Synopsis from Goodreads.
For aspiring artist Amanda Walsh, who only half-jokingly goes by the nickname Zero, the summer before college was supposed to be fun—plain and simple. Hanging out with her best friend Jenn, going to clubs, painting, and counting down the days until her escape. But when must-have scholarship money doesn’t materialize, and she has a falling out with Jenn that can only be described as majorly awkward, and Zero’s parents relationship goes from tense to relentless fighting, her prospects start looking as bleak and surreal as a painting by her idol Salvador Dali. Will life truly imitate art? Will her new, unexpected relationship with a punk skater boy who seems too good to be real and support from the unlikeliest of sources show Zero that she’s so much more than a name.
I couldn’t actually find a quote that I loved that wouldn’t spoil things so I’m going to quote a quote.
Initial Final Page Thoughts.
Phew. I’m glad it ended like that. I thought I was going to get stabby…
Zero..ish. Mike. Awkward first love. Dali. Coffee shops. Band t-shirts. Golden records. San Francisco. Friendships. Art classes. Charcoal smudges. Rainbows. Gothic rainbows.
Hmmm… see heroine.
Also, see sadness scale.
Did we really need five bajillion pages of art metaphor?
Hm. OK, I’m not going to lie. You aren’t my favourite heroine in the entire world.
Let’s talk about the things I liked: You were alternative and not just in an ‘oh my god, I have dyed hair a kerrraaazy colour I’M SO ORIGINAL” way either. You love art. You know art. You’re funny. You’re sarcastic. You dealt with your parents fights in an understandable way. You were a massive goof.
And the things I didn’t: I don’t know… I can’t really explain it. It just seemed that someone just opened a dictionary, found the entry for ‘Stereotypical Angst-Ridden Teenage Girl’ and created you from that blue print. Insecure about body weight? Yup. Overly sarcastic? Yep. Fights with her parents? Yup. Acts out? Yes. Thinks no one will ever understand her? Yes. Thinks no boy could ever love her? Yep.
I don’t know. Something just didn’t sit right with me with Zero and I’m a little disappointed because I thought we’d be best friends.
And, I know I like to make up phrases and it’s probably not as endearing as I think it is, but if she ever said ‘suck-ass’ in front of me… I’d punch her in the face.
I needed moooooore from this. I really liked Jenn and thought this story line was fantastic. But… again, it just kind of faded into the background. Sad times.
I was listening to radio a couple of months back and the DJ said that drummers are always ugly.
I took offense to this because ARE YOU KIDDING ME?
Have you seen
Harry from McFly Dave Grohl?
Phew that was close.
Anyway, I’ve always had a have a soft spot for drummers… so Mike and his drum sticks already had a head start in the race for my affections. If I were six years younger I would
tripping over chairs and pretending I loved the bands you liked have the biggest crush on you.
You were so sweet and there was a dopey smile on my face every time you were on the page. You’re a bit of a dreamer and you’re sensitive but you’ve got a sensible head on your shoulders.
I also loved that you weren’t omgsofrickenfiiiiine and this stereotypical tortured artist that lopes and broods and is mean to his lady because the only thing he cares about is his art.
“If you had a couple of priceless sapphires and held them up to the rays of the setting sun in he moments after a Sonoran monsoon, they’d be lifeless next to this guy’s eyes.”
Also, I think he has nice eyes… though I’m not 100% sure.
I’m kidding, I’m just joshing with you…. Eyes are very important on a boy. Apologies for being sarcastic, Zero.
Anyway, Mike, my man, the only thing that bothered me was your hair.
“He peers at me through the curtain of his bangs.”
No boy should be able to look at me through his fringe.
There should be rules about stuff like that.
I was expecting him to have a huge Mohican a la the chap on the cover so when he didn’t I was sad… and then I pictured him that way anyway.
Basically I made him Travis Barker.
SO SUE ME.
Speaking of Mr Barker…. Hellotoplesslover.
Look to the past and remember and smile, and maybe tonight I can breathe for a while..
I’m not in the scene, I think I’m falling asleep,
But then all that it means is I’ll always be dreaming of you…
Fate fell short this time, your smile fades in the summer
Place your hand in mine, I’ll leave when I wanna.
Oh I want to be fifteen again, hanging out in car parks of pubs we weren’t legal to drink in, eating chips and cheese and practising our Californian accents using Tom DeLonge as our muse.
I’m kidding about that last part….ish.
This song really reminded me of the relationship between Zero and Mike, which was my favourite thing about this book. It’s all summery, and fragile and fleeting and awkward and sweet and cringey and fumbley but also full of hope and potential.
5/10. I really loved what Leveen did with the relationship between Zero and Mike. It was so awkward and the scene where they first meet is probably the most toe-curling scene I have read. Seriously… so hideously cringe. But it was so realistic and there were so many times that I laughed out loud and received a lovely dose of butterflies.
With everything else that was happening with these two kids, it could so have easily turned into melodrama, but it didn’t.
The only quibble I have was this bit near the end which made my eyes roll something rotten. I don’t want to spoil anything but… urgh, Zero, mate, you need to chill your bean.
As for the girl angst….. meh. I could’ve done without that. It didn’t really add anything to the story and/or characters.
3/10. This book could have been a lot sadder. I mean, it was all there, bubbling under the surface but just when I thought I was going to be reaching for the tissues… the mood was yanked in the other direction but one of Zero’s snarky, self-deprecating comments.
Which was OK, I guess, and it was sometimes funny. But I really wanted to find out more about the things these kids were going through and the backstory behind their feelings.
One of my main problems in this book was that the characters were screaming out for more depth and I honestly believe that if Mr Leveen had focussed on some of the problems without forgetting about them, he would have achieved this spectacularly. It often felt like these issues were just thrown in at the last minute because he felt the book needed them.
People who don’t fit in. People who enjoy art. People who enjoy art metaphors. People who like eating ice cream while watching the city. People who can smudge charcoal without making a mess. People who would go over to talk to the hot drummer in a band… and promptly stub your toe on his chair. People who aren’t making a statement about their body image when they wear baggy t-shirts… sometimes they’re just comfy, OK?
I received a copy of this book from the publishers.