Book: 10 Things I Can See From Here by Carrie Mac
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Don’t worry; be happy.
Keep calm and carry on.
Maeve has heard it all before. She’s been struggling with severe anxiety for a long time, and as much as she wishes it was something she could just talk herself out of, it’s not. She constantly imagines the worst, composes obituaries in her head, and is always ready for things to fall apart. To add to her troubles, her mom—the only one who really gets what Maeve goes through—is leaving for six months, so Maeve will be sent to live with her dad in Vancouver.
Vancouver brings a slew of new worries, but Maeve finds brief moments of calm (as well as even more worries) with Salix, a local girl who doesn’t seem to worry about anything. Between her dad’s wavering sobriety, her very pregnant stepmom insisting on a home birth, and her bumbling courtship with Salix, this summer brings more catastrophes than even Maeve could have foreseen. Will she be able to navigate through all the chaos to be there for the people she loves?
*I received the ARC from the publisher. This doesn’t affect my review at all.*
There was so much I wanted to like about this book. The premise seemed so interesting, and Maeve sounded like a really cool character. But 10 Things disappointed me. The plot didn’t really stand out, and some characters could have been more developed. Carrie Mac’s writing was pretty, but I had some major concerns.
Firstly, that Mrs. Patel and Vince Li deserved better. Both are background characters, and both could have been so much more. Vince Li viciously murdered someone on a bus, according to Maeve. Mrs. Patel was Maeve’s dad’s neighbor, a sweet old woman who unfortunately was resigned to stereotypes about Indian people.
Secondly, I couldn’t stomach the blatant biphobic statements Maeve made. “Being queer was about not being into boys” and “one girl crush in college didn’t make her gay” (in relation to her stepmom saying she had a girlfriend in college) were biphobic. When her stepmother says, “I supposed that I’m technically bisexual, if you want to label me.” This plays into the stereotype that bisexuals don’t like labels, and while yes, there are people in the LGBTQIAP+ community who don’t feel the need for labels, in this case, it’s stereotypical portrayal of a bisexual person.
Slight spoiler in the next paragraph. Skip to next bolded part if you don’t want to read it.
Continuing with this, there was a scene where Maeve and Salix are on a date and three boys start hurling homophobic statements at them. I won’t repeat what they said here, because it turns my stomach, but reading that scene was a real slap in the face. It was incredibly disheartening; I know that people do face homophobia in day-to-day life, but from the premise, I thought the book was going to focus more on Maeve and her family relationships, with romance on the side.
While I loved Maeve’s relationship with her stepmom and younger brothers (it was nice to see more family relationships because we don’t see that commonly in YA), I raised an eyebrow at how Maeve describes Ruthie, her friend-but-it’s-complicated-because-of-Things. She commonly describes Ruthie as awkward, lumbering, or even at one point, a “gigantic ogre.” Which was not okay.
Furthermore, Maeve and Salix deserved better. Salix felt very one dimensional, and Maeve was essentially reduced to her mental illness. There was very little portrayal of a time when she was more than her anxiety; it became her one defining feature. And while yes, it’s important to represent her mental illness and how it affects her life, it’s important for a writer to also remember that Maeve is more than her anxiety.
Lastly, the summary didn’t mention anything about sex scenes. As an aromantic, sex-repulsed asexual, it was a little jarring to read them. And they were pretty awkwardly written, as one Goodreads reviewer pointed out. In all, this wasn’t a book for me. Nor do I think it’s a book for anyone, really.