Tag Archives: memories

Review: Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Never Never by Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher

Never Never (Never Never 1-3)
Colleen Hoover and Tarryn Fisher
Hoover Ink, Inc
Published July 25, 2016

Amazon | Goodreads

About Never Never

#1 New York Times bestselling author of Hopeless joins forces with the New York Times bestselling author of Mud Vein. Together, they have created a gripping, romantic tale unlike any other. “How odd to be made of flesh, balanced on bone, and filled with a soul you’ve never met.”

Charlize Wynwood and Silas Nash have been best friends since they could walk. They’ve been in love since the age of fourteen. But as of this morning…they are complete strangers. Their first kiss, their first fight, the moment they fell in love…every memory has vanished. “I don’t care what our real first kiss was,” he says. “That’s the one I want to remember.”

Charlize and Silas must work together to uncover the truth about what happened to them and why. But the more they learn about the couple they used to be…the more they question why they were ever together to begin with.

“I want to remember what it feels like to love someone like that. And not just anyone. I want to know what it feels like to love Charlie.”

My Review

Originally this book was released as three individual novellas. I read at least the first one when it came out, but I’d never finished the rest of the series until now. I’d been feeling pretty worn out and just wanted an easy read, so I picked up the e-book of the complete series of NEVER NEVER.

While it’s an easy read, and I enjoyed that, I struggled with some elements of the story. I felt like the romance kind of glorifies a pushy guy who doesn’t listen to his girlfriend and rationalizes that behavior as evidence that he loves her so much. That tends to make me uncomfortable in a story because it’s a red flag for a possible abusive relationship.

I liked that Charlie and Silas both face this constant time deadline, where their memories will reset, so they have to figure out how to leave clues for themselves or how to build on what they learned the last time with higher tension as they get closer to a reset.

On the whole, I am glad I finished the series– it’s one that I would think about now and then because I’d left it unfinished. So I’m glad I know how it ends. I feel like the themes and some of the ways Silas and Charlie relate to each other may have been more common or idealized at the time the book came out. I felt like Silas’s pushiness interfered with my ability to invest in the romance, so it was a bit of a miss for me in that respect.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 16 up.

Major characters are white.

Profanity/Crude Language Content
Brief racial slur. Strong profanity used frequently.

Romance/Sexual Content
Sex between a boy and girl. Kissing and sexual situations. In one scene, a school guidance counselor tries to kiss a student she’s been having an affair with. (No mention of this being abusive in terms of her position, even though she uses her job to get him alone with her, even when he doesn’t want to be.) In another scene, a girl tells a boy he can’t touch her a certain way and he proceeds to try to do it anyway. The text treats this as kind of a “boys will be boys” sort of activity.

Spiritual Content

Violent Content
Silas gets into several fistfights. References to bullying behavior. Charlie calls a girl she has a history of picking on “objectively ugly”. Charlie is held in a small room she at first believes is a mental hospital where she’s drugged.

Drug Content
Charlie’s mom is an alcoholic and can’t take care of Charlie or her sister. Charlie is held in a small room she at first believes is a mental hospital where she’s drugged.

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Review: The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver (The Giver Quartet #1)
Lois Lowry
Clarion Books
Published April 26, 1993

Amazon | Bookshop | Goodreads

About The Giver

In Lois Lowry’s Newbery Medal–winning classic, twelve-year-old Jonas lives in a seemingly ideal world. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver does he begin to understand the dark secrets behind his fragile community.

Life in the community where Jonas lives is idyllic. Designated birthmothers produce newchildren, who are assigned to appropriate family units. Citizens are assigned their partners and their jobs. No one thinks to ask questions. Everyone obeys. Everyone is the same. Except Jonas.

Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community. Gradually Jonas learns that power lies in feelings. But when his own power is put to the test—when he must try to save someone he loves—he may not be ready. Is it too soon? Or too late?

Told with deceptive simplicity, this is the provocative story of a boy who experiences something incredible and undertakes something impossible. In the telling it questions every value we have taken for granted and reexamines our most deeply held beliefs.

The Giver has become one of the most influential novels of our time. Don’t miss the powerful companion novels in Lois Lowry’s Giver Quartet: Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son.

My Review

I think this is the third or fourth time I’ve read this book, but definitely the first since I’ve been blogging. I would like to read and review all four books in the quartet. The second book, GATHERING BLUE, is one I’ve read before, but I haven’t read the other two.

One of the things that stood out to me this time reading the book is the way that Jonas’s role in the pivotal moment in the book is to ride his bike for scene after scene. Whereas back at home, the community members are reeling from the presence of Jonas’s memories, and the Giver is busy helping them process the new feelings.

Reading the book again as an adult, I find it an interesting choice that we follow Jonas out of the community and don’t witness the other community members experiencing those memories. Jonas really wanted his family and Fiona to experience the emotions and memories he experienced.

I love the book, though. Jonas journeys from passively following instructions and believing that the rules of the community are all for the best. As he learns about pain and loneliness (both from the Giver’s memories and his new role which mandates that he not speak about his training to anyone) he begins to question the way the community operates. He begins to wonder if the “sameness” which forbids anyone experiencing color, emotions, or individuality actually robs the community of something precious and valuable.

It’s an important idea, especially in the current conversations about book banning and restrictions on conversations about identity. Is there a point at which we harm ourselves by so completely sanitizing books and conversations? Do we diminish or lose the ability to empathize with others or process the existence of pain in the world this way?

Anyway. All that to say that I’m glad I reread THE GIVER. It’s been thirty years since the book was first published, and it still clearly has some important things to say.

Content Notes

Recommended for Ages 12 up.

Jonas and the Giver both have light eyes. That appears to be a marker for the ability to receive memories. No other race details given.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content
Jonas feels attraction toward his friend Fiona.

Spiritual Content
The community celebrate the life of members when they reach a certain age, before a “ceremony of release” in which a community worker euthanizes the member with an injection.

Violent Content
Jonas watches a ceremony of release in which an adult injects and euthanizes a small child. Jonas experiences memories of war in which a soldier on a battlefield dies, crying out for water. He also experiences starvation and grief in memories.

Drug Content
Community leaders instruct Jonas to take a daily medication to stop any feelings of attraction/arousal.

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Review: The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle

The Storm Keeper’s Island
Catherine Doyle
Bloomsbury USA Children’s
Published January 22, 2019

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads


When Fionn Boyle sets foot on Arranmore Island, it begins to stir beneath his feet …

Once in a generation, Arranmore Island chooses a new Storm Keeper to wield its power and keep its magic safe from enemies. The time has come for Fionn’s grandfather, a secretive and eccentric old man, to step down. Soon, a new Keeper will rise.

But, deep underground, someone has been waiting for Fionn. As the battle to become the island’s next champion rages, a more sinister magic is waking up, intent on rekindling an ancient war.

My Review

The Storm Keeper’s Island is my favorite book that I’ve read for far this year. It’s definitely one of those books whose characters stay with you and has that extra sense of magic. Fionn and his grandfather (and even his know-it-all sister) had me hooked from their earliest scenes.

Fionn chases after his older sister on a hunt for a secrete cave which, once a generation, grants a wish. Tara’s snooty boyfriend means to use it to call himself the next Storm Keeper. But all Fionn wants is to bring his dad back. The only problem is the cave lies hidden somewhere on the edge of the island, and Fionn is terrified of the ocean. So right away there are huge stakes, and lots happening between rival families on the island. Fionn’s grandfather, Malachy, has this super quirky, ridiculous feel to him, but you never doubt his love for his family.

I won’t give anything away, but the climax of the story totally got me. Oh. My. Gosh. All the weeping. I think I cried for like 25 pages. In a good way. Such a good way! So many things snapped into place and happened the way they really had to, but it made for such a powerful confrontation and strengthened the story’s focus on the value of family connections and sacrificial love.

I totally recommend THE STORM KEEPER’S ISLAND. If you liked THREE TIMES LUCKY by Sheila Turnage or BE LIGHT LIKE A BIRD by Monika Schröder then definitely check out THE STORM KEEPER’S ISLAND.

Recommended for Ages 10 up.

Takes place on a small island. Everyone is Irish.

Profanity/Crude Language Content

Romance/Sexual Content

Spiritual Content
The Storm Keeper has a certain kind of magic power. He can capture a storm and particular memory of something in a candle that can be burned and re-experienced. See violent content for more.

Violent Content
Fionn witnesses a battle between Dagda, the island’s ancient protector, and a sorceress who seeks to destroy it. Seeing this confrontation sparks a connection between Fionn and the sorceress– like she knows he has a special calling on the island, and she wants to steal his power.

Drug Content

Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest opinion. Affiliate links appear in this post.