I knew I was going to fall in love with The Catastrophic History of You and Me by Jess Rothenberg when I read the narrator, Brie’s, opinion of love. To her, it’s the type of thing that “people jump off the Eiffel Tower for and sell all their possessions and move to Alaska to live with the grizzly bears, and then they get eaten and nobody hears them when they scream for help.” That’s when I knew this book would be funny, a bit dark, and definitely have some moments of truth. My expectations were not unfounded.
When Brie dies at the young age of fifteen from a literal broken heart, she must then go through the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, sadness, and acceptance. But she’s not alone. Lucky for her, she’s got Patrick (a ghost who died in the 80’s), and the D&G (Dead and Gone) Handbook. Moving on is hard, though—especially when the life you left behind is steadily unraveling.
Something is going on between Brie’s boyfriend (err . . . ex-boyfriend) Jacob, and her best friend Sadie. Her father is obsessed with finding an answer to her seemingly impossible death, and her mom and brother have moved out of the house.
The way that Jess Rothenberg describes the afterlife is a surprisingly new take. When Brie dies, she ends up in a pizza shop with a few other spirits who haven’t crossed over yet. And when she and Patrick decide to go back down to earth to pay a visit to the boy who broke her heart (literally), they have only to jump off the Golden Gate Bridge and “fall from grace” to get to the mortal world. Now that Brie’s a ghost, the streets that were once familiar to her are slightly off—like buildings not quite where they used to be. It’s nice to have a fresh point of view for a very common topic.
There are a lot of books out there with this general premise, but The Catastrophic History of You and Me definitely leaves a lasting impression. With the relatable characters (I absolutely love Patrick), a bit of depth, and lots of humor, this book is definitely one of my favorites.
Mattie is an aspiring novelist who lives in small-town Colorado. She can often be found reading YA fiction when she probably shouldn’t be, resulting in the common phrase of, “Put the book down!” (Unfortunately for whoever says that, it rarely happens.)