Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Understatement Of The Year REVIEW *~* 5 STARS *~*

**I received this book as an ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review.**

So if you're new to this blog you may not have realized that I am a true "fan girl" for Sarina Bowen's Ivy League series... well I am. 
This book...  just wow. The Understatement Of The Year did not disappoint!

One word can sum up my feelings about this book... LOVE.

I have loved each book in the Ivy Series, the last one (a novella: Blonde Date) I have raved about since reading. So I didn't know how much more love I could have for the next book. 
This book exceeded my expectations BY FAR. I cried in the best way possible. I laughed... my cheeks hurt from smiling... but gosh did I have so many heart twisting moments that I had to hold my reader away from my face so I wouldn't drop tears on the screen. 

Let's back up for a second and lay out the preliminary info... then check out my full review below!
In case you've missed it, here's the link for the  Goodreads page and the book blurb: 

What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexual preference from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.

Warning: unlike the other books in this series, this heartbreaking love story is about two guys. Contains sexual situations, dance music, snarky t-shirts and a poker-playing grandmother.

This Book Nerd Says: 

As I said up there ^^ I loved this book! I didn't expect anything less than a good read from Bowen because she never seems to disappoint me, but honestly I didn't expect to love it THIS much.
Almost from the page 1, for me it was exactly on page 5, I was completely sucked in to this heartbreaking, complicated, BEAUTIFUL love story. It was the moment when Graham and Rikker came face to face after a horrible incident drove them apart five years earlier. My heart was racing for them! I mean to come face to face with your former best friend... your first love... it transported me to those moments in those bygone years, where you dang near have a coronary watching that person from your past walk into a room...

"But a glance was enough to make me understand just how hard this was going to be. Because you never really get over your first love, right?"

[This was about the same time that I put down the book and grabbed some Ben & Jerry's from the freezer... messy relationships demand Ben & Jerry's ice cream.]

Back into the story...
When I first started reading I kept feeling so much sadness for Rikker.
He's the new guy on the team with the baggage of the new label, plus the unwanted celebrity that came with it. All of that just added to the already heavy pressure of proving himself to his team. I felt his loneliness coming off the pages and found it twisting around my heart. I wanted him to be happy... and I of course knew that the one person that would make him happy, was also being a butthead!
And then the darndest thing happened y'all... I went and fell in love with Graham too. I know, I know- I just called him a butthead, but that was the defensive love for Rikker talking (and a bit of the ice cream therapy). Graham, I think, broke my heart more than anyone. He was even more lonely that Rikker, but we have to watch him struggle to figure it out. 

Even though Rikker was lonely having to fight the battles of the sideways looks, the 'jokes' in the locker room, and being forced to tell your big secret to the world, Rikker had already come to terms with who he was and how he loved.
Graham on the other hand had been running from himself for years and didn't seem to know how to stop. Even when he begins to find his happiness, he was still struggling to stop hiding even from the people he didn't have to hide from. 

So we now have two guys. 
Both are incredibly lonely. 
Both are miserable. 
One is trying to drink himself into a new identity. 
They are not happy... until they're together. 
And gosh when they get together *whew* the desperation to touch one another is crazy intense. Sexual tension is just not enough to describe those moments.
But Graham can't stop being afraid. So that means for Rikker to be happy for those few moments a day he has to be the 'dirty little secret' and that just makes the loneliness worse. 

"Rock meet hard place." 

Tears I'm telling you. Never did I think I'd read a scene in a book about two guys in the drive thru at a fast food joint and get all choked up, but Sarina Bowen made that happen for me.  

I said at the outset of the review that if I could only sum up  this book with one word it would be Love. But I don't want to limit that to meaning that it was only about the romantic love story between Rikker and Graham, because that would greatly diminish the big takeaway. When I thought of LOVE for this book-
I thought of the love of a best friend- the way Rikker and Graham began... the way I'm certain (in my book nerd life mind) they'll continue to be always.
I thought of the love of a family- Rikker's Grandma. Mrs. G.-  how they personified that maternal love, the kind of love that will love you through and through, the 'always have, always will' kind.
But mostly I thought of the love of your own self. Learning to accept yourself & your truths has a direct impact on the way we accept love. 

It didn't escape my knowledge that while there were several events that led them to three different hospitals, three different times... it was a hospital that served as the backdrop for some of the most defining moments in the story. It was something I saw fitting to acknowledge because in life, it is also in the times of tragedy that the fight or flight instinct kicks in, and that is most definitely pertinent to the story of Graham and Rikker. 

Then there's my usual end of book question:
Would I want to hang out with these characters in real life?  Umm... HECK YES.
I want to have a dance party with Skippy.
I want to have a girls night out with Bella. 
I want to have a Real Stix video game night complete with grinders and drinks from the package store like the proper Connecticutian (say that three times fast) that I am would. 
And I want Hartley & Corey, Scarlet & Bridger, Andy & Katie (my loves haha- you had to know that was coming), and now Graham & Rikker ... all my Harkness friends in my head to be there. 

Beautifully written this book lives up the three previous books in the series without a doubt. I am absolutely looking forward to what comes next! 
...And the wait begins...

(P.S.: I started reading Big D's name as Big Douche... mmmhmmm... I said it.)

ICYMI here are the previous books in the series:
#1 The Year We Fell Down (March 2014)
#2 The Year We Hid Away (June 2014)
#2.5 Blonde Date (July 2014)

AND BE SURE TO STOP BACK BY ON 10/2/14 FOR THE RELEASE DAY LAUNCH! There's going to be a giveaway!!!


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