Thursday, 5 April 2018

Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Sam & Ilsa's Last Hurrah
by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Summary: Sam and Ilsa Kehlmann have spent most of their high school years throwing dinner parties, and now they’ve prepared their final blowout, just before graduation. The rules for the twins are simple: they each get to invite three guests, and the other twin doesn’t know who’s coming until the guests show up at the door. With Sam and Ilsa, the sibling revelry is always tempered with a large dose of sibling rivalry, and tonight is no exception.

One night. One apartment. Eight people. What could possibly go wrong? Oh, we all know the answer is plenty. But plenty also goes right – in rather surprising ways.

I'm not really sure what to think about this book. There were parts of it I loved...but then there was something about it that just fell short of being great and being what I needed it to be. Like there was just something lacking from the story and I can't pin point what.

I think maybe part of the problem was that the story was quite short and takes place in one night. That worked spectacularly for Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (by far my favourite collaboration
between these authors) but it didn't work as well in this. It felt like the story introduced issues and relationships and plot points that couldn't really get the development and justice they deserved in such a short book.

It wasn't that any of the plot points were done poorly, it was just a lot to pack into one night of a story and such a short book -- especially when it had to be balanced out with lighter, more comedic stuff.

Like both Sam and Isla were dealing with finding closure to their old relationships, while juggling potential new relationships as well as dealing with family issues and personal issues and identity issues and in-the-moment party issues and it was was a lot. Which made it not feel like enough, if that makes sense.

I loved that Isla's sexuality was explored in the story but in such a casual, non-issue way rather than having it dominate the whole story (representation like that is just as important as books revolving mostly around that). The only issue, again, was that the actual relationship felt underdeveloped, so I was rooting more for the idea of them than actually feeling a real connection between the pairing.

I loved the overall vibe the story had. I loved that the setting was practically a character in its own right (that was one of the things I loved about Nick & Norah) and I loved that it made me laugh and smile quite a bit. And I loved how utterly bizarre some parts were.

I loved that the book gave me that goodbye feeling. You know the one -- when you're leaving a place or a person or a particular point in your life and you feel this heavy mix of hope and happiness and sadness and fear and nostalgia all at once right in the heart of your chest? The book gave me that feeling, I was feeling it right along with the characters.

I guess what I'm getting at is that it's a really good book. It just felt like it bit off a bit more than it could chew with the issues and relationships it tried to cram into a few hundred pages.

I'd rate the book 3.5 stars out of 5. It's not the best book these two have written together but it is worth reading.


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