Althea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho

I’m confused!  Some books give you what you want, and other books give you reality.  Often, when I’m reading the ones that give me what I want, a small part of my brain is grumbling about how unrealistic it is.  But then a book like Althea & Oliver comes along, and it’s just too realistic!  I want happy endings!  I want neatly tied up plots where everyone I love is exactly where I want them!  But….I do like the messiness.  I like the ending that stares into the future, letting the characters be confused, disappointed, and excited by what might happen to them off page.

I don’t know. 

Althea & Oliver is a really excellent book that explores the intensely intertwined friendship between the titular characters.  Besties since they were six years old, life is routine and predictable.  Until their junior year of high school, that is, when Oliver starts falling asleep for months at a time and Althea has to figure out who she is without him.  They grow apart and they grow together, and I never really knew if I was rooting for them to figure out their own lives or to just cling to each other in spite of it all.

I still don’t know!  But it was a beautiful story of self-discovery, of the pain and awe that comes with change, of friendships twisting into something new.  It was very realistic, and I don’t know if that was a good thing or not.  Hah!  Nah, it was good.  It definitely got under my skin, and I’m glad Althea and Oliver’s story is living there now.

18788613Book Jacket

Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six; she’s the fist-fighting instigator to his peacemaker, the artist whose vision balances his scientific bent.

Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more than just best-friendship.  Oliver, for his part, simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he falls asleep in class and wakes up in his bed three weeks later with no memory of the time that has gone by, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him.

And then Althea makes the worst bad decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered.  He leaves town for a clinical sleep study in New York, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain, while she gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

Their journey will take them from the rooftops, keg parties, and all-ages shows of their North Carolina hometown to the pool halls, punk houses, and hospitals of New York City before they once more stand together and face their chances.  Set in the DIY, mix tape, and zine culture of the mid-1990s, Cristina Moracho’s whip-smart debut is an achingly real story about identity, illness, and love–and why bad decisions sometimes feel so good.

Release Date:  October 2014

Want another opinion?  Check out reviews by Rather Be Reading and Ashley Loves Books.

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