Embracing You, Embracing Me is a young adult novel by Michelle Bellon. The book was published by Fingerpress on 7th May and the book is 266 pages long. I received this book to review though Net Galley.
Synopsis (Taken from Goodreads.com)
The 90s - home of boy bands, individualism, teenage angst, ultra skinny models, and "Whatever!"...
In a decade when image matters, when the so-called Generation X is swelling with 'future perfect' hopes and pride, 16-year-old Roshell McRady dances her way through High School, never quite admitting that she's ashamed of her trailer park family home. Meanwhile she listens to Madonna while conjuring creative Top Ramen recipes to feed her younger cousins; she empties enough hairspray until her bangs are feathered and vertical like a lethal weapon; and she agonises over how to convince Gabriel Harrison, the new Mystery Guy in town, to invite her to the prom - a night which threatens to turn into a disaster.
But then life takes a dramatic turn for Roshell, and her life changes forever.
What I thought
I’ll start by saying that this isn’t the kind of book I would normally pick for review. Having a new Kindle meant being able to get books from Net Galley so I just requested books I thought that looked interesting, even if they weren’t from one of the publishers I usually read books by.
What made me want to read this book more than anything was the fact that it is set in the 90s. As someone who grew up in the 90s, I was looking forward to reading something which would hopefully remind me of some of the things I used to love. Michelle Bellon adds in some good pop culture references in the beginning of the book although they are not overpowering or too much. You do get a sense that the characters you are reading about are also growing up in the 90s.
The plot of Embracing You, Embracing Me follows main character Roshell as she learns to deal with being poor and living in a trailer park, trying her best to get out of a small town and deal with high school at the same time. While Roshell had a strong voice at times, some of the wording was terrible! It seems that while Bellon wanted the teenagers in this book to sound like they were from the 90s, she may have slightly forgotten how real teenagers talk. Roshell (and her friends) come out with multiple things that did not sound as though a teenager was saying it at all. I actually couldn’t think of anyone who would talk the way that they did. For example; ‘I sensed he was aware of my apprehension. I couldn’t shake the feeling that he was somehow able to read my troubled thoughts and fears and it left me feeling exposed.’ For me, these kinds of things just didn’t read true, especially from Roshell.
While most of Embracing You, Embracing Me is told from Roshell’s point of view, there are little snippets from other characters the whole way through the book. Some characters do this more than once while other only have one small paragraph. I did like getting to know other character’s opinions and what they were thinking but again, for most of the time their voices were not believable. Love interest Gabriel in particular sounded like a middle aged man most of the time and he just did not come across as the fun teenage boy that he was. I was disappointed with the writing style of this book in general because it made it hard to like the majority of the characters.
Bellon attempts to take on some important issues in this book but doesn’t quite hit the nail on the head with them. Quite early on in the book, something extremely important and hard hitting happens but the topic is brushed over quite quickly and while it does have long lasting effects, it was kind of just pushed to one side. I figured that this was going to be a major part of the book, which would have been great as it could have brought around many interesting scenes and interactions but it wasn’t. Also, this book spans the life of Roshell into her twenties, so her teen years are gone over quite quickly too.
I think that this book was drawn out and long winded at times when there was no need for it to be. Embracing You, Embracing Me covers way too much time in so few pages and are quickly thrown from one year to the next without explanations about some things which happen in-between. Unfortunately, this book wasn’t for me at all and although I liked some of the story and some of the characters at times, there were just too many inconsistencies for me to really enjoy it.