Sunday, September 10, 2017

The Art of Feeling by Laura Tims

Title: The Art of Feeling
Author: Laura Tims
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age
Source: HarperTeen via Edelweiss

Perfect for fans of Jennifer Niven’s New York Times bestseller All the Bright Places, this contemporary YA novel explores the friendship between a girl in constant pain and a boy who feels nothing at all.

Since the car accident, Samantha Herring has been in pain, not only from her leg injury, but also from her mother’s death, which has devastated her family. After pushing away her friends, Sam has receded into a fog of depression.

But then Sam meets Eliot, a reckless loner with an attitude and an amazing secret—he can’t feel any pain. At first, Sam is jealous. But then she learns more about his medical condition…and his self-destructive tendencies. In fact, Eliot doesn’t seem to care about anything at all—except maybe Sam. As they grow closer, they begin to confront Sam’s painful memories of the accident—memories that may hold a startling truth about what really happened that day.
Review by Nara

I always go into novels about characters with particular conditions with a sense of trepidation. Partly because it's always so rare to find a novel where a disease is portrayed correctly, and partly because I'm always worried the book will become a "sick kid" book e.g. a "cancer" book. The Art of Feeling was a novel that I wasn't too sure about, but I decided to take a chance because this inability to feel pain is a condition that I was taught briefly about and thought it would be interesting to see how it is portrayed in fiction.

Main character Sam has been in pain ever since she was involved in a car accident that killed her mother. Both physical pain with her leg being injured, and obviously the emotional burden and guilt that her mother's death has left her with, Sam also suffers from some PTSD like symptoms. Within the first few chapters of the book, Sam gets to know Eliot, a student who recently transferred to her school, and discovers he has a condition where he is unable to feel pain.

The character development is excellent. I really liked Eliot and Sam's friendship and how it slowly builds from them being strangers all the way up to a romantic relationship. Their banter is frankly hilarious, and I loved how the pair would interact with others in the novel, such as Eliot's brother, and Sam's father. For such a character focused novel, the pace is very fast. I actually really liked how things moved forward quickly, and while I found some aspects of the plot a little unrealistic, I thought the story overall was well thought out.

Overall, The Art of Feeling was an excellent novel that was surprisingly humorous and unexpectedly punched me in the feels. I would recommend it to those looking for a great contemporary read.

Overall: 9/10
Plot: 5/5
Romance: 4.5/5
Writing: 5/5
Characters: 4.5/5
Cover: 2/5