Quick review for a quick read. I’ll admit that Deb Caletti seems to draw me into her stories because her characters always feel very vivid and draw me in whenever I pick up a book by her. “The Story of Us” was a good read, if a bit convoluted in terms of the narration. In parts it worked, in others it didn’t. It’s the story of Cricket (a.k.a Catherine) – a young woman who’s in between a number of different relationships and weights in her life. Her mother’s getting married to Dan Jax (a man who’s much more supportive than Cricket’s father, but Cricket worries about her mother being able to stay grounded given her previous relationships and the difficult road navigating out of them). Cricket’s going to visit her new family, she’s on the rocks of a relationship with her boyfriend Janssen, intrigued by a new boy (Ash), among other things. This book has a lot going on and it does feel like a weighted read in spurts. If it’s anything, I liked Cricket’s voice and the fact that I could very well imagine the family dynamics in this novel. It was very well drawn in terms of showcasing the character personalities – with certain moments bringing a goofy grin to my face.
Yet, I’ll say that the style of the narrative – told between the present and the letters that Cricket writes to Janssen – did bug me a little as I was going along. It didn’t make for as smooth of a read as I was hoping. The book does quite a bit of backtracking to show how close Janssen and Cricket were at one point and how involved he was with her family through a number of difficult situations (in addition to their love of dogs. I’ll admit I knew the dog story and respective events were coming well before the ending ever did, and that saddened me.) I feel like I wish I could’ve known Janssen a little more considering the letters are only presented in a one-sided progression (we only read Cricket’s responses, not what Janssen writes to her.) Some of them I loved for the slice of life examination of their relationship, though. Yet the main focus of those letters built up to the mistake that Cricket had been apologizing for the bulk of the narrative and explained why she’d had such a falling out with Janssen in the first place. It took a while for the reveal to come, which I understood fit with the theme of Cricket being overwhelmed by the many changes in her life – just a matter of being ready to meet them. I’m not sure why for me it didn’t hit as hard for emotion as it should’ve, despite how I connected with parts of the narrative. Maybe that was the issue, because it was handed to me in pieces than as a whole.
I liked this book and thought it was a great coming-of-age read. I just wish the journey had been a little more smooth in its presentation for me.
Overall score: 3.5/5 stars.