Sunday, March 20, 2011

Nothing Like You by Lauren Strasnick

When Holly loses her virginity to Paul, a guy she barely knows, she assumes their encounter is a one-night stand. After all, Paul is too popular to even be speaking to Holly...and he happens to have a long-term girlfriend, Saskia. But ever since Holly's mom died six months ago, Holly has been numb to the world, and she's getting desperate to feel something, anything—so when Paul keeps pursuing her, Holly relents. Paul's kisses are a welcome diversion...and it's nice to feel like the kind of girl that a guy like Paul would choose.

But things aren't so simple with Saskia around. Paul's real girlfriend is willowy and perfect... and nothing like Holly. To make matters worse, she and Holly are becoming friends. Suddenly the consequences of Holly's choices are all too real, and Holly stands to lose more than she ever realized she had. (from goodreads)

Nothing Like You is a startlingly beautiful book.

It's written with such spare, honest prose which cuts right to the core.

I really responded to Holly's story ~ while the storyline is simple, the execution is superior and the emotional impact resonates. It's all the little details that pulled me into Holly's life that made me care immensely about her.

The story opens with Holly having sex in a car with popular guy Paul. And from there you're pulled into Holly's life. She lives with her dad and is still grieving the loss of her mum. She's suddenly in a sexual relationship (her first) without it being a relationship, and she's stuffing up while searching for something to fill an ache inside.

The cast of characters are all distinct and fleshed out: 
  • Her best friend Nils who hangs out in their childhood cubby house together, listening to records. They have a great chemistry together from years of familiarity but also mixed up with a kind of suddenly unsure relationship that is changing as they are getting older. 
  • Paul ~ who is not a stereo-typical popular guy, but enigmatic and complicated 
  • Saskia ~ Paul's girlfriend who becomes Holly's friend ~ in a new friendship that makes you ache and feel hopeful and also anxious 
  • Her dad, her teachers and even her mum (as shown in memories) are all characters in their own right ~ behaving with their own motivations and not just there to move the plot forward. 

I also appreciated the subtle tenderness in which Lauren Strasnick handles many aspects of this story ~ never once making a drama out of themes that so often become melodramatic in YA (such as sex and relationship entanglements between best friends/boyfriends and the death of a parent).

It's honest, ache-y, hopeful and mesmerising. 
hard cover

It's an older YA read with mature themes and an ending that feels like the truth and leaves you a little bit breathless and maybe even tear-y :) I absolutely recommend it to all fans of compelling, realistic contemporary YA.


  1. Fantastic review Nomes! I'll have to look out for this one :)

  2. You are always finding these books with amazing premises that I haven't heard of but after reading your review, I'm dying to read.

    The older YA scene is something I think we are all desperate for, especially if there is good characterization that is emotional, avoids cliches, and provides something we can relate to.

    Love this review Nomes. I've already added the book on my GRs list. Thanks for finding these gems.

  3. Great review Nomes! Sounds like an amazing book. I've not heard of the author before, but sounds like she's written something incredibly emotive very skillfully. I'll look out for this :)

  4. I was in love after reading the synopsis because I knew after reading it that this book was completely for me. So relieved after reading your review because now I can buy it wholeheartedly knowing it will be just as amazing as it sounds.

    The novel sounds so heart-breaking but seems to have a little bit of a lesson in there. I can't say I am too fond of the hardback cover, so ill be getting the paperback! Thanks once again for your fantastic review Nomes :)

  5. I haven't heard of this before, but it definitely sounds like a book I'd enjoy. I like books that plunge you straight into the story, and that are realistic (I have a hard time believing most of the characters in YA these days). I'll put this on my wishlist, thanks for the lovely review :).

  6. I read her other book, Her And Me And You and I have to agree she fleshes out very dynamic characters.

    Nice review you have here.

  7. I adore older YA and I love this review - I just added it to my TBR list on GR.

  8. Great review. I love the sound of this one. Older contemp YA is so my thing. I'm adding this to my wish list. Thanks for yet another great recommendation! :)

  9. Thanks for the review, I've been meaning to read this one for a while!
    :D I'm going to bump it up in my to buy list!

    :D I'm glad the execution was so good, I always love when a simple story is told in a good way :D

  10. Wonderful review! I'm looking forward to getting this one :) Beautiful blog also :D

  11. This seems like an amazing book. I'm going to add it to my wishlist. I'm always on the look out for older YA novels and great contemporary reads.

    Awesome review as alwayes, Nomes!

  12. You've made this one sound amazing. I'm sold!


  13. I want to read this for the cover alone - my God, beautiful!

    Great review, darls :)

  14. I have read this review a couple of times now. And everytime I do I find another reason why I must have this book now!

  15. Another terrific sounding book and a review that has me wanting the book. You have a way with words girl. Thanks

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  17. Thanks for introducing us to another amazing book, Nomes! The premise of the book sounds great! I like older YA novels with realistic themes

  18. You KILL me with all these good book recommendations!!

    Hope you're doing better. *hugs*

  19. "honest, ache-y, hopeful and mesmerising" *sigh* ... you write the most wonderful reviews Nomes. Will you PLEASE stop reading such brilliant books ... you're killing my budget!


Thanks for the commenty love :)