This is What it Feels Like is a book written about friendship, girl bands, and learning to let people in.
It doesn’t matter what the prize for the Sun City Originals contest is this year.
Who cares that’s it’s fifteen grand? Who cares about a gig opening for one of the greatest bands to ever play this town?
Not Dia, that’s for sure. Because Dia knows that without a band, she hasn’t got a shot at winning Sun City. Because ever since Hanna’s drinking took over her life, Dia and Jules haven’t been in it. And ever since Hanna left — well, there hasn’t been a band.
It used to be the three of them, Dia, Jules, and Hanna, messing around and making music and planning for the future. But that was then, and this is now — and now means a baby, a failed relationship, a stint in rehab, all kinds of off beats that have interrupted the rhythm of their friendship. No contest can change that. Right?
But like the lyrics of a song you used to play on repeat, there’s no forgetting a best friend. And for Dia, Jules, and Hanna, this impossible challenge — to ignore the past, in order to jumpstart the future — will only become possible if they finally make peace with the girls they once were, and the girls they are finally letting themselves be.
I think it’s pretty much common knowledge that multiple perspective novels will get me every time. But combine that with three former best friends, memories, struggles with teen motherhood and addiction? And you’ve got me hooked. This is the kind of book where you immediately finish it and look up everything else the author, Barrow, has ever written. There’s just such a fantastic progression of story, compelling characters, and diversity that makes you need to read more books.
If you read my review of Reign of the Fallen, then you’ll know that I want to read more books where the main characters are struggling with addiction. Unlike Reign this book struggles with the after effects – the moments after getting sober where your friends don’t know how to handle you, where your parents barely trust you, and where your sister has seen too much. Hanna’s struggle and journey for recovering her music and independence was really stunning. Hanna was my underdog character I didn’t know I’d love so much.
Whereas I knew Dia was going to be one of my favorites from the beginning. But that’s where Barrow gets you. While you may have instant favorites, or slow burning loves, you will end up loving each of these characters with a fierce passion. Dia’s story as a POC teen mother and being afraid to love again. Talk about simultaneous heart warming and wrenching.
Whereas Jules, the steadfast best friend, was a quiet sneaking up on you love. And talk about a swoony lesbian love story. Each of these characters not only has a unique story of their own, but they click together to form this phenomenal story of friendship, love, and second chances. (There’s a fat love interest who is questioning her sexuality – just in terms of diversity on the page)
Sometimes we fall apart from our friends. Circumstances change. Words are said that cannot be unspoken. But the question becomes if we can find our way back? If our friendship has the power to bring out the best in each of us, to grow together and cross the distance. These relationships are complex and fragile. They take work and forgiveness.
And letting people in is the hardest thing to do. It reminds us that we are vulnerable, able to be hurt. It takes real strength to love with an open heart.
I need a soundtrack with this book. Like, where is my soundtrack and movie? I am so obsessed with this book. This book wrings every emotion from your heart. It is heart warming to see them try to come back together, say the unsaid confessions, ask the lingering questions, and make new memories. Ultimately it is a book that screams that we need to embrace life, accept the cuts and bruises, and the fear of death in order to actually begin to live.