Friday, January 15, 2010

Book Review: Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

I'll be honest. I don't do book reviews.

Maybe it's because of Film School, where we were NEVER allowed to turn our papers into reviews. Or maybe it's because I'm not big on criticizing someone's art--especially in public--so I can't imagine ever giving a negative review (which then kind of negates the purpose of doing a review). Either way, I usually prefer to do book recommendations and just rave about something I love. So I was more than a little nervous when I realized I would need to do an actual review of Chasing Brooklyn when I organized Lisa Schroeder week--especially since I hadn't read the book when I was putting everything together.

But when I got my hands on Chasing Brooklyn a few weeks ago I realized I had nothing to worry about. Only glowing, five star reviews here. So now the only challenge is figuring out a how to talk about what makes it so wonderful in a way that does it justice. It's kind of a stretch for me. Silly I can do. Intelligent is a WHOLE other ballgame.

Never-the-less, here goes:

Here's what the publisher says about Chasing Brooklyn:

Restless souls and empty hearts

Brooklyn can't sleep. Her boyfriend, Lucca, died only a year ago, and now her friend Gabe has just died of an overdose. Every time she closes her eyes, Gabe's ghost is there waiting for her. She has no idea what he wants or why it isn't Lucca visiting her dreams.

Nico can't stop. He's always running, trying to escape the pain of losing his brother, Lucca. But when Lucca's ghost begins leaving messages, telling Nico to help Brooklyn, emotions come crashing to the surface.

As the nightmares escalate and the messages become relentless, Nico reaches out to Brooklyn. But neither of them can admit that they're being haunted. Until they learn to let each other in, not one soul will be able to rest.

I would add that it's a verse novel,  a dual narrative, and while it is Lisa's gift to fans of I Heart You, You Haunt Me, it's not a sequel, and definitely stands alone. There's loss. There's love. And above all else: there's hope. It's also my favorite book she's written thus far.

What I love about all of Lisa's books is that she has a way of making me like things I normally wouldn't. I'm not really a big verse novel person. Nor am I into ghost stories. And I'm generally not a fan of anything that makes me cry. But I adore her books. I would love to figure out how she does that, but it remains a mystery. Maybe she has magic powers I don't know about.

Somehow she manages to make me forget that I'm reading poems instead of paragraphs. In fact, I think this story would lose its power if it were written traditionally. The verse feels so intimate--like diary entries--that you really connect with the characters on another level.  And while the format makes for a quick read (my first time through only took a couple hours) I would strongly encourage anyone to read slower (or to read it twice) because there are subtleties woven through the words that are too easily lost while speed reading.

Bottom line: It's a wonderful story to sip and savor--not gulp--and I highly recommend it for anyone who loves touching stories about living with loss and finding a reason to keep going.*

I won't say anymore because I don't want to spoil it for anyone, but I'd love to know what you think of any of that, so I'm willing to bribe you. I'll give one extra contest entry to anyone who leaves me a comment about this post (just make sure you give me the name you entered the contest under so I can add it accordingly) And if you're not entering the contest I'd still love to hear from you, and I'd love to know if any of you plan on reading Chasing Brooklyn (not because of my review, just because it is awesome) :)

Oh, and time is running out to enter the Lisa Schroeder Contest. Remember, I'm not only giving away a three book prize pack (one of which is signed). I'm giving a the second prize winner a copy of Chaing Brooklyn too! So if you haven't entered yet, you might want to get on that.

Thanks for reading!

*And to fulfill the FTC's requirements, yes, I was given a free copy of Chasing Brooklyn for hosting a day of the blog tour. But I also bought my own copy and I'm giving the free one away so it did not affect my opinion in the slightest. 


  1. For someone who doesn't like to do reviews, I thought you did an AWESOME job!! :-)
    It's amazing that she makes you feel like you forget you're reading poems. That would be hard for me to do, I think.
    The book sounds fantabulous!!

  2. Shannon, super review. And it turns out, not only are you a poet(and didn't know it) you're Wonder reviewer too. Great job. The book sounds excellent.

    Got my prize and just wanted to thank you. The journal, note cards, and yummy chocolate were super fantastic, but then I saw it. My gift card to Starbucks. WOO-HOO! They happen to have one at Chapel Hill Hospital where we take our son Christopher. Here I come! Yeah!

    I'm unplugging next week, so I'll see you after that. Have a great weekend. :-)

  3. Great review! Ellen Hopkins also writes books in verse style. I didn't know if I would like it, but I ended up LOVING the style! I'm eagerly anticipating this book!

    Please add an entry to js1997 (AT) gmail (DOT) com. Thanks bunches!

    Jennifer (Crazy-for-Books)

  4. I don't do reviews either!! The very idea of telling people that "this was good but this needed work" about another author's book makes me queasy. I think everyone's caught on the fact that my "Book Talks" are all shameless gushing of the books I love.

    Chasing Brooklyn sounds fantastic, and I will add it to my to my TBR pile!

    I have an award for you on my blog. I thought it was easy, but it turned out to be hard! I hope it makes you happy, and good luck choosing blogs if you decide to play!

  5. oh I hope I win the contest!!! If I don't though, I'm still going out to buy her books :-) Great review.

    PS I don't do reviews for the exact same reasons you listed!

  6. That book trailer rocks. It really captures the diary feel of reading her books, which have considerable emotional impact despite the lean style.
    I prefer to do book recs, not reviews, too. You did a great job, and I like that you pointed out you forgot the story was being told in verse. I think one of the signs of a good read is when we get so engrossed we don't notice we're reading in first or third person, present tense or past--nothing matters but the story.

  7. Awesome review!!! They are hard to do, partly why I mostly co-review with Donna at The First Novels Club:-)

  8. I plan on winning, er ahem, reading this ;) I think it would be difficult to go on at least for a few years.

  9. I have to say, I've been reluctant to read these books (I have no idea why), but your spotlight on this unique author and her works has convinced me--I'm picking up Brooklyn next time I'm at the bookstore!!!

    (PS: I'm registered for the contest as Beth Revis)

  10. Excuse me for my silly fan girl moment:

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE Lisa Schroeder!!!!!!! I read this book in two sittings! if you enjoyed I Heart You, You Haunt Me, you're going to love Chasing Brooklyn.


    Super review!

  11. Yikes-My editing schedule is making it hard to keep up with these comments. Okay, here goes:

    Brizmus:Aw, thank you. That makes my day. And you really do forget you're reading poems--I'm not making that up. You'll see what I mean if you ever read her books.

    Robyn: Thank you for the compliment and I'm so glad you like your gift. Enjoy your unplugged week (I need to do one of those) and I'll see you when you're back!

    Crazy-For_books: Thank you. And I've heard good things about Ellen Hopkins--but sadly haven't had a chance to read any of her books. I'll add them to my to-be-read-when-I-get-my-edits-done list. :)

    Diana: Reviews are hard, aren't they? Glad I'm not the only one who thinks so. And thank you SO much for the award. I promise to add it to my posts soon. {{Blug}}

    Sara: Yet another thing we have in common. It's kind of eerie. You will love her books. What ever happens you have to read them. :)

    Tricia: I know, I was SO impressed with the trailer--I HAD to include it. And thanks for the compliment--that really means a lot.

    Frankie: Ooo, co reviews would be nice. I may have to figure out a way to do that if I ever have to do a review again.

    Suzie:Aw, thanks for stopping by. You definitely need to read it--I LOVED it (if you can't tell by how much I keep gushing about it)

    T. Anne: Heh--you're so cute. Well, I've already see how lucky you can be when you set your mind to it, so I wouldn't be at all surprised if you pulled off another win.

    Steph: You must. You will love it.

    Beth: Wow--I think that might be the greatest compliment of all. Let me know what you think of them when you read them.

    VS: Yay-I LOVE your enthusiasm for Lisa Schroeder. We need to spread the word! And thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you think I did the book justice. :)

  12. Wow - that's an awesome trailer!

    The book sounds like it's demanding to be in my classroom. Gotta have it.

  13. Jemi: Yay-I'm so glad you liked the trailer. If you read the book you have to let me know what you think. :)

  14. Great job Shannon - and Lisa's book sounds fabulous, another one to add to my list for sure! I love ghost stories :o) I'm not one to review books either, so you're not alone. I just don't think I do the book justice, but this review did just that :o)

  15. Erica: Aw, thanks. That means a lot (I was REALLY nervous to post this) I hope you read it and enjoy. :)

    Myrna: You need to. If you don't win it in the contest you much pick up a copy at the bookstore or from the library. It's excellent. :)

  16. Hee. You tend to do recommendations too? Not a bad way to go. And it's so funny that I put up I Heart You, You Haunt Me on one of my Monday Muses without realizing she was one of your favorite authors. This has been a really fun week Shannon.


Yay-I love comments! Thank you so much! (But please remember to keep your comments spoiler-free. Also, I try to keep this a happy, positive place. Any arguing or intense debate--on any subject will be removed. Let's keep this a safe, fun space.