Book Review : In Search of Us

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★★★★★

“The funny thing about beauty, James writes, is that in no way does its presence negate the truth of suffering, of injustice, of pain, but it does stand stalwart in its own right, as its own truth.” 

Ava Dellaira did it again for me and I might have to call her one of my favorites authors now because I thought there was no way she could make me this sad after I’ve read Love Letters to the Dead. I knew what to expect. I was coming in prepared, but somehow she still managed to break my heart. HOW? Just how?

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Trigger warnings : violence, drug use, mentions of sexual assault. 

This book is gorgeous inside and out, it’s amazing and the subject is incredible. I loved how it switches perspectives from Angie and her mother, Marilyn, their stories are obviously intertwined and you get to see them in their own journeys of self-discovery at 17-18 years old when they are both trying to know themselves better and understand what they truly need.

I have to say that I enjoyed Marilyn’s story a little bit more and her personality as well. While I could understand Angie’s reason for being selfish, I thought she mistreated Sam a great deal and their love story ended up being kind of meh to me. It wasn’t realistic in the end and I felt like they might have been better off as friends. But that wasn’t a big part of the book, so moving on.

Angie goes on a road trip with Sam to discover what happened with her father, how he ended up dead or if he’s still alive considering her mother lied to her about her uncle being dead as well (while he’s pretty much alive in Los Angeles). While we see Angie visiting Los Angeles for the first time and experiencing things that she never could before because Marilyn had always been rather protective of her, we also get to see Marilyn’s part of the story. We see teenager!Marilyn moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting/modelling career, which is more her mother’s dream rather than hers, we see her struggling with being a good daughter and not disappointing her mother, but also fulfilling her dreams.

The most central part of the story is Angie’s parents, James and Marilyn’s love story. Something that was vibrant and really touching. I enjoyed reading about them slowly falling in love with one another and I thought their romance was very well developed. I loved their dates, the way they shared mix-tapes and their interactions with Justin, James’ brother. They were so cute.

Also, I want to mention that James and Justin are black and Angie is mix-raced. I loved how Dellaira included racism, but in a very subtle way. It’s not central, it’s just something she brushes upon. I really liked it, now I’m not black, so I can’t really talk about rep or anything like that. But to me, it didn’t seem offensive or anything like that.

My only real complaint is that we didn’t see enough of Angie and Marilyn together, I would have loved to see more flashbacks because they are the main characters and we get to see their stories, but they are a bit disconnected one from another.

I loved the writing, but that was kind of expected. I loved how passionate each character was, Dellaira creates very compelling characters that are very passionate about their hobbies. For example, in this one, Marilyn is very enthusiastic about photography and you can just feel her love for taking pictures, it’s very relatable. Also, Angie has this kind of strange interest of searching up how many people are currently living in our world, but I could feel her “if there are so many people alive right now, how can you matter when you’re such a little part of this world?” debate.

I would really recommend this book to you if you’re looking for a contemporary that focuses on learning more about yourself, about your meaning in this world, on family and love and loss. 

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I want to thank Hot Key Books for sending me this physical copy of In Search of Us, this hadn’t affected my review, nor my rating in any way. 

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Have you read this book or anything by Ava Dellaira?

Do you like reading books that are set in different timelines?

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27 thoughts on “Book Review : In Search of Us

  1. auroralibrialis says:

    Wonderful review, Marta! This sound like such a lovely read, I’ll definitley be adding it to my TBR 😊 This makes me want to read Love Letters to the Dead as well, which is great since it’s been sitting on my shelf for ages!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marta says:

      Thank you very much, Aurora! ❤
      Love Letters to the Dead is very similar to The Perks of Being a Wallflower, so you might really like it if you enjoyed the latter. I guess it has a lot to do with Dellaira being the movie producer for the Perks, hehe!
      But In Search of Us is a great book, I'd recommend it to absolutely everyone! ❤
      Hope you enjoy them if you get to read them!

      Like

  2. malanielovesfiction says:

    from your review,,this book seems so much better than I originally thought!!!!!! I love the idea of going into the parent’s love story, my heart is already breaking and i’m cryingggg c:

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marta says:

      it was so cute & fluffy, yet so sad & heart-breaking, i can’t, malanie!! :(((((
      And it keeps you in the dark for so long and you’re hoping that maybe things are somehow and ughhhh. just read the book!!!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Kat Impossible says:

    Everyone said really good things about this book so far and I am so glad you have found an author you love so much 😊 I personally didn’t enjoy Love Letters to the Dead, but the continued good reviews might wear me down haha

    Liked by 1 person

      • Kat Impossible says:

        Let me think, it’s been a while. I just felt like it was a gender-swapped version of the Perks of Being a Wallflower, which to everyone’s utter shock, I didn’t like either. There was a fundamental disconnect between me and the characters due to the style of writing. I understood that there were emotional parts of the story, but I felt zero and was glad when it was over (in both cases).

        Like

    • Marta says:

      Aw, I hope you enjoy Love Letters, it’s way sadder than this one though 😦
      So, be prepared for it when you start reading it! It’s still a very beautiful book, in my opinion!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Andreea P. says:

    Contemporary novels are not my go-to, but this one really sounds great – I loved your review! And I am always really interested in any book that focuses on the parents in a way – especially since it’s about their love story. Also, in some YA novels parents are just so absent from the books that all I do is wonder “where the f*** are your parents, kid?”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marta says:

      I understand you, Andreea! I always wonder why parents aren’t present in ya books unless it’s for some kind of drama (which is realistic sometimes, but still I want some good parents in YA). But this one was really beautiful, I wish it was a bit longer and showed us more from Marilyn and Angie’s relationship (daughter-mother), but since the timelines were built the way they were, it was kind of hard.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Marta says:

      I absolutely agree with you on everything, Inge! ❤
      It was an interesting choice to let Sam and Angie stay together, I really thought they wouldn't, but I suppose it's nice they got a second chance.
      Thank you very much!

      Liked by 1 person

    • Marta says:

      I absolutely agree, Angie’s story was also needed and it added a lot to how enjoyable the book was, but Marilyn and James stole the show for me. I’m glad you liked the book as well! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Marie says:

    Lovely review, Marta ❤ ❤ I am SO happy you enjoyed this book as much as I did, I loved it so much! It was my first book by the author and I'm really curious to read more from her, even more knowing you loved Love Letters To The Dead so much, just as well. I think I appreciated Marilyn's story a bit more, just like you did, but overall I ended up loving both so, very much ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marta says:

      Thank you so much, Marie!!! ❤
      I think you'd like Love Letters as well, though it's much sadder and depressing. Agreed! Both of them were amazing and I'm glad that the ending was kind of happy and hopeful. It was a nice touch to everything.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. schakarin says:

    I can’t believe I didn’t know about this book before coming across your review! I absolutely loved Love Letters to the Dead, so I’m definitely adding this to my tbr. Although I often struggle with different timelines in one book, I really like the idea of having storylines focus on mother and daughter at the same age. This sounds absolutely wonderful! Great review! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Marta says:

      I hate when this happens, when a favorite author of mine writes another book and I don’t know anything about it and only find out super late 😦
      Anyway, I hope you read it and adore it! To ease your mind about the timelines, I would say it’s not a huge issue because there’s a lot of time spent in a timeline before you move into the other. In my opinion, there was a lot more going on in the mother’s timeline and this was the main focus.
      Thank you very much! ❤

      Like

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