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Shannon's favorite books »
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Forget You by Jennifer Echols
MTV Books 2010
Paperback
292 pages
YA Romance

I loved Echols’ previous book, Going Too Far, and so I’ve been eagerly awaiting this next one – it’s not a series, they’re standalone books, but they’re similar. I can’t speak for any pre-Going Too Far books, but I haven’t been tempted to read them because they have some weird tacky covers. Anyway, I wasn’t disappointed – far from it, I think I loved this one even more.

On the surface, Zoey is a popular and attractive rich girl, captain of the swim team, and with everything figured out. But that’s just an image, one she mechanically works hard at. In truth, her life is messed up. Her parents divorced when her father, a self-made entrepreneur, got his much younger mistress pregnant; only a few months later Zoey’s mother, a lawyer who hails from a wealthy family, tries to commit suicide. Zoey finds her and gets her to the hospital, but isn’t allowed to see her – and when her father turns up, he angrily tells her not to tell anyone, that her mother is going to an institution, and he even threatens the local cop to keep quiet or he’ll lose his job.

He’s a real charmer, is Zoey’s dad. Unable to talk to anyone about it, and stuck living with her dad and his fiance in her old house, Zoey’s biggest fear is that the cop’s younger brother, Doug, who saw her at the hospital, will talk. Because as far as Zoey’s concerned, Doug has hated her for years – and he has reason to.

So why, after having an altercation with him at the football game, she later wakes up in her car to find Doug pulling her to safety, and is held so lovingly in his arms like he really cares for her? And the next morning, why is he the one to visit her, broken leg and all, and not her boyfriend Brandon? Why can’t she remember what happened leading up to the accident? Why does Doug think there’s something between them now?

Since her dad has threatened to lock her up too if she shows signs of amnesia – because it would spoil his trip to Mexico for his wedding – Zoey must figure out what happened on her own, without anyone knowing she can’t remember anything. The only person who seems to know what really happened is Doug, and the more time she spends with him, the more she realises how lonely and empty her life has become.

I will confess something right up: I may have fallen a bit in love with Doug. All right, quite a bit. Well, lots. How could I not? He was the perfect hero. A black sheep with a heart of gold. He’s tall, built (a powerful swimmer=hot swimmer physique), is part Japanese so has lovely dark hair but bright green eyes – very striking. He’s got a dark past, and it was Zoey who made sure he didn’t get hired as a lifeguard at her father’s water park in the summer by letting Ashley, the girl her father was having an affair with, know he’d been to juvie – she just never knew why.

There’s no black-and-white when it comes to either Zoey or Doug. Zoey makes mistakes. She deludes herself; she’s naive and so lonely she can’t see that she never was in a relationship with Brandon to begin with – but also so pointlessly loyal. She hurts herself by trying to be what she isn’t. It can be hard, watching her make mistakes, but as a teen narrator she’s also extremely likeable and sympathetic – it comes down to the way she talks and thinks, her quiet approach – and it helps that we have context for liking her: anyone with a father like hers needs sympathy, especially when she’s not the spoilt brat he seems to think she is.

Doug too isn’t perfect. He also comes from a crappy home, and has a father who is more like an enemy. He doesn’t always make the best decisions either, and even though we get only Zoey’s perspective, we can see him more clearly than she does, and we can see when he should have spoken up, spoken truth, and perhaps some of the crappiness could have been ameliorated.

This isn’t a plot-heavy book by any means, but it doesn’t need to be: the plot is a framework against which Zoey and Doug can both work to rescue themselves (they’re very similar, in many ways). It’s a beautiful tale of growing up, facing yourself, facing the outcomes of decisions made. It was delicately told, perfectly paced and balanced – it’s the kind of YA fiction you wish there were more of, intelligent, emotional stories with characters who might be a little beyond the realm of your own experience (seriously, I can’t think of any guy I knew as a teen who was much like Doug – but I think we girls all dreamed of one!). There was less teen angst, high school drama or petty rivalry, which is always cliched, boring and, to me, unrealistic.

It’s been about a week or so since I read this (in one sitting – it’s quick and also hard to put down, a winning combination!) but it left a warm fuzzy feeling for quite a while. It’ll be a comfort read, I’m sure. The content is mature and adult, respectful to warring teen hormones and dilemmas as well as the trials and tribulations of growing up and figuring yourself out. I guess Zoey’s story reminds us that no matter how screwed up everything seems to be, you still have friends and loved ones, or new love, and there’s always hope. You always have options.

_______________________________

Other Reviews:

“Certainly a book to be read again and placed at the top of the favorites shelf, Forget You is a breathtaking ride into the world of teenage love and a perfect summer romance.” A Good Addiction

“Although I don’t think Forget You is up there with her best books, Echols has more than proved that she’s here for the long haul, and I look forward to whatever she comes up with next.” Wondrous Reads

“FORGET YOU is a brave attempt to break a lot of YA conventions, but it fell short in many areas for me.” Steph Su Reads

Forget You is going to be one of the greats of 2010.” Cleverly Inked

17 comments to Review: Forget You

  • You certainly make this one sound interesting, Shannon! :)

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Erika, Ah I try! I didn’t think you read much romance?

    [Reply]

    Erika Reply:

    @Shannon, That’s a genre I can safely say I usually don’t find myself picking up. ;) But your review was so lovely. I probably won’t read this one, but appreciate the thoughtful words you’ve had to say about it. :)

    It’s so rare to find YA books that speak to the intended audience with maturity, respect, and promise an intellectual engagement. Not that other books aren’t also good in their own way, but these types of books are so wonderful for the way they manage to stand out on the shelves!

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Erika, Tell me about it! I heard an interesting panel of YA authors at last year’s Polaris Convention and they talked about mature content of YA books – the authors commented on how much power and influence the Bible Belt mothers have on YA books because they read them before deciding if they’re “suitable” for their kids (I know friends of mine do this too but I still find it somewhat creepy) – ever since I’ve really noticed how “tame” many of these books are, shying away from going too far or dealing with teen issues in a realistic and believable way. Like they want to create an illusion that kids don’t swear, don’t have sex etc.

    Good role models are important, but that’s why it’s so great reading about kids struggling with these things, making mistakes, and then learning from them. Why do I remember YA being more gritty when I was a teen in the 90s? That must be a sign of ageing: being nostalgic for the past (and conveniently re-imagining it in the image you want!)

    [Reply]

    Erika Reply:

    @Shannon, That was a common practice I used to suggest to parents who wouldn’t stop asking me (when I was a bookseller) if a particular book was appropriate for their child. Honestly, how would I know the maturity and reading level your kid can comprehend, you know?

    But I agree. A lot of books don’t deal with realistic teen issues (even through metaphor). Even if Teens aren’t going through any of the big issues we sometimes see in books like The Huger Games (death, war, etc…), they’re astute enough to know these things exist, that they happen around them. Why not discuss them in books where Teens can make sense of the world around them and gain perspective?

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Erika, Ooh I wouldn’t want the responsibility of deciding what’s good for someone else’s child! But different as an educator I think but as a bookseller…! Even as a blogger, I’m happy to present a YA story honestly but I try not to say things like “younger teens shouldn’t read this” because that’s not my decision (and besides, everyone’s different, including different levels of maturity that aren’t based on age all that much!) I always loved the idea of parents who read children’s books, especially when I was a kid (mine didn’t, they were more into non-fiction), it’s just that some parents see it as more of a censorship role than anything else.

    Exactly! And if even if the teens reading The Hunger Games aren’t going to be in a similar position, there are other themes that the books deal with strongly, not to mention that the protagonists are always having to make hard decisions and learn to think compassionately about others etc. Those “life lessons” that teach more about behaviour and getting along and thinking about consequences etc. Lots of perspective to be gained!

    [Reply]

  • You do make this sound interesting, and it’s not really something I’d normally read! But your review is very good, and that pull toward high school nostalgia isn’t helping me!

    PS. I’m totally not above falling in love with the characters. I was in love with Peeta from the Hunger Games trilogy I just read, for example. Well, and Gale a bit, too.

    Sucker for boys, I am. :) Shhh.

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Steph, Ah-ha! Ooh Peeta vs. Gale, tough one. I found myself drawn to both, which is why I have no idea which one will “win” in the battle that is Katniss. I’m not sure she deserves either of them, for that matter. I’m reading it this weekend, at the cottage. Can’t wait!

    Ah, what I meant to say was, I fall in love with male characters all the time, within the realm of Book Love! TV/movie characters too – ah the days I spent as a kid, daydreaming in maths…

    I think my first big literary crush was Captain Nemo from Polymer. Ooh I still get thrills thinking about him! (I see another Top Ten post brewing…!)

    [Reply]

    Steph Reply:

    @Shannon,

    Can’t wait to read what you think about the trilogy! I devoured it. I tried to blog without spoilers, if you’ve read the posts.

    And yes, falling in love with characters, male or female, is one of the joys of reading for me. I had a huge girl crush on Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat Pray Love, to tell the truth.

    look forward to that top ten post! I have a hard time remembering stuff like that, myself. I don’t know if I could do a post like that!

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Steph, I can’t bring myself to read Eat Pray Love, to be honest. I’m not big on “self-discovery” and “empowering” stories that sound too much like self-help. I detest self-help! I really do. And putting Julia Roberts in the movie version doesn’t help matters! But I get the sentiment, I do – it is possible to fall in love with any character, male or female, because of how well written they are. I’ve had crushes on female characters, I just never thought of it that way until you said it. Which is great: this possible top ten post can have a much broader scope because of it! :D

    [Reply]

    Steph Reply:

    @Shannon,

    Me too, me too! I feel the same way about empowering self-help stories. Absolutely. But I ended up reading not only that one (after some resistance) and loving it but also buying and reading Pilgrims and Stern Men and then Committed (which was thought-provoking but not my favourite). At least try her fiction then? She’s an incredible writer, and for what it’s worth, EPL didn’t read like self-help crap to me.

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Steph, I didn’t even know she’d written anything else!! Are all those books you mentioned hers? I dunno, I’m still wary… I trust you when you say EPL isn’t self-help crap, but I still don’t really want to read it… You might have to be a little more specific about her fiction? I haven’t heard anything but then I haven’t gone looking either ;)

    [Reply]

  • Yes, they’re all hers. Pilgrims is short stories, stories I was so jealous I hadn’t written. Stern Men is a novel, which I also enjoyed. Excellent characters in all her writing.

    Stern Men: http://www.amazon.ca/Stern-Men-Elizabeth-Gilbert/dp/0143114697/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1283545985&sr=1-1

    Pilgrims: http://www.amazon.ca/Pilgrims-Elizabeth-Gilbert/dp/0143113372/ref=pd_bxgy_b_img_c

    Both were written before EPL. She’s written a non-fic one called The American Man that I want to read as well. She chose writing that over a GQ article on Kevin Spacey. :) She’s not big on celebrity. http://www.amazon.ca/Last-American-Man-Elizabeth-Gilbert/dp/0670030864/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1283546082&sr=1-2

    [Reply]

    Steph Reply:

    @Steph, Whoops, I meant Last American Man.

    [Reply]

    Shannon Reply:

    @Steph, You’re making me like her! Lots of stuff to check out then ;)

    [Reply]

    Steph Reply:

    @Shannon,

    LOL! You’re making me feel good. Now I know I’m meant to be a bookseller. :)

    [Reply]

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