This month, I’m reviewing two titles – The Best Feeling of All by Jack Ellis, the book of the month for the Pink Fibro Book Club hosted by Allison Tait, and Your Best Year Yet by Kelly Exeter, which was released in January as an e-book and has just been released as a paperback.
I thought of all sorts of ‘best’-y names for this blog post – The Best Book Review of All, My Best Book Review Yet, The Best Book Review of All Yet Ever in the History of the Entire World – but I’ll spare you from all of those. They’re pretty lame, and I’d hate for you to think that’s the best I could do.
Here are my thoughts.
The Best Feeling of All / Jack Ellis
Life doesn’t happen, you make it.
Mols and Jaz can’t wait for life to begin. In the meantime, they’ll make sure they get their share of excitement and fun. When they’re not seeking out the next ecstatic thrill, they’re making big plans for the future while exploring the headlands, sand dunes and storm drains of Sydney’s Northern Beaches. They race along the ridge between possibility and reality until they slam into the shocks, heartaches and impossible choices of adulthood.
I get the (not-so-best) feeling I’ll be a lone voice with this one. But this book just didn’t grab me.
I kept wanting it to. I kept waiting for it to. I kept expecting it to. But it never got there.
The book is divided into three sections. We meet Mols and Jaz at the end of Year Nine, and follow them for a while during their Adolescence. We then jump ahead to the age of Nineteen, where the main female friendship group reunites for an interstate holiday. We then fast-forward again to Adulthood, with everyone in their mid-late twenties trying to make sense of their lives.
I’m not bagging this book. There are terrible books out there, and this is absolutely not one of them. It’s well-written, and interesting things happen. Lots of things, in fact – this book could be a good basis for a television series, with each event forming a separate episode. Little grammatical bugbears sneaked in towards the end, but otherwise it’s fine.
But it didn’t suck me in. I didn’t have to tear myself away from its pages in order to get some sleep. The interesting things that happened just happened, and then other interesting things happened, and none of it seemed to matter.
My happiness didn’t depend on the happiness of the characters. I hate to sound heartless, but I just didn’t care about them enough.
In these book reviews, I usually include some standout lines. These two snippets caught my eye towards the end:
- …[it] was almost like a foreboding backwards deja vu…
- And she thought about how, no matter how ‘in the now’ you might pretend you are, you never stop living and reliving every past minute, about how everything travels with you into each new thought and experience and you can’t separate anything from anything else. And how nothing is ever actually new, just extensions of one or other of those first formative experiences. And how each event changes the colour of our memories.
Like I said, I might be a lone voice in my ‘meh’ review of this book. If you’re interested in the book, please seek out other reviews for a balanced look. But for me, it didn’t come close to topping my favourites list for this year.
Your Best Year Yet / Kelly Exeter
For those who are feeling overwhelmed and directionless, this short, sweet little book will leave you with the same energy and purpose you get from a candid chat with a great friend.
In Your Best Year Yet, Kelly Exeter looks at the life lessons she’s learned the hard way. With brutal honesty, practical advice and inspiring examples, she shares 7 simple ways to shift your thinking for the better.
This book doesn’t aimlessly meander with a smattering of ambiguous and flowery words that are perhaps beautiful in their complexity, but inevitably superfluous (see what I did there?).
It’s also free of the underlines and bolds and SHOUTY BOLDY UNDERLINEY CAPITALS WITH BONUS EXCLAMATION MARKS (PLURAL)!!! that feature in so many books of the self-help variety.
It’s sharp. It’s to the point. It’s a book you can read over a cuppa and biscuit at afternoon teatime. And then think about for the rest of the day. Week. Month.
It’s easy to read, at least in terms of the words used and the structure. But where it’s not easy to read is in the uncomfortable truths it forces you to face. You are no better and no worse than anyone else. You have enough time, you just don’t use it well.
You don’t really know what your friends are up to if you just read a few things they put in a facebook status update.
Many lines hit home, but given the length of the book, including them all would be akin to including spoilers. The two lines that stuck with me the most:
- The people who achieve the most aren’t the ones with the most time on their hands, but the ones who waste the least of the time available to them.
- When a decision isn’t clear-cut, when we’re agonising between two options, it’s often because the potential difference in future happiness between the two is tiny.
I’m not usually a fan of books in the self-help category, but I really enjoyed this and got a lot from it. Thanks, Kelly. Highly recommended.
(Kelly Exeter sent me a copy of Your Best Year Yet for the purposes of review. I was not paid for this review.)
Have you read The Best Feeling of All or Your Best Year Yet? What did you think?
Previous book reviews:
The Headmaster’s Wife (my guest post at Allison Tait‘s blog)
The Night Guest
The Thirteenth Tale
The Shadow Year and Barracuda
The Paris Wife
Mister Pip and The Light Between Oceans
Big Brother and We Need to Talk About Kevin
The Shining Girls and The Fault in Our Stars