ARC Review: And We Call It Love by Amanda Vink

I received an A.R.C for this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This review is spoiler-free.

Status: Finished Reading (16 November 2018)

Rating: ★★★★☆

Edition: Kindle ARC

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Image Source: Goodreads

And We Call It Love is the story of two best friends who want nothing more than to write music together and navigate through the trials of high school. But outside circumstances – family, opportunities, and romances – quickly become obstacles for them. What starts turning into a rocky relationship is transformed into a real test of character and time as both Clare and Zari come to terms with some harsh realities that neither of them were prepared for.

This book is technically a collection of poetry but if I had to classify it, I would slot it as prose-poetry. I am a huge fan of prose-poetry myself, so when I heard about this book I was very excited. Not only was it a fresh read amidst proper prose format books that I usually read – but it also focused on friendship.

That focus is one of the things I loved most about this book. Friendship, I think, is a severely underestimated trope in a lot of young adult stories . A sad fact, when that is an age when a lot of us make friendships that can have a long-lasting effect on us, regardless of what path they take. Friendships are often a subplot in stories, an afterthought, because a friendship isn’t deemed as vital to the story as a character’s internal struggle with themselves.

And We Call It Love does great work of showing how those go hand in hand – it shows how friendship affects how we see ourselves and our worth, and how the decisions we make for and without our friends force us to question ourselves as people. It is a simply narrated but very powerful book.

Moreover, it discusses abusive relationships and I think this was an important thing to touch on. Abusive relationships in teenage years are very difficult to recognise as so – especially when they’re encouraged by family (something that gains a scary amount of authority since helicopter parents are more critical of dating during those years). Once you have that stamp of approval, it becomes difficult to pinpoint the abuse. There is a denial that takes place, and then fear, and then desperation. All these were emotions that really came through the words, both from the perspective of the victim, and from the perspective of a hapless bystander.

From a technical stand-point, it’s evident that Vink has a lot of potential as a poet. The only thing that stopped me from giving it a full 5-stars is that certain verses didn’t work for me, structurally speaking. Some words and lines could’ve been put differently. There are some moments when the writing leans on cliche – mind you, I am a sucker for tropes and cliches so it’s nothing against that. I simply feel in these instances it took away from the simple rawness and impact the words were going for.

Regardless, I feel like the poetry-prose collection still did an excellent job at showing us the world of Clare and Zari, and how precariously it hangs while their lives spin out of control. I am very glad Vink chose this format of writing because there are some definitive messages behind the words that become debatable in traditional poetry, while purely prose might’ve made it a little bland. This is the perfect format for this story.

I’ve found prose-poetry to be a tricky genre in young adult fiction and with seasoned young adult readers – it receives very mixed responses. That being said, I urge you to give this book a try because it talks of things like love and passion, all in a way that portrays the strength of friendship and companionship in both good times and bad. I wish this book and the author well for when it is published – I have no doubt many others will have the same good things to say that I did!

Warning: This book portrays an emotionally and physically abusive romantic relationship – both from a POV perspective and from a bystander perspective. There is also an instance of lesbophobic dialogue (directed at the main characters).  Be advised. 

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