May 19, 2015

Review: A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith

A Sense of the Infinite by Hilary T. Smith
Publication date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Received ARC via Edelweiss (Thanks!)
Summary: It's senior year of high school, and Annabeth is ready for everything she and her best friend, Noe, have been planning and dreaming. But there are some things Annabeth isn't prepared for, like the constant presence of Noe's new boyfriend. Like how her relationship with her mom is fraying. And the way the secret she's been keeping hidden deep inside her for years has started clawing at her insides, making it hard to eat or even breathe. But most especially, she isn't prepared to lose Noe. For years, Noe has anchored Annabeth and set their joint path. Now Noe is drifting in another direction, making new plans that don't involve her. Without Noe's constant companionship, Annabeth's world begins to crumble. But as a chain of events pulls Annabeth further away from Noe, she finds herself closer to discovering who she's really meant to be—with her best friend or without. (greads.com)

The good
Looking back on A Sense of the Infinite and thinking about Hilary T. Smith’s first book Wild Awake, what I remember most from both is how her writing made me feel. There’s this dreamy quality to her books but then when you least expect it, one of her characters will say something profound and with such simple clarity that it’s like being jolted awake. I can’t tell you how many times I had to stop to highlight something because I thought to myself: I’ve felt this way.

For Annabeth, her whole world has consisted of her mother and especially her best friend Noe. Now that it’s their senior year, all their plans for college and the future are at their fingertips. Or so she thinks. But suddenly everything is changing. Noe has a new boyfriend, new dreams and is setting herself on a brand new path that’s separate from Annabeth. In comparison, Annabeth is lost on her own, struggling with secrets she’s felt forced to keep and drifting from her mom. But it’s this moment, as hard as it is, that forces her to discover who she truly is and wants to be. And ultimately, this book is Annabeth’s story. It’s one that’s heartbreaking as she deals with the loss of her best friend and simultaneously uplifting as she too forges her own path and finds her voice.

Honestly, the author explores so much in this book that I don't know where to start. A dozen things are coming to mind and while that seems like too much to handle in a single novel, it's deftly handled here. Like, struggling to understand why a friend is drifting away and dealing with the aftermath is spot on. The way Annabeth's secret manifests itself physically and the courage to ask for help is another painfully real moment. Annabeth letting herself (or not letting herself) open up to new people and the beautiful relationships she forms. An extremely tough decision she later has to make. Everything that happens to her throughout this story is just marked by raw honesty that I've come to associate with this author's writing.

Then I just had to include one of the many quotes I loved:
“Annabeth, honey, life keeps on changing. You don’t get one chance at friendship, or once chance at love. Things die. Things grow. It’s hard to see that when you’ve only been around for seventeen years, and you’ve only ever had one of everything, but it’s true.”

(No) Reservations
It’s a quiet novel and in those first few pages, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But keep reading. It’s a powerful story that will resonate with you when you reach the end.

Do I recommend?
I do! This might just be my favorite Hilary T. Smith book (yet).

3 comments:

  1. Wild Awake was a little too frenetic for my tastes but seeing your review and that you consider it a quiet book is making me think I might have to give this author another chance.

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  2. Ooh, I love quiet books. And I especially like books that center on female friendship (even if it's about the unraveling of that friendship), so I think I'll pick this one up.

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  3. Oh wow. Just seeing your thoughts on A Sense of the Infinite makes me want to pick up a copy immediately! I still haven't read Wild Awake. While I do plan on checking it out, I feel like I may end up picking up this one first! It's high praise to call it a new favorite, especially when we have such similar tastes, so I'll be looking forward to it :)

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