a home found in music and friends | when we were infinite by kelly loy gilbert

by - 9:00 AM

"We were musician; we were intimate with silence."

    isbn: 978-1534468214 | pages: 368
    publication date: March 09, 2021 | source: netgalley/e-arc
genre: ya contemporary
trigger warnings: racism, abuse, suicide, mental health, micro-aggressions 

    A M A Z O N *    |    G O O D R E A D S    |    B O O K S H O P *
B O O K D E P O S I T O R Y    |    B A R N E S A N D N O B L E S    |    I N D I E B O U N D

a heart so broken and full
When We Were Infinite is beautiful, powerful, and so freaking painful to read. Beth Claire's life centers around her friends, Brandon, Sunny, Grace, and Jason. With their senior year comes their final Homecoming, college applications, and the inevitable change that comes with the next page of life. Before the toils of college acceptances and rejections, Beth's relationship with her friends is altered after private matters in Jason's home come to light. This book has truly left me feeling hollow in a way I haven't felt in a long time. Being in Beth's head for the entire story is exhausting but at the same time I have never experienced a fictional character's thought mirror my own so accurately. 

Beth's emotions are like bullets that just ricochet all over the place and it takes her a while to find out where they come from. That creates an incredibly turbulent reading experience and I cannot even tell you how many times I wanted to shake Beth out of her thoughts. The ironic thing, is that many of Beth's thoughts are ones that have come across my mind as well. The desperation of wanting to keep everyone happy and doing everything to mediate tense situations, I couldn't hate Beth without hating myself. Seeing Beth's journey throughout the story is like watching the sun come out from behind the clouds and finally shining brighter after being stuck inside a storm. As she reconciles her fear and her anger with herself, she is able to rebuild her relationship with her friends and most importantly, her mother and finally find the comfort she's been craving.

Despite its difficult topics, When We Were Infinite also made me reminisce and miss my friends so much. The relationship that Beth, Sunny, Grace, Brandon, and Jason have with each other is so uplifting no matter how up/down things get. I loved how Kelly Loy Gilbert didn't forget to include the reason why we as people create relationships and friendships in the first place - the comfort of companionship, of feeling seen, of knowing that someone will always be there - that makes the dark times bearable in the end. 

As the characters embark on their college chapter, the story shifts its delivery format to more of a vignette style and highlights the group experiencing life away from each other. It felt kind of jarring at first because I was suddenly taken out of being very interconnected with everything to seeing events unfold from more of a distance but I appreciated being able to watch them, especially Beth, grow out of their comfort zones and mature in their outlooks on life. When We Were Infinite is a story that highlights the messy and the good when it comes to friendship, the fears of growing up, and learning to understand the space that we take up in the greater world community. 

*Links with an asterisk are affiliate links where when used, will give me a small commission at no additional costs to the buyer (as of 2/21/21)

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