I’ve been a hardcore Gayle Forman fan since her debut YA Leave Me. To this day, her follow up If I Stay is one of my favorite YA contemporary stories. Need a good cry, go pick it up. And since Leave Me and If I Stay, Forman has continued to hit our book-nerd hearts with character-driven YA contemporary reads that deliver 10/10 in the FEELS department. Her newest is We Are Inevitable, and I just sighed in contentment because this book is not only one for bookworms and those dealing with loss and grief but, in terms of escapism, delivers the ultimate cozy space.
We Are Inevitable opens with a quote that just about floored my heart. Not literally. I wouldn’t be around to type this if that had been the case. Though it provides quite the image. *shudders* But back to that quote.
“They say it took the dinosaurs thirty-three thousand years to die. […] How far into that thirty-three-thousand-year stretch did they go before they understood that their extinction was not looming—it had already happened.”Gayle Forman
Aaron is a teenage bookstore owner (more on that later) who no longer reads. Well, except for that one book on dinosaurs (The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs). In the wake of his older brother’s death and his mother’s abandonment of the family, he’s lost his love for fictional worlds and his parents’ used bookstore. Not that the used book business is pumping, which is why Aaron now owns the store. It was all a transaction of filing for bankruptcy yet keeping the store in the family. Not that his dad, with his scattered mind and books scattered everywhere, is still a master at the hand-sell. Struck by the same tragic events, his dad has become fragile. The store has fallen into the same disrepair as their family. Extinction for Bluebird Books, as Aaron sees it, is not looming—it has already happened. He’s not a glass-half-full kind of kid, that one. When Aaron discovers a box of credit cards his dad’s been using to keep the sinking store afloat, he finally caves to a real-estate vulture and sells the property… without telling his dad. (Something Aaron will struggle to do throughout the length of the novel.)
Because turns out that just when Aaron believes all hope to be lost, hope is just around the corner. It arrives in former skateboarder Chad, who’s now a wheelchair user after an accident left him with irreversible spine damage. A trio of lumberjacks, who are suddenly and inexplicably eager to give the store the overhaul it so desperately needs. And Hannah — the maybe love interest, but definitely lead singer of Beethoven’s Anvil. Not that Aaron likes music. Actually, he prides himself on his dislike. His brother (in life, owner of a prized vinyl collection) was the music buff. But it’s Hannah who proves that music is simply another form of storytelling. And it’s Hannah who brings Aaron face to face with the prejudices he still harbors against his older brother.
At its core, We Are Inevitable is a story about a boy who lost his brother, and in the process, his sense of his own place in the world. And even though Aaron has lost his love for books, this book is a love letter to books (chapter headings are book titles, and there’s a bibliography at the back). Themes of grief, loss, family bonds, substance abuse & addiction, and mental health are well explored. This one will hit all the stops on the Feels Train. Forman has a marvelous knack for tapping into her characters’ inner lives and bringing their vulnerabilities to the page. Above all, We Are Inevitable is a story of hope that will stay with you long after the final page.
What’s more to love: disability representation, mental health representation, will probably make you cry, thought-provoking.
Book: We Are Inevitable
Published: Simon & Schuster
Publication Date: June 1st, 2021
Age Range: 13 – 18