Book review: The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson

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Seventeen-year-old Andrew Brawley lives in the hospital. It’s not that he’s sick, but after the tragic death of his parents and younger sister, he can’t bring himself to leave. So he sleeps in an abandoned room, gets a job in the cafeteria, and spends his free time visiting patients and talking to nurses.  Drew’s life is all about the routine until Rusty McHale is wheeled into the ER. Half of Rusty’s body is burned and Drew feels an unstoppable need to save him. But saving Rusty is even more difficult than it looks when Death roams the halls of the hospital and Drew isn’t supposed to exist.

Honestly, I don’t even know why I read this book. I was all set for a lazy Saturday in bed when a Tweet showed up about how this book was available to read on Riveted. I’d heard of the site, but I never knew that you could actually read full-length published books for free on Riveted. Now I know! Anyway, I checked out the reviews (glowing) and read the description (heartbreaking) and for some reason, decided this book would be a good way to torture myself.

And I think torturing myself is probably the aptest description of how I felt while reading this book. It’s emotional in a very understated way and despite being very hard to read at times, I could not put it down and ended up reading the entire book in one day.  The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley was my first book by Shaun David Hutchinson and if his writing here is any indication of what his other books are like, I hope it won’t be my last.

One thing I do want to bring up is that I’ve noticed Goodreads lists this book as romance. I’d beg to differ. While there’s certainly some attraction between Drew and Rusty, it takes a backseat to their struggle to overcome their own personal issues.  Both of them know that they need to do some serious soul-searching before even thinking about a relationship. There’s not even an inkling of romance curing all ills, which I so appreciated.

Really, this book was such a pleasant surprise. I’m now going to be obsessively refreshing Riveted every week (and adding myself to my library’s wait list for We Are the Ants).

Final rating: ★★★★☆

#mm18: diversify your reading

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Monthly Favorites: January 2018

January was a pretty good reading month for me! I finished 20 books and, overall, I liked most of them. There were some definite standouts, though!

Nonfiction:

Fiction:

Monthly Motif: January Update

January 2018 Monthly Motif: Diversify Your Reading

Honestly, I probably did better with this prompt than I’ll do with the whole rest of the year.

Books read:

  • Being Jazz by Jazz Jennings, the story of a young transgender girl growing up in a world that didn’t always accept her.
  • When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon, the story of two Indian-American teenagers who are encouraged by their parents to date.
  • All American Boys by Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely, the story of police brutality told through the eyes of the black victim and his white classmate who witnesses everything.
  • The Five Stages of Andrew Brawley by Shaun David Hutchinson, the story of a teenage boy who finds himself living in a hospital after his entire family dies in a car accident, and the boy who is admitted to the hospital after his classmates set him on fire for being gay.
  • Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a memoir about growing up black in America.

Books not read:

  • At the Edge of the Universe by Shaun David Hutchinson, an LGBT romance that also deals with mental illness. (I’m hoping I’ll get around to this one in February. I just didn’t have time in January!)

Some of these reviews are already up and some are queued to post soon. If you participated in the Monthly Motif reading challenge this month, what were your choices for this prompt?