Things I'm Seeing Without You by Peter Bognanni (330 pages)
Overview: Tess Folwers is grieving the loss of a boy she only met once; she is grieving her first love. Her phone feels oddly silent, knowing that he isn't on the other end of all those accounts they used to talk while hundreds of miles apart. She drops out of school and drives to her dad's house where she takes part in his eccentric funeral business to distract herself from her loss. As she's trying to move forward, she comes to discover that everything with her deceased first love, Jonah was not as it seems, setting off a spiral of odd events as she and others who were close to Jonah work together to come to terms with the loss. Overall: 3
Characters: 3 I never really formed a close connection or felt very invested in any of these characters. This isn't to say that they weren't interesting or had boring storylines, it's just that none of them felt developed beyond a flat, paper-like state. The male lead, Daniel, was uninteresting. He didn't hold any real value to the story, in my opinion, other than as a place holder. Tess was marginally more interesting, but I never felt like, even though she was the main character, I got to know Tess. There was a very solid wall between Tess and I, and beyond that, my world and Tess's.
I did find Tess's father and his girlfriend, Grace to be interesting. While they weren't really utilized and the situations weren't more developed, the groundwork Bognanni laid with layering their pasts made the glimpses of them very interesting.
Plot: 3 I found the plot as inaccessible as the characters for how purely outlandish it was. You can have odd events or crazy adventures if they are grounded in something. This plot felt like it was floating in outer space. That made me feel removed from the story and also caused it to lose some of its emotional impact.
Writing: 3 The writing was very bare. There wasn't much in the way of development. I just never made a connection with the story, and there was nothing there that made me want to finish. I read the book over three weeks, reading 3/4 of it in a few days and then just stopping. The last fifty pages took me a week of skimming to finish because I had no reason to finish besides wanting to be done with it.