I love Brenna’s books. I love that she writes stand alone with mysteries and romance and real, characters that dig themselves into my head and don’t leave. Paper Valentine was no exception.
The city of Ludlow is gripped by the hottest July on record. The asphalt is melting, the birds are dying, petty crime is on the rise, and someone in Hannah Wagnor’s peaceful suburban community is killing girls.
For Hannah, the summer is a complicated one. Her best friend Lillian died six months ago, and Hannah just wants her life to go back to normal. But how can things be normal when Lillian’s ghost is haunting her bedroom, pushing her to investigate the mysterious string of murders? Hannah’s just trying to understand why her friend self-destructed, and where she fits now that Lillian isn’t there to save her a place among the social elite. And she must stop thinking about Finny Boone, the big, enigmatic delinquent whose main hobbies seem to include petty larceny and surprising acts of kindness.
With the entire city in a panic, Hannah soon finds herself drawn into a world of ghost girls and horrifying secrets. She realizes that only by confronting the Valentine Killer will she be able move on with her life—and it’s up to her to put together the pieces before he strikes again.
I loved the understated paranormal element in this book. Usually I’m not a fan of “is actually paranormal or is it all in their heads” type of fantasy. I like my ghosts to be ghosts. But this one just worked so well for me. There is a chance that everything ghost related was all in Hannah’s mind but I don’t think so. And even if it was it worked so well with her character that I believed it.
This was one of those books where I loved everything so much I’m having a hard time figuring out what to say other than “I LOVED THIS AND THIS AND THIS.” Which would be true…but doesn’t make for an interesting review.
The love interest in the book, Finny, was just perfect. He situation in life was just different enough from Hannah’s that it made her question her belief’s about people and the truths that she’s knows about them. This was a good reflector of the story as well. I think my absolute favourite moment of the book was when Hannah realizes why Finny runs his hand over her cheek a lot. It’s a moment where they both look back on prejudices and sheep-like behaviour that they had and regret it.
So, obviously, there is a murderer and there is a mystery surrounding who it is. But I loved, loved, loved that it wasn’t the murders going on that were the real upsets in Hannah’s life. It was the loss of her best friend to anorexia and trying to figure out how her life worked without her constant companion. Except that her best friend is still lingering in her life. In the form of a ghost obsessed with a serial killer. The whole thing was such genius. And it sounds kind of crazy but it all just fit together so well.
It always felt, to me, that Hannah was hanging on to her sanity with a torn thread. I liked that Finny brought some balance to her life but that to get rid of the ghosts haunting her for good she had to discover the murderer, and come to peace with best friends death.
Not plot related, but I really enjoyed that anorexia was in no way played down. It was treated very much like a disease that can have horrible, tragic outcomes and it was not glorified in any way. BUT neither was this an ISSUES book. I dislike ISSUES books. Paper Valentine show cases the perfect way of addressing issues teens, and everyone, face in their lives without making it an ISSUES book. I LOVE THIS.
If you haven’t read Paper Valentine, or any of Brenna Yovanoff’s other amazing works, YOU SIMPLY MUST!
ALSOALSO!!! I totally guessed who the killer was! I’m so proud of myself. I AM THE WORST AT RECOGNIZING FORSHADOWING!!