We Are Inevitable – Gayle Forman – Penguin Teen – Published 1 June 2021
So far, the inevitable hasn’t worked out so well for Aaron Stein.
While his friends have gone to college and moved on with their lives, Aaron’s been left behind in the Cascade Mountains of Washington State, running a failing bookshop with his dad, Ira. What he needs is a lucky break, the good kind of inevitable.
And then he meets Hannah. Incredible Hannah – magical, musical, brave and clever. Could she be the answer? And could they – their relationship, their meeting – possibly be the inevitable Aaron’s been waiting for?
What does a failing bookshop, a group of lumberjacks and a grieving teen have to do with each other? If Aaron had his way, absolutely nothing, but in this funny, heartening novel together they have the power to change everything.
Aaron doesn’t know what his future holds and he is still reeling from his past. His mother has left, his brother is dead and his father seems to be ailing more and more each day. Aaron knows the bookshop that was once his parents’ whole world is struggling. If he had his way, he would sell it and finally be able to move on with his life. Just as Aaron is ready to sell a range of new people enter his life and seem determined to do everything they can to bring the bookshop back to life.
As a reader, it’s no surprise that I love bookshops and I know many other readers feel the same way. Bluebird Books plays a big role in this book. It’s the perfect setting for this story, falling apart, disorganised but has so much charm and love woven into its very fabric – exactly like the story of awe Are Inevitable itself.
The characters are so vibrant in this book, just as they are varied. First there is Aaron. Grieving, worried about his father and the bookshop, left behind by his classmates and floundering a bit. He is described by another character in the book as an unreliable narrator. Just as my heart hurt from him he frustrated me a little as he is so persistent in pushing others away from him and being so distrustful. We see the story from his point of view, but it’s still easy to see how his hurt rules his decisions.
There is a fantastic cast of characters that join Aaron. His father, who he calls Ira, lover of the hand sell, but loving his identity as he loses his health. Then there is Chad. Chad is a friend of Aaron’s late brother, wheelchair bound after an accident and seems to be determined to become Aaron’s friend, despite Aaron’s reluctance. Chad’s exuberance lights up this book, even as he drives Aaron nuts. There are of course the aforementioned lumberjacks. They step in to help fix some things around the bookshop. Aaron is hugely suspicious of their motives and fights them at every turn. It makes for some awkward conversations and mounting frustration on Aaron’s part. In fact, that’s a bit of a theme in this book, Aaron becoming caught between his lies, distrustful and hurting as he pushes people away that continually show up for him – even if he sees it as too little too late. Where were they when his brother died? Where were they when his mother left?
When Aaron meets Hannah, lead singer of a band Chat keeps dragging him to watch, Aaron feels the connection between him and Hannah is inevitable and wants to find out where it might lead. The romance doesn’t become the focus of the book, nor does it provide the answers Aaron is looking for. Aaron has to do a bit of soul searching as he looks to find the direction his life should take. He also has to learn to rely on others.
This is an introspective novel, but it is equally parts humorous as it is touching. I couldn’t help but root for Aaron to deal with the hurt from his past and open himself up to the possibilities for a brighter future.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Genre: Realistic fiction
Themes: Bookshops, family, grief, friendships, music, romance, family breakdown.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Coarse language, f*** (17), sh** (49), as***** (7), pi** (13), di** (8). Frequent sexual references, references to sexual impotence, impotence caused by disability, impotence treatments. References to drug use and abuse.
Published: 1 June 2021 by Penguin Teen
Format: Hardcover, paperback, audiobook, ebook. 288 pages.