Althea & Oliver

Althea & Oliver

by Cristina Moracho


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"The bittersweet romance, Oliver’s battle with his illness, and Althea’s coming-of-age struggle should appeal to fans of John Green and Sarah Dessen who are looking for something new." —VOYA

Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more. Oliver simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. Then Althea makes the worst decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. When he leaves town for a clinical study in New York, she drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

Cristina Moracho’s extraordinary debut is an achingly real story about identity, illness, and love—and how one decision can change everything.

TIME Magazine Top 10 YA of 2014 ~ An SLJ Best Books of the Year ~ A Booklist Editor's Choice 2014 ~ A Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014

"Fans of Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park will enjoy debut author Cristina Moracho’s trip back to the 1990s in Althea and Oliver." —

"A gut-wrenching tale." —People

* "Moracho’s coming-of-age story carries rare insight and a keen understanding of those verging on adulthood." —Booklist, starred review

* "Mesmerizing." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780142424766
Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
Publication date: 03/08/2016
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 511,763
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile: 950L (what's this?)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

This is Cristina Moracho's first novel. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and tweets at @cherielecrivain.

Read an Excerpt

“It wasn’t exactly how I pictured it, either,” Althea shouts back. Her legs are shaking. “How do you think I feel? Do you think that’s what I wanted?”

Excerpted from "Althea & Oliver"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Cristina Moracho.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Praise for Althea and Oliver:
"The bittersweet romance, Oliver’s battle with his illness, and Althea’s coming-of-age struggle should appeal to fans of John Green and Sarah Dessen who are looking for something new." —VOYA
"Fans of Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park will enjoy debut author Cristina Moracho’s trip back to the 1990s in Althea and Oliver." —
"A gut-wrenching tale." —People
"Moracho’s coming-of-age story carries rare insight and a keen understanding of those verging on adulthood." —Booklist, starred review

"It is the exquisitely created and painfully real, pitch-perfect characters who make it so memorable." —SLJ, starred review

"At turns gritty and gooey, Oliver and Althea’s evolving relationship unfolds in a warts-and-all narration that alternates between the two, deftly capturing the purgatorial crossroads between youth and adulthood . . . Mesmerizing." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

"Can boys and girls really be just friends? This endearing novel explores that, and a whole lot of other things including but not limited to: falling in love, punk rock, circa-’90s NYC, and a very complicated sleep disorder that causes those afflicted to fall asleep for days, weeks, even months at a time." —

"A gorgeous, glorious, unforgettable novel about punk rock, bad decisions, falling in love, and the messy beauty of growing up. Althea and Oliver is a flawlessly-crafted straight shot to the heart." —Sarah McCarry, author of All Our Pretty Songs
"I can't wait to tell people about this one. It's mind-blowingly good." —Molly Templeton, WORD Books
"Even if the book weren’t eloquent and hilarious, it’d be a must-read for all children of the ’90s. But thankfully, it is, and if you’re smart, you’ll run out and grab a copy."  —Bustle

"Go buy this book! Read it now!" —Hello Giggles

A TIME Magazine Top 10 YA of 2014 
An SLJ Best Books of the Year
Booklist Editor's Choice 2014
A Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014
One of’s Best YA Books You Should Read This Fall
One of’s 40 New Titles to Feed Your YA Book Addiction

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

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Althea & Oliver 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Stephalaughagus More than 1 year ago
4.5 ***I received an e-galley of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*** Pretty interesting story. This book grabbed my attention from the very beginning and didn't let go. I had a very hard time putting the book down. This book concentrates on Althea and Oliver. They have been Best Friends for the past ten years. It is one of those friendships that consumes you. They are pretty much inseparable. Until Oliver discovers he has KLS (Kleine-Levin Syndrome) a rare sleep disorder which causes him to fall asleep for large chunks of time. KLS takes a toll on both Oliver and Althea and they are left to deal with and come to terms with everything that is happening. Althea takes it really hard and struggles with the fact that whatever is causing Oliver to sleep for so long, takes away her best friend for weeks at a time. And poor Oliver has to wake up and deal with the fact that live has been continuing on without him while he has been out. I like that the story isn't all sugar-coated and sweet. It includes the hard stuff. Mistakes and things that you might wish you could take back, but can't. It really makes the whole story feel realistic. These are raw, realistic characters that aren't always liked by the reader. For me, what made this book so moving was the characters themselves. They are so well written and developed. There are things that Althea does that I don't agree with and sometimes I didn't really understand why she decided to do the things she did. But I did find her to be a very well-written character. Sometimes, I thought she could come off as being a bit selfish, but I also can't imagine the strain that is placed on her due to watching what is happening to her best friend and not being able to do anything to help him or make it better. Also, dealing with the fact that she does not know when he will wake up again. For the past ten years, her life has been in orbit with his, they did everything together and he was pretty much her only friend. There were plenty of times during this story, I wanted to be able to hug her and tell her that everything will be okay. We all make bad decisions in the moment, don't always think clearly. Which really made this book and this character feel so realistic. Oliver is a great character. I really feel for him throughout the book. He has to deal with so much and has a hard time accepting his syndrome. While I read the story, I wished that there was something I could do to make things better for him. I think he is a great character that readers will be able to connect with. I like the development of his character. I especially like when he starts to put himself first and wants to figure things out. He is a nice guy in a hard situation, and I like that he is able to not let it bring him completely down. I like a lot of the other characters too. Oliver has some interesting friends that Althea gets to know better. And I like the group of friends that she makes when she goes to New York. My Recommendation: I really enjoyed reading this story. It is quick paced and interesting. It is bittersweet and realistic. I recommend giving it a read.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was very disappointing. I hoped that the story would get better at some point but it didn't. I wish I would have read the reviews before I purchased it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You’re probably under the impression that this is a cool, edgy love story about two best friends falling in love. I know because that’s the assumption I made before starting Althea and Oliver. I was horribly disappointed. I don’t write book reviews, but this book made me so angry I had to. This book is an unbelievably sexist mess. Moracho tries to make Althea seem like cool, angry, confused badass but only successfully creates a whiney rapist. RAPIST. Because what’s described in the synopsis as “the worst bad decision ever” is actually a rape. It’s a rape because rape is a word that has a definition (sexual intercourse against a person without that person’s consent) and that definition meets Althea’s actions. Believe me. I checked the dictionary and the criminal code. It fits.  *Serious spoilers start here. But I strongly suggest you don't read this book, so maybe keep reading anyway. Althea has sex with Oliver during one of his Klein-Levin Syndrome episodes, during which time he wakes up to experience a period of “childlike mental acuity”. He has no self-control, no understanding of his own actions and, later on, has no memory of what’s happened. Althea knows all of this and despite the fact that earlier in the book Oliver tells her that he is “not ready to have sex” has sex with him. Althea is in a position of power over Oliver. It is her responsibility to stop them from having sex. So regardless of how Oliver and Althea feel about the situation, it is a rape. According to the criminal code, it’s a rape because Oliver did not give consent or permission for the act to take place. This isn’t a grey area, and it isn’t up for debate. And if the roles had been reversed, there wouldn’t have been a debate. Because if Oliver was a girl and Althea was a boy, anyone would say that it was rape.  That’s just the first instance of Moracho’s ridiculous sexism. Later on in the novel there’s a discussion between Oliver and his friend Kentucky, during which Kentucky convinces Oliver that he should feel happy that his beautiful best friend has sex with him, even without his permission. When Oliver first insinuates that it was he who had sex with Althea during one of his episodes, Kentucky is horrified. He can’t even say the word “rape.” But when he finds out Althea had sex with Oliver, well, Oliver should feel so lucky. Who cares if he didn’t consent? There’s also a part where when confessing to Oliver that they had sex (months later), Althea asks him if he thinks she “held him down and forced him”. She asks if he thinks he didn’t enjoy it. This a misapprehension Moracho perpetuates, even while it seems as if she’s trying to fight back against slut-shaming. (I’m completely against slut-shaming, but rapist-shaming is a completely different matter). Instead she shares a belief that rape only happens when someone is physically bound and unable to fight back. But what about people who are roofied? And what about people who are blackmailed? Even if people who are coerced into sex aren’t rape victims, they’ve at least been subject to some kind of sexual abuse. Moracho also makes it seem like because Oliver can’t have been raped since he physically enjoyed it. That’s ridiculous. Sex is primal and biological; no matter how it’s related to our minds, when a body is sexually stimulated it’s very much likely to become aroused. Rape victims are often stimulated by their abusers, but that doesn’t mean that they were “asking for it”. Also, Oliver’s disorder, Klein-Levin Syndrome, is characterized by periods of hypersexuality. Obviously, he was going to enjoy it.  Althea is an annoying character for a lot of reasons. She’s whiny and she doesn’t care about anyone other than herself. But let’s face it: us teenagers are selfish. Even if Althea’s selfishness is excessive, it helps her seem a little more believable. However, Althea really does take her self-absorption to an extreme level: she abandons her father and doesn’t care about her mother. She lives with a bunch of poor bohemian teenagers without paying rent. And she only cares about what she did to Oliver because it makes him mad at her. Really. That’s the only reason she cares about having sex with him.  Moracho tries to make the reader sympathise with Althea. We’re supposed to feel bad for poor, impulsive, misunderstood Althea, whose best friend doesn’t love her back. We’re supposed to relate to her.  Besides the rape, there’s another pretty bad example of sexism in Althea’s friendship with Coby. I’d already stopped paying much attention to what was happening in the book by the time I got to this part (I was only reading because I was sure that at some point Moracho was going to actually deal with the rape -- that doesn’t happen), but I still don’t see how Althea is justified in beating Coby up. She’s just as guilty as he is in everything they do. And when Coby and Althea have sex, it’s consensual; she actually initiates it. But for whatever reason Althea thinks that she has the right to beat Coby into a bloody pulp. And Althea and Coby’s friends play it off by saying that he probably ‘deserved it’. Now, imagine if Coby beat Althea horribly. Do you think her friends would still say she ‘deserved it’? The rape is critical to the storyline of the rest of the book. It sets the rest of the events in Althea and Oliver in motion, leading to the end of this book, which is pretty romantic in a modern sense of the word. In that way, I could argue that Moracho romanticises or glorifies rape. That’s up for discussion. What’s not up for discussion is that she most certainly trivialises it. Not only is the rape passed over as largely unimportant, it’s also excused because Althea had been pining after Oliver. So let me ask, if a hot guy is pining after a cute girl, does that make it okay for him to have sex with her without her permission? Moracho excuses, diminishes, trivialises and largely ignores a rape. She also tells jokes with rape as the punch line, such as when Althea sees her “friend” Coby at a Halloween party and asks, “What are you supposed to be? A date rapist?” The irony here is that this scene takes place after Althea rapes Oliver. I’m not against books that deal with rape or sexism. But I have a HUGE issue with this book because although the rape is what causes Althea and Oliver’s actions leading to the end of the book, it’s almost forgotten by the end. It is at no point discussed or dealt with. And while I know that in real life these things aren’t always dealt with, I don’t believe that Moracho left anything unresolved in an attempt to make the book more believable. And she wasn’t trying to start any kind of discussion or make any kind of “artistic” statement. I believe that she genuinely doesn’t understand the implications of what she’s written. She doesn’t understand that what Althea does to Oliver is rape, even though she’s a girl and he’s a boy. That’s why this book is sexist. That’s why I will strongly encourage anyone NOT to read this book.  I’m all for freedom of expression. But Moracho clearly bit off more than she could chew with this book. No matter how nice the prose is, this book isn’t okay. I’ve seen girls as young as ten or eleven pick it up because the cover is so innocent, and walk away reading it. That terrifies me, because reading other reviews of this book, I see that a lot of people don’t even recognise that the rape is a rape, or how strongly this book plays to a misandrist double-standard. I don’t think that this book should be promoted by bookstores or publishers or book bloggers or anyone else for that matter. It’s not quite Mein Kampf, so it should probably still be sold, but I wouldn’t argue that there should be some kind of disclaimer in it. If Moracho was a responsible author, she’d at least release an author’s note or something. I’m sixteen myself and I can tell you that her prime audience, teenagers, are impressionable. And what’s she doing is propagating dangerous, sexist misapprehensions.  Ask yourself, whether you’re a boy or a girl: How would you feel if someone had sex with you while you were sleeping? And you couldn’t remember it later on.  Do yourself a favour. Don’t read this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the way the author created the world of these two characters. Totally wrenching and true.