Publisher: Holiday House
Release Date: April 1st, 2016
Fourteen-year-old Oscar Dunleavy is missing, presumed dead. His bike was found at sea, out past the end of the pier, and everyone in town seems to have accepted this as a teenage tragedy. But Oscar's best friend Meg knows he isn't dead. Oscar is an optimistic and kind boy who bakes the world's best apple tarts; he would never kill himself, and Meg is going to prove it.
Through interwoven narratives, the reader learns what really happened to Oscar. His sweet life had turned sour after Meg's family moved away. Though Meg didn't know it, Oscar had a manipulative bully plaguing him with toxic humiliation. Meg must confront the painful truth of Oscar's past six months—and the possibility that he might really be gone. Surrounded by grief and confusion, she starts to put the pieces back together.
With a poignant ending and memorable characters, this story of love and friendship reminds us to keep hope in our hearts.
"It's really a beautiful and sad story about friendship and miscommunication and appreciation and hope. "
"Obviously it makes sense for the story to be centered around Oscar, but it felt like all the other characters were fairly one dimensional."
Disclaimer: I received an ARC as a part of the blog tour celebrating the US release of this book. This did not affect my review in any way, nor am I being compensated for this.
Before I begin, I wanna say Happy Book Birthday to Sarah Moore Fitzgerald! Today is The Apple Tart of Hope's US release day! *celebrates*
I went into this book without any idea of what to expect and was pleasantly surprised. The Apple Tart of Hope seems to straddle the line between middle grade and young adult a bit, and it is a nice short book with a gorgeous cover.
Anyhow, I thought the two characters, Oscar and Meg, were interesting. I can't say I remember exactly how I thought and/or thought when I was fourteen, but this book is definitely on the lower end of young adult and reads as such. We learn a surprising amount about Oscar even despite his disappearance/death, and in fact, we learn much more about Oscar than about Meg. I love how fleshed out Oscar was as a character. He's quirky and awkward but endearing, and everything that happens to him is terrible. I think we're able to get a good sense of what kind of person he's like, but I didn't feel the same way about Meg. Her story was told through his and the focus was still on Oscar. She lacked the same depth and characterization that Oscar had. We barely got a sense of who she is and about what it was like for her to move to New Zealand once she was there. I can understand the purpose behind setting up her story that way, but it always felt like we were seeing Meg at a glance. It felt like this with the other characters too. Obviously it makes sense for the story to be centered around Oscar, but it felt like all the other characters were fairly one dimensional.
The story itself read, as I mentioned, very much like a MG/YA crossover, but not in a bad way. I love how it works for a slightly younger audience but without skimping on the complexity. The book deals with mental illness and bullying, as well as how death impacts people, and I think it does a good job of exploring these but at a level where those in the crossover section wouldn't find it too much. There's this great balance that's struck, which I really appreciated. The plot pans out slowly, but I think the pace works, if a bit too slow for me at times. It's really a beautiful and sad story about friendship and miscommunication and appreciation and hope. It's heartbreaking to see what Paloma does, and it's hard to imagine someone being that cruel, but I know that kind of treatment is also a reality for many people. Seeing the events unfold tore at my heart, especially seeing how so much of what happened hinged on a bit (or rather, a huge) miscommunication. I don't think the end was too difficult to guess, but seeing how things got to that point was what was most important, at least to me.
I think the book is perfect for anyone looking for a crossover genre or looking for a "lighter" book dealing with tough issues. The book isn't perfect, but it's a nice short book that does offer something a little different. If you're looking for something quick to read, The Apple Tart of Hope would be a good book to sit down with for a few hours and finish.