I first saw this book sitting on a bookshelf in Chapters, and although I didn't hear anything about it before, I was absolutely fascinated by the cover. At that time, I was waiting for my husband while he was running errands, bored out of my wits and trying to kill time. I picked it up, found a quiet corner and started reading. By the time my husband came back to get me, I was nearly 80 pages in and absolutely in love. I didn't want to leave the book store, I just wanted to sit there and continue reading. I needed to find out what happens next. Will Bird find the courage to end it with her boyfriend? Will she choose the troublemaker over her life-long trusted friend? Can she keep up with her on-line advance column? I felt an overwhelming need to keep on going, Kuiper's wonderful writing style had me hooked from page one. Did I finish the book right there, in the book store? No, unfortunately I didn't have enough time. I couldn't purchase it either, which made me extremely sad. Thankfully, a few days later, a friend of mine offered to give me her copy and I can't tell you how insanely happy I was to be able to get back to Bird and her life. I immediately jumped right back into the story and continued reading where I left off. What I didn't realize at that time, though, is just how meaningful this book would prove to be. What I initially assumed to be just a complicated love story, turned out to be so much more than just that. I was very surprised at some of the plot developments, I totally didn't anticipate most of the twists. 40 Things I Want To Tell you turned out to be quite an unpredictable read, and one that carried an important message. A message to always trust your heart, follow your dreams, and - once in every while - listen to your own advices. They're better than you might think.
Amy (a.k.a. Bird) is just a teenage girl, and, like most typical teenage girls, she has a loyal side-kick friend, and a wonderful, loving boyfriend. She is also running an on-line advice column for teenagers, where she offers tips on how to take control of one's life. But, as it turns out, our Ms-Take-Control-Of-Your-Life is far from being in control herself. She's stuck in a relationship with her life-long best-friend. She doesn't know how to tell him that she doesn't love him, not the way he loves her. When a new guy shows up at school, Bird is drawn to him, attracted by how wild and dangerous he seems. She knows that Pete is nothing but trouble, but she can't stay away from him. Things are quickly getting complicated and sticky, and before she knows it, Bird finds herself in serious trouble. Her life is about to change forever, will she ever be able to regain control of it?
First thing you need to know before picking this book up, is that you shouldn't expect sweet romance, spine-tingling make-out scenes, butterflies, sparkles and happy endings. It's not a dark read per se, but definitely one filled with profound life lessons, irreversible mistakes, regrets, pain and disappointment. A book of what-ifs and if-onlys. It's a melancholic read, full of sadder undertones. It's definitely not a love story, nor a love triangle. Yes, there is some teenage love-drama involved, but while its absolutely essential to the story, the plot is not built around it. This is not a story of Bird trying to figure out who she wants to be with, this is a story of Bird trying to figure out who she is and what she wants to do with her life. A tale of a girl trying to find her identity, her voice, and strength to do the right things. A story way more poignant and moving than what you'd assume from reading the blurb and looking at the cover.
While I appreciated the detailed and thorough character development, as well as Bird's undeniable character growth, I can't say that I instantly connected with her. She was a very interesting, well-drawn, three-dimensional protagonist, but one that was not easy to like. That, of course, is perfectly understandable, given the plot and every bad decision she made on the way. It's not that she was a mean, spoiled, insensitive person, not at all. In fact, she was too sensitive to other people's needs to ever assert her own will and follow her own needs. She was afraid of hurting others, so she tried to mold herself into something she wasn't. That didn't - couldn't - help though, so she ended up hurting everyone around her even more. She found herself in a perfect Catch-22 situation, and the worst part is her own actions and bad decisions got here there. As frustrating and disappointing as it was to watch her lie to everyone (including herself), it was also quite fascinating and eye-opening to see how she dealt with every difficult situation. Yes, she was lost, confused and weak-minded, but that only made her more human. Alice Kuipers created a very relatable, authentic character, and one that is sure to bring out all sorts of emotions in readers. You'll be angry with her, disgruntled with her actions, and frustrated with her emotional immaturity, but you'll also sympathize with her and, in the end, she'll probably grow on you. Just like she grew on me.
40 Things I Want To Tell you is a beautiful, heartbreaking tale of one girl's journey to self-discovery. It's a remarkably raw and real story of a girl that dreamt of flying, breaking free and feeling the wind in her hair. Emotionally affective, utterly convincing, and written with prose that tugs at your heart and conscience, it's a bittersweet treasure of a book. Take your time while reading it, savour every thought and emotion, and I'm sure this book will stay with you for a long, long time.