by Margot Harrison
Release Date: July 12, 2022
Genres: Thriller, YA
Format Read: ARC, eBook
Celeste is the talk of the town when she moves to Montana from Montreal, but the only friend she makes is Vivvy, the heir to the town’s name and a social pariah. Inspired by a passion-fueled school incident, they begin writing a love-story fan fic between the popular guy and the school stoner, one that gradually reveals Celeste’s past. While their bond makes Celeste feel safe and alive again, Vivvy keeps prodding Celeste to turn fantasy into reality. When they finally try, one drunken night on a dark mountainside, Celeste is the one who ends up kissing golden boy Joss. And Joss ends up dead.
Celeste doesn’t remember the end of that night and can’t be sure she didn’t deliver the killing blow. Could she still be that scared of getting close to a boy? Secrets are hard to keep in a small town, and even Vivvy seems to suspect her. Exploring the winding passages of the cave where Joss died, Celeste learns he had his own dark secrets, as does Vivvy. The town isn’t as innocent as it appears.
I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
At several points this year have I pondered a perennial question, which many millennials will likely be familiar with: Am I too old for YA? Here is the thing: I love YA fantasy, but I am seriously beginning to question if I have reached my tolerance for rom-com, thriller-hype, coming-of-age stories. We Made it All Up had me asking this question many, many times.
We Made it All Up is a thriller-ish story of what can happen in small towns when groups of teens grow up together. It shares the anxiety of joining a new school, escaping past trauma, and finding friendships and first loves. However, it never really delivers on any of those promises fully.
As we are introduced to our narrator, Celeste, we also come to learn that she struggles to trust because of past trauma inflicted by an unknown, most often under-described person. On her first day at her new school, Celeste meets Vivvy, a social pariah whose family founded the small Montana town of Kray’s Defile. As Vivvy and Celeste become friends they also begin writing a queer love story between the most popular boy in school and the school stoner. Here is already where I began to wonder if I’d finish this novel. I texted a friend asking, “Would anyone actually do this?” For, as much as I fantasized about popular boys in high school, I never committed these fantasies to the page, much less shared those fantasies with my friends. Even by the last chapter, I was never rooting for any of the characters.
I rarely write negative reviews of books because truly I am in awe of the talent and stamina it takes to create a story, pour your heart into writing it, and then seek publication. Truly, I am in desperate and eternal admiration. And I am hesitant to write anything too negative about We Made it All Up. When I began completing not finishing the book, I did what I always do: I turned to Good Reads. The reviews on Good Reads are truly impressive, with high praise and recurrent five-star ratings. So, this leads me to believe that my dislike for this book isn’t the book’s problem, and certainly not the author’s issue: it’s fully on me. As I navigate the world of being in my 30’s little of the content rings true for me. In fact, throughout We Made it All Up, I found myself rooting for Celeste’s dad, a scholar and researcher studying bats. Yes, I became that person.
Without revealing too much of the books’ plot, that is my review. Should you read this? It depends! Are you a jaded 30-year-old? Maybe not! But, if I was 15 years old again, suffering through high school drivel and social anxiety, maybe I would have devoured this book in two days. Who knows! What I do briefly want to share, before this review wraps up is that this book contains some serious trigger warnings
This book deals with themes of:
- Sexual assault on minors
- Child pornography
- Self-hatred and self-harm
Hi, I’m Caitlyn! During the day I’m a graduate student, so you can usually find me hiding in the corner of a coffee shop (iced coffee always in hand) reading, writing, or lesson planning. But, come nighttime, I’m always trying to squeeze in a few extra pages of whatever I’m reading for fun. I love to decorate with books and antique trinkets, light a musky woodsy candle, and curl up with my cat, Mercutio, to devour fantasy, historical fiction, literary fiction, or, really, whatever I’m feeling in the moment!