The Catastrophic History of You and Me

The Catastrophic History of You and Me

4.5 24
by Jess Rothenberg

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An addictively page-turning debut for fans of Before I Fall and The Fault in Our Stars

Brie is the “biggest, cheesiest, sappiest romantic” who believes that everyone will find their perfect someone, so when Jacob, the love of Brie's life, tells her he doesn't love her anymore, the news breaks her heart, literally, and sheSee more details below

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An addictively page-turning debut for fans of Before I Fall and The Fault in Our Stars

Brie is the “biggest, cheesiest, sappiest romantic” who believes that everyone will find their perfect someone, so when Jacob, the love of Brie's life, tells her he doesn't love her anymore, the news breaks her heart, literally, and she dies. But now that she's D&G (dead and gone), Brie revisits the living world to discover that her family has begun to unravel and her best friend has been keeping an intimate secret about her boyfriend. Somehow, Brie must handle all of this while navigating through the five steps of grief with the help of Patrick, her mysterious bomber-jacketed guide to the afterlife. But how is she supposed to face the Ever After with a broken heart and no one to call her own?

"The debut is a fast, twisty, highly dramatic read about the turbulent nature of love."--Romantic Times

"Rothenberg exploes what happens in the afterlife when you aren't quite done with your life."--San Francisco Chronicle

"The funniest, sweetest, most heartfelt, sigh-worthy and oh-so-romantic story I've ever read. You'll love it!"--Cynthia Leitich Smith, New York Times bestselling author of Eternal and Blessed

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When Brie's boyfriend, Jacob, dumps her, the 15-year-old girl literally dies of a broken heart. She's left floating above her family and friends, attempting to piece together the fragments of her brief life and how it all came to an end with the four devastating words, "I don't love you." With the help of Patrick, a cute and funny boy who died in the 1980s, Brie passes through the stages of grief. Along the way, she witnesses the people she loved mourn her (including her cardiac surgeon father, who frantically searches for a logical explanation for her death), revisits episodes from her past, and exacts ghostly revenge on her ex. Secondary characters can be slight, and elements of Rothenberg's premise are derivative of other titles featuring deceased teens in limbo. However, thanks to Brie's fresh and poignant narration, this first novel brings a welcome touch of irreverence to the larger themes of death, heartbreak, and forgiveness as Brie learns that sometimes there really are second chances. Ages 12–up. Agent: Stephen Barbara, Foundry Literary + Media. (Feb.)
"Weaving significant contemporary issues into a romance flecked with humor, Rothenberg blends genres in a fresh and heartwrenching way. With echoes of Thornton Wilder's Our Town and Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall (2010), this is an emotional and thoughtful first novel with a twist."
"Peppered with slang and pop culture references, Brie's voice is utterly adolescent, and her lively, flirtatious banter with Patrick...rivals that of any blockbuster rom-com."
Lauren Oliver
"Inventive, gorgeous, funny and yes...heartbreaking. You will absolutely love this book."
ALAN Review - Diana Liu
Sometimes love hurts, but is it really possible to die from a broken heart? As Brie Eagan is about to discover, the answer is yes. When her boyfriend breaks up with her, her life ends with the literal splitting of her heart. Soon, she finds herself in heaven where she meets Patrick, a funny but mysterious boy who helps guide her through the five stages of grief. As she makes her way from denial to acceptance, Brie not only receives a crash course in all things related to the afterlife, but also lessons in life and love. In her novel, The Catastrophic History of You & Me, Jess Rothenberg weaves together a creative and funny story about a girl who must pick up the broken pieces of her heart and learn to love again. Reviewer: Diana Liu
Children's Literature - Veronica Bartles
When Brie's boyfriend of eleven months tells her that he doesn't love her, it breaks her heart. Literally. Now that she's officially dead and gone, she has to try to make sense of love and life before she can move on. With the help of Patrick, Brie's new guide and resident Lost Soul, she will learn how to navigate the strange new world of the dead. Patrick teaches her how to zoom from place to place in the blink of an eye, how to go back to visit those she left behind in the real world, and even how to move objects. In her visits with her loved ones, Brie discovers that she didn't really know her family, her friends, or even herself as well as she thought she did. Rothenberg gives us a story that is both sweet and sentimental, a heartbreaking yet hilarious look at the grieving process from the other side of the grave. As she moves through the five classic steps of the grieving process, Brie discovers that learning to live again isn't just for those who have been left behind. This book is a fun and thought-provoking read for anyone who has ever loved and lost. Reviewer: Veronica Bartles
VOYA - Stacey Hayman
Just weeks away from turning sixteen, Aubrie Egan died from a broken heart. On a date with her boyfriend, Jacob, Brie's heart literally, proven by X-ray, broke in half when he told her, "I don't love you." Death was only the end of her life, not her journey. Arriving at an afterlife version of The Slice, her family's favorite pizza parlor, and finding a few other kids hanging out watching favorite memories like movies and eating favorite foods while wasting time before moving on, Brie is befriended by cute dead boy Patrick. He is helping Brie work through the seven stages of grief at her own passing, but there is more to his story than he is willing to share. If Brie were not so distracted by watching her family and friends fall apart, sometimes assisted by an angry dead girl, she might discover the truth of what Patrick's been hiding. This author has created a complex and intriguing story built around the afterlife. At times the description of the how, why, and what-ifs of this other world can begin to overwhelm the emotional developments in the story. The characters are likable and relatable, with nice touches of humor to keep the story from getting too dark. There are good surprises in store, for both the reader and for Brie, but the length of the book could have been trimmed to deliver a less muddled "be true to yourself" message and a bigger one-two punch at the end. This is a good choice for fans of Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin (Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005/VOYA October 2005) or teens looking to get lost in a longer book. Reviewer: Stacey Hayman
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Shortly before her 16th birthday, Brie Eagan dies of a broken heart (literally) when her boyfriend, Jacob, tells her that he doesn't love her. What happens after her death, as narrated by Brie, carries readers to a complex afterlife full of surprises and challenges. At the Little Slice of Heaven pizzeria, aka "Forever," she meets charming Patrick, who gives her a handbook offering advice for dealing with eternity. Although Brie largely ignores the guide, she can't escape passing through the messy stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance) as she returns to view her family and friends. When she learns that Jacob lied to her, she's determined to get revenge for what she originally interprets as his betrayal despite feeling powerless to set things right. Fortunately, she does figure out her relationship with Patrick in time to save him from spending eternity as a lost soul. Brie's recollections of life on Earth and her reactions to her new reality blend humor, uncertainty, anger, and hope. While travels through various regions of the afterlife are intriguing, the book's more valuable insights concern how people misinterpret the motives, actions, and emotions of others. In her debut novel, Rothenberg supplies readers with an imaginative and intriguing vision of what might happen after death.—Kathy Piehl, Minnesota State University, Mankato
Kirkus Reviews
When Brie's heart literally breaks, killing her, she must go through the five stages of grief before moving on in the afterlife. Brie leaves behind a loving family, three best friends and a first boyfriend whose declaration that he didn't love her caused the bizarre heart event that offed her. Under the guidance of the annoying-but-hot Patrick, she explores the afterlife, haunts her ex-boyfriend and works her way through the D&G Handbook (D&G stands for "dead and gone"). It's Patrick who tells her that her first task in the afterlife is to work through those five classic stages: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness and acceptance. Brie is a likable-enough narrator, when she's not being vengeful. But Rothenberg's afterlife is irritatingly undefined for one that comes complete with a handbook. Rules seem to be applied more for narrative convenience than any adherence to complete concept, and the twist that drives the climax, while satisfying in an It's A Wonderful Life kind of way, comes out of nowhere. Moreover, her progress through the stages of grief becomes muddied by her continued interactions with the living world. Yes, she's angry, but it's hard to tell whether she's angry at dying or at her ex-boyfriend. Gabrielle Zevin's Elsewhere (2005) stands out as far better treatment of a similar concept. Interesting idea, not-so-great execution. (Fiction. 13 & up)

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Product Details

Penguin Young Readers Group
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Penguin Group
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1 MB
Age Range:
12 Years


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