Title: A Little Something Different
Author: Sandy Hall
Rating: ★★★ (3/5 Stars)
Paperback, 247 Pages
Published August 2014
Summary: The creative writing teacher, the delivery guy, the local Starbucks baristas, his best friend, her roommate, and the squirrel in the park all have one thing in common—they believe that Gabe and Lea should get together. Lea and Gabe are in the same creative writing class. They get the same pop culture references, order the same Chinese food, and hang out in the same places. Unfortunately, Lea is reserved, Gabe has issues, and despite their initial mutual crush, it looks like they are never going to work things out. But somehow even when nothing is going on, something is happening between them, and everyone can see it. Their creative writing teacher pushes them together. The baristas at Starbucks watch their relationship like a TV show. Their bus driver tells his wife about them. The waitress at the diner automatically seats them together. Even the squirrel who lives on the college green believes in their relationship. Surely Gabe and Lea will figure out that they are meant to be together....
If I could choose any way to make you picture this book, my advice would be to picture little hearts and flowers fluttering from all of the pages. If you're looking for a feel-good book that'll make you smile, Something a Little Different is definitely the book for you.
I received an old ARC copy of this book from our friend Dana over at Dana Square, so first of all, thanks for that! Second, I was intrigued with the fact that this book tells a love story about a boy named Gabe and a girl named Lea - told in just about every perspective under the sun except for their own. It's an idea I've never really read before...I mean, seriously - have you ever read a love story from the perspective of a bench? Or a squirrel? Or a Starbucks barista? It was definitely cool and different, and we need cool and different in the YA world! (We need diverse books!)
Here are all the lovely perspectives explored in this book, from cover to cover:
Maribel (Lea's roommate)
Inga (Lea & Gabe's creative writing professor)
Bench (on the university green)
Sam (Gabe's brother)
Victor (creative writing classmate)
Bob (a bus driver)
Casey (Gabe's friend)
Maxine (a waitress)
Danny (Lea's friend)
Pam (Inga's wife)
Charlotte (a barista)
Hillary (creative writing classmate)
Frank (Chinese-food delivery guy)
Fourteen different viewpoints from fourteen very diverse characters. I have to sit back and give Hall a big round of applause for that, because I would've gotten myself confused among that sea of voices!
However, I felt like the story was definitely lacking the depth it needed to get a higher quality rating. Don't get me wrong, I know not all love stories are supposed to be deep and emotional, and this book was certainly upbeat and quirky, but the characters of Gabe and Lea felt empty and impersonal to me. Maybe because of the fact that I got into everyone's heads except theirs, and I only see them through the eyes of those telling the story...the only way I can describe how I feel is this: If you asked me, right now, to describe Gabe and Lea to you, I would come up almost blank. For Lea, I can say that I've gathered she looks somewhat Asian and she has a habit of being withdrawn. For Gabe, he's klutzy and awkward and tall and totally weird.
*shrugs* That's it.
I get that the whole point of the story is to see the relationship unfold from everyone except Gabe and Lea, and I admire that and I think that's really cool. I just feel that the story may have improved a little bit if Lea had maybe had a few decent, in-depth conversations with Maribel about her life or her feelings. Or Gabe had sat down with his brother and really opened up. In reality, nobody really sits down with whoever they're nearest to and starts rambling about the deep and utter emotional depths of their personalities. It just doesn't happen. It isn't expected to happen. But there should have been a way to develop these two characters, the two characters that the whole book revolves around, better. That's the dilemma that distracted me while I was reading and kept me from giving this book higher than tree stars - I walked away feeling as if the two main characters in this story were strangers, because I know nothing more about them than I did at the beginning of the book, save for a couple of tidbits of information.
I definitely believe that if that had been fixed and the reader got to explore deeper into the psych of Gabe and Lea, I would've enjoyed this book much better. But it still was an adorable, heart-melting read!
All in all, Something a Little Different definitely was something a little different. It's a gushy, adorable, unique read that I recommend to anyone looking for a break from all of the heavy stuff they've been powering through and just wanting something heartwarming to help them relax. Something a Little Different is definitely the book for you!
Thank you again to Dana at Dana Square for sending me an ARC copy of this book! :-)