What is it all about?
Love You Hate You Miss You follows Amy returning back to school after her stay in Pinewood, a rehabilitation centre. The grieving teenager is suffering after the death of her best friend Julia. She believes Julia’s death was her fault. Now she has to learn to survive with her intolerable guilt.
This is the first novel I’ve read by Elizabeth Taylor and sadly I have not been left begging for more. It wasn’t that the book was bad; it just wasn’t exceptional compared to other fiction focused on loss.
Chapters are split between letters to Julia and a first person narrative of Amy’s life after Julia’s death. Amy’s thoughts were expressed realistically throughout the book, although I found myself skimming over certain paragraphs because the content was unnecessary. For example,
“I don’t want to think there was a shadow in your eyes. I don’t want to think that when you hugged me before I went home and said you were scared, you meant something else. I don’t want to think you meant you were sorry.”
Repetition for emphasis is a simple technique learned in High School. I do not believe that Elizabeth Scott is a bad writer because of this, of the contrary; she intended to use this style to give Amy her own relatable voice which would connect with other teenagers. But I must admit, reading the same confessional content did become boring and draining.
It was Amy’s relationships with other characters that made me continue reading. Her rekindled friendship with Caro (Corn Syrup) was crucial in helping the lost girl realise that she doesn’t have to be alone for the rest of her life. Patrick’s isolated nature made it obvious he would bond with Amy, however, I do not believe their quick intimacy was realistic because the two did not spend much time together. Most characters didn’t gain much depth which was disappointing. For example, I would like to have seen more of what the evil Beth was capable of.
After reading a YA novel which uses first person narrative, I usually find that the voice blends in with any other teenager narrative I’ve read before. But with Amy’s devoted grief and confessions she became a strong character with a unique voice.
The ending was not climatic or unusual, but I believe this suited the book. Amy’s issues with her parents, friends, love life and binge drinking were all resolved. Most importantly she came to terms with Julia and the part she played in her death.
Love You Hate You Miss You coveys the struggle of fitting back into a society that you have been removed from in so many ways. A good idea, but not emotionally provoking or extremely thrilling.
Verdict: 2/5 – There are better books about teenage depression.
Read if you liked: Let’s Get Lost (Sarra Manning), If I Stay (Gayle Forman), Thirteen Reasons Why (Jay Asher) and Before I Die (Jenny Downham).