Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning.... Welcome to forever.
BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.
But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.
With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces? ~From GoodReads
THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME is the story of Brie, almost sixteen years old, who literally dies of a broken heart when her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her. From the very first time I laid eyes on this book in a WoW post, I've wanted to read it. I was sold on the premise, and yes, the cover.
But CATASTROPHIC HISTORY also appealed to me for a unique personal reason. My grandmother was the daughter of an Italian immigrant. He was reeealllyyy old when he married her mother (that is an awesome story for another time) and let's just say, the Italian Stallion otherwise known as Paulo Cerrutti got around. He had been married two or three times before he married my great-grandmother. He had several children from his previous marriages, one of these children was a daughter, an actress on vaudeville. This daughter, whose name I don't remember, had a husband, also an actor. My grandmother said that her sister loved her husband with desperation and was very happy. Like many marriages in showbiz (you know things were swinging in the early 1900's, right?), the husband became smitten with another younger, more beautiful actress, breaking my great-aunt's heart. She never recovered from the betrayal and died a few months later of what my grandmother adamantly stated was a broken heart (never mind the fact that she was reportedly morbidly obese). So, understandably, as a romantic with a love for tragic love stories, this stuck with me. Flash forward twenty-five years later, and you can see why I felt I must read CATASTROPHIC HISTORY.
I fell quickly, completely head over heels in love with the story. Author Jess Rothenberg has one of the best "voices" I've been fortunate enough to read, ever. I felt a tremendous sense of lightness and joy while reading CATASTROPHIC HISTORY. With Rothenberg's guidance, Brie becomes a character who engages and enchants, due in large part to the "stream of consciousness" style of narration that is employed. Even when Rothenberg delved into the grief and unbearable sadness Brie experiences, the writing manages to bring you through the pain without bringing you down.
The "Child of the 80's" in me was ridiculously happy while reading this. Actually, anyone who loves most music and pop culture will love it. Each chapter is titled with the name or lyrics from a song. I love when authors do this, because it sets the tone for the chapter and lends anticipation for what's ahead. Plus, PLUS, the soul helping Brie navigate the afterlife is a hot guy Patrick, who looks suspiciously like Tom Cruise in Top Gun.
The actual story of CATASTROPHIC HISTORY deals with Brie's journey through the Five Stages of Grief. Each stage is given it's own section in the book, beginning with Denial. In addition to the stages, Brie also, by visiting her old life, learns some hard lessons about the life she thought she knew. How many of us are guilty of seeing only what we want to see? Are blinded by wanting something or someone so much, that we can't see things for the way they really are? The truths Brie uncovers help her hopefully move on, leaving her and those she's left behind, in peace.
The only bit of problem I had with CATASTROPHIC HISTORY was the huge twist revealed in the last portion of the book. I didn't have an actual problem with the plot itself, it was insanely cool and I totally didn't see it coming. The problem was I had a bit of trouble understanding exactly how it occurred and how it was resolved. Like I said, it was cool idea, I didn't understand it one hundred percent.
I can't wait to read anything Jess Rothenberg writes next. She has the special ability to make readers cry, laugh, and even better, smile while you're tearing up. THE CATASTROPHIC HISTORY OF YOU AND ME is one of my favorite books of 2012. It's a beautiful, bittersweet story of love, friendship, sacrifice and letting go.
"Love is no game. People cut their ears off over this stuff. People jump off the Eiffel Tower and sell all their possessions and move to Alaska to live with the grizzly bears, and then they get eaten and nobody hears them when they scream for help. That's right. Falling in love is pretty much the same thing as being eaten alive by a grizzly bear.
Believe me, I should know." (pg 3, ARC)
Hardcover, 400 pages