- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Skyscape (December 1, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1503939820
- ISBN-13: 978-1503939820
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 1,725 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #303,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland Paperback – December 1, 2016
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One of Bustle’s 8 Best YA Books of December 2016
“It is a great read for teens, especially girls, and a strong candidate for cross-generation discussion.” —VOYA
“Now that the title has captured our attention, I have even better news: No, this book isn't a history lesson about a president. Much more wonderfully, it centers on teenager Zander Osborne, who meets a boy named Grover Cleveland at a camp for at-risk youth. Together, the two and other kids who face bipolar disorder, anorexia, pathological lying, schizophrenia, and other obstacles use their group therapy sessions to break down and build themselves back up. And as Zander gets closer to Grover, she wonders if happiness is actually a possibility for her after all.” —Bustle
“The true beauty of Crane’s book lies in the way she handles the ugly, painful details of real life, showing the glimmering humanity beneath the façades of even her most troubled characters. As these characterizations deepen, and the sweetly strange romance between the heroine and her hero develops, readers will only be pulled deeper into this addictive, readable journey. Crane shows, with enormous heart and wisdom, how even the unlikeliest of friendships can give us the strength we need to keep on fighting.” —RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)
About the Author
Rebekah Crane is the author of three young-adult novels—Playing Nice, Aspen, and The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland. She found a passion for young-adult literature while studying secondary English education at Ohio University. After having two kids and living and teaching in six different cities, Rebekah finally settled in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains to write novels and work on screenplays. She now spends her day carpooling kids or tucked behind a laptop at 7,500 feet, where the altitude only enhances the writing experience.
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I've been reading Kindle First Books since the program started. And poor sad, sad little me, most of the time I've been disappointed (Just look at some of my reviews). The Odds of Loving Grover Cleveland is by far the best book I've read these last few years as a loyal First member. Even the title is a fantastic fit, as weird as it sounds at first glance. I mean, Grover Cleveland? Like the President? The only thing I know about the guy is that he was elected for two non-consecutive terms, and the only reason I know that is because my mom made me eat all my meals on a President placemat so I didn't spill mac and cheese on her stained cedar. Oh, and he had a different color bow tie in the second picture, and as we all know, bow ties are cool.
The book is written in present tense, which isn't my favorite, but I give it a pass since it's in first person. This means that we learn about what happens with our main character as she experiences it, which I think in this case, was a good choice.
The book takes place almost entirely at some sort of summer camp. But it's not your run of the mill murder camp run by some guy called Jason, nor is it Space Camp where all those rich kids come back and brag about how they got to build mini rockets and ride that crazy spinning simulator, a marvel us plebians could never comprehend. Actually, they never really say what exactly Camp Padua is, but I'm assuming it's for troubled teens and/or teens with behavior disorders to share the summer with kids like themselves. Basically, it's a a story of how these teens go to summer camp and how it changes them; and how they change it in the process. Yet at the same time, it's NOT basic; it's both a simply-told story we've all heard yet a unique one at the same time. It's hard to describe. Maybe it's like the Breakfast Club? That comes up a few times in the book, but I've never seen it. Just read this book. Really.
In case you're not convinced yet, the protagonist is at camp and doesn't seem to happy about it. I'll just call her "Main" or some variation. People that read reviews are smart; you'll pick up on it. Anyway, we open up with Main Squeeze and she seems a bit... Constrained. Odd. When she gets in a bind (or just, exists, I guess) she likes to conjugate French verbs. She tries to keep to herself, stay stuck at nowhere, but come on, this is camp, no way that's going to happen. Some of the things she dealt with hit close to home, like the apathy she has when she should be feeling SOMETHING when the people around her are, but doesn't. I thought her journey dealing with that was remarkably accurate. Main Street quickly meets Grover Cleveland, who shares the height but not the girth of the former commander-in-chief. He's a quirky, outgoing string bean who's like C-3PO in the asteroid field, knowing the odds to all kinds of random things like being struck by lighting. His name, what he does, maybe it has something to do with the title...? *nudge nudge*
Along with these two, there's also the tougher than hermetically-sealed glass Cassie, the Blue Christmas Dori who needs to find herself (ha!) and even the well-known star of a popular game show (Or is he?), who all work together to make the camp counselors earn their pay. Now, even though I'm describing them with these quick tidbits, what makes Crane's writing work so well is that the characters of this book aren't caricatures scanned from DSM-III, but are shown as actual living, breathing human beings. The dialogue is the best I've read in a long, long time. It's witty at times, simple at others, revealing or concealing depending on the situation. And the conversations and word choice sound like things a reality-based homo sapien might utter periodically.
I think this is a major point Crane wanted to show her readers, that everyone has imperfections, and they manifest themselves in each of us in different ways. For some of us that could be being too cheap to shop at the mall, other times it's one of these disorders like the kids in this book. And then there's those of us that are just too gersh dern good at Mario Kart Wii. We all have our problems. That doesn't mean there's something wrong with us.
It just means we're alive.
It's a good message, but parents, don't expect it to be told through rainbow puppies on unicorns. There's some F-bombs, sex jokes, tough problems at home, "adult situations", you know, Teenagers 101. It's not sugar-coated, but it's not intentionally dark where every kid is the next Charles Manson because they somehow each have the single worst American childhood ever of all time. And they don't just get into crazy, stupid situations, although of course, it's camp, so... Yeah. Still, I feel like this content was woven in for realism and used artfully instead of for shock value, and that makes a yuge difference.
Of course, as much as I enjoyed the book, there were some... Interesting choices, but it's still an easy five stars. I didn't particularly care for the ending, or at least, the very very ending, and there were some times where the Main Idea said or thought things that were sappier than a overflowing spigot on a maple tree, but the otherwise realistic dialogue and strong characters more than made up for these brief moments.
Overall, this is not only easily the best Kindle First book I've read, but one of the top ten books I've read, and I'll definitely be looking into more of what Rebekah Crane has to offer.
I truly enjoyed this book. What a wonderful, terrifying story.
Life is difficult. Choices aren't always easy.
We must learn to accept and forgive. And love. Always love.
I felt like the story wasn't actually about the protagonist, Zander, at all, and it sort of became a book about her roommate Cassie. Cassie in my opinion was the strongest and most believable character. I just wish the author would have put as much effort into her other characters as she did with Cassie. The others fell a little flat.
The writing is decent, typical of a YA novel. I'll give the author credit, I personally hate present tense writing but she did a pretty good job with it. It didn't feel distracting to me like present tense writing normally does.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised and happy to have stumbled on this book.
By about halfway, however, the tone started to change a little bit. The romance that wasn't the forefront of the story up until this point became the forefront for awhile. The serious tone that I loved so much started to be touched on more lightly than before instead of becoming more serious (like I had anticipated). As I got closer to the end, the book became more and more of a fluffy, feel-good read and started to become even more unrealistic. The beginning was so believable, but by the end it was just another everything-works-out, happily ever after kind of novel that was trying a bit too hard.
That's not to say it wasn't a good read. It was an easy, fast paced read that was very compelling. I loved the even mix of tone at the beginning. I still enjoyed the book; I was just a little disappointed by the end when it started with such great potential.
I would give this book a 3 out of 5. If you like a light contemporary that's got more going on than just a romance, then this is a great book. If it looks like your kind of book, then I would definitely recommend. It's worth a read through, but it's nothing amazing that I'll have the desire to give a second read.