Rating – ⭐️⭐️⭐️
Standing Sideways follows Livia Stone as she learns how to deal with the grief of losing her twin brother in a school shooting. She uses drugs and drink and sex as a way of escaping her pain, all the while rebelling against her parents and demonising her therapist.
(Just once I would like to find a YA book where the character has a positive relationship with her therapist or psychologist. Just. Once.)
(You know what else I want? For authors to stop making their teenage characters call their parents by their first names just to portray how angsty and rebellious they are. It’s cringe worthy.)
This was a pretty average read for me. It wasn’t bad…just incredibly cringey at points. Like when Livia sat next to Daniel – the love interest – and literally repeated the words “Penis. Vagina. Penis. Vagina.”
I wish I was joking, but I’m not. She literally just kept alternating the words – it went on for a good couple of pages and the awkwardness nearly made me cry.
There were also a lot of over the top descriptions. Like:
“The vacant space between my liver and large intestine, also known as my stomach, grows the preexisting knot that’s been there for a month.”
I’m sure there was a more concise way of putting that. Like, maybe, “my stomach is in knots”.
I’m all for pretty sentences, but sometimes you just need to rely on the basics to get the job done.
This whole book felt quite flat for me. The story was decent, and there were a few lines that made me tear up, but I didn’t feel anything for the characters (apart from Cao, Livia’s quirky best friend who basically made the entire book for me).
Livia didn’t really make me feel anything apart from irritation. There was a bit of insta-love with Daniel, and her constant swooning over his English accent did my bloody head in. The amount of times she said “but he said it like an O instead of an A” was absolutely ridiculous.
Another thing about Daniel was how…over the top his British-ness was. Like, I’m from England, and if someone called someone “chap” in a serious conversation, they would probably end up with a black eye. I don’t know, it all just seemed very forced, like J. Lynn was trying too hard to remind the readers that he was British.
I’m aware that I’m doing nothing but complain about this book and I literally want to punch myself in the face because I promise it was actually a decent read, but I do have another issue. And that issue is the school gossip blog, Blog Heiress, who seemingly has eyes and ears everywhere.
Screw a boy who has a girlfriend in your back garden? Quickie in the school toilets? Get found with stolen drugs in the backseat of your car? Blog Heiress has the pictures, the gossip and the receipts.
And my issue with this? We don’t know who fucking wrote it all!
Like, this person legit makes an Instagram account full of pictures of Livia and Simon having sex in her garden, and we don’t find out who it is. What’s up with that?
Overall, a decent read. But not really a memorable one.
*thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for providing a free copy of this book*