Author: Lang Leav
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publishing Date: 2017
Number of Pages: 362 pages
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Romance
School is almost out for Audrey, but the panic attacks are just beginning.
Because Audrey told a lie and now now her classmate, Ana, is dead.
Just as her world begins to spin out of control, Audrey meets the enigmatic Rad – the boy who could turn it all around. But will their ill-timed romance drive her closer to the edge.
Lang Leav is a renowned poet who has a prominent presence in the social media. She is quite popular among the social media savvy Filipino readers. They are among her most devout followers. She rose to prominence with her poetical works and I happen to be one of those who were enchanted by her poetry. This is in spite of the fact that I don’t indulge into poetry.
A couple of months ago, I heard that Lang Leav is about to release a new book. This didn’t particularly pique my interest because I don’t really dig into poetry books. However, when I encountered her newest work, Sad Girls on one of my bookstore excursions, I tried my best to resist to urge when I saw that it is a novel. I was a bit perplexed because it was sitting on the shelf for Poetry works.
Before encountering the book, I thought that Sad Girls is a poetry book, just like her earlier works. But no word can describe the delight on my face when I saw that it is actually a novel. Great! I finally have the chance to scrutinize Lang Leav’s writing style. Without second thoughts, I purchased the books because I am curious on how she’ll translate her success in poetry into prose.
I have already made it clear that I am no young adult fiction fan. However, every now and then, I am willing to make concessions just like I did with Nicola Yoon’s The Sun is Also A Star, Jennifer Niven’s Holding Up The Universe and John Green’s works. More often than not, I have very low hopes for young adult books because I find their plots too banal and the story telling too lackadaisical.
One of the exceptions I made is for Lang Leav’s Sad Girls which I opted to read over the heap of books that has began piling up on my bookshelf. Her poetry definitely enthralled me and I was expecting that she’ll blow up my mind with her debut novel. For me, she has raised herself to a very lofty pedestal with her poetry, and I, as a reader, is expecting so much from her.
It is just so sad to think that more often than not, high expectations usually lay down the foundations to great falls. Sad Girls is literally sad. I am not referring to just the story. This is my summation of the book. I have such high expectations for the book but within the first few pages, my high expectations began plummeting to the ground.
The book opened up with the Audrey’s regret and ironically, that is how I am going to start this book review. I totally regret placing it on top over the other books I have. Audrey is the main protagonist and is the narrator. Midway through the book, I decided to check on the other book reviews. What I found out astounded me. Other readers validated my earlier disappointment with the book.
To begin with, my biggest issue I had with the book is the set of characters. I really felt that there was a disconnect between the reader and the characters, especially the main characters, Audrey and Rad. Lang Leav could’ve built more on them. It was quite a challenge trying to relate and understand each character because most of them were superfluous and lacked, well, character. I wanted more emotions from them, or at least some vestiges of it. But I couldn’t.
The second issue I had with the book is the plot. There are just numerous holes and many questions were left unanswered. Most of the resolutions in the book are suggestive rather than conclusive. It would have been fine had there been a connection between the reader and the characters.
Moreover, there is a lack of substantiation on the issues it tried to highlight such as suicide and anxiety. The book fell short in establishing its message pertaining to these prevalent issues. Just like the characters, they were superficially dealt with when it could have been dealt with more extensively.
One of the things I found most perplexing about the book is how truly unromantic it is. Written by a famed poet, I was really expecting some fireworks or at least more explosive lines. Instead, I found nothing but cliches and unromantic similes that would have worked in a poem but not in a novel. Audrey and Rad’s shotgun love affair left very few to desire for.
The final ax on the book was the ending, where everything finally unraveled. “A boy in sheep’s clothing” finally has some clarity. I have to admit, the plot twist at the end was really shocking because it was unexpected. However, I find the story’s conclusion very puzzling. It makes you think and reevaluate the real meaning of love, in the context of the book.
Ana’s letter in the end was really perplexing. She said that you’ll have never experienced real love if you have never protected them, even to the detriment of one’s moral compass. So in Ana’s words, did Audrey finally experience real love? I really don’t think so. Just like the book, Ana’s final letter was confusing and perplexing to say the least.
I have decided to give the book two stars although I really wanted to give it just one. I reevaluated and thought that my judgment might have been compromised by my lofty standards and my high expectations. To be honest, it’s been some time since I’ve been this disappointed in a book I really looked forward to.
About the Author
Lang Leav is undoubtedly one of the more popular contemporary writers. Her presence in most social media outlets made her one of the more recognizable faces. But her childish looks belie an international bestselling author who has won the Qantas Spirit of Youth Award and coveted Churchill Fellowship. One of books, Lullabies, won the 2014 winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for poetry.
Moreover, Lang has been featured in numerous publications that include the Sydney Morning Herald, the Straits Times, the Guardian, and the New York Times. She is currently residing in New Zealand with her partner and fellow author Michael Faudet.