2017 Love-A-Thon: Let Me Sing You A Love Song

Logo for 2017 Love-A-Thon

The next mini-challenge I’m taking part in for 2017 Love-A-Thon is “Let Me Sing You A Love Song,” which requires bloggers to dedicate love songs to book characters. I was pumped for this challenge because I ADORE book playlists! I wouldn’t classify all of the songs I’ve chosen for today as actual “love songs,” but I can apply them all to fictional relationships so I’m going to hope it counts. 🙂

Book cover for Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi1) The Books: Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi
The Song: “My Skin” by Natalie Merchant
Juliette, the heroine in Mafi’s trilogy, has a terrifying power: she can steal people’s energy and life force simply by touching her skin to theirs. As a result, Juliette is imprisoned, feared, and hated, and she lives a lonely, miserable life, desperate for connection and companionship. She does finally find love (and someone who can touch her, yay!) but for much of her life she’s terribly mistreated. Thus, the reason “My Skin” is her theme song: “I’ve been treated so wrong / I’ve been treated so long / As if I’m untouchable.”

Book cover for Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat2) The Books: Captive Prince trilogy by C.S. Pacat
The Song: “No Light, No Light” by Florence and the Machine
I can’t take credit for this pairing; on Twitter, C.S. Pacat noted that she played “No Light, No Light” on repeat while writing the love scene in Prince’s Gambit. If you’ve read Pacat’s trilogy, you know how perfect this song is for Laurent and Damen. If you haven’t read the trilogy, what are you waiting for?! Go buy a copy right now!!

Book cover for Every Day by David Levithan3) The Book: Every Day by David Levithan
The Song: “Wherever You Will Go” by The Calling
“Wherever You Will Go” sounds like it could have been written explicitly for Every Day. In Levithan’s book, the hero/ine, known simply as A, wakes up in a new body every single day. A is forced to live out each day in the life of a stranger before going to bed and waking up the next day as someone new. As you can imagine, this makes it almost impossible to forge lasting relationships…which is why it’s so beautifully tragic when A falls in love with a girl named Rhiannon. A decides to try to do whatever it takes to stay with Rhiannon and make a life with her, which is why “Wherever You Will Go” is such an appropriate song for this book. There’s so much more I could say about the connection between the book and song, but I don’t want to give away any spoilers!

Book cover for The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith4) The Book: The Statistical Probability of Love At First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith
The Song: “Bruised” by Jack’s Mannequin
The tie between this book and song is a bit of a stretch, but there’s enough of a connection that I always think of The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight when I hear “Bruised” on the radio.The Statistical Probability… is about a young couple that meets for the first time on an airplane and get to know one another over the course of the flight. On the flip side, “Bruised” is about a guy and his girlfriend who are on a plane and will have to part ways once that plane lands. They’re cherishing the last few hours that they have together in the air and wishing the time could last forever.

Book cover for The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher5) The Book: The Opportunist by Tarryn Fisher
The Song: “Bad Things” by Meiko
I can’t say that the relationship between Olivia and Caleb in The Opportunist is a healthy one, but it sure is captivating. Olivia is a cold, calculating bitch, and she will do whatever it takes to be with Caleb. She’s definitely not a likable narrator, but her manipulative, scheming nature makes her fascinating to read about. That’s why “Bad Things” is the perfect song for her. Here are some sample lyrics: “You get yours, I’ll get mine / Then we run out of time, / You’re the only one that I desire, / ‘Cause I love to play with fire. / Good girls do bad things sometimes, / But we get by with it.”

Have you read any of the books listed above? If so, do you think the songs are fitting? Are there any other songs you feel would be a great match? Let me know in the comments section below!

Back to School: Books for Every Subject

Back To School: Books for Every Subject

Labor Day has come and gone, which means it’s back-to-school time for kids in the United States! To celebrate the new school year, I’ve put together a list of books inspired by the various subjects studied in American schools. Load up your backpacks, pack those lunch boxes, and let’s get ready to read!

Math

Book cover for Flatland by Edwin A. AbbotBook cover for Little Brother by Cory DoctorowBook cover for Sideways Arithmetic From Wayside School by Louis Sachar

Flatland by Edwin A. Abbot: Who would have guessed that a fictional tale of geometric shapes, written as a satire of Victorian society, could be entertaining? Certainly not me, but this little book, narrated by “A. Square,” is actually quite clever.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow: Little Brother is a computer nerd’s dream and a civic student’s nightmare. It’s about teen hackers using technology to protest governmental oppression, and it explains a ton of cool facts about information technology and the mathematics behind it.

Sideways Arithmetic From Wayside School by Louis Sachar: I loved the wacky Wayside School stories as a kid, and this particular book is a lot of fun, even though I still can’t wrap my head around the majority of its quirky math puzzles. Here’s a typically goofy quote from the book: “Everyone take out your spelling books,” said Mrs. Jewls. “It’s time for arithmetic.”

Science

Book cover for Catalyst by Laurie Halse AndersonBook cover for Kissing Frogs by Alisha SevignyBook cover for The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett

Catalyst by Laurie Halse Anderson: I don’t remember a ton of details about the plot and characters in Catalyst – it’s been many years since I read it – but many of the science-y facts from the book fortunately stuck with me. In fact, I recall getting really excited in ninth-grade Chemistry because I got the question “What is a catalyst?” on an exam. The only reason I knew the answer was because of this book.

Kissing Frogs by Alisha Sevigny: When Jess Scott starts failing her high school Biology class, her only shot at saving her grade is extra credit – namely, spending her Spring Break in Panama with the school’s Conservation Club, working to protect an endangered species of frog. This novel is light and fun and shares the importance of ecosystems and conservation. (Read my review here.)

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett: Bennett’s book introduced me to a career I never knew existed: medical illustrator. (For some reason I thought medical journals just used photos nowadays.) The book’s protagonist, Bex, spends much of her time drawing careful diagrams of muscles, organs, bones, and more. It’s not a job that I could do – too squeamish – but it’s definitely a cool idea.

Literature

Book cover for The Fall by Bethany GriffinBook cover for For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana PeterfreundBook cover for This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

The Fall by Bethany Griffin: This novel-length retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher” is deliciously Gothic and creepy. Griffin fleshes out the story and makes it, in my opinion, even better than the original. (Read my review here.)

For Darkness Shows the Stars by Diana Peterfreund: Persuasion has always been my least favorite of Jane Austen’s books, but this futuristic, quasi-dystopian reimagining brought the tale alive for me in a whole new way.

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel: I’ve never read Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, but this prequel makes me want to do so quite badly. It introduces a teenage Viktor Frankenstein and shows him taking the first steps on his path to knowledge and power. (Read my review here.)

History

Book cover for Curses and Smoke by Vicky Alvear ShecterBook cover for Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse AndersonGone With The Wind

Curses and Smoke by Vicky Alvear Shectar: A love story set in Pompeii, this book includes great historical details about what life would have been like in the days leading up to the infamous eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in 79 AD.

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson: This fictional account of a true event – a mass breakout of yellow fever in Philadelphia that left more than 5,000 dead – was the first plague book I ever read. It made me supremely grateful for modern medicine!

Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell: Mitchell’s tale is a classic not only for its iconic characters and volatile romance, but also for its portrayal of the American Civil War and the profound transformation that war had on the Southern way of life.

Physical Education

Book cover for Whale Talk by Chris CrutcherBook cover for Winger by Andrew SmithBook cover for Summerland by Michael Chabon

Whale Talk by Chris Crutcher: An unlikely group of outcasts form a swim team and confront racism, bullying, and injustice in this short but super-special novel.

Winger by Andrew Smith: Although Winger is about so much more than just sports (like first love, friendship, and tolerance, for example), rugby does play a big role in the story, as you might guess from the title. The school rugby team’s camaraderie and pranks are part of what makes this book so much fun to read. (Read my review here.)

Summerland by Michael Chabon: I don’t know much about baseball, but Summerland makes me wish I did. The great “American pastime” lies at the center of this magical tale, which is also full of adventure and faeries and a battle of good vs. evil.

Art

Book cover for David by Mary HoffmanBook cover for I'll GIve You the Sun by Jandy NelsonBook cover for From The Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwiler

David by Mary Hoffman: Hoffman’s book tells the fictional story of the man who supposedly modeled for Michelangelo’s statue of “David.” I love the insight it gives into the relationship between model and artist and the way it showcases the political climate of Italy at the time of the statue’s creation.

I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson: Twins Jude and Noah are best friends turned bitter rivals, bound by their shared love of art yet constantly striving to outdo one another in a bid for their mother’s attention. Art is the lifeblood of this story, from paintings to sketches to sculptures, and as a decidedly non-artistic person I really enjoyed seeing the world from an artist’s point of view.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg: In this story, two kids run away from home to live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Eleven-year-old me thought this was the coolest idea ever, and I still entertain fantasies of sleeping in Marie Antoinette’s bed, wandering through the Egyptian galleries, and diving for spare change in the fountains after hours like Claudia and Jamie in the book.

Music

Book cover for Just Listen by Sarah DessenderBook cover for I Heart Robot by Suzanne van RooyenBook cover for Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen: Music aficionados will find a kindred spirit in Owen, the music-obsessed love interest in Just Listen. Music is Owen’s life, and he’s constantly trying to induce Annabel, the book’s protagonist, to explore new musical genres: “Music is the great uniter. An incredible force. Something that people who differ on everything and anything else can have in common.”

I Heart Robot by Suzanne van Rooyen: Tyri is a teenage girl torn between her passion for music and her family’s expectations. Quinn is a run-away companion droid who yearns to be human and move people with his music. When the two musicians’ paths intersect at a prestigious orchestra, neither realizes just how big an impact they will have on each other’s lives and on the fight for robot autonomy. (Read my review here.)

Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater: When it comes to literary bad boys, musician Cole St. Clair is one of my favorites. He’s one half of the romance in Sinner and the front man of the wildly popular band NARKOTIKA. Brilliant, troubled, and self-destructive, Cole strives to find an outlet for his love of music and performing without giving in to his addictive personality.

What books you would add to the lists for each school subject above? Let me know in the comments section!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Books I’d Give Theme Songs To

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is: Top Ten Books I’d Give Theme Songs To.

I’ve been looking forward to this week’s Top Ten Tuesday topic for ages! I’m a big music buff for the same reason I love to read – like books, music entertains, enlightens, transports, and inspires. One of my biggest regrets is that I don’t have a musical bone in my body (my parents rejoiced the day I quit the saxophone, and I was one of only two people from my group of friends not accepted into the high school chorus). Since I can’t sing or play an instrument, I settle for compiling book-inspired playlists (check them out here). So, as you can imagine, I had plenty of material for today’s TTT list.

Book cover for Red Rising by Pierce Brown1) The Book: Red Rising by Pierce Brown (Review)
The Song: “Glory and Gore” by Lorde
This song gets me pumped up every time I hear it! I can just imagine Darrow, the hero of Red Rising, gearing up to go into battle, ready to avenge his enslaved race and make a name for himself through conquest and victory: “Now we’re in the ring and we’re coming for blood.”

Book cover for Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler2) The Book: Afterparty by Ann Redisch Stampler
The Song: “This Is What Makes Us Girls” by Lana Del Rey
When I first heard “This Is What Makes Us Girls,” I knew there had to be a book that encapsulated the spirit of the song. When I read Afterparty, I knew I’d found it. Both song and story tell of a friendship that grows increasingly unhealthy and out of control,  spiraling toward a disastrous end.

Book cover for Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater3) The Book: Sinner by Maggie Stiefvater
The Song: “So Hard To Breathe” by B.O.B.
“So Hard To Breathe,” which talks about fame and how it can crush you, is a fitting anthem for Cole, one of the narrators in Sinner. Cole is drowning, swept under by the current of his own success. He’s got everything he could ever want – fortune, fame, girls, drugs – but can’t keep his head above water: “Someone called my cell and left a voicemail / That said congratulations on the million record sales / As I’m flipping over furniture knocking shit off the shelf / I told myself I’ll never get too deep not to take a breath / But I’m sinking.”

Book cover for Shine by Lauren Myracle4) The Book: Shine by Lauren Myracle
The Song: “Merry Go ‘Round” by Kacey Musgraves
When you’re stuck in a small town, life can feel like being caught on a never-ending merry go ’round that you just can’t escape from. You’re trapped, doomed to walk the same paths and repeat the same mistakes as your parents and their parents before them: “Just like dust we settle in this town / On this broken merry go ’round.”

Book cover for Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma5) The Book: Forbidden by Tabitha Suzuma
The Song: “Clarity” by Zedd and Foxes
Maya and Lochan realize their feelings for one another go beyond that of a normal sibling relationship. They realize the world will see their love for one another as sick and perverse. But how can it be wrong for them to be together when they’re each other’s only comfort? “If our love is tragedy, why are you my remedy? / If our love’s insanity, why are you my clarity?”

Book cover for Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler6) The Book: Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler
The Song: “Wish You Were Here” by Incubus
A year after the death of her high school sweetheart, Anna travels to the beach with her best friend in an attempt to find happiness and learn how to move on with her life. I can’t think of a more fitting song for this book than “Wish You Were Here,” which talks about sitting on the beach in a rare moment of peace, making the most of that moment yet still yearning for a person who’s missing.

Book cover for Stolen by Lucy Christopher7) The Book: Stolen by Lucy Christopher
The Song: “Stranger” by Secondhand Serenade
Stolen is written as a letter from a teenage girl to her abductor, a well-meaning but very misguided man who doesn’t comprehend that he is victimizing the object of his obsession rather than “saving” her. “Stranger” is the perfect theme song for this abductor: “You call me a stranger / You say I’m a danger / But all these thoughts are leaving you tonight / I’m broke and abandoned / You are an angel / Making all my dreams come true tonight.”

Book cover for FML by Shaun Hutchinson8) The Book: FML by Shaun Hutchinson (Review)
The Song: “Night Of Your Life” by David Guetta and Jennifer Hudson
The pulsing beat of David Guetta’s song makes the perfect soundtrack for a wild party like the one in FML. The song is all about giving someone a night they’ll never forget, which is exactly what Simon, the book’s narrator, is looking for.

Book cover for Just One Day by Gayle Forman9) The Book: Just One Day by Gayle Forman
The Song: “Almost Lover” by A Fine Frenzy
While traveling through Europe, Alison meets Willem, a young actor who sweeps her up in a spontaneous, whirlwind romance that begins, peaks, and ends all in the course of 24 hours. “Almost Lover,” painful and poignant, captures the longing and heartbreak of a love that has slipped through your fingers.

Book cover for Winterspell by Claire Legrand10) The Book: Winterspell by Claire Legrand
The Song: “Castle” by Halsey
Clara, the protagonist of Winterspell, spends part of the book held captive in the palace of a wicked fairy queen. The fairy court is corrupt and terrible, yet strangely alluring. “Castle” evokes this same feeling with its twisted, dark, seductive sound.

Have you read any of the books listed above? If so, do you think the songs are fitting? Are there any other songs you feel would be a great match? Let me know in the comments section below!

Top Ten Tuesday: Top 10 Halloween Book/Song Pairings

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Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is a Halloween-themed freebie, so I chose to do a list of Halloween book and song pairings.

Book cover for The Coldest Girl in Coldtown1.) The Book: The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
The Song: “The Pit” by Silversun Pickups
Like Coldtown, where vampires and infected humans are quarantined from the public, the pit in Silversun Pickups’ song sounds terrifying, corrupt…and strangely alluring.

Book cover for Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock2.) The Book: Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock (Review)
The Song: “Howl” by Florence and the Machine
As soon as I heard the dark, wild strains of “Howl” I knew it would be a good fit for Hemlock, a book about a bloodthirsty werewolf terrorizing a town: “If you could only see the beast you’ve made of me / I held it in but now it seems you’ve set it running free / The saints can’t help me now, the ropes have been unbound I hunt for you with bloody feet across the hallowed ground.”

Book cover for This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel3.) The Book: This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel (Review)
The Song: “Dark on Me” by Starset
Oppel’s Frankenstein prequel illuminates the origin of Viktor Frankenstein’s quest for immortality. When Viktor’s twin brother falls deathly ill, he determines to do everything in his power to bring his brother back from the brink of death – no matter the cost.

Book cover for Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan4.) The Book: Unspoken by Sarah Rees Brennan
The Song: “Heaven or Hell” by Digital Daggers
“Heaven and Hell” speaks of a bond between two people that’s both a blessing and a curse, leaving them exposed and vulnerable. It’s spot-on for Unspoken, a story of sorcerers, sacrifices, and a mysterious connection between strangers: “I am exposed, I am undone / You tear the walls down one by one / We tried to run, we tried to hide in fear of losing ourselves / We tried to keep it all inside so we don’t hurt someone else / When all the demons come alive I’ll still be under your spell / This could be heaven or hell.”

Book cover for Feed by Mira Grant5.) The Book: Feed by Mira Grant
The Song: “Raise Hell” by Dorothy
Whenever I imagine Feed as a movie, this song is the soundtrack that plays in my head as Georgia and Shaun fight off hordes of zombies. It’s ballsy and brave just like the brother/sister duo, and the two certainly “raise hell” and “drop bombs” with their investigative journalism.

Book cover for The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy6.) The Book: The Creeping by Alexandra Sirowy (Review)
The Song: “Bones” by MS MR
This song has the same dark, eerie vibe as Sirowy’s novel, which tells the story of two little girls who vanish one day. One returns with no memory of what has happened; the other is never seen again: “Dig up her bones but leave the soul alone / Let her find a way to a better place / Broken dreams and silent screams / Empty churches with soulless curses / We found a way to escape the day.”

Book cover for The Fall by Bethany Griffin7.) The Book: The Fall by Bethany Griffin
The Song: “Going Under” by Evanescence
In this retelling of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Fall of the House of Usher,” young Madeline battles madness and the sentient house that holds her prisoner. Can she escape before she loses her mind entirely? “Blurring and stirring the truth and the lies / So I don’t know what’s real and what’s not / Always confusing the thoughts in my head / So I can’t trust myself anymore.”

Book cover for Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake8.) The Book: Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake (Review)
The Song: “Seven Devils” by Florence and the Machine
Hear how eerie and powerful and haunting “Seven Devils” sounds? That’s exactly what Anna Dressed in Blood feels like. This song conveys the hurricane force of ghostly Anna as well as the clash of wills between her and Cas, a ghost hunter.

Book cover for Project CAIN by Geoffrey Girard9.) The Book: Project CAIN by Geoffrey Girard (Review)
The Song: “Crawling” by Linkin Park
When Jeff Jacobson finds out he’s the clone of mass murderer Jeffrey Dahmer, he’s consumed by feelings of guilt and self-loathing, living in fear that some dark instinct or urge will one day rise up within him and he’ll go on a killing spree of his own: “There’s something inside me that pulls beneath the surface / Consuming, confusing / This lack of self-control I fear is never ending.”

Book cover for The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender10.) The Book: The Dead Girls of Hysteria Hall by Katie Alender (Review)
The Song: “Ghost” by James Vincent McMorrow
I’d hate to be a ghost, but I’d especially hate to be a ghost trapped in an abandoned insane asylum, unable to move on and find peace. It’s a fate as haunting and sad as McMorrow’s song: “The moon holds the light / And the moon’s this spinning globe / Shedding light upon the road / The bird won’t fly / And a bird without its wings is a low and tragic thing.”

Are there any other songs you feel would be a great match for the books I listed above? If so, please share in the comments section – I’d love to hear from you!

Review: Jane by April Lindner

Jane Book Cover Jane
April Lindner

Forced to drop out of an esteemed East Coast college after the sudden death of her parents, Jane Moore takes a nanny job at Thornfield Park, the estate of Nico Rathburn, a world-famous rock star on the brink of a huge comeback. Practical and independent, Jane reluctantly becomes entranced by her magnetic and brooding employer and finds herself in the midst of a forbidden romance.

But there's a mystery at Thornfield, and Jane's much-envied relationship with Nico is soon tested by an agonizing secret from his past. Torn between her feelings for Nico and his fateful secret, Jane must decide: Does being true to herself mean giving up on true love?

An irresistible romance interwoven with a darkly engrossing mystery, this contemporary retelling of the beloved classic Jane Eyre promises to enchant a new generation of readers.

Review:

This is probably going to send my high school English teachers into convulsions, but I actually liked April Lindner’s Jane more than Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.

If you’re not familiar with the story of Jane Eyre, it’s about a young woman – Jane, of course – who comes to work as a governess to the child of a wealthy man, Mr. Rochester. Over time Jane falls in love with Rochester, but because she’s plain, quiet, and modest she holds no hope that he’ll ever return her affections. Jane’s spirit and goodness do eventually captivate Rochester, but just as the two reach the brink of happiness a dark secret is revealed that puts their relationship at risk.

I read Jane Eyre in high school and again for one of my literature classes in college, and I liked it both times. It wasn’t until I read Jane, though, that I felt like I truly connected with the story. Lindner is faithful to Brontë’s masterpiece but freshens it up, making the story more interesting and polishing Brontë’s characters until they shine. All the parts that I found unlikely or boring in the original are changed or gone completely in this retelling, like the tedious opening scene in the Red Room, Jane’s time at school with Helen Burnley, etc. What remains is the heart of the novel: an unlikely romance between a dowdy young girl and her wealthy employer, a love story about being true to yourself no matter what.

Here are just a few of the things I loved about this book:

Mr. Rochester is a rock star. Literally. In Lindner’s adaptation, Mr. Rochester is replaced by Nico Rathburn, a famous musician with a history of drug abuse, trashed hotel rooms, and a string of volatile relationships. Although some die-hard Brontë fans might faint dead away at the thought of a rock star Mr. Rochester, I assure you it works surprisingly well. For one thing, it provides the necessary context for fitting Jane Eyre into the modern world. Nico’s fame explains why he’s so wealthy and sought after, as well as why it’s unexpected for him to be seen with unremarkable, unworldly Jane. The rock star lifestyle also adds all sorts of interesting complications, like paparazzi, groupies, world tours, band mates, and gossiping maids who want to sleep with their boss. And let’s be real – what book doesn’t get more exciting with the addition of sex, drugs, and rock ‘n roll?

Jane is the epitome of quiet strength. At the beginning of the book, Jane seems like a bit of a weirdo. She rarely smiles, doesn’t approve of swearing, and is completely out of touch with popular culture. She’s never had a boyfriend, is serious and reserved to the point of being somber, and would rather spend her free time listening to classical music than socializing. If you happened to be seated next to her at a dinner party, never having met her, you’d probably be bored to tears within the first five minutes.

And yet…once you get to know her, you realize there’s much more to Jane than meets the eye. She may be odd and quiet and subdued, but her plain exterior hides a strong, passionate spirit. Anything Jane feels, she feels deeply, and she wants to be desired and loved just like anyone else. Jane may not be outgoing and flashy, but Lindner imbues her with a quiet courage and resolve that I really admire and respect.

There’s a strong message about being true to yourself. As already mentioned, Jane is nothing to look at. I don’t mean she just thinks she’s ugly but in reality is just unconventionally beautiful; no, Jane is legitimately not attractive. Many girls would try to change this, spending a ton of money, time, and effort on hair care regimens and beauty products; not Jane. There’s one scene where two of Nico’s band mates’ girlfriends take Jane under their wing and give her a makeover. Jane is amazed at how gorgeous she looks, yet she washes the makeup off before Nico ever sees her. She knows in her heart that the glamorous girl in the mirror isn’t her, and she won’t compromise herself, even if it means missing a chance to impress Nico.

Does it hurt Jane’s feelings when people tease her because she’s plain? Absolutely. Does she wish she were beautiful? Hell, yeah. But that doesn’t mean she’s going to change who she is. This isn’t a novel about a geeky girl who gets a makeover and then gets the guy. It’s a novel about a girl who gets the guy because she DOESN’T get the makeover. Jane’s refusal to be anyone but her herself – plain face and all – is a huge part of what makes her stand out and shine.

Jane and Nico actually build a real relationship. I had no complaints about the romance in Jane Eyre, but it wasn’t until Jane that I really saw why Jane and Rochester, or in this case Jane and Nico, fall for one another. In Brontë’s novel, Jane and Rochester don’t really do much together besides talk and occasionally take a stroll. In Jane, Nico and Jane actually spend time hanging out and establishing a rapport. They go for walks, paint, spend time with Nico’s daughter, and go out for seafood. Nico teaches Jane to swim. They tease one another and bring out each other’s best qualities. For example, Jane has a wonderfully dry sense of humor that only comes out when Nico’s around:

“I’m not even sure I have a bathing suit,” I told him[…].

“What?” He was frowning at me now. “No bathing suit? Are you sure you’re not a nun?”

“Some nuns swim,” I said.

I’m grateful to April Lindner for taking a classic that I liked and retelling it in a way that made me appreciate it even more. It won’t be for all Jane Eyre fans, but it definitely worked for me, and I know I’ll be reading Lindner’s other retelling, a reimagining of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights.