Read Me Like a Book by Liz Kessler

Received from NetGalley for review.

2.5 stars

I’m going to create a new rating and this is its glorious title: ‘I didn’t really like it but I know lots of people will because it’ll be realistic and relatable to them’. Beautiful, right? It is so appropriate to this book and quite a few others that I’ve read recently – This Raging Light, Beautiful Broken Things, and Radio Silence amongst them. I didn’t really enjoy any of those books but I know that there is a lot of relatability within them, especially for teenagers. I know that they will speak to a lot of people on a lot of levels, and I just can’t think that that is a bad thing; being a teenager is hard, dealing with the aftermath of being a teenager can be hard, and I love that there are so many things – books, television shows, phone apps – that make life a little bit easier.

Read Me Like a Book centres on seventeen year old Ashleigh, a disinterested sixth form student who finds herself falling for her new English teacher, Miss Murray. It generally gives off the feeling of a sweet, but nothing new, coming of age and coming out story. I liked that it dealt with issues of sexuality and coming out, and it had a really positive attitude towards homosexuality. Ash is initially massively confused about her sexuality and gay people but her best friend, Cat, and her mum make her realise it’s not a big deal at all.

Ashleigh is someone who you should be able to feel sorry for – her parents are having marital issues and she’s struggling with her sexuality, but for me she was so selfish and bitchy that I couldn’t relate to her or like her on any level. Her mind is occupied with one thing only: herself. Luckily she does develop as a character, but it was too little too late for my liking as she had no redeeming features to begin with. For the majority of the book she is a slut-shaming, judgemental, and moody piece of work, and I hate the whole ‘woe is me I’m a student and no one understands me and all the teachers are out to get me’ attitude – you’re a sixth form student, grow the fuck up or go out into the real world and get a job. Cat has the same attitude but she’s funny and not completely self-absorbed.

The other characters are a bit redundant. Ash’s other friends are just on the side lines and I’m not even sure what the point of her boyfriend was at the beginning. Miss Murray plays an important role in helping Ash understand her sexuality but even she didn’t make that much of an impact on me as a character; the story is very much focused on Ash and her parents. Despite this, it was a very quick and easy read – there’s something very readable about the woes of people’s lives, especially when it’s gloriously melodramatic teenage angst – and I know that it will reach a lot of people in a very positive way.

Read: March 23rd-25th 2016

2.5/5 stars

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