Rated Reads

Paper Valentine

by Brenna Yovanoff

Rated: Moderate

Sixteen-year-old Hannah’s friend Lillian slowly killed herself through anorexia, finally dying about six months ago. And ever since then, she’s been haunting Hannah, hanging out, commenting on her life, and because of that, Hannah hasn’t been able let go of her grief and move on.

But things are changing this summer: Hannah’s become interested in Finny Boone, a delinquent and a poor student whom she’s known since kindergarten but never really paid attention to. And young girls are being murdered, which means the whole town is on edge. Somehow, all three of those things — Finny, Lillian and the killer — are connected, and maybe by figuring out how, Hannah will be able to let the past go.

This book is quite the mix of genres: a murder mystery, a ghost story, an issue book, a grief and loss story. You wouldn’t think it would work, and you’d be right. However, in Yovanoff’s hands, most of those elements work really well together. I really liked the mix of anorexia and ghosts, the metaphor of holding on to your loss as a ghost companion. I had the most issues with the serial killer/mystery part of the story. I’m not going to give away any spoilers, but while I didn’t really see the ending coming, the conclusion seemed a bit too easy for the buildup.

I also found the characters incredibly difficult to connect to. Hannah was mopey, Lillian pushed Hannah around, and to say her other “friends” weren’t so nice is an understatement. Finney was the Strong Silent Guy, and Ariel was the Cute Younger Sister. They all seemed like caricatures, and not real characters to get to know.

That said, the book was intense: Yovanoff does spooky quite well. I just wish I had liked it better as a whole.

Rated: Moderate, for one f-bomb, assorted other mild swearing, and intense situations

— Reviewed by Melissa Fox

Melissa Madsen Fox's blogging career began in 2004 when she started Book Nut. Reading, reviewing and book blogging have taken over what's left of her life after being a stay-at-home mom to four rambunctious daughters and wife to a slightly- absent-minded professor of political science.

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  • Paper Valentine
  • by Brenna Yovanoff
  • Rated: Moderate
  • Genre: Young adult
  • Reviewer: