The Catastrophic History of You and Me – Jess Rothenberg

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Another bol.com recommendation I gladly followed. The blurb really grabbed my attention and got me excited to read the book. There are a lot of elements to Jess Rothenberg‘s debut The Catastrophic History of You and Me that make it a really interesting read.

What happens when your boyfriend tells you, out of the blue, that he doesn’t love you. Do you die from the heartbreak?

Brie, the book’s protagonist, did. Jacob, her boyfriend and best friend tells her he doesn’t love her and the shock literally kills her. But it doesn’t end there; she winds up in the afterlife and has to deal with the consequences.

She used to be a pretty happy high school girl with a tight group of friends and a close bond with her family (including the dog Hamloaf) and a boyfriend. That all changed rather quickly: after her death she found out her friends and boyfriend had been keeping secrets and her family starts falling apart. She, quite literally, haunts her family and friends trying to find out what is going on.

So the story is set on two different planes: the real world and the “after-life”. In the after-life she meets a boy (of course, how could she not??) and it is immediately clear there’s more to him than meets the eye. Brie herself, however, is too busy haunting her old life to notice. Together they revisit her life and realise everything wasn’t as perfect as she thought after all. She slowly goes through the 5 stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance), while at the same time trying to get her family and friends through it as well.

I will not say much more about the story itself; wouldn’t want to give you to many spoilers after all!

Evidently, the themes this book deals with aren’t the easiest: death, loss, grief, heartbreak, … But don’t worry: the book will not get you down! When the characters are dealing with something rather traumatic, Rothenberg lets the story flow rather naturally. And she also knows very well when to lighten the mood with a few well placed jokes and funny remarks and alleviate the tension.

The story will make you laugh out loud, cry, think, wish, hope and so much more. Jess Rothenberg writes very fluently and the story progresses nicely. The build of the book is also very original; every chapter is titled with lyrics from a song that are surprisingly fitting to the story. You can tell that Rothenberg put a lot of thought into it.

All in all, a good read and a lovely story. I read it with “A Thousand Years” by Christina Perri in the background which suited the book perfectly! If you like a little bit of romance in a contemporary novel with a laugh and a tear, than this is the book for you! Though maybe you shouldn’t read it in public, if you don’t want people to think you’re crazy from crying one second and grinning like an idiot the next.

Happy reading,

Loes M.

Note: “Broken Heart Syndrome” actually does exist! In medical terms it’s called “stress cardiomyopathy” (say that 5 times fast!) and it occurs when emotional or physical stress cause your heart muscles to weaken. The syndrome can be fatal because it can cause low blood pressure and heart failure. However, the heart isn’t damaged permanently so patients recover quickly if treated early: they tend to make a quick and complete recovery.

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