Publisher Website - Raincoast Books/Macmillan
Publisher Social Media - Twitter
Pages - 224 pages
My Rating - 2/5
**received for honest review from the publisher**
Bandmate, best friend or boyfriend? For Ramona, one choice could mean losing them all.Bands, love triangles, and messy complicated relationships are typically a recipe for me to love a book. When I picked up This Song Is (Not) For You, I had high hopes that I would love it. I wanted to love it. Sadly, I could not connect to the story or the characters and ended up not enjoying it as much as I had hoped to.
Ramona and Sam are best friends. She fell for him the moment they met, but their friendship is just too important for her to mess up. Sam loves April, but he would never expect her to feel the same way--she's too quirky and cool for someone like him. Together, they have a band, and put all of their feelings for each other into music.
Then Ramona and Sam meet Tom. He's their band's missing piece, and before Ramona knows it, she's falling for him. But she hasn't fallen out of love with Sam either.
How can she be true to her feelings without breaking up the band?
This novel explores three different points of view. Unfortunately, none of them differentiate from the other. They all, for me, blended together with nothing memorable standing out about any of the characters. This novel, I feel, would have worked better if the focus had been kept on one of the characters. I felt the time spent was too brief to get a clear picture of the characters, and when connecting to the storyline was finally starting to happen, it would rip me out of that narration to throw me into one of the others. It was jarring, and didn't allow the story to flow as naturally as it could have.
I felt that I was told a lot of things, instead of shown. Ramona repeatedly TELLS us how in love she is with both Sam and Tom. We are told of their amazing bond and how Tom brings their band together. We don't really get to see it. We don't feel the connection to the characters or the story and I think a lot of that is due to being told things. We need to feel the emotions with the characters, and that cannot happen if we're not invested.
The novel begins to deal with asexuality, but stops short of following through on this unique premise. It could have a fascinating story element to explore and expand upon, but it felt like footnote that missed all of the potential it held. The core of this story is three high school students finding themselves, and starting down a path to the future which may or may not include the band for some of them. This could have been used to create some excellent tension and been the central focus of the story. It would have allowed a nice look at growing up and changing in the time between who you are at the start of high school versus who you are at the end. Instead, for me, it felt like all these little pieces of potential were put into the story and left unexplored or fulfilled.
The ending is an abrupt ending. One that offers up it's own version of a happy ending that doesn't feel natural to the story. This is mainly because of the unresolved, and untapped story potential. It felt like things were tied together for the sake of a happy ending, without having the conversations that would reasonably happen with the reveals in this novel. Life isn't perfect, and neither are these characters, and it felt untrue to have it end the way it did (again, at least for me).
There are moments in this novel that do shine brightly, and plenty of potential. Even with that, this book ended up, sadly, not being for me. The voices were not distinct from each other, and while plenty of the storylines showed promise, that promise never quite felt followed through for me. This is a case where the idea was fantastic, but the execution was just not something I personally enjoyed.