A little while ago the lovely Emma from Never Judge A Book By Its Cover and I launched Let’s Talk YA. You can check out all of the books I’ve previously recommended, all of which are incredible UKYA books that I think need to be shouted about more. Today, I’m discussing the heart-warming and utterly brilliant The Paper & Hearts Society.
Trigger warnings: bullying, anxiety, cyber bullying, cyber stalking, grief, panic attacks,
Tabby Brown doesn’t fit in. She’s anxious and unhappy, and just wants some friends to hang out with who get her… and then she discovers a piece of paper tucked into a book inviting her to join a book club. It’s here that she meets Olivia, Cassie, Henry and Ed, and embarks on a summer of bookishness and friendships.
Why I Love It:
This book just seems to get me. I’m a bookish, shy teenager with a load of similarly book-mad friends who I’ve now found, but when I was growing up, I always felt like I didn’t fit in or was bullied for my height and love of literature. Lucy Powrie has encapsulated all those feelings into the wonderful band of misfits of The Paper & Hearts Society, creating three-dimensional, realistic teenage characters that I could relate to so much.
I love every single one of these misfits. They’re all so complex and realistic teenagers, who have troubled home lives, struggles with their sexuality and romantic issues but also band together for literary road trips, Harry Potter marathons and even Jane Austen dance parties. They felt just like my own close-knit group of book club friends and highlight the magic of books and the bookish community. We are all connected by our love of stories and the escapism we can feel through our favourite books, which is something that Powrie really explores through Tabby’s past.
The LGBT+ representation was a wonderful addition to the book, especially the f/f relationship and the demisexuality representation, which is something that I rarely see represented in YA. Similarly, Tabby discusses getting her period and experiences some of the symptoms around this, which is something else that is scarily mentioned in YA, despite being a regular biological function for many people, adding to the realism and authenticity of the book. In addition to this, Tabby’s anxiety seemed so brutally honest and realistic, with an on-page panic attack described in minute detail and praised as authentic by own voices reviewers.
Powrie’s prose just flows so well and captures the essence of teenage life in the modern age, overflowing with emotion and beautifully descriptive passages that were so vivid yet never alienating. For me, it’s the little references to other books that I really appreciated, as they felt like literary Easter Eggs that were an added bonus to the brilliant story.
Essentially, The Paper & Hearts Society is an incredible YA contemporary about the importance of finding your people with a cast of lovable misfits and a plethora of book-related content.
Have you read The Paper & Hearts Society? What did you think?
As always, please check out Emma’s blog for her recommendation and we will be talking on Twitter, so please get involved and use the hashtag #LetsTalkYA.