I have a really amazing and heartfelt post to show you guys today. My awesome co-host for this month (and one of my very awesome friends) Crimson is here to talk about the first time she ever picked up a Courtney Summers book. Read on, dear read-alongers!
CRACKED UP TO BE means a lot to me. I hate to be cliche and say something like “it totally changed my life,” but I’m gonna say it anyway, because it totally changed my life. I first read it when I was nineteen, in a very strange place, having taken a year off school and, well, trying to figure out what to do with my life. I’ve always known I wanted to be a writer, but at the time, writing for me was agonizing, like pulling teeth. It had been a long time since I had written something I felt proud of.Do you guys have a book that has really affected you? Do you guys love Cracked Up to Be as well? Let us know!
I picked up CRACKED UP TO BE from the library, after reading a string of pretty mediocre books, and thus not expecting a whole lot from it (not to mention, at the time my interest in contemporary YA was pretty near zero, and the one comment I had read about CRACKED UP TO BE basically amounted to “meh.” I don’t know why I then decided to read it. Consider it providence).
I remember picking up this book, reading a page, putting the book down, blinking, picking the book back up and reading the entire thing in a few hours. I mean, when you start a book off the way this book starts off, you’re going to get my attention. By page 2 my opinion had gone from “my expectation for this book is ‘meh’” to “HOLY CRAP WHERE HAS THIS BEEN ALL MY LIFE.” So. This book is now my go-to book to recommend to readers new to contemporary YA, as I was when I first read it.
CRACKED UP TO BE shattered every expectation I had for the book, and even every preconceived notion of what I thought contemporary YA could be. Reading it, for me, was like having one of those eye opening experience where, by the end of it, you can’t speak, can’t breathe, black is white, two plus two is five, and everything you ever knew is wrong. All I wanted to do was hug the book and, like, rub my face all over it (don’t pretend I’m the only one who’s wanted to do that to a book).
Even though I am not the narrator Parker Fadley, I have not had Parker Fadley’s experiences, and I do not know anyone like Parker Fadley, this book felt more real to me than anything I have ever read before. This book triggered that moment in me when everything fell into place, and I had this giant flashing sparkly sign saying, “DO YOU SEE, YOU HAVE DISCOVERED THE MEANING OF LIFE AND YOUR PURPOSE AND INSPIRATION, AND NOW YOU MUST GO WRITE, ETC., ETC., ETC.” (I’m starting to feel sorry for whatever book I read next that had to follow this.)
In the course of a few hours, my entire writing life had been flipped upside down. Reading about Parker, reading this beautifully written book, gave me the courage to finally write those stories I always wanted to write, but for some reason thought I couldn’t. I think every writer has read a book like that, and, well, this one is mine. That’s not to say writing now is all rainbows and unicorns, but I do now feel like I’m on the right path. And for now, that’s enough.
And, to be honest, I think if I ever got to meet Courtney Summers I’d burst into tears and just generally make a giant fool of myself, but I think it would be worth it just to thank her in person for writing this book.
- Ciara (Lost at Midnight)