Our Year of Maybe, by Rachel Lynn Solomon
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Publisher: Simon Pulse
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Length: 384 pages
Times Read: Once
Rating: + about a million
Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.
But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.
Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one blurry, heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.
OMIGOD OMIGOD YOU GUYS
There is no stopping this train now, sorry
What I Liked: I hoped for an ARC of this book for so long, and so rarely saw anyone trading a copy that I figured I’d never get my hands on one. But THE GODS HAVE SMILED UPON ME FOR A TRADE HAS BEEN MADE!
I knew I was going to enjoy the book. Dual POV, best friends to more, and a premise of gold. What I didn’t know was how much I was going to connect with this book on a deeply, weirdly personal level. I had to start making a list only a few pages in because I was getting bogged down with the thought of remembering them all.
So my review is going to be a little different this time. A little more personal. I even have a few pictures to illustrate! Hopefully it is still enjoyable, and possibly even helpful.
- The idea that a person you love has it harder than you, and should therefore get their way more often. Sophie grows up deferring to Peter because he is sick all the time and so many things suck, so why shouldn’t they listen to the music he wants? Why shouldn’t he pick the movie? But she ends up resenting him for it, especially when he doesn’t even notice how much she gives in to him, because it’s so normal for them.Growing up, one of my very close friends was blind and we often deferred to her to make things easier. Because I took notes for her in a couple of classes, it seemed simpler for my schedule to revolve around hers than the other way around, and if that meant I didn’t get exactly the classes I wanted, that was okay. But it starts to eat at you, that imbalance of things, and I could thoroughly relate to Sophie on this front. She’s been allowing Peter to be in charge of things for so long that once he’s no longer the sick one, neither of them knows how to create a new normal for their friendship.
It’s not fair to show a picture of the girl I’m talking about here, because we haven’t been friends for a really long time. Instead, here is a picture of my best friend in high school (hi Laura!), probably talking to me before school to make sure we’re not wearing the same thing. She is still my BFF now.
- The family you don’t know after a parent dies. This isn’t a huge plot point. It applies only to Chase, Peter’s new friend post-transplant and it hit me HARD. He talks about the side of his family that he doesn’t know at all ever since his dad died, and GOD that was a knife to the heart. My mom died when I was 11, and ever since it’s been like half of me doesn’t even know who it is. There is family I was meeting for the very first time at my uncle’s funeral only a few months ago. (For those of you suggesting I ask my father more about my mom and her family, you’re adorable)
- The transplant. We watch Sophie and Peter go through the transplant, recover, and then deal with the whole emotional side of it that neither of them expected. I watched my mom go through this, when she needed a bone marrow transplant, and my younger brother was the donor. We were just kids, and the guilt that I could sense coming from her was pretty intense. It totally makes sense that Peter feels that same guilt, worrying about how much he now owes Sophie, when it will ever be enough, knowing that he put her through pain just for his sake.
- The dancing. Sophie’s scenes with her dance team were some of my favorites. There is nothing like the team atmosphere of the bus, the smell of hairspray heavy in the air, the matching lipstick on everyone, and the millions of sequins covering all the costumes. I always had a hard time memorizing choreography, but I longed to go to a summer choreo camp like Sophie learns about! I could read an entire sequel about what happens next just with her dance career.
That’s me on the right, way back in the day when I even used to dance on pointe.
- The teen mom sister. Sophie’s sister Tabby is only one year younger, yet also has a one year old daughter. Over the course of the book we see Sophie and Tabby grow closer, which is one of my favorite sister relationship tropes. Sisters aren’t always close or always enemies. Sometimes we’re kind of…indifferent. Also? This isn’t a story we see much, that of a sibling with a baby in the house, and how that still really affects the rest of the family.When my stepsister was 16, she had a baby too. I was in my freshman year of college so it didn’t affect my day to day, but whenever I came home, everything was different.
Here you’ll find me home for a weekend, hanging with said baby. While we’re at it, meet Toby! Toby is the dog our parents got to appease my youngest sister for now having to sleep right next door to a baby that woke up crying ten times a night and then still get up and go to school the next day.
- The Italian restaurant with acrobats that perform while you eat. This one is just mentioned once in passing by two side characters that say they’re heading to dinner there. I checked with the author on Twitter to see if she was thinking of Teatro ZinZanni when she wrote that, and she said that while she wasn’t, it still totally fit and they could also be going there. I know this place because my husband used to be a bartender there, wearing eyeliner and a top hat, back when he lived in Seattle. And we’ve gone to the San Francisco location ourselves for dinner.
If you ever find yourself in the position to attend either of these locations, it is SO MUCH FUN!
- The pet chinchilla. Peter has a chinchilla named Mark, which I have NEVER seen as a pet in a book before. YOU GUYS I HAD A PET CHINCHILLA TOO! Her name was Chico, because I reject your stereotypical gender norms and also I didn’t know what the word meant I just liked how it sounded. She was the softest thing in the world, although it did weird me out that she took dust baths, because you try telling a 9 year old that dirt makes things clean and see how far you get.
I can’t find any of my pictures of Chico, but she looked very much like this.
- The playing Taboo. This one is also just mentioned in passing, when Peter and Chase play with his family one night. But I LOVE Taboo. The husband doesn’t like games because he is a killjoy, so I don’t get to play as much anymore, but I used to play this game All.The.Time. Especially in college, and whenever Laura and I could convince other people to play with us. (This is rare, since we are super good at playing Taboo together because we can use references from ten years ago to describe something)
Just playing Taboo, totally sober, junior year of college. The husband just looked at this and said I look 16. I can’t tell if that’s supposed to be a compliment?
- The loving someone so intensely, so crazily, that you feel like you’d do anything that might bond you, tie you together forever–even donate a kidney. I never had cause to do such a thing, but I totally get that feeling. I remember how it felt to want something that only you would be able to share, and how it might make you special to them. That is definitely NOT the only, or even the main, reason that Sophie decides to donate her kidney to Peter, but the feeling is still there. The hope that it will make him see her differently is still there.
- The love where you just can’t get it together. I’ve had that. You’re always friends, but you love each other at different times, and you can never get them to match up. Reading this book, waiting to see how things would turn out for Sophie and Peter, I was crossing my fingers the whole time that they would make it work. But I’m not here to tell you if they do–this book is such a joy to read, you’ll want to find that out on your own.
- The bi boy who is musical and soft, the on-page sex, and the on-page use of sex toys and teen girl masturbation. None of these things are seen enough in YA, and all of them are seen as bad or shameful for some really stupid reasons. The author tackles these subjects in such a great way, in such a normal way, that you almost don’t even notice how refreshing it is, because every page is so refreshing.
What I Didn’t: There is nothing I didn’t like about this book.
⊗ Honestly, there’s nothing. Except it could be longer.
Final Thoughts: I don’t know what else to say. This book is incredible, and even if it doesn’t seem like the author ripped things straight from your brain, I think everyone else is going to love it just as much as I did. It’s such a nuanced, intense look at friendship, at friends to more, at one friend who wants more, and at two friends starting to find out who they might be when they’re not together.
If you pre-order this book, make sure you send your proof of purchase to the author at the email listed on her blog here for some awesome pre-order swag!
Favorite Quotes: “Sometimes being around him is agony, the gap between what we have and what I want too wide to ever cross.”