Published by Viking Juvenile on October 9, 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Realistic Fiction, Romance, Young Adult
What if you live for the moment when life goes off the rails—and then one day there’s no one left to help you get it back on track?
Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six; she’s the fist-fighting instigator to his peacemaker, the artist whose vision balances his scientific bent. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more than just best-friendship. Oliver, for his part, simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. And then Althea makes the worst bad decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. He leaves town for a clinical study in New York, resolving to repair whatever is broken in his brain, while she gets into her battered Camry and drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.
Their journey will take them from the rooftops, keg parties, and all-ages shows of their North Carolina hometown to the pool halls, punk houses, and hospitals of New York City before they once more stand together and face their chances. Set in the DIY, mix tape, and zine culture of the mid-1990s, Cristina Moracho’s whip-smart debut is an achingly real story about identity, illness, and love—and why bad decisions sometimes feel so good.
I took a leap of faith with Althea & Oliver when I received an email from Netgalley allowing me to download a review copy. However, as soon as I finished reading the synopsis, I knew that this was a book I would enjoy. I dove in to the story as soon as I could and immediately fell in love with the poetic and raw writing so beautifully scripted by the author, Cristina Moracho. This book took my breath away and I found myself fighting the sleep that, like Oliver, tried to consume me as the hours ticked by in the night. Of course, my sleep didn’t consume me for days and weeks on end and I was able to pick right back where I left off the next day.
Althea & Oliver is about two characters who have been best friends since the age of six. Their friendship stays strong through all of elementary and middle school, but soon reaches a tipping point in high school when the struggle between friendship and romantic feelings begins to take shape.
Althea & Oliver are never without the other, but when Oliver begins to suffer from a rare condition that causes him to sleep for days, weeks, or even months on end, the void that is left behind when he succumbs to the sleep, leaves Althea the one in the dark. These two are complete opposites, which is something I love about their friendship. Oliver is stable on his feet, makes good grades, and is all around the good guy. Althea, however, is at a point in her life where she is struggling & feels incomplete without her better half, Oliver. She has grown so used to always having Oliver there by her side, but when he isn’t, it’s obvious there is something missing. It was heartbreaking for me, as the reader, to see Althea so out of touch with her life. Sure, she had other people to pass the time with and her dad, whom she could also banter back and forth with, but none of those ever left her feeling completely whole.
What I love most about this book are the characters and the way they both contributed to the intricate web this story depicted. Althea & Oliver have a beautiful friendship, even when it begins to grow complicated with Althea’s more romantic feelings. As the pages turn and the months go by for these two, they really begin to struggle with their relationship & what might happen if they take it to a different level. The journey the characters take both individually and as friends is a roller coaster ride. It seems to go up and down, up and down, with a fork in the road leading them on different paths that leave the reader wondering if they will ever cross again. As I read, I wasn’t sure if they would meet again and I don’t think I was suppose to. That’s the beauty of the story. Everything felt so real for me. I couldn’t assume it would work out one way and be disappointed by it working out another way. I just had to settle in and go on the journey with both Althea & Oliver.
I loved this leap of faith I took with Althea & Oliver. The settings were perfection and I’m not just saying that because I am a NC gal or a lover of the Big Apple, but because I felt the settings portrayed the characters perfectly in their own unique way. Everything about this book was so raw & brutally honest that I couldn’t put it down. It was a breath of fresh air for me as a lover of the YA genre and I cannot wait to add this beautiful story [and cover] to my bookcase.