I am one hundred percent certain that, had Our Year of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon ended differently, I would have given it a rating of two. I think it safe for me to say that it is the ending that really makes this novel, however that does not mean that I liked it. I actually found this story rather boring and frustrating to read on a personal level. The thing is, Our Year of Maybe is too real for me. While I enjoy reading books that have deeper messages about ideas in our society that are perpetuated and unhealthy, this one in particular is just one that I don’t find enjoyable to read in any way. So, where other books might keep me engaged and emotionally invested, with Our Year of Maybe I was left feeling bored on occasion and annoyed on others. The truth is, Sophie’s situation felt far to close to home for me to feel anything else.
Granted, I’ve never given my best friend my kidney and there were certainly intricacies to their relationship that I don’t relate to, but pieces of the novel reminded me of my own naivete when I was younger and that was somewhat difficult for me to read about. I had to fight fairly hard to get through this book and nearly DNFed on multiple occasions. So why, then, did I give this book a four star rating?
Well, despite my own personal feelings about the novel, I do think it has an important commentary regarding codependency, unrequited love, and the ways in which friendships grow apart. And it was pretty expertly handled. Through the course of the novel, readers are opened up to seeing how potentially damaging it can be to make one person your world and the importance of branching out to know yourself better and to be a part of the world rather than isolated within one part.
The novel follows two characters in alternating points of view as they navigate changes in their friendship when previously sick and isolated to his home, Peter, is finally able to attend high school thanks to his best friend Sophie who, upon turning 18, gave him her kidney. A novel truly about friendship, love, and growing up there were many things that the two of them needed to learn throughout.
I will say that one sticking point I do have that is definitely an issue with the novel is how the situation of the younger sister’s teenage pregnancy and subsequent child was handled. The issue was presented as one that is okay and simply worked through rather than something that is a deeply problematic issue within our world and our society. Glossing over the incredible damage that such an event has on young people and their families is not something I appreciated reading about.
For the most part, while I personally didn’t love this novel at all, I can definitely see where it has a lot of merit and is worth reading. A lot of the time we push the idea of love at all cost and only ever needing that one person to be complete. But the thing is, that idea is thoroughly unrealistic and as a result it becomes incredibly unhealthy for someone to believe in. And I think this book does a fantastic job of bringing that truth out into discussion, something that’s incredibly important for young people to learn.
I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.