A + E 4ever, by I. Merey

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Five stars, read in July 2016.

This book is gorgeous. I don’t have anything objective to say about it—I just want to gush feelings for a while. It’s so lovely, in fact, that I went and found a bigger-than-usual picture of the cover to use here, just so I could look at it. I read it over the holiday weekend, and I was going to return it to the library on Tuesday when I went to work, then decided not to because I want to read it again immediately. Which I did this morning. I want to buy it, but I have a less-than-zero book-buying budget right now, so I really might just keep it out from the library until someone places a hold on it.

It was already unique the moment I picked it up; it’s much bigger than graphic novels usually are, basically the size of 8 1/2 x 11″ paper. The cover is velvety to the touch, which compounded the indulgent feeling for me, making me sink into it like the shabby armchair I was curled up in. It’s one of those books that incorporates music—sometimes the characters mention specific artists or songs, and sometimes they’re just written along the edges of the page. They’re compiled in a list at the back of the book. I didn’t listen to those songs specifically, but I had a playlist (from Google Play Music) called “A Stiff Drink in a Dim Place.” It was melancholy on purpose, and it was perfect.

Eulalie is the kind of teenager I wish I’d had the chance to be: tough, smart, strong enough to wear what she wants and look how she wants even though people are shitty to her because of it. But even though she’s a thousand times cooler than I was at that age, I can identify a thousand percent with her position in this book. Is there anything more devastating to a teenager than unrequited love? Especially when the person you love is actually very close to you, but not in the way you want. That sums up my entire high school experience, and being transported back there was—surprisingly—beautiful. I didn’t like high school, I don’t miss it, and you couldn’t pay me to go through it again. But if I could do it as Eulalie or Ash, I would.

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