Summary (from the publisher):
All Beth wants is for her tight-knit circle of friends—Grace Nakamura, Brandon Lin, Sunny Chen, and Jason Tsou—to stay together. With her family splintered and her future a question mark, these friends are all she has—even if she sometimes wonders if she truly fits in with them. Besides, she’s certain she’ll never be able to tell Jason how she really feels about him, so friendship will have to be enough.
Then Beth witnesses a private act of violence in Jason’s home, and the whole group is shaken. Beth and her friends make a pact to do whatever it takes to protect Jason, no matter the sacrifice. But when even their fierce loyalty isn’t enough to stop Jason from making a life-altering choice, Beth must decide how far she’s willing to go for him—and how much of herself she’s willing to give up.
My Rating: 3/5 Stars
When We Were Infinite is an extremely heavy read tackling many difficult topics. The book follows Beth and her tight-knit group of friends during their senior year, trying to balance college applications and orchestra practice with family life and their daily hangouts. While Beth dreams of limo rides to the homecoming dance and the potential that she will go to the same college as her four best friends, Beth and her friends’ lives are shaken up when Beth and Brandon witness Jason being hit by his father and how Jason’s struggles unravel from there.
When We Were Infinite is without a doubt an emotional punch. The book contains so much surrounding parental and family relationships, emotional and physical abuse, suicide, depression, and mental health. The event that really triggers the opening up of Jason and his struggles happens very early on in the story. From there, we see Jason struggle with his mental health while Beth and their friends try to help as much as they can. Beth wants to be there for Jason as much as she can, both as a friend and as someone who’s always something-more-than-friends feelings from him, but she too struggles with her home life. Beth has never felt super connected to her single mom, and she still doesn’t understand her parents’ divorce and where her father fits into her life. The book also delves into much discussion about ethnicity, sexuality, and representationBeth and the friend group all identify as Asian. However, Beth struggles with her identity as the daughter of a white man and Asian, while her friends’ heritage and culture are such profound parts of their lives.
Although I appreciate how much Kelly Loy Gilbert accomplishes in this story, I really think this book was a case of “it’s not you, it’s me” because I had a hard time connecting with Beth. I think not being able to connect with her was okay because she’s dealing with a lot of her own issues while trying to cope with and help Jason’s struggles. She ultimately was a character I just wanted the best for and kept rooting for especially when it came to college acceptances and decisions. I wanted some more answers about Jason and his relationship with his parents. At the same time, this might’ve been Kelly Loy Gilbert putting us in the shoes of Beth and her friends, who all don’t really know what was going on with Jason. Some of the aspects of the books did frustrate me though, from a trip Jason and Beth take that goes completely under the radar (trying not to be spoilery) to even the more serious fact that Beth and her friends didn’t report what they witnessed happened to Jason and his on-going problems.
Overall, I recommend When Were Infinite for readers who are looking for the intersection of important topics and heavy themes in their YA contemporary reads.
This review is based on an advance reader’s copy provided by the publisher. By no means did receiving this ARC affect my thoughts and opinions.
About the Author
Kelly Loy Gilbert believes deeply in the power of stories to illuminate a shared humanity and give voice to complex, broken people. She is the author of Conviction, a William C. Morris Award finalist, and Picture Us in the Light, and lives in the SF Bay Area. She would be thrilled to hear from you on Twitter @KellyLoyGilbert or at KellyLoyGilbert.com.
When We Were Infinite Blog Tour
|Monday, March 1||Bookish Ends|
|Tuesday, March 2||From The Library of Alexis|
|Wednesday, March 3||The Book Bratz|
|Thursday, March 4||Between the Shelves|
|Friday, March 5||eleven thirteen pm|
|Monday, March 8||Fangirl Fury|
|Tuesday, March 9||Vicky Again|
|Wednesday, March 10||Forever and Everly|
|Thursday, March 11||Drizzle and Hurricane Books|
|Friday, March 12||Starlight Strands|
Is When Were Infinite on your TBR? Have you read any books by Kelly Loy Gilbert? Share in the comments!