Friday, April 20, 2012

Review: Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder

Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder
Reviewed by Noelle: April 20, 2012
Published January 5, 2010 by Simon and Schuster
Goodreads • Buy on AmazonKindleBook Depository

It’s the year anniversary of the death of Lucca, boyfriend of Brooklyn, brother of Nico. The lone survivor of the car crash that killed Lucca, his friend Gabe, has just died of a drug overdose and just like that, all the grief comes rushing back to the surface for Brooklyn and Nico.  This time though, Lucca has decided to haunt his brother, leaving him messages that urge him to help Brooklyn. When Gabe starts sinisterly showing up in Brooklyn’s dreams, it seems like she could desperately use the assistance.  Can Nico and Brooklyn work through this together? 

Ah, verse novels.  They give with one hand and take with the other.
In the pro column: Lisa Schroeder pulls off some pretty impressive characterization within the spare confines of verse. I thought the dual narrative was a success and had two distinct voices and personalities. There are several lovely passages and more than a few emotional gut punches as Nico and Brooklyn go through the healing process together. 
In the con column: as the ending of the novel grew near, I felt it deteriorated into endless, simplistic metaphors, practically written in a list.  With regular prose the metaphors may not have been so obvious, but in verse the repetitiveness yanked me right out of the story. And that's not even mentioning Brooklyn’s dreams. First of all, isn't it funny how people in fiction dream extremely relevant meaningful things? The last meaningful dream I had was about getting pissed at Ryan Gosling in a Barnes and Noble when I thought he was just teasing me when he asked if I wanted to make out. I still can't believe the last words I ever said to him were "shut up."


But back to Brooklyn's dreams--they were not only all, "here's a metaphor!" but "here's a metaphor with directions and a map!"  At one point she had to choose between the literal light path and dark path, you guys.  

The figurative language got so heavy-handed I felt like Schroeder was telling me how to feel instead of trusting me to react naturally to characters I was already emotionally invested in.  Rather than build on that investment, the ending only served to emotionally distance me from the outcome of the story.

Despite my disappointment in the execution of the ending there were definite bright spots along the way and I'd still recommend checking it out if you are interested in verse novels or intrigued by the blurb. Rating: 3/5 stars.

Some random notes: I absolutely loved when Nico wrote the "dude, be specific" note to Lucca after all of his vague ghostly messages. Being haunted equivocally would be such a pain in the ass. Also, if I were Brooklyn I'd have tried to float "I keep having horrible dreams of Gabe, do you have any thoughts on that?" in the first lull in conversation. But that's just me and I guess if ghosts (and teens) were good communicators I wouldn't even be writing this review, huh?

Bonus points: Italian boys. Always relevant to my interests.


  1. Oh gosh, there's almost nothing that I hate quite as much as being told how to feel or being given excessive direction by an author. That disgruntled owl's face pretty much sums up my feelings on that. I'd much rather have a few questions, some ambiguity, than a crystal clear, illustrated picture of everything that's going on, everywhere. Let us do our job as readers and connect the dots!

    End rant! Hilarious review Noelle. I only wish my dreams were ever that good.

    1. Thanks Catie! Ryan then tried to buy me a Snow White and the Seven Dwarves doll of my choice and I of course chose "Angry Dwarf" which he pointed out didn't exist and there was no makeout session to be had that day...A) These are the kind of emails I actually send Maggie on a daily basis that lucky gal and B) I can only imagine what Dr. Z would tell me about that dream haha.

      I'm not sure if it was the wrong metaphor at the wrong time or what but I was disappointed. Up to then it had been quite lovely. --N

  2. Of course angry dwarf exists! :)

    Dr. Z would just sit back and let you go on and on about the personal, awkward, sexual implications of that dream while she stared at you in blank silence. LOL.

  3. I think I've heard of this book before but I didn't know it was out today! And lol, I love that owl picture.

    Anyway, awesome review Noelle! ♥

  4. Verse novels really DO give with one hand and take with the other. That's a fabulous way to put it, Noelle! I'm a little reluctant to start this, not because it's in verse, but because of the topic. I'll probably need to gather some courage first.
    Wonderful review, Noelle.

    1. Thanks Maja! Yeah the topic is a sad one but if it helps, I thought it was a very quick read. --N

  5. Fab review Noelle, sorry this didn't work out for you as much as you hoped! :)

    1. Thanks Jasprit :) The good news is that looking at Goodreads I seem to be an exception to the rule. --N

  6. Love the owl picture! LOL. I have this one on my giant TBR pile and I'm saving it for when I feel like I'm about to experience a reading slump. Because verse novels are easier to get into than regular prose. Sorry to hear you didn't enjoy this one as much as you were expecting though. Have you read Lisa Ann Sandell's Song of the Sparrow? That's my favorite novel in verse (although I've only read a couple).

    1. Thank you so much for the suggestion, Chachic! I'll definitely look into Song of the Sparrow. --N


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