I’ve finally got some free time, so today we’ll be diving into a new book review – A Short History of the Girl Next Door by Jared Reck.
Here’s the description of the book from Goodreads, which mind you is the ONLY description I read before actually reading the book:
The unrequited love of the girl next door is the centerpiece of this fiercely funny, yet heart-breaking debut novel.
Fifteen-year-old Matt Wainwright is in turmoil. He can’t tell his lifelong best friend, Tabby, how he really feels about her; his promising basketball skills are being overshadowed by his attitude on the court, and the only place he feels normal is in English class, where he can express his inner thoughts in quirky poems and essays. Matt is desperately hoping that Tabby will reciprocate his feelings; but then Tabby starts dating Liam Branson, senior basketball star and all-around great guy. Losing Tabby to Branson is bad enough; but, as Matt soon discovers, he’s close to losing everything that matters most to him.
This review contains MAJOR spoilers under the cut, so if you want to read the book not knowing what happens, I suggest you bow out right about now.
Still with me? Ok, here goes:
Despite the description flat-out calling the book ‘heartbreaking’ I thought I was getting a stereotypical friends-to-lovers contemporary YA romance.
I thought wrong. (Oh boy, was I ever wrong.)
The first half of the book is Matt pining over Tabby from afar while she starts dating a hot senior named Liam Branson (instead of growing a pair & telling her how he feels).
However, midway through the book suddenly takes a sharp left turn towards WTFville with Tabby being killed in a car accident.
Yes, you read that right. TABBY FREAKING DIES IN THE MIDDLE OF THE BOOK.
The second half is all about Matt processing Tabby’s death. (Spoiler alert: at first he processes it about as terribly as you’d expect someone who had just lost their best friend with whom they were in love.) It takes a heart-to-heart with his Grampa for Matt to finally start to process his grief properly.
There were a few small things I had issues with; for example, I found it a little far-fetched that none of Matt’s teachers or the basketball coaches knew that Tabby had been Matt’s best friend even after she died, so they all just went on as normal despite Matt’s mom having sent a note to the school asking that they keep an eye on Matt. I was pretty incensed that this was going on when everyone felt sooooo sorry for Liam, who literally had just been dating Tabby for a few months. (Not that Liam wasn’t perfectly entitled to grieve since he had just lost his girlfriend, but obviously someone wasn’t doing their job properly since no one bothered to figure out who Tabby’s friends were, and make sure that they saw their guidance counselors at the very least.) Granted, most of that was probably Matt’s fault since he was in serious denial at first (it’s not just a river in Egypt, kids) and was acting like he was fine.
This book broke me. Gross sobbing doesn’t even begin to describe the level of snot & tears that were shed when I reached the part with the news of Tabby’s death. I had to put the book down for a while so I could process my emotions. It’s a testament to the story & writing that I stayed up until 3 AM to finish reading, then reviewing the book.
Most people never think about just how short life is, and ASHotGND makes you want to stop and tell the people you care about just how much you do care.
FINAL RATING: 4 SPORKS
EDIT 1/31/18: 2 1/2 months later & I’m STILL reeling over this book.
NEW RATING: 5 SPORKS