up like in a dark room. I love that we can't see the girls face, but we can still get a feeling of sadness from her. It's simple, understated, but absolutely beautiful. Bravo, to the cover artist! What did you guys think of the cover?

Although the book is about Eddie's father's suicide, we don't actually read the word "dead" or "suicide" until page 16. Summers doesn't throw it in our face from the get go. We can guess that something terrible has happened to her father, but it isn't explicitly said. Her first act is to get us into Eddie's state of mind. For us to know this destroyed young girl, and not put our own assumptions on her. Eddie is in agony, and Summers really makes us feel that agony along with her. We also get to see how much his suicide affects everyone around him. How they all handle grief differently. Summers makes us feel almost uncomfortable with people's awkward sympathies, and hollow when we read Eddie's internal monologue. This book gets to you right from the start and, trust me, it's going to keep you until the end. What are your initial thoughts about Fall For Anything

Okay, let's talk about Beth. She kind of makes me want to punch her. A lot. I know she's trying to help Eddie's mother, but that's just the thing. She's trying to help Eddie's mother, not Eddie. And Eddie is just a kid. A kid who lost her father, lost her mother in a different way, and has no idea how to handle it. Beth says to Eddie at one point that "she was never an adult without your father" but, Eddie has never even been an adult. How can Beth ask her too when she's facing such pain? As strong as Eddie is, she can't do this alone. What did you think of Beth?

Eddie's mother, Robyn, has me mixed. She doesn't know how to handle this sudden grief. She doesn't know what to do with herself. I don't fault her on that. There's no fault in it. I guess I just wish she could help Eddie. That they could move forward together. But that's the thing. Grief is so isolating. It draws you into a room in your head, locks the door, and hides the key. Grief doesn't always let you express yourself. And Eddie and Robyn seem so alone in their shared grief. What did you guys think of Robyn?

I think Milo might be my favorite of Courtney Summers' boys. The bond between Eddie and Milo is so clear and heart-warming. Milo's so sweet, and clearly cares about Eddie above almost everything else. He tries to keep Eddie going. At the same time though, he doesn't entirely know how to handle Eddie's grief. He's just there for her, which is the most important thing. We get a hint of what's the come next with Milo and Eddie when she talks briefly about the secret he has. There's something else going on here, something important. What do you guys think it is?   

As I'm reading this book, I often find myself not being able to breathe. I feel like there's a hand squeezing my lungs and my heart. It hurts reading this book because Eddie is so real. I've said this time and time again but Summers is such a brilliant writer. I can't separate myself from the book when I'm reading it. We're one in the same. It's staggering. But, I think it's simply amazing.

What did you guys think of the first sixty pages? 

Be sure to check out the blog, because I have a fantastic guest post going up this week as well!

-Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Saturday, November 2, 2013

GIVEAWAY: This Is Not a Test by Courtney Summers

Hi fabulous people!

As promised, today I have a giveaway for you guys! Thanks to the awesome Kelly from Stacked, I'm offering up TWO copies of THIS IS NOT A TEST (December's Read-Along Pick)! ONE is open to participants AND non-participants (although, if you win and want to participate that's awesome as well)! ONE is open to Read-Along participants ONLY. The giveaway will last about two weeks, ending on November 15th!

THIS IS NOT A TEST is, quite possibly, my favorite book in this world favorite (and has one of my favorite covers). Which, is saying a lot. It is not your typical zombie book, but a heart-breaking, truthful story about what it's like to live. If you want to hear more of my thoughts, check out my review here.

It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

Giveaway Rules (FIRST Rafflecopter Giveaway):
- Must be 13 years or older
- International (where the Book Depository ships!)
- You do NOT have to be a participant in the Read-along
- Not responsible for lost or damaged prizes (sorry!)
- I reserve the right to disqualify as I see fit (aka don't fake entries pretty please!)
- Fill in the Rafflecopter form to be entered!

Giveaway Rules (SECOND Rafflecopter Giveaway):
- Must be 13 years or older
- International (where the Book Depository ships!)
- Not responsible for lost or damaged prizes (sorry!)
- I reserve the right to disqualify as I see fit (aka don't fake entries pretty please!)
- Fill in the Rafflecopter form to be entered!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, everyone! And thanks again Kelly!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Courtney Summers Read-Along, Month Three: FALL FOR ANYTHING

Hello, Read-Alongers!

Welcome to month three (!!) of the Courtney Summers Read-Along! This month, we'll be reading the stunning FALL FOR ANYTHING!

I don't want to say too much about the book (because I'm probably going to be doing a very personal post about about it later this month) but be warned, it's a heart-ruiner. In typical Courtney Summers fashion, it is beautifully written and wrecks you like nobody's business. It's a tough read, but it is so so worth it.

From the author of Cracked Up to Be and Some Girls Are comes a gripping story about one girl’s search for clues into the mysterious death of her father.

When Eddie Reeves’s father commits suicide her life is consumed by the nagging question of why? Why when he was a legendary photographer and a brilliant teacher? Why when he seemed to find inspiration in everything he saw? And, most important, why when he had a daughter who loved him more than anyone else in the world? When she meets Culler Evans, a former student of her father’s and a photographer himself, an instant and dangerous attraction begins. Culler seems to know more about her father than she does and could possibly hold the key to the mystery surrounding his death. But Eddie’s vulnerability has weakened her and Culler Evans is getting too close. Her need for the truth keeps her hanging on...but are some questions better left unanswered?

So, here's how the month is going to work. Each week we'll be reading designated pages from the book (the list of pages is below)! Every Sunday, there will be a discussion post about that week's chapters! You can read as fast or as slow as you want (aka you don't have to follow the schedule, that's just how we'll be separating the discussions), and I hope you guys will participate in the discussions on Sunday. Throughout the month, there will be guest posts, reviews, and other cool things (including giveaways)! You don't have to have signed up to participate! Just comment below saying you want to join.

  FALL FOR ANYTHING Page Breakdown
Week One (Nov. 1st - 10th): Pages 1 -59
Week Two (Nov. 11th - 17th): Pages 60 - 115
Week Three (Nov. 18th - 24th): Pages 116 - 171
Week Four (Nov. 25th - 30th): Pages 172 - the end
Stay tuned to the blog cause there's a giveaway going up tomorrow! Also, do you have a question for Courtney Summers? Comment on this post! Add your FALL FOR ANYTHING post below!

Thank you guys for participating and hope you enjoy FALL FOR ANYTHING!

- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)