And For Your Information… by Denise Deegan

Everyone thinks they know who I am – ditzy Sarah, who cares more about appearances than she does about anything real. And yeah, I do care about what people think of me. Take my friends Alex and Rachel. We all go to Strandbrook College, Dublin. We’re supposed to be best friends. But Alex and Rachel – they’re really close. They tell each other things that they would never tell me. I try not to mind. And then there’s Simon. He’s my sort-of boyfriend but we hardly see each other. And when we do, I feel like he doesn’t really ‘see’ me, you know? Everything’s such a mess right now. My dad left us to be with Her; my mum is really angry all the time; and my brother Louis, he just doesn’t care. I guess that’s why the shoplifting started. It makes me feel good. In control. I just want everything to change. And it does. The day I got caught . . .

Earlier this year (just a couple of months back, in fact) I read Denise Deegan’s first novel in her new “Butterfly” series And By The Way… It was an OK read, nothing entirely special with too many American “likes” thrown into random sentences and I wasn’t entirely sure if I’d be getting book two, And For You Information… Until a blogger friend read it. And cried over it. And said it was awesome. Well, I’m a sucker for a book that’s described like the Nicholas Sparks novel/movie A Walk To Remember (the movie made me cry like a baby, I haven’t read the book though) so I bought myself And For You Information… and after a long wait, it finally arrived so I read it straight away. I mean, it looks like a nice, light read. I’ve never been so wrong in my life. Though the Nicholas Sparks comparison was probably a clue…

And For You Information… is heart-wrenching. I’m getting that out of the way first because if you’re a cry-baby then well, it’s best to be warned, isn’t it? I mean, I’m not a cry-baby. Well, I am. But I don’t cry at books as much as some people do. However And For Your Information… made me cry. Like a baby. It’s been ages since a book has done that and whenever other people say “Oh, yeah, it made me cry” I’m all “Seriously?” and I never believe that the book is really, genuinely sad, but And For Your Information… is. It is THAT sad. And it is THAT emotional. And it is THAT GOOD. It is like A Walk To Remember, too, for the record, so please use that as some kind of warning. Go rent A Walk To Remember and then read this book and come tell me how similar they are. This is all Nicholas Sparks’s fault.

I don’t want to talk too much about the plot of the novel because it was surprising when I read it and when we really get to the cry-baby stuff. As much as it’s like A Walk To Remember, it’s also not (for those thinking I’ve already given the plot away by comparing it to that movie). The first “Butterfly” novel focused on Alex, and this time around it’s Sarah’s turn. I wasn’t a big Sarah fan in the first novel – she was very clingy, very needy, very desperate, but she’s miles easier to like, miles easier to get to know once we hear things from her point of view. In fact, I liked her better than I liked Alex despite the fact she steals things, at least for a time. Until she’s caught and sent to a therapist and to an old people’s home for her community service, where she meets Shane, who’s grumpy and annoying, but shows glimpses of being totally caliente.

I presume book three in the “Butterfly” series will be about Rachel (I can’t wait to see what she gets up to, she seems to strait-laced… then again, so did Sarah, ’till she started stealing). What’s nice about the series is that although the books do just focus on the one girl – Alex first, now Sarah, then presumably Rachel – we’re still focused on all of them. And For Your Information… was Sarah’s story, but Alex had her own troubles, too, as did Rachel, and it’s not as if since we’ve already had Alex’s story in And By The Way… that all of her sudden her life is rosy. Because it’s not. Far from it, in fact. So it’ll be interesting how it continues in the next book. How things that happened in And For Your Information… will carry on and affect the characters in book three.

And For Your Information… was excellent. The writing was better, the story flowed better (even if perhaps some people will question a couple of things that happen) and it was just all-round better than its predecessor. Nothing about the novel seemed forced, it all flowed naturally and I was racing to the end whilst simultaneously wanting to stop and hide the book under my bed, like the grown-up that I am. But finish it I did (I am such a trooper) and I’m glad I did. Sure, it made me cry, but that’s the mark of a book that’s really gotten to me, the mark of a book that I really, really loved and that I wished would have a different outcome. The way the novel ended was brave by Denise Deegan. It’d have been soooo easy to do things differently, because at the end of the day, people don’t want to read books that make them cry(!). I loved every page of And For Your Information… and I can’t wait for the third “Butterfly” novel. I really can’t wait.

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