Goodbye, Rebel Blue by Shelley Coriell
eARC: 320 pages
Publisher: Amulet Books/Abrams
Release Date: 1 October 2013
Age Level: Young Adult
Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | IndieBound
Rebecca Blue is a rebel with an attitude whose life is changed by a chance encounter with a soon-to-be dead girl. Rebel (as she’s known) decides to complete the dead girl’s bucket list to prove that choice, not chance, controls her fate. In doing so, she unexpectedly opens her mind and heart to a world she once dismissed—a world of friendships, family, and faith. With a shaken sense of self, she must reevaluate her loner philosophy—particularly when she falls for Nate, the golden boy do-gooder who never looks out for himself.
Sometimes a book comes along and totally surprises you. Goodbye Rebel Blue really snuck up on me. It's kind of a quiet book, in a way, and it doesn't really make a big fuss about itself. It simply is. I love when I'm reading a book and I don't even realize how it is affecting me, until I catch myself thinking about it or talking to someone else about the characters or story. That's what I mean by it snuck up on me. That's what I mean when I say it's a quiet book. I seeps into your heart and becomes part of you, without you even realizing it's happening. This is a sign of a great book.
Even hours after finishing this stunning book, I don't quite know what to say. I feel like it was exactly the right book for me at this exact moment in my life. There's just something about Rebel. Rebecca "Rebel" Blue is her own person. She doesn't know how to be anything but herself, much to the frustration of her family and those who must interact with her. Her mother passed away when she was younger and she was sent to live with her mother's brother, his wife and their daughter, Penelope. Having been raised with her photographer mother, roaming the world for the best light and having adventures around every corner, finding herself in a more "traditional" lifestyle never sat well with her. Rebel is a no-shoes, no frills, artistic, honest-to-a-fault kind of individual. She never felt as though she fit in with her Uncle's family or her cousin and her friends, let alone anybody else in her new hometown. When she meets Kennedy Green in detention, she has no idea this encounter is about to change her life in ways she could never imagine.You see, Kennedy Green is a do-gooder. She's part of a volunteer group at school, she's a good student, she loves and helps out her fellow man, all that stuff. When Kennedy tries to make friends with Rebel during detention - after an assignment to write their bucket lists - Reb just blows her off, like she does with everyone. Shortly after that, Kennedy dies when her car goes off a bridge. Completely shocked by Kennedy's sudden death - and the fact that she was one of two people to see her last - Rebel decides she's going to complete Kennedy's bucket list. She is determined to show her cousin, Pen, that she isn't the wrecking-ball she accused her of being.
At first, Rebel is not very likeable. She's rude, snarky, abrasive and she doesn't care for rules or what effect she might be having on others. I do, however, admire her refusal to say anything she doesn't believe to be true, but her attitude is certainly not easy to deal with. I am happy to say that as I kept reading, I found myself really liking her and kind of relating to her in a way I didn't think possible. Kennedy's bucket list is totally changing her life and introducing her to all sorts of people and experiences. It was really lovely to experience each frustration, revelation and triumph with Rebel as she takes on this new journey. By the end, I fully adored her and could definitely see myself being her friend. It's really rare to find a person who can be so honest and even more rare when that person opens up to you. Like I said, it was a pleasure to be there with Rebel through it all. Rebel is very reluctant to let anyone in. It was interesting for me as I tried to figure out why she was this way. She was more likely to push people away than let them see even a glimmer of the person she truly is inside. Though I don't tend to push people away, I do know how hard it is to open up to people. Goodbye, Rebel Blue has been a great inspiration for me, making me want to be more true to myslef and find out what I truly want from this life of mine. Again, this book snuck up on me.
A lot of the characters in this novel are quite appealing, in one way or another. They were all so real, like you could see them in your town any day of the week. None of them were truly perfect, they all had their problems, but you believed in them, you know? You have Pen and the popular girls - dubbed the "Cupcakes" by Rebel; then there's Nate, trying to do all he can to prepare for the future his family wants for him; Macey, the shy little pie maker with her own little secrets; the little fashion diva, Gabby, who only wants blue hair, too. Even the adults in this book were fully fleshed out. I mean, this world that Shelley Coriell has created is so alive! Not only is Reb changed by her determination to complete Kennedy's bucket list, but all those around her are able to experience significant changes as well. Speaking of those around Rebel, I really liked Nate. He's an incredibly likeable character. He's kind, giving, he works hard and really makes an effort to help Rebel complete the list. He's one of those people that you see and wonder how in the world they're able to do what they do. Nate and Rebel start to build this relationship that is so incredibly believable, regardless of how unlikely it seems at first. I really liked their dynamic with one another. Though Nate drove her crazy sometimes, you could see that he was having a wonderful effect on Rebel. I love that! I also love that she was able to have a wonderful effect on him, too. I love his family, by the way. His little siblings are particularly adorable, especially Gabby, the little diva I mentioned above.
Shelley Coriell is a truly talented writer. I have a copy of her first novel, Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe, and I just might have to bump it up higher in the TBR pile. The way Shelley is able to to depict the confusion and frustration and hope and joy of adolescence, well, it's perfect. Never once did I feel as though the pace was too fast or too slow. I never felt like she threw something in out of left field or like she tried to make her characters do something that wasn't true to their personalities. Her writing flows so effortlessly, it's easy to get lost within the story. Seriously, she's a wonderful author who has penned a spectacular book full of honesty and heart.
I guess what I'm trying to say with all this rambling talk is, I really like this book. Goodbye, Rebel Blue has weaseled its way into my heart and helped me realize things I didn't even know I needed to realize. I recommend this book whole-heartedly to anybody looking for a read that has the potential to change their life. I know mine shall not be the same.
A favorite quote: "I'm responsible for my successes and failures. Power comes from within, and the only person who can hold me back is me."