Published: April 8, 2015
Source: Received for review via Netgalley. I promise you that has in no way influenced my review or my opinions on the book.
Summary from Goodreads:
Some endings are inevitable, but so are some stories.
Cora Matthews, the principal’s gloomy goth daughter, is not exactly popular Duke Meyer’s type. Still, Duke finds himself inexplicably drawn to her dark eyes and mysterious manner. She makes it clear she doesn’t return his admiration, but when a burst appendix lands Duke in the hospital, he and Cora will be forced to come together by the most unlikely intermediary: her eight-year-old brother, Jaime.
Duke learns Jaime has brain cancer and little chance of long-term survival. He admires the kid’s plucky positivity and wild imagination and offers to write a story about Jaime’s make-believe superheroes. So begins an epic tale—that of Ghostboy, Chameleon, and the Duke of Graffiti—and a deep friendship between Duke and Jaime.
Despite their outward differences, Cora and Duke bond over their affection for Jaime, but unintended betrayal and Jaime’s advancing disease threaten to derail their blossoming romance before it can truly take root.
Ghostboy, Chameleon & the Duke of Graffiti is a gorgeous debut novel that will resonate with the thoughtful fans of John Green’s blockbuster The Fault in Our Stars.
I finished this book just a few minutes ago, and I'm extremely conflicted about how I felt about it. It took me a little while to get into the story, and there were definitely things that annoyed the living crap out of me, but as I finished the last page, the feeling that settled over me let me know I was glad I got to read Ghostboy, Chameleon, and the Duke of Graffiti.
As I said, it took me a while to get into this story, because the first half of this novel is absolutely infuriating. We're introduced to Duke, the protagonist, who is in the principle's office for painting a penis on the principle's car for a prank.Okay, I'll admit that part is funny. But it doesn't take us very long to get to know Duke's personality. Basically, he's a rich private school boy, really concerned about his popularity, his reputation, and, of course, sex. That's all realistic, I know. But he was also very ignorant.
And here's where it gets rant-y.
Duke kept judging Cora hardcore for all the makeup she wore and the piercings she had. The fact that she wore so much makeup was a major part of the story, actually, and that was really annoying. There just HAD to be a reason she liked to wear so much makeup, apparently. He even asked one of his teachers if Cora's dad abused her because she liked to wear such heavy makeup. GOD FORBID SHE WEARS THAT MUCH MAKEUP BECAUSE SHE FUCKING LIKES IT. And when he realized that he was kinda into Cora, he called it a twisted fantasy. It was just soooo wrong that he liked someone who wasn't a cheerleader. There was also one point where he google searched information on goths and took the stereotypes posted on the internet as truth. Like...what? He's supposed to be so smart (he wants to get into Harvard), but he reads that gothic people are typically gay so he thinks, "Hm...I bet she's a lesbian."
I feel like this is such a prominent issue in our society nowadays. There is so much discussion about people being able to just like what they like, and I agree. Sometimes people wear black because they like the color black. I have a nose piercing because I thought it would look good. None of that says anything about a person's character. Obviously, all this pissed me off.
But theeeennnn Duke meets Jaime in the hospital after an appendicitis surgery. He later figures out Jaime is Cora's little brother, and that he has brain cancer. But I just adore Jaime. It's impossible not to. He is this ball of energy and, for the most part, positive vibes. The relationship he forms with Duke is precious. They have this inexplicable bond that no one else would be able to fully understand. Duke tries to give Jaime every chance at happiness and Jaime changes Duke so much. The second Jaime steps on to the scene, this story is redeemed. Duke became much more tolerable.
I'll admit, I found this book to be a bit slow, but a bunch of interesting things still happened. The story that Duke and Jaime begin to write together is creative and fun, and I would love to see that turned into a novel of its own. And when Duke starts helping Jaime fulfill his bucket list, I could not keep the grin off my face. I won't tell you exactly what happens, but I'll let you know a few of the items on Jaime's bucket list: drive a car, try beer, do something illegal, fly. There are definitely quite a few adventures!
All in all, I enjoyed Wildenstein's debut much more than I thought I would in the beginning. I became invested in the characters, the story, and the story within the story. This book had me laughing and crying and I don't think anyone will regret reading it, even with the little peeves in the beginning.
Actual rating: 3.5/5