Vera has this strange empty feeling inside her, as if something is missing from her life, but she can’t remember what is missing. She finds herself crying at odd things. She seems to half-remember random objects, but can’t remember why they are important. When Vera realizes that her family and some of her classmates are also experiencing that same empty feeling, she begins to investigate what she can’t remember.
This plot completely broke my brain! It was so exciting and masterfully constructed. It was amazing to see how the plot unfolded, since the reader CAN remember all the people and things that Vera is gradually forgetting. The reader has so much more information than Vera does, and that made it really interesting to see how Vera tries to reconstruct the facts from what is left over after a memory is gone.
I loved the world-building in this book! Each person has an “aptitude” based on their genes. They can control light, or unlock doors, or make food sweet. Some people have a useful aptitude, like getting a strong intuition about things. Some people have a basically useless aptitude, like being able to control shadows.
It was so interesting to see how different people used their aptitudes, and how different aptitudes are viewed with fear or sometimes revulsion.
The writing style is phenomenal. I am completely in awe of the brilliance of this writing. It’s so clever, and yet it meets you in a very simple emotional place. Having a spaghetti dinner with your family suddenly becomes a major plot point. Buying a Halloween costume could change the entire plot line. Every tiny mundane thing in Vera’s world takes on huge significance, because that is what life is built on- little moments in each day when you laugh with your friends. The writing really pulls you into Vera’s world, and plunks you down into a scene and rips your heart out with a spaghetti dinner. Somehow the writing makes you love these characters within a couple of paragraphs. It only takes one brother who smirks and teases his sister, and I’m crying my eyes out on page 30.
These characters!!!! My heart was broken and healed and broken and smashed and repaired again so many times through this book. I fell in love with every single character! I cried six or seven times through the entire book, because I would fall in love with a character and think, “Oh no! Vera is going to forget them! Noooooooo! Not Simon!!!!” *cries forever*
Vera herself is an amazing main character. She is smart and compassionate and brave, and I just adore her! Her personality is so authentic and real. I loved the way that she cuts right to the heart of every scene, looking past the social conventions and the barriers that people put up. She really SEES the people around her, and therefore, we do too. It is through Vera’s authenticity and her love for her family and friends, that we the readers also fall in love with those characters.
Vera’s family is so cool. She has adorable crazy little siblings that she has to babysit. She has scientist parents who are doing research about how people get their aptitudes. The close relationships in this family are so wonderful!
Vera has a friend group at school that includes her best friend, Riven, and a whole bunch of misfit characters, including twins Simon and Pete. They all hang out together at school and at church. They plan their Halloween costumes together. They are a close-knit group that tease each other and support each other. The adorableness just flows off the page. I felt like I was IN that group. I was right there with them, having lunch and hanging out and planning our Halloween theme. I was one of the friends too, and that is why it hurt so bad when Vera starts to forget them!
I really loved the deep themes that are explored in this book in such a unique way. There is of course a wonderful exploration of friendship, family, and how the ordinary things of life are important. But this book also dives into tolerance, faith, truth, grief, depression, and what it really means to be compassionate. I’m so impressed with the way these deep subjects were treated with respect and gentleness. It’s really beautiful and meaningful!
I can’t even describe how much I loved this book! I wish I could give it a million stars!
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a free and honest review. All the opinions expressed here are my own true thoughts, and are not influenced by anyone.