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Review: The Catastrophic History of You and Me

my thoughts in a few sentences: Oh, gosh. *tries to breathe* Jess Rothenberg reins nothing in, leaving emotion strewn about in just about every place we stumble across through Brie's wrenching journey to peace and acceptance. Right within the first couple of chapters, my face was openly drenched for all to witness my sorrow and grief, mourning the loss of a young character's life—a character, incidentally, who I barely knew at the start yet I wept for this world Rothenberg exposes to us since it was now bereft of such a bright, happy girl with a deeply loving family, which includes a little brother who will be deprived of his older sister's presence in the years of his life to come. Literal heartbreak as a story concept isn't as corny as it initially sounds; a dagger breaks into our hearts every time Rothenberg pumps anguish into her words and into the discoveries she unveils.

hooking first line: "There's always that one guy who gets a hold on you."

Rating: Special Shelf | Penguin • Borrowed • Contemporary/Paranormal • 2/21/12 • $14.88

The Catastrophic History of You and Me
by Jess Rothenberg
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Dying of a broken heart is just the beginning.... Welcome to forever.

BRIE'S LIFE ENDS AT SIXTEEN: Her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her, and the news breaks her heart—literally.

But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie is about to discover that love is way more complicated than she ever imagined. Back in Half Moon Bay, her family has begun to unravel. Her best friend has been keeping a secret about Jacob, the boy she loved and lost—and the truth behind his shattering betrayal. And then there's Patrick, Brie's mysterious new guide and resident Lost Soul . . . who just might hold the key to her forever after.

With Patrick's help, Brie will have to pass through the five stages of grief before she's ready to move on. But how do you begin again, when your heart is still in pieces?
What do you do when the boy you're in love with tells you he doesn't feel the same way... anymore? The questions and uncertainties, the loss of self-confidence, the depletion of faith in love as a whole would surface, causing us to feel lost and heartbroken. And Brie is just that. Bewildered, heartbroken, and despairing, as the boy she loves tells her the one thing no one would ever want to hear. Now, you may be thinking: Okay, so her boyfriend tells her he doesn't love her and her heart literally snaps in two halves. He's a tool and she's a loser for letting that get to her and blah blah. I've heard it all before. But it's nothing like that. As a teen, this can be such an awkward period for us, where we do and say things, look a certain way, that makes us feel... lacking, so we're easily torn down.

However, that feeling isn't just reserved to us teens, though, but people in general. Love, especially first love, is a wild and fragile thing, and I totally understood Brie's immediate sorrow. But her death is one of those freak accidents we just don't see coming, and it tears down our walls and acts as an onion to the eyes of our heart, inciting strong waves of salt and water with the single-minded purpose of escaping that do nothing to relieve this hollowness inside, leaving us dry and sad. Brie is a young girl, barely having lived her rather short life, just beginning to bloom, and, more than that, she's a person, one we become close to over a gradual, delicious period of time, which makes her death and the loss her family feels all the more insidious, unfair, and cruel. We too must come to terms, find peace, with her untimely death.

Gosh, which should we learn more about first? Patrick Darling... or the plot. Me thinks we should begin with Patrick. *grins* Yes, lets. Oh, Patrick. It's going to be difficult to speak so little of him in a single review. As soon as Brie enters the Afterlife, things start looking up, especially for us, because she immediately catches the attention of a very handsome motorcycle-riding, leather bomb jacket-wearing guy with an arsenal of witty retorts to Brie's pathetic, though hilarious yo' mama jokes and packed with 80s slang that just makes him all the more endearing. Add to that his fabulously cheesy (literally) names for Brie, since her name is Brie... like the cheese. He Ha Ha. He's better than the requisite Ben n Jerry ice cream binge for comfort in our darkest hours, more understanding of our personalities, needs than our shrinks, as sexy as Judd Nelson in The Breakfast Club (at least for muah) with his mysterious secrets just minus the bad boy attitude and plus plus plus the sweetness.

The plot is sectioned off in five crucial parts, representing the five stages of grief, and each one layers the pain, the sadness, the shock until it becomes so much to bear, for us and for Brie. But as she deftly approaches acceptance of her death and its dreadful toll on her loved ones, we grow more and more proud of her as she understands herself, and does her best by the people she loves. And the romance, its peak... oh, geez, we melt and maybe even tear up a little, doing our best to wipe our eyes as discreetly as possible. The truths uncovered and several intense, exquisite kisses later and we're still not over the impact. The ending only sweetens the deal, a perfect layer of bittersweetness to top off a beautiful tale.

There is a reason why The Catastrophic History of You and Me is blurbed by Lauren Oliver. Disney, Princess Bride, and 80s songs references aside, our imaginations are ignited and we wonder what lay in the beyond awaiting our souls as we our introduced to Rothenberg's gorgeous, inventive take. The Catastrophic History of You and Me is about love and its strange, wonderful, unpredictable facets—the love we reserve for family, friends, love interests, and so forth—and reminds us of its imperfect beauty and absolute significance. People die for love every day, so it's only right that when we die we, like Brie, find love as well.

* I had the perfect quote, but I lost the tiny piece of paper I wrote the page number on. Darn it!

** Also, credit to Sarah @ Saz101 for doing her damnedest to get me to read this. She was so right!


Wendy Darling said...

I absolutely love the line in your last paragraph, Asher, about the imperfect beauty and significance of love. *sigh* I can't wait to read this! I've heard such good things and now your rave review makes me want to bump it up my pile even further. :)

Thanks for stopping by my blog, btw, I'm so pleased to be following you, too!

Asher_Knight said...

Aw, thanks, Wendy <3 I've seen mixed reviews on it, but the good ones seem to be overlapping the rest, as they should, because I found TCHoYaM to be completely amazing, with only a few minor things that bother and instantly fade into insignificance, like it did with me.

Hehee. I love your blog, I'm just getting better at keeping track of all the ones I like to visit :)

Alison said...

This sounds like a really sweet book. I think a lot of people forget that teenage girls can be strong but also fall apart when they lose a boyfriend. The same can happen to boys. Emotions are so strong at that age. Or...at any age. It doesn't make a girl necessarily weak.

Mimi Valentine said...

Oh my gosh, I LOVE your review, Asher! <3 Everyone keeps telling me how sweet and adorable and absolutely heartbreaking this book is, but I've been marking this book as a wait-for-the-library-read and now I'm questioning if that might've been a bad idea! x) My heart is already breaking for Brie (no pun intended) and Patrick sounds SO amazing! I have a thing for boys who ride motorcylces and wear leather... a.k.a. bad boys! ;)

Amazing review, Asher! :) <3

Tiffany said...

I really enjoyed this one as well! I adored Patrick, he was so sweet and perfect. I loved the writing of this one as well, it really sucked me in. Not to mention it was so unique with the way the book was split up along with the awesome chapter titles. Great review :)

Allison said...

all the Princess Bride/Disney princess references had me falling in love with this book from the very beginning! Oh man so awesome. Falling in love with the characters wasn't far behind :)

Celine said...

Wow, I can't imagine dying of a broken heart or my heart literally cracks into two like Brie. That must be really painful.  AND EEEEE...PATRICK SOUNDS AMAZING. I watched the book trailer for this book but Patrick looks weird hahahaha but anyway, you make me very INTRIGUED to find out about this darling Patrick.

AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME review, Asher! <3 Your review is so amazing, just like Sarah's too!

I can't wait to read this book!!!!

So glad you enjoyed it! <3

Becky @ Stories & Sweeties said...

I wasn't sure I wanted to read this one, but I think you've convinced me now!! It sounds awesome! Great review!

Maja said...

I was lucky enough to read this ahead of time and Ioved every word. It makes me so happy when other people enjoy the book too. There is something special in this story that makes you see some large truths without sounding pretentious for a second. and I agree with you, the world looks different when you're a teen, losing a boyfriend IS heartbreaking, or it can be, at least.
Great review! 
Maja @ The
Nocturnal Library

Asher_Knight said...

Thanks, Mimi <33 I wasn't sure if I could express myself in a way that everyone would get how I felt, but I guess I didn't need to worry *LOL* And it is all the above, with just a hint of danger and crazy mysteries. It's really beautiful. but, if you're not sure, stick to your library plan *shifty eyes* I won't say anything more... Nothing at all. Patrick IS amazing, though. Just saying. :D

Asher_Knight said...

 Exactly!! He has just the right amount of sweetness and wit to make a girl swoon. And the writing was genuine and imaginative, yet simple. And THE CHAPTER TITLES. I kept thinking back to all the songs and listening to them in my head :D

Asher_Knight said...

That's what my friend, Sarah, who had recommended it for me read immediately,said, and she was absolutely right. I'm actually in the mood for some Princess Bride, now that you mention it. And the characters were just so delightful and layered, and you feel so BAD for them.

Asher_Knight said...

 Exactly. I've never heard of such a thing! And trust me, it's as painful as is quick. And, oh yes, PATRICK IS AMAZING. He is so... I did my best to describe him the way I see him, but he's one of those perfect guys without trying to hard to be. Hehe. Patrick Darling is a such a cute name too, for a guy. Maybe that's why he always had to look tough.

Thank you <333 I think Sarah nailed it much better than I, but thanks :D

I can't wait for you to read it too! You've got to me tweet me if/when you do :DDD

Asher_Knight said...

 It's so good. I think contemporary lovers will love this, like fans of If I Stay. Just imagine If I Stay but with a more lighthearted tone. But don't be fooled. The anguish is almost as devastating. I hope you read it soon!

Asher_Knight said...

Oh, LUCKY. I did want to read this when I first saw it, but then I saw all these mixed reviews and I wasn't too sure. But that just goes to show you that you have to read the book anyway, sometimes, because if I hadn't, I would've missed out on a fabulous read.

OH THAT IS THE PERFECT WAY TO DESCRIBE IT. Small things uncover big truths. I like it. And it's very true about most things, and the author conveyed that in her story really well. :D

Sam @ Realm of Fiction said...

Awesome review, Asher! Everyone I know who has read this book has loved it. I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it too! And the fact that it is blurbed by Lauren Oliver? So cool! She is one of my absolute favourite writers. I must get round to this soon!

Plus, I want to know what quote you would have shared! Darn that piece of lost paper. ;)

Rebecca (Kindle Fever) said...

Yay! I'm so glad you loved this so much. I seriously cannot wait to get my hands on it! It sounds SO freaking good. o: *needs* And Saz sure is amazing at getting you desperate to read stuff! Lol. Gah and you too! *pushes up to-read pile*

Caitlin Lomas said...

Ooooh so I wasn't too sure about this one, but Ive seen a couple of really awesome reviews and adding yours into the mix too....especially with your mentions of Judd Nelson in Breakfast Club..*happy sigh* I might actually have to read this one now XD

The Cait Files

Miss Page-Turner said...

Hey it's a very good idea to give a short and longer review version! I really need to read this book soon!! Thanks for your review:)

Asher_Knight said...

I find that funny simply because most of the reviews I came across before I read this were negative... until Sarah. And I trust Sarah's judgement, and I'm so glad I picked up this book.
Lauren IS the greatest. IF she blurbed it, I don't know why anyone would have doubts or misgivings about this one.

I know! I sifted through my entire purse, top to bottom, and couldn't find that damn piece of paper. I really liked that quote! :(

Asher_Knight said...

 it is SO good. Wonderful. Wrenching. Beautiful. And never ignore Sarah's good praise. She doesn't steer you wrong!

Thanks, Rebecca <33

Asher_Knight said...

No, Cait, trust me, you don't want to pass on this book. At least not until you've drawn your own conclusions. Try it, and tweet me what you think when you do. 

Asher_Knight said...

Why, thank you :D I like to give people a little preview to start, like an appetizer. I hope you enjoy it! :)

Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue said...

This is what my review would have been were it as well-said as yours, Asher!  I really admire your thoughts on CATASTROPHIC HISTORY, because well, they're mine.  Everything you said about this book could have been my thoughts, as I was reading it - laughing, crying, and running the gamut of emotions I didn't expect to experience while reading it. 

"But as she deftly approaches acceptance of her death and its dreadful
toll on her loved ones, we grow more and more proud of her as she
understands herself, and does her best by the people she loves."

THIS.  I am in complete and total agreement with this statement.  And I am so glad that someone else enjoyed this one as much as I did.  It seems like we both swooned an equal amount over Patrick.  And I have a serious crush on Jess's writing style!

I also wanted to thank you for visiting my blog several times lately!  That means a lot to me. 

Asher_Knight said...

 Aw, thanks, Molli <3 I love it when that happens, when you share the exact same thoughts as someone else. You're not alone in the way you think about a book and someone appreciates it/dislikes it as much as you. It was such a roller coaster with this book, I felt erratic in my feeling all these different things separately or all as one.

Oh, I absolutely loved this one, and have a HUGE crush on Patrick. Totally fictional boyfriend material. And her writing style is so perfect, because her teen voice is real and natural and the words she uses are sometimes simple, sometimes not, but they play together in perfect sync.

Oh, I really enjoy reading your blog, so it's not a hardship at all :) You have some great thoughts on so many books, and I found myself even more excited when I HAVEN'T read a book you're talking about. :D

Sarah (saz101) said...

"Love, especially first love, is a wild and fragile thing..." Oh, Asher, you're a POET.
This review is PERFECTION. You're... oh, it's perfect. What do I say? You've written something equally as beautiful and perhaps more eloquen than the book itself.

And seriously... did you just mention Judd Nelson in the Beakfast Club? O___O

AAAAH! and: "The Catastrophic History of You and Me is about love and its strange, wonderful, unpredictable facets—the love we reserve for family, friends, love interests, and so forth—and reminds us of its imperfect beauty and absolute significance. People die for love every day, so it's only right that when we die we, like Brie, find love as well."

My dear, you're going to make me cry. ALSO! I am immeasurably happy you read this and loved it as much as me! Loves! ♥

Sarah (saz101) said...

DUDE. You're making me blush! *hugs you both*

Sarah (saz101) said...

... *more hugs* you know, I'm not really sure I'd read a negative one, either... but I'm not sure I looked. COME ONE. Surely you'd have to have no soul not to like it? *hides* I joke. I'm sure there are plenty of soulful people with plenty of good reasons for not loving it :D

Sarah (saz101) said...

PSH. TAKE IT BACK. Asher. Your review was pure and simple PERFECTION. <3

Molli @ Once Upon a Prologue said...

Agreed - so many authors, when they write teens, end up skewing things too much, and the teen sounds like a little kid or a much older adult. Jess Rothenberg definitely hit the nail on the head.

And Patrick. Oh, Patrick. He made me laugh and he made me cry. He was SO perfect for Brie, and so good to and for her. I just adore him and want to squeeze him. This was just an example of an amazing stand-alone!

Aww, thank you so much! I'm with you - as much as I enjoy squee'ing with someone over a book we both loved, I get even more pepped up when it's a new book I haven't read, yet the person whose blog I'm visiting just adores it!

Asher_Knight said...

 *hugs back* It's so true, Sarah. :)

Asher_Knight said...

 *whispers* But between you and me, I don't see it. A few blogs that I typically  read weren't too impressed by it, like we were. That's okay, though, because there's lots of love to go around :)

Asher_Knight said...

 *blushes* I won't (take it back).

Asher_Knight said...

 *grins sheepishly* It just flows, I guess. I try to write my reviews almost as soon as I'm done with the book, because all my feelings come pouring out that way. *blushes* Thank you, <333

What? o_O Too early for my time? *grins* It's a classic. One of all-time favorites! Watched it a few years ago, and since then he's still a fictional crush of mine. :D

I just found that aspect of the book so powerful. That once we die, it doesn't mean, necessarily, that we'll never have a chance at love. That's one of the things that used to make me so sad, thinking of kids dying early and how they won't get the chance to fall in love. Brie missed out while she was alive, but her death now doesn't seem so cruel, since she has Patrick. More bittersweet than anything. YES, lots of the love for this. :D

Asher_Knight said...

 YES. The either sound too young or too old, or as if the author is trying to be cool, trying TOO hard to sound like a teen. Oh, Jess, you completely dazzled me.

He mostly made me laugh, but then when he would be hurt and that final revelation of who he really is toward the end... Let's just say the word kept flowing, like a faucet with broken knobs. And I loooved that it was a stand-alone! These days it's all about series, and it's so nice to see this book ending perfectly all on its own.

<3 The squeeing and squeaking are fabulous side effects of sharing pleasure over a mutual favorite, but I love discovering new things to read. Especially when it's outside of my comfort zone or something I completely underestimated :)

Sarah (saz101) said...

 Aaaah! I LOVE it! SO MUCH.

And noooo, I'm not saying it was before your time, but honestly? It was before mine. I saw it for the first time THIS YEAR O____O

elena said...

Eek, I love this review! It really makes me want to read the book again and conveyed all the themes especially well. I love the bit you said about first love because it's so true. Incredibly lovely review! 

April David said...

WOW. Thank you for this review. Oh my! You made me want to read this book now! Wonderful review! You said it very well, and now I can't wait to get my hands on this one. I think it's on my TBR, but I need to double-check... Hope I have plenty of spare time to read all these wonderful books. 

Brodie said...

SQUEEEEEE!!! I saw you start reading this and had my fingers and toes and elbows and tongue and ears crossed that you'd love it AND YOU DID. AND YOU WROTE A BEAUTIFUL REVIEW. AND NOW I NEED TO GO REREAD THE DAMN BOOK.

Sigh. I freaking adore Patrick so, so much. That boy knows how to give a girl butterflies. And oh gosh, when everything was... revealed?! *clutches heart*

And BRIE! She was just insanely AWESOME. I love how much she grew. I love the rollercoaster of emotions she put us all through. Damn, is Jess Freaking Rothenberg talented or what?! Is Asher Freaking Knight talented or what?!  <3333

Asher_Knight said...

 Aw, thank you, Elena <3 The themes, the emotion, whoa, baby, this book is amazing.

Asher_Knight said...

 YAY. The more people who read it, the better. I completely adored this book. I hope you read it soon! :D

Asher_Knight said...

 I DID LOVE IT. Oh, Brodie, IT WAS MAGICAL. Now, I want to reread the freaking book. :D

What's not to adore about Patrick Darling? I had this massive crush on him the entire time, blushing, my thoughts stuttering. And, OH YES. *wipes tears*

I felt for Brie. I cried at her sorrow and anger and the sense of injustice done to her, but then admired her for being able to move past it all. Jess Rothenberg is def. one of my favorites. And BRODIE. You're making me BLUSH. <333333333

Asher_Knight said...

 *cracks up* REALLY. I was practically raised with it. My mom made me watch it religiously for a few years now.

Liz. R said...

I don't think I have anything else to say, you've said it all! Your review is perfect. I adored this book. Everything about it, it was just so...ah! I don't have the right words. I loved Patrick though, and all the cheesy nicknames he had for Brie :). Awesome review, Asher.

Asher_Knight said...

 *LOL* I couldn't say enough good things about this book either. And thanks, Liz <3 Every second was either like a punch to the heart or made me smile. Patrick *swoons* Oh, yes, he is amazing. :D

Marathon said...

Wow this book sounds amazing! I'll admit when I first heard about this
book I wasn't really interested but I think I might give it a shot now.
Great review!

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