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Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Review: The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg

 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?

I was not at all prepared for how much I would love The Catastrophic History of You and Me. It was the title that lured me in: having had a horrible year of failed relationships, I was feeling pretty catastrophic myself. At least I hadn't literally died of a broken heart, like the novel's main character. I supposed her tale would prove to be an interesting distraction. I didn't realize just how much I'd come to love this novel and I'm still surprised, two months after having read it, how present it is in my thoughts.

There's something about this book that reminds me of the movie Susie Q - which is a very good thing as I was mildly (read: extremely) obsessed with that movie back in the day. In fact, just thinking of it now makes me want to watch it again... and use the phrase "jeepers." I think it was the combination of ghosts and romance and Brie keeping a watchful eye over her family that caused the connection in my mind, but it put me in a nostalgic mindset that caused a deeper emotional response to the novel.

My absolute favorite part of The Catastrophic History of You and Me was the incorporation of the five stages of grief. I've always been a bit of a psychology nerd and find myself applying these stages to various aspects of my life - you'd be surprised how often we cycle through them in response to the most mundane events to the most life shattering. Following Brie's journey through the stages showcased her growth from the beginning to the end of the novel beautifully.

I loved the various settings throughout the novel, especially the pizza place that where Brie, Patrick, and the other Lost Souls spend quite a bit of time, eating pizza and, for the most part, waiting. It's such a quirky little place... and not what I expected any aspect of "the other side" to look like, though, at the same time, I've never really given much thought to what "the other side" would be. 

Rothenberg takes an most improbable event, which could easily become silly and immature, and gives it a sense of timelessness and realism. It was done so seamlessly that I'm still not entirely sure how she pulled it off, but I won't be spending any time trying to figure it out... with something this wonderful, ignorance is bliss.

Dial/Penguin, Hardcover, February 2012, ISBN: 978090373204, 400 pages

Review copy acquired at GLIBA.

And don't forget to check out the book trailer:


  1. I loved the incorporation of the five stages of grief, too. I also reeeeally liked that each chapter title were songs. Lovely.

    great review! I absolutely loved this book.

    Ashelynn @ Gypsy Book Reviews.


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