Monday, March 30, 2015

A Post-It Can Save Your Life

"It's better to deal with your shit head on.
Life doesn't get better if you look away."
--Ann Aguirre, The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things

Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Pages: 328
Publication Date: 2015
Source: ARC provided by publisher in exchange for an honest review
Previous Books in Series: Standalone
Other Books by this Author: 
Enclave & Outpost & Horde
Mortal Danger
I Want It That Way & As Long As You Love Me & The Shape of My Heart
Goodreads Description

Sage Czinski is trying really hard to be perfect. If she manages it, people won’t peer beyond the surface, or ask hard questions about her past. She’s learned to substitute causes for relationships, and it’s working just fine… until Shane Cavendish strolls into her math class. He’s a little antisocial, a lot beautiful, and everything she never knew she always wanted.

Shane Cavendish just wants to be left alone to play guitar and work on his music. He’s got heartbreak and loneliness in his rearview mirror, and this new school represents his last chance. He doesn’t expect to be happy; he only wants to graduate and move on. He never counted on a girl like Sage.

But love doesn’t mend all broken things, and sometimes life has to fall apart before it can be put back together again…

You guys...I haven't found a story like this in a long time. Y'all know some of my favorite books of all time are The Sea of Tranquility and Hopeless and Love, in English. They're stories of real people and trauma and love and angst and hope and so much more. I am EXTREMELY picky when it comes to my contemporary books and what I consider an amazing stories to compare to books of that caliber. The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things is a book that reminded me the ones I mentioned above and anybody that knows me knows that is high praise.

The Characters

The story follows Sage and her junior year of high school. She has a past we are not yet privy to and since she was a freshman, has earned the reputation and nickname 'Princess' because she leaves uplifting Post-It notes on people's lockers, people who she sees are having a bad day or being bullied. First of all, let me tell you how fucking awesome this is. People tease her about it, her own best friend thinks it's kind of weird, which makes zero sense to me. She doesn't care and sticks to her guns knowing she'll do it until she graduates.

Thank you, Sage. Thank you for recognizing that people are awful and doing something to make people's day. From the first few pages after learning this I knew I was going to like Sage. While her nickname might be Princess and she goes out of her way to brighten people's bad days, she also claims to have a darker side. Well. Let me tell you how much I love THIS. I love that she can be nicest person you meet but don't mess with her. I love that she doesn't fit one side of the spectrum of nice girl or bad girl. I love that she is kind to people and doesn't  judge people but will not take shit from people who mess with her friends. Obvi anyone that knows me knows I can relate to this and I love everything about Sage. I wish I had a Sage in high school to leave a Post-It note on my locker when I was having one of my million bad days. I wish I had somebody to tell me it gets better and they've been there. I wish I had somebody that didn't bail on me when I needed them. There should be an infinite amount of Sages in the world and the world would be a better off place. There's my flailing on Sage. Let's be BFFs. K? Done.

Shane Cavendish is 'the new kid' and somebody that Sage immediately notices. He's dreamy and quiet and antisocial and all kinds of mysterious...and has something that Sage cannot turn away from. They form a quick yet deeply emotional connection and from there we get to know two people who have a past that's ugly trying to become whole again. I know in the book Ann Aguirre makes it a point to say that they're not broken and I love this. I know I am one to say I love broken characters who learn and find somebody to love and connect with and while I definitely understand the significance of not calling people broken, I don't see this as a negative or something you can't come back from. Something broke in each of these characters and they are both attempting different paths on the journey to get back what life took from them.

The Story

You guys...this story is one of emotionally epic proportions. I could not stop reading because from the very beginning I was invested in the story. The characters pull your heart out it's cavity and makes you care. Their vulnerability with one another is something of pure beauty and the tenderness they show one another is on another level. Shane is quiet and extremely closed off so any minuscule piece he decides to show us (AKA Sage) is a thing of perfection. You see him start to be confident in himself and his talents and abilities. You see him begin to believe in himself and want to open up to Sage. Not only that, he starts to believe in something bigger than His journey to love not only himself but another person is EPIC. And Sage goes through something similar. I felt like she was on the opposite end of the feels spectrum. While Shane closes himself off emotionally by being antisocial, Sage closes herself off by being in the spotlight and striving to be perceived as 'perfect.' They are a perfect match yet contrast and complement each other in the best ways. I cannot say enough about how beautiful I found their relationship. I'm sorry that this review is not more eloquent in vocabulary but this book is all about the feels to me. It felt real. It felt raw. It felt intricately complex as all human emotions are.

The Writing

The writing of Ann Aguirre (and I have read a TON of her books) always feels effortless. It feels easy in a way that makes me feel immediately immersed in the story. The voice of the story feels like coffee with a friend and I just enjoyed reading the book. I didn't want to put it down. Let me tell you, this is a feat for any book seeing as I was coming off of working 12 hours at the hospital and I didn't stop until 3 am when I finished. I HAD to know what happened and it was one of the best reading experiences I've had in a long time. I love stories like this that just feel like such a full body experience. I was transported into this fictional high school and was fully invested in these characters almost immediately.

The Angst

I don't think this story will work for everyone. If I'm being nit-picky I'm sure there are some things I could find to talk about...but I just don't want to. People that don't like angsty stories probably won't enjoy this but this book was everything I love about a story and characters and finding how to be whole again.

Backstage Pass
If you love stories about real people, love, angst, and growing to learn to accept yourself...this one's for you.


  1. Honestly, I've read plenty of Ann Aguirre books to make me not want to try something new by her for a while BUT this is a great review and it makes me want to check this one out. While the angst might be too much for me, I like Sage from what you've mentioned and I want to give this a chance.

  2. I enjoyed The Queen of Bright and Shiny Things! It was very readable, and I liked getting to know Sage and Shane. Personally, the post it habit was my favorite thing - I love the fact that Sage goes out of her way to brighten other people's days in the only way she knows how.


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