Me being me is exactly as insane as you being you (a novel told in lists) – Todd Hasak-lowy
When I saw this cover on Netgalley I was excited, when I read a bit about it and saw it was a novel made of lists I was intrigued, but on finishing it, I’ve not really got any thoughts on the subject either way. But, I did receive the book in exchange for an honest review, so review it I shall!
A heartfelt, humorous story of a teen boy’s impulsive road trip after the shock of his lifetime—told entirely in lists!
Darren hasn’t had an easy year.
There was his parents’ divorce, which just so happened to come at the same time his older brother Nate left for college and his longtime best friend moved away. And of course there’s the whole not having a girlfriend thing.
Then one Thursday morning Darren’s dad shows up at his house at 6 a.m. with a glazed chocolate doughnut and a revelation that turns Darren’s world inside out. In full freakout mode, Darren, in a totally un-Darren move, ditches school to go visit Nate. Barely twenty-four hours at Nate’s school makes everything much better or much worse—Darren has no idea. It might somehow be both. All he knows for sure is that in addition to trying to figure out why none of his family members are who they used to be, he’s now obsessed with a strangely amazing girl who showed up out of nowhere but then totally disappeared.
Told entirely in lists, Todd Hasak-Lowy’s debut YA novel perfectly captures why having anything to do with anyone, including yourself, is:
3. ridiculously complicated
4. possibly, hopefully the right thing after all.
First things first, kudos to Todd Hasak-Lowy for doing something I thought would be nigh on impossible and that is constructing and maintaining an entire story out of lists. Yes, this book is completely made up of lists. An entire novel, made of lists, you can tell why I was intrigued on reading the blurb now right? And actually, the story does flow rather well, it makes sense and the narrative moves in a familiar fashion considering the unfamiliar style. Being a virgo, I am someone that loves lists, I write lists all the time, I even wrote a blog post full of lists the other day, but as well as being a virgo who loves lists, I am also a writer and I don’t think that this is something I would have chosen as a layout for a novel. While the story makes sense and as I say, the events flow from one to the other, it does feel a bit impersonal. The lists are all of Darren’s invention, so we do get an insight into his mind, but at the same time, it doesn’t leave a lot of room for emotion or to get a sense of what is going on outside of Darren’s bubble.
There were a lot of good points about this book, although I felt the lists made it a little impersonal, the characters were very authentic, raw and flawed. I felt like Darren could have been any number of insecure boys that I went to school with and characters like Zoe and Nate were also very well rounded, if not altogether likeable. Actually, despite the lists, some of which seemed a bit of an odd choice, but more on that in a moment, this book was actually very well written, it really captured the confusing and overwhelming feelings that come with adolescence and family changes and general growing up. Todd Hasak-Lowy has handled a difficult time very well. There were times reading this when I just wanted to give Darren a hug, the poor kid is dealing with his parents splitting up, plus being self conscious about his body and starting to notice girls at the same time and the fact that his brother is away at college now and isn’t around to help him out with all this stuff. Me being me is exactly as insane as you being you had some wonderfully endearing moments. But, the lists, the lists which dragged me in in the first place and seemed such an interesting concept did, at certain points, hinder my enjoyment of the story. I mean, there are only so many lists you can engage with in one sitting. While I’m being a Debbie Downer (sorry) the title is kind of a mouthful, it isn’t especially catchy and although it is relevant to the themes of the book and realisations that Darren has during the story, it was the cover’s colour scheme and the premise that caught my attention rather than the title. Not necessarily a bad thing, but for me, trying to remember the name of the title whilst searching for it on goodreads was a particular pain! It is also long, it’s nearly 700 pages!
While I think there are people out there that will LOVE this book, it didn’t quite work for me, there were a lot of pointless lists that didn’t really add anything to the story and I’m not entirely sure what the point of the lists were other than for the novelty factor. Darren, unlike me, doesn’t appear to be a virgo with a bit of an OCD who simply HAD to write lists in order to function during the day. In fact, the lists all appear to be in Darren’s mind and aren’t things that he makes notes of or writes down at all. I think had the lists been an extension of his character, I’d have probably appreciated them more, but honestly, they got a bit old by about 60%. That isn’t to say that this is a bad book in the slightest, it just isn’t a me book. Me Being Me (I’m just gonna shorten it for ease) is an endearing, light tale about the trails of growing up while dealing with a spectacular array of personal issues.
I’d love to know if anyone else has read this and what they thought, did you like the lists or did you tire of them as I did? I noticed that this had a lot of divisive comments on goodreads, I love it when a book has people debating about its merits!
Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You is out now, so if you love lists, (like REALLY love lists) maybe check it out!