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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Book Review: Written in the Stars by Carly Syms

The story ends the way these stories often do. The first real love of my life broke my heart. As I tell it, he ripped my heart out of my chest, threw it on the floor and stomped on it until it went flat. I’m not sure he could have ended things in a worse way. He came to visit me at college and I’m not sure when or how it happened, but he started corresponding with my plug mate (At my college, the electrical outlets matched up to the rooms sharing a wall.), which gave way to dating and me being cast aside.

She was a floozy, a freshman (I was a sophomore) and she already had one of the worst reputations on the campus after only a couple of months. I was devastated, felt betrayed. He wasn’t around as he didn’t go to my school, so I only had her to target, to lose my venom at. While I wasn’t mean or nasty, neither was I understanding or forgiving. I glared, refused to talk to her, the whole passive aggressive approach.

Apparently I must have upset her a bit, because I got a call from my ex not too long after they started dating and he was asking me to be nice. What was my reaction? I honestly can’t tell you. The details now long lost to the haze of time. Only the feelings remain. Did I laugh? Did I cry? Did I try to deny it? Probably any and all.

And who hasn’t been on the losing end of a relationship? So I could completely understand how Kate’s world had unraveled so quickly as she sat through her break up in Written in the Stars by Carly Syms. At least she had a break up, some sense of closure.

For me, there was no such closure. Our relationship was a bit ambiguous. I’m not sure what I ever really meant to him, but he was the world to me. He just stopped writing. We didn’t get to talk on the phone all that often, but I lived for his letters. He came to visit me at home right after Christmas and it seemed to me that he was back, but then at New Year’s, he brought her to the annual New Year’s Eve party me and my friends threw every year and I realized he really was gone.

Valentine’s Day was a joke. Of course, I had to endure her excitement over what he had sent her for Valentine’s Day. He even came up for a weekend and as she lived right next door, I had to make myself scarce, so when an invitation came to go see a movie from one of my male classmates, I jumped at the offer. Me and my classmate started dating and I thought everything was great. I didn’t even recognize the relationship for the rebound that it was until the end of the summer.

Book Description (From Amazon):
"Isn’t that all we can hope for, anyway, to be happy when we crawl into bed every night and to wake up the same way every morning?"

17-year-old Kate isn’t happy. Her boyfriend just broke up with her and she doesn’t have a clue where to go next. When her Astrology-obsessed friend suggests Kate let her horoscope guide her through the break-up, Kate ends up in one sticky situation after another, all designed to help her get her boyfriend back, no matter what she might have to give up along the way. Have you ever wished you had someone to show you the way through the rough patches or is it better to let Fate take the reins?

My Review:
Kate gets dumped by her long- time boyfriend. He makes lame excuses for it, like she doesn’t have enough pizazz for him or that she never follows through on anything she starts. She’s confused, hurt, but she also lives in a fantasy land we like to call Denial.

Her best friend Anna is obsessed with her horoscope and reads it religiously every day, allowing her horoscope to dictate the actions she takes. Kate doesn’t hold any stock in it, but when she reads her horoscope the day Zach breaks up with her and it’s on point, she starts to become a believer.

Zach, while I have always loved the name (but not since He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named Parise shafted the NJ Devils last summer), I have to say is kind of a big huge jerk. And that Kate wanted him back so badly just made me disgusted. (Seeing shades of myself? I don’t think I was quite that pathetic.) As loving as he seemed when they were in their relationship, he seems to take a great deal of pleasure in rattling her, often being cruel. And I thought, why did she love him so much in the first place? He’s nasty, condescending, insulting, but then he tries to act caring, like they broke up but they should be able to be friends and he doesn’t understand why she is so angry with him.

The problem I have with Kate is that she clings to the horoscopes like a lifeline, like they are a text book to getting Zach back. She takes them literally, even though Anna tries to tell her that they are not meant to be taken at face value, but as a guide. For instance, the first day of her Get-Zach-Back attack, her horoscope tells her to do something for herself; go to the gym, have a luxurious latte. So she goes to the gym with Anna and later follows it up with a fancy coffee beverage which she doesn’t enjoy, but forces down because that's what her horoscope told her to do. Not only does she take it literally, she interprets all her daily horoscopes as validation or proof that she will get Zach back. See? Denial.

On her first day at the gym, she is struggling with some of the equipment when she is addressed by one of the trainers. He can see she is struggling and offers to assist her. She tells him she has to get rid of the poof in her stomach so she can get Zach back. Idiot. You don’t say something like that to a hot guy you just met who’s trying to help you. He tells her he hopes she comes back, but Anna sees them talking and asks Kate if she can go for him.

This is a story of one girl’s heartbreak and what she goes through in trying to overcome it and assert herself, to be her own person and be able to stand on her own.

I could really identify with Kate. Everything Kate felt, I have felt, so I could understand how miserable she felt, how lost. There has to come a point though, that, while you may not be able to get over the break up yet, you can at least accept the fact that he really just doesn’t want you back. Kate wanted to fix herself so he would come back to her instead of understanding the problem was with him. She is pathetic in her inability to let go, trying to talk to him about the break up. Even when he tells her that he will never want her back, she hears the words, but can’t comprehend them, assuring him and herself that they will get back together.  She won't even tell her family because it would be weird when they do get back together.  Denial ain't on the map, sweetie.

As miserable, sad and pathetic as she was, I felt hopeful that she would make the right choices, for the right reasons, and not cling to a guy who obviously didn’t want her. I wanted her to succeed, to stand on her own and assert herself. I wanted her to find some modicum of happiness. I wanted to slap her and tell her to get over it. I wanted to slap Zach and tell him to get over himself. I felt for Kate, sad even, but I think it was because her character struck a chord in me, as I believe it would for anyone who’s been cut loose from a relationship. Did I finally get my happy ending? Years later and I know I’m better off, a lot of mistakes along the way. Does Kate move on and eventually find happiness? That would be a tell and I’m not telling.


  1. Great review, I'm sure a lot of people will recognise at least bits of themselves in Kate.

    1. Again. I do it again. Why can't I just hit the reply link??? It's because I see a comments box and just start typing.

      Here are my comments:
      I believe you are correct. Anyone who has been through a break up in a relationship will find something to connect with and I really liked that about the character. It made the story almost personal. Reading things like this make me wonder if I should dig out my old journals to see what I had to say in my teens. I think I'd be appalled, but it might be good for a laugh.

  2. I believe you are correct. Anyone who has been through a break up in a relationship will find something to connect with and I really liked that about the character. It made the story almost personal. Reading things like this make me wonder if I should dig out my old journals to see what I had to say in my teens. I think I'd be appalled, but it might be good for a laugh.