Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I (Virginia Shreves, #2) by Carolyn Mackler



Expected Publication: May 29, 2018
Synopsis (via Goodreads): Sixteen-year-old Virginia Shreves’ life is finally back on course: she’s accepted who she is inside and out and is rebuilding her relationship with brother Byron, whose date-rape charge shattered everything.

But just as she adjusts to her new normal, her world turns upside down again. Sparks with boyfriend Froggy fade, her best friend bombshells bad news, and then the police arrest Byron. As Virginia struggles to cope, she meets Nate, an artist with his own baggage. The pair vow not to share personal drama. But secrets have a way of coming out, and theirs could ruin everything.
For some girls it’s sexy when a guy bench-presses or throws a football, but he’s slaying me with the book references.
I received an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. My thoughts and opinions are my own. Also, the quote I used may have changed or been altered in some way, but I am quoting from what I received.

I didn't realize this was the second book in a series, but The Universe Is Expanding and So Am I was able to stand on its own. If anything, it makes me more curious about the first book!

I'm relieved Virginia didn't immediately back her brother when he was charged with date-rape. Families tend to do that with their loved ones, because they don't want to see them in pain or in trouble, despite what they've done. Virginia knew Byron's actions were wrong, but she also remembers her brother from before the suspension and charges. She's conflicted over her feelings, but never wants Byron to avoid punishment. It was an interesting perspective to read from, because her head and heart were constantly conflicted.

Virginia was an amazing character. I hated that her parents would body-shame people in front of her, or even hint that she could do better herself. It was awful to view from the outside, and I cannot imagine how someone would feel on the receiving end of those offhanded comments. They destroyed her confidence and made her question herself. Parents: love your children as they are. I never want my children to feel like something about them needs to be changed. Society has dictated what people should look like today, and frankly... it's bullshit. I'm a "curvaceous chick," too. We should respect all body types and love people for who they are.

I wasn't sure where this story was going to go, and I was a little disappointed by the ending. It was similar to being suspended on a roller coaster and waiting for a drop that never happens. There wasn't a cliffhanger, or any indication that things would be continued later on, and maybe an epilogue would have made the story feel more final. Instead, I'm left with questions and feeling like there is more story to be read. Twice I've caught myself going back to pick this book up, only to remember that I've finished it and there's nothing left to read.

Overall, the story was wonderful and I really enjoyed being in Virginia's head. She's an incredibly compassionate person that appreciates people. She makes a point to learn their names, so they're not simply referred to by their job descriptions (example: the tree woman or the lawn man). Her relationship with Sebastian was sweet, and I loved their interactions with each other. The family dynamics were imperfect but realistic. There were little arguments and disagreements, but they did care about each other. They may not have always shown it in the best way, but it was there.

Everything about this book felt authentic, and now I feel like the author purposefully ended the story the way she did. It feels like Carolyn Mackler stopped in the middle of a thought, but that's life. Life is forever flowing around us. Virginia, Sebastian, Bryon, Annie... their lives are going to continue moving forward in one way or another. We get to see a glimpse of what might happen to them, but there are so many different paths they could take. I think we're supposed to be left feeling curious and optimistic about their future.

14 comments:

  1. This sounds rather different, I like :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I liked that it was rather different! 😉

      Delete
  2. I have such a thing about endings, and now I think I may be frustrated by this one. I was looking forward to knocking out both books soon, but ENDINGS!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I KNOW! Even though I think I understand the reasoning behind it, I like it when my books FEEL like they've ended well. Let me know what you think when you read them!

      Delete
  3. Oh I love the quote, yep quote a book and I will swoon. This sounds different. Wonderful review Lindsi.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Haha! I feel the same way! However, it doesn't really work in my marriage, because my husband likes to read scientific and philosophical books that leave me questioning my sanity.

      Delete
  4. It’s so interesting that this one has come out so long (15 years!) after the first book. I read that one about a decade ago and I remember liking it but not being blown away by it. It might be interesting to check back in with Virginia, though. I’m curious about that ending and how I’ll feel about it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's insane! I didn't realize this book was written 15 years later until I was typing up this review. I'm curious how this one will compare to the first! Is Virginia the main character in both? Is she the same age? I'm a little bummed the first one didn't blow you away, but I still want to read it in the future. I thought this book had a lot going for it, but I'm still meh on the ending. A lot went unsaid/unfinished.

      Delete
  5. Wanting to keep reading a book and be with the characters long after the book is over is huge! Now I want to read these!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. While I did enjoy the characters, I kept going back to it because their story felt unfinished. Like... I started telling a joke, but stopped right before the punchline. I felt suspended in this book, and I was waiting for it to feel like it ended.

      Delete
  6. Phew for it being able to stand on its own! :D I have done that too and been all eeeek, but still tried and sometimes failed

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I try to read books in order, but sometimes I don't realize it's the second book in a series! If I can get through the whole book without wondering--great. However, there have been times when things just didn't make sense, so I had to stop and wait until I'd read the first.

      Delete
  7. Too bad the ending of the book was a bit disappointing but it sounds like it hit on a lot of really important topics. Great review!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think so! How would you feel/what would you do if someone in your family was charged with date-rape? Do you support the family member? The victim? Both? It was an interesting perspective to read from, and I enjoyed Virginia's commentary. I also thought it was great that she referred to herself as being "in like" instead of "in love." She was able to realize that at an early age.

      Delete

Comments are like buttons, you don't want to miss one! Please check the "notify me" box at the bottom so you don't miss my response.