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The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried Hardcover – 1 March 2019
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-- Francesca Zappia, ward-winning author of Eliza and Her Monsters and Made You Up
“A fearless and brutal look at friendships and the emotional autopsies we all do when they die. Like a real relationship you will laugh, rage, and mourn its loss when it’s over. If you haven’t been reading Hutchinson, this is a brilliant place to start.” -- Justina Ireland, New York Times bestselling author of DREAD NATION
"Only Shaun David Hutchinson could take on love, family, friendship, life, and death so deftly, hilariously, poignantly, and thoughtfully. I loved every second of this book. THE PAST AND OTHER THINGS THAT SHOULD STAY BURIED somehow manages to be wholly original yet familiar, simultaneously hilarious and moving, weird and wonderful. This is a book you can’t put down even if you wanted to. Have you been looking for a zombie book that will make you laugh and cry? Look no further than this one, by one of young adult literature’s sharpest talents.” -- Jeff Zentner, Morris Award-winning author of The Serpent King
Get ready, because Hutchinson (The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza, 2018) is going to knock your socks off with this new, deliciously bizarre novel. Dino's parents own a funeral home, so being around dead bodies isn't exactly unusual for him. But when his ex–best friend July dies suddenly and shows up in his basement, it isn't the fact that she's dead that shocks him, but rather the fact that she suddenly wakes up! As the two do their best to figure out what is going on, they embark on a journey to confront their combined past, and their future apart. However, the longer they spend trying to uncover the mystery of July's reanimation, the more fishy things begin to smell—literally. Readers will find themselves captivated both by Dino and July's complicated history and even more complex present, as well as Dino's own journey of self-discovery. In the midst of everything else, Dino and his boyfriend—a sweet, funny, and supportive trans guy—navigate their own relationship against the backdrop of chaos July has brought down into their lives. Gender, sexuality, friendship, life, and death are all sensitively explored in Hutchinson's surreal, new narrative. His intelligent writing will seduce readers with its complex and spunky characters, lively dialogue, offbeat humor, and emotional depth. — Rob Bittner -- Booklist *STARRED REVIEW* ― Oct 15, 2018
Shaun David Hutchinson has delivered another unique young adult novel. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of former best friends, Dino and July. What makes this different from other novels with alternating narration is the fact that July died and has come back from the dead—not as a zombie per se, but she is a decomposing, yet still functioning (except for normal physiological functions like a heartbeat) corpse. Throughout the course of the novel the two work through the issues in their friendship, accept some of their own insecurities, and come to terms with July’s death. As Dino and July work through the mystery of July’s return from the dead, they realize not only is she undead, but death seems to have ceased to exist around the world. The discussion of the larger impact the end of death would have worldwide contrasts with the personal story of Dino and July and is one of the novel’s greatest strengths. Strong, well-developed characters will have readers feeling like they, too, are friends with Dino and July. The novel addresses sexuality, grief, and occasionally references our current political leaders. Comedic relief is provided through July’s progressing physical decomposition. Purchase for most collections serving teens, especially where magical realism is popular. Give to fans of A.S. King and Andrew Smith. Kimberly Hillary, Librarian, Mount Horeb (Wisconsin) High School
Recommended -- School Library Connection ― March April 2019
Gr 8 Up–A brain aneurysm killed July Cooper, but it can’t destroy her bond with Dino DeLuca. July rises from the dead at the funeral home owned by Dino’s family, and though the two teens had been on the outs for the past year, they are drawn together as they attempt to conceal July’s reanimation. What ensues is messy. July’s body is slowly rotting, and the two trade barbed words while untangling why their friendship ended after Dino met his boyfriend, Rafi. Once again, Hutchinson defies genres. This isn’t a ghost story, and July isn’t a zombie, as she frequently points out. But she can’t eat, she has no heartbeat, and until she’s finally laid to rest, nobody else can die. This inventive take on the life-after-death narrative ponders profound truths. It’s the ones who love us the most who can inflict the deepest wounds and hold us back, but even bitter fights can’t extinguish some connections. Like typical adolescents, uncertain Dino and snarky July seem wise beyond their years one moment and maddeningly immature the next, and their journeys to self-discovery will resonate with readers. VERDICT A grotesque, mordantly funny, and tender look at friendship, for fans of Aaron Starmer’s Spontaneous and Adam Silvera’s They Both Die at the End.–Mahnaz Dar, School Library Journal -- School Library Journal STARRED REVIEW ― February 2019
About the Author
- Publisher : Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (1 March 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1481498576
- ISBN-13 : 978-1481498579
- Reading age : 14 years and up
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 2.54 x 20.96 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 312,393 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
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Top review from Australia
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‘The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried’ is a hilarious and heart-warming tale told in alternating perspectives of best friends turned enemies Dino and July. But, July is now dead, well... undead. Death has been put on hold while these two teens make amends with each other and some other issues they have been struggling with.
Dino’s family run a morgue, and he is currently undecided on a lot of things. His career path, his friendships, his relationship. How he can confront people. He’s kind of emo and artsy. He also has a gorgeous transgender boyfriend, Rafi, that he feels like he doesn’t deserve.
July is loud and brash, the centre of attention, and very jealous of Rafi. He’s stolen all of Dino’s attention away from her and she’s left to float around other less important friends. So how does she deal with this abandonment? With passive aggressive comments and pranks on Dino.
Now July is back from the dead – zombie style without the hunger for brains and human flesh, and with Dino as her only confidant. The both have to overcome their antagonism to figure out why people aren’t dying and what to do with July now that she’s a slowly decomposing, flatulent corpse. With witty banter, great pacing, and emotional reveals, I was hooked from the first page.
The overall plot is predictable and obvious, but the subsequent plot points in-between were not. But all that middle-story stuff leant to some great character arcs for our two leads. With themes of friendship, redemption, loss, grief, and finding your place in this world ‘The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried’ is a brilliant read.
I’m loving the more graphic art trend of the cover illustration – you can see something similar on another of Shaun David Hutchinson’s titles, ‘The Apocalypse of Elena Mendoza’ which I’m keen to pick up.
Overall, a strong recommendation from me. Great characters, quirky storyline, and a well-paced read.
Top reviews from other countries
Ganz besonders die Freundschaft zwischen Dino und July war sehr authentisch und durch ihre kleine Fehler hat man ihre Freundschaft nur noch mehr zu schätzen gelernt. Die Charaktere waren vielschichtig und realistisch. Man kann sich leicht mit ihnen identifizieren, da ihre Fehler Hintergründe haben und sie dazulernen, was sie reifer und komplexer wirken lässt.
Dieses Buch bringt einen zum Nachdenken, wie es nur die echt guten Bücher hinkriegen, über die wirklichen Probleme einer Freundschaft und der ein oder andere Zweifel in Beziehungen und natürlich, wie der Titel bereits andeutet, über den Tod allgemein und die Zurückgelassenen.
Fazit: Dieses Buch wird einen nicht unbedingt durch spannende Handlung zum Weiterlesen drängen (obwohl die Handlung auch alles andere als schwach gehalten ist), aber vor allem zeigt sich die Spannung zwischen dem Gesagten und Nicht-Gesagten und drängt einen dazu, auch zwischen den Zeilen zu lesen. Ich würde es allen empfehlen, die ein etwas abstrakteres Buch lesen wollen und gerne Dinge hinterfragen.
What works: I love the diversity of characters. The relationship (hesitant to use the word "friendship" here) Dino and July feels real. I think back to my high school days and college days, and there were those drama filled friendships wounded by seemingly unforgivable events that then healed. July is a bit much to take at times, but I think that's the point. The plot is interesting, and though everything (the how) isn't really explained, the story is solid enough that I can suspend disbelief for the most part. There are some funny scenes, and there really is a nudge to think about the choices people make with friendships, life, careers, family, etc. The book has some depth without being so serious.
What didn't work as well for me: I'll read more from this author, but there are minor issues that made this book a 4.5 for me. The adults in the book just accept the supernatural elements too easily (in a world where supernatural isn't the norm). And July's post-death life is interesting enough to keep me going, but at the same time, why would any force with the power to stop death stop death for just them? I can't figure out why their relationship is so special to warrant this.
I've always loved Shaun's books, the voice, and sense of self in them - plus I love the surrealism he plays with. But this book, and The Apocalypse Of Elena Mendoza have taken a turn. They're both so funny, and full of hope. Almost comedies. I know there are things in the world that made Shaun consciously take that turn. His books in the past have been very dark at times, not just with the horror or sff elements, but with the realism his surrealism lives inside. I love those books. But I think I love these last two even more. Idk - I hope that the HOPE in these this book (and Elena) mean that Shaun is in a place where he feels more hopeful, because this book definitely made me feel lighter. It let me breathe easier. And I love that this zombie ex-bff book is going to be in teens' hands soon.
Ugh. That was quite a ramble . . . short version: This is a beautiful, funny, and fun book. Full of hope and love.
The one con is that July isn't a likable or relatable character. That made her chapters a little distracting for me, but I'm not a young adult audience member. In other words, I'm not the primary audience for this book, and that's fine. I think teenagers will find something relatable to her, and that's all the book needs to achieve. Dino is much more relatable in that he wants to leave the toxic relationship, one in which July can't let go. It makes for an interesting and entertaining dynamic.
Although this does have a form of zombie-like qualities, this is more Warm Bodies than the Walking Dead. Less about the apocalypse and more about the ability to let go of the past.