The Catastrophic History of You & Me is about a girl called Brie, who literally (!) dies of a broken heart after her boyfriend Jacob breaks up with her. Brie goes on to exist and live (well as close to living as you can when you're not... living) in a sort-of limbo, being guided through the five stages of grief by a boy called Patrick.
I've been looking forward to reading The Catastrophic History of You & Me for a while now, because I absolutely love the idea of somebody dying from a real broken heart. Very unique and imaginative premise, and the book itself was those things, pretty much.
Following Brie on her journey through the stages of grief was very intriguing and I loved seeing how her personality could change with each stage; for example: in the anger stage, Brie is presented to us in this revenge-seeking, spiteful way and in the denial stage, she's all upset and wishing she was alive and happy again. The acceptance stage was the big one though, when everything got all twisty and we find out the real secret that the title of the book seems to hint at.
I'd have to say that the one thing, well, the most important thing, that stops me from totally gushing about this book is the ending. Somewhere around the last 100 pages, things started to get a little bit weird and confusing. I can't really talk about it without giving away plot spoilers, but it started to get complicated and my
tiny brain couldn't keep up and decipher what was going on at certain points. Having said that, there were times I found it very exciting and I was all like "It all clicks into place now!"--the acceptance bit I mentioned above.
I've seen a lot of reviews from people who said they thought the story was a bit too slow for them, but in my opinion, the slow-pacing gave me more time to think about what was going on, which I think that you need to do when reading a sad book like this one. There was parts where Brie sounded a selfish and I got a little frustrated with her, but I can cut her some slack since she's uh, dead and all that, and there was the fact that she had a really great sarcastic side to her. I didn't fall in love with Patrick's character as the love interest in the novel, but I did think he was very sweet and rather charming. Oh, and the author's references to 80's music was fascinating--Rothenberg had chosen names/lines from old songs to do with love for chapter titles. It was a cute touch, I really appreciated how music was weaved into the story even though there wasn't much to do with music in the actual plot.
I did really enjoy most of this book though. The writing was gorgeous and so elegant, especially during the first half of the novel. Seeing what was going on back home through Brie's eye was upsetting, particularly her family and three best friends who were trying their best not to fall apart. The ending was unexpected, but I always knew that the novel would be sincere, yet quirky, shining light on a pretty dark subject.
Thank you to Razorbill UK for providing me with an ARC of this to review.