I have a lot of complex feelings about this book, and that’s because a lot of complex emotions and situations are present.
This book references the #MeToo movement and whilst I wasn’t initially keen on that, because some books I’ve read have been – quite frankly, dangerous and hateful and portray all men as bastards – I’m really pleased to say that this book wasn’t one of them. It handled the subject with grace, truth, and compassion and didn’t sensationalise anything or demonise a group of people as a whole. Instead it pinpointed those at fault, or groups of individuals at fault and made sure that any negative feelings on the reader’s part were directed at them – and them alone, and not their whole gender/race/profession.
I had a lot of emotions going through this book. There’s the obvious stuff regarding the #MeToo issues, and it’s heart-breaking because you know there’s something coming, and it might not have happened to these character yet, but you know it’s coming soon, and your heart just breaks for them.
I really enjoyed the characterisations of practically every single character. I understood their actions, or inactions, especially when it came to our MC’s Claire and Dani. I understood the viewpoint of the Chinese parents (I didn’t’ necessarily agree, but I was given the opportunity to understand) and the same for the other parachutes.
For a long while I wasn’t sure why the book was called parachutes, because Dani isn’t one and I thought it was a bit biased to Claire’s story, but in the end it all made sense and it’s beautifully nuanced.
I have to say that at times my sympathy was lost with Dani – not for what happened to her, I’m talking about a personal love-life thing, but I don’t wanna give spoilers. There was a part where I think she behaved like a bitch and I don’t blame 2 people (again no spoilers) for not liking her at one point, because I didn’t either.
But that’s the beauty of this book. People are SO complex and we aren’t all purely innocent/good/blameless for the choices we make (again, not talking about the assault parts, just the friendship parts). It made these characters seem REAL, it’s what made me care about them so deeply.
I also thought that sometimes we went off on a bit of a tangent with some of the characters and certain sub-storylines, but again, in the end it was all relevant it’s just that – like in life – we didn’t always see it at the time.
The only negative I have about this book is that there wasn’t enough Zach. And I’m not just saying that because he’s totally swoon-worthy, because he IS. But I think he was a REALLY important character who didn’t get enough page time, and certainly not the page time someone like him deserves, especially for a mirror for real-world readers.
But this was honestly a 5 star read that had me devastated, and angry and sad because I could not only empathise with these totally fictional characters, but I related to their real-life counterparts – whoever they are and in whatever form they take. My heart is broken for all that is broken in this world.
But the book also fills me with hope. And it’s incredibly important. I urge you to read it. It’s more than YA teen drama with representation. There are real world issues that are flawlessly interwoven in the lives of characters that you’ll care deeply about.
On top of all this (as if it wasn’t enough already) the writing is flawless. The dialogue is fantastic, the pace had me wanting to never put the book down and it’s raw and sensitive in all the right places.
Parachutes is, in my mind, undoubtedly one of the most important books of 2020. Add on top of that accolade that it’s one of the best books that I’ve read so far this year it’s not hard to see why I’m recommending this book to everyone.
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