- Hardcover: 272 pages
- Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books (May 3, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0062299603
- ISBN-13: 978-0062299604
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.9 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,439,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Unforgivable Hardcover – May 3, 2016
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Readers familiar with Reed's Invincible will remember that Evie, once the cheerleader with a jock boyfriend, later a girl dying of cancer-turned-medical miracle who beats death, survives with no taste for her former life. Instead, she returns as a "bad girl" and ends that novel drugged, drunk, and in mortal danger. While reading Evie's story is not a requirement, foreknowledge will promote a greater understanding of the second novel's focus, the boy Evie's family assumes lured her into a life of substance abuse and self-destruction. Marcus, whose mother ran off and whose perfect older brother checked out of life, finds solace and love in Evie, and he saves her from the freezing cold waters of the San Francisco Bay by rushing her to the hospital. This is the "Now" of Marcus's life—Evie's mother won't let him see her, her sister also blames him, and he learns that his girl of only six weeks is in rehab and not seeking him out. In short sections named "You," Marcus emotes to the beautiful girl who appears to crave the very death she escaped in beating the big C. In past-focused sections called "Then," Marcus's white mother becomes unhinged and alcoholic following the betrayal of his high-powered African American judge father, and childhood memories make his brother's loss haunting. In the present, though, his dad is trying to start over with a new woman and to be more available for his son. Marcus will need to heal in the wake of his excruciating past and Hurricane Evie, perhaps to kindle a healthier love. VERDICT Only compelling for those who like their pathos chin-deep.—Suzanne Gordon, Lanier High School, Sugar Hill, GA
“Reed express[es] what so many teens feel when their lives spiral out of control, when family and love and the future all seem dark and trouble-laden. This novel will appeal to girls and boys who enjoyed Simone Elkeles’s Perfect Chemistry series and other gritty, urban books.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
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In the highly anticipated sequel to one of my favorite reads last year, Invincible, Unforgivable paints a much darker image on the lives of Evie and Marcus and their all-consuming love for one another. Amy Reed should be highly praised for her proper portrayal of the complexities of human emotions and the fact that her teenagers feel–and act–like teenagers who are struggling.
That was one of the best things about Invincible, it felt real and as painful as one could expect. We knew instantly at the end of the previous novel that we would be left in a hurricane of heartbreak and changes and Unforgivable picks right up on that tone. Unforgivable is fast and beautiful and a world of cloudy memories and painful realizations.
Its biggest theme? Moving on. Letting go. And how difficult it can be to do so. You see, letting go of loved ones is all well and good in theory, but it takes some time to resonate with our decision. Reed’s prose brings to life this sort of feeling and will tug on your heartstrings until the very final pages.
She reminds us that, in order to move on, we have to make peace with ourselves, our demons and the past. In order to move forward, we cannot continue taking steps backward.
Readers will enjoy seeing Marcus’ point of view this time around and it is easy to find him sympathetic. Evie and Marcus both have incredibly raw and unique voices and backstories that you can’t help but to love them just as much as you want to shake or protect them. I liked that we swapped narrators because this is Marcus and this is his story and while Evie’s heavily involved in it, it’s still all him.
We know Evie’s story. Her struggles. We get a bit of closure on that, too, and an ending that is open to interpretation. I liked how intimate it felt getting to know Marcus and while I wish we could have directly seen more of Evie’s recovery and all that jazz, I appreciated it for what it was and how it unfolded.
Because Marcus is the narrator this time there’s an obvious shift in the prose and it’s a good one. It kept things fresh and Reed’s writing is entirely to thank for that one. Again, I can’t stress how much of a gift and surprise her words have meant to me but there’s just this spark there.
You won’t feel it’s fiction.
That being said, Marcus has a history all his own that is a big contrast to Evie’s. I liked seeing it explored and seeing him pour his heart out for us. It’s heartbreaking. There’s a rush to it that isn’t unlike the world as it passes us by.
We see more of his family and how complex things are in his home life. It’s easy to see why he fell in love with that version of Evie–it compares to a lot of things and it’s just painful to hear his past. I should warn you, readers, that there’s a lot more references to depression and self harm in this one than there was in Invincible.
Marcus struggles with a lot of things: his life with Evie, his life before Evie, his memories of happier and worse times with his mother, his brother and father. He struggles coming to terms with his future, his past, his presence–all of it is catching up to him and it’s such a raw thing to see.
What I love most about Marcus is that like Evie, there are a lot of pieces of their personalities that change through time. They connect with each other like a well made puzzle and just as quickly can they fall apart. I felt Marcus’ pain at not being able to see Evie, I felt his joy when he could see her and it’s impossible to not feel anything for either character.
Overall, Unforgivable is one of the best young adult novels you can read this year. Think Lurlene McDaniel meets Gayle Foreman meets Ellen Hopkins meets John Green–there’s something undeniable about these books and these characters and it’s so easy to make parallels between this work of fiction and the real world.
And Marcus and Evie are two characters that find each other somewhere in the middle and their flaws, their love, their ups and their downs, make their thoughts and story beautiful. Two of the best characters in modern young adult literature by far and an absolute must-read!
Quick & Dirty: Marcus comes to terms with all the loss in his life.
Opening Sentence: “I’m sorry.”
Marcus gets a text from Evie asking him to meet her on the beach. When he arrives she is nowhere to be seen, but he finds a pile of her clothes and then spots her in the water. He rushes her to the hospital and then waits for word. Only to find out she is in a coma when her mom blames him for everything. Marcus then begins to go crazy trying to find out what has happened to Evie, until he finally catches her sister outside of her school.
He realizes later that he is clean and soon begins to make other changes to his life. He takes the internship with his father, stops smoking weed and tries to talk to Evie. When he shows up at her house to apologize, her parents call the police and he is arrested. After that, he leaves her alone and becomes withdrawn. His mother nor his father can reach him. Along the way, we learn what happened to his brother David.
David was an addict slowly killing himself until one day he decided that wasn’t fast enough and killed himself. He sent Marcus a text and so Marcus was the one that found him. Marcus seems to be drowning in his loss, he doesn’t know how to deal with Evie and his mother. He can’t seem to accept the changes in his father. Will he be able to finally get through it?
I kind of have a lot to say. First off, I thought the first book was okay and that Evie was meh. I am not reviewing that book so I will stop there, but I thought it was bad enough that she texted Marcus to find her, and then when I got to the part about David it cemented the fact that I didn’t like her. I know he didn’t tell her that, but hey, just a thought. Not something that leaves a good memory behind. The way she treated him through the whole book, and the fact that he kept chasing after her burned me. I wanted to say let her go, man, you can do so much better.
So needless to say that was the worst example of a relationship in YA book I have ever read, and even when Marcus finally admitted it was toxic. He just decided to accept all the blame, ugh, she never not once apologized to him or explained to her parents that he didn’t have anything to do the pills. Yes, he partied with her, but basically, even though this was from his viewpoint he was just the welcome mat on which she walked. His story was utterly lost in that BS of a relationship. I can’t really say anything else. Kudos for a bi-racial couple, but big thumbs down for having him arrested, having her parents treat him like trash, and I am assuming all because he is black and they partied together.
“I should have tried harder. I should have done more to pull the truth out of you. I was a coward, too. But that ends now. I refuse to lose you. I will not give up that easily. I will not let you drift away and pretend you did not leave some pieces of you with me.”
FTC Advisory: Katherine Tegen Books/HarperCollins provided me with a copy of Unforgivable. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.