Another late post, but hey, as they say, it’s better late than never. :) This time, it’s about Thomas Amo’s Forever Me.
This is a relatively new title and I’m afraid it’s not that much known here in the Philippines (there’s always Amazon, btw) – but this book is really a must-read.
Hannah Richards isn't your typical 16 year-old at Wichita Falls High. Fashions, trends, cosmetics and style are unimportant to her. An avid reader, guitar player, classic movie and television buff, Hannah marches to the beat of her own drum. Visible only to her Father the town Sheriff, and her two best friends. Hannah lives a simple, un-pampered life as an "Eastie."
After coming to the aide of Taylor Monroe, a popular member of the ultra snobby "Stilettos" at school, Hannah's life beings spiraling out of control. As she starts spending more time with Taylor, her best friends abandon her, after a series of misunderstandings, causing Hannah to re-invent herself.
Hannah quickly gets caught up in a life much different than the one she knows, where status, glamour, makeup, appearance and acceptance become her masters. And what of the dark secret that haunts the streets of Wichita Falls?
Can Hannah survive the lies, deceit, jealousy and rage that are now waiting for her behind every corner? Will she succumb to the pressures of popularity? Or will she be crushed under the heels of the "Stilettos"?
~High school is hard enough just being yourself, let alone being someone you're not~ via Goodreads
This is technically YA in genre, a coming of age story of coming to terms of who you are and what the society expected you to be – and it discussed one of the most common problems nowadays with young adults: bullying. My country has enough bullies on its own, but it is not considered such a relatively huge problem compared to other countries, well, except in the worst cases. So I really am surprised one time I talked to Thomas when he said that this is how high school really works back in his place, no matter how incredulous everything is. It’s sad. Personally, I disapprove bullying big time (well, who wouldn’t?). I have experienced being bullied in the earlier time of my studies and I don’t really understand what those people (bullies) are thinking that they even try to do those things. Maybe it’s the feeling of being superior, or maybe they just want to let out their frustration – nonetheless, it’s not healthy and it doesn’t benefit anybody.
I never really expected this book to be so close to my heart. Yes, I love YA fiction – but this book really hit home. Besides the main issue of bullying, it tackles one thing that most of us, one time or another in our lives, experienced -- that is, coming to terms with who you really are. The less dramatic people would say that it’s part of growing up so they don’t really concern themselves much with it ; but there are those who find it really hard to adapt to, and in turn, end up just hurting themselves or the people around them. That feeling of inferiority, the pressure of getting along with everybody, the efforts in trying to fit in – sometimes, you start to lose yourself in the process and you’re really lucky if you’re able to pick it up again. Yes, there are people like this, and somehow, I find myself relating to it.
Well, to start, I’m in my early twenties (I don’t know if I’m still a YA), but, still, I loved this book. If that doesn’t tell you anything, I don’t know what will. And I honestly think that it is because of how surprisingly relatable it is, even if I’m in such an age where high school is so old school. The generality of it it simply amazing that you come to realize that, maybe, people are not really that different from each other no matter what their age is.
The first part of the book is a little kinda Mean Girl-esque to me and I don’t know if that’s my cup of tea, but it’s necessary. And as the story progressed and we get to know Hannah more, as well as the people around them. It’s a thrill to get to know these characters and just get caught in the flow of the whole story. I’m a slow reader but I can really snuggle in bed all day with a cup of hot coffee reading just this. It’s been quite a while since I last read a YA heroine/protagonist who is not, in a way, emotionally troubled/disturbed (Haha, as dictated by my choice of books to read for the past year) – so Hannah Richards is like a breath of fresh air for me. It’s been a really great thing witnessing Hannah (and also, Taylor) grow up. The character development was really awesome. I can’t remember where I read it, but I heard that one of Amo’s literary influence is Stephen King – and it showed! I loved the thrilling [side]storyline and the twist + [somehow]climax scene at the end, it brought action to the already enjoying plot. The scenes were well executed, and I can almost picture them zooming in and out, transitioning to another as if it were a movie in my head. And must I add, the last part really did made me cry. I’ve gushed about it in Twitter/Facebook, and I’ll say it again: I can’t believe I cried in a public transport. That was when I was reading the last chapter + the epilogue. The last speech was really moving as it is inspiring, I can’t help but shed a tear or two. I was deeply affected, maybe a little too much than necessary. XD But I really felt for them, and I think that that moment really deserved that kind of connection because it’s where everything came together. I can’t really say this enough, but if I haven’t spoiled it that much for you, I recommend you go read it – especially you YA lovers out there. It may not be that well known, but it is a deeply affecting inspirational story that made me realize that you should not let standards and societal pressure get in the way of being the best you can be: YOURSELF.
To the generous Thomas Amo, my friend, thanks for letting me read this book and touching me with this simple yet heart warming story. It has been a privilege. Good luck on your career, and may you have many more published books in the future. Keep in touch. :) ~ R.
“But if you’re going to lie, you have to ask this question, who are you lying to? Them or yourself?” ~ Mr. D’ Aiuto
“Being popular really sucks, sometimes, no matter how cool it looks on the outside.” ~ Taylor
[I especially love Hannah’s last line in the book but including it here would, in my opinion, spoil the ending for you guys. So just watch out for it when you read it. :)]