Book Review: Baby & Solo

Posthuma, Lisabeth
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!

Baby & Solo is a story about friendship, heartbreak, movies, and The Things That Are Wrong with us. It follows Joel, fresh out of treatment for years of mental illness and ready to begin his life. He applies for a job at the local ROYO video, and finds himself thriving with a clean slate, especially around the enigmatic and acerbic Nicole "Baby" Palmer, someone who might be his first real friend. But as life begins to spiral out of control (as it usually does) he finds that he might need to face his past if he ever stands a chance of moving forward.
This book was brilliant. I have no other words for it. From the first chapter, the startling humor and charm of our protagonist kept me turning pages. And as the cast emerged, with Baby especially being a breath of fresh air in a world so choked with mediocre or boring female characters, I found myself unable to put it down. This book is around 400 pages, and I sped through almost all of it in one night, it was that gripping. The first thing I have to commend this book for is its heady sense of life. Some books merely create the illusion of life in its characters and story, but this one felt more like a movie (ironically) where I could almost see the character's faces, hear their voices, and bask in their triumphs or tremble before their struggles. Something about the rawness of the characters made me more attached to a book about teenagers from the 90s who worked in the equivalent of a blockbuster than any contemporary iPhone using, slang abusing teenage stereotype from the 21st century. Another thing that's amazing about this book is the prose. For one, I didn't expect it at all. It was a funny book, a sort of dark-comedy, with a loving attachment to Star Wars and laughable hatred of Dirty Dancing. I didn't think there'd be some parts of this books with absolutely gorgeous writing, that could take you from laughing to nearly crying with a few well-placed, beautiful lines and startling deep writing. Another thing: this book is really sad. But not a cheap, overworked kind of sad. It's the sadness that seeps through the snarky lines and hilarious antics. There's a melancholy to this book that soaks into almost every page, and genuinely makes you realize that life is a tragedy for these characters, and that their triumph is being able to smile through it. The ending nearly broke my heart, but the promise of moving forward, the promise of getting better, kept me smiling through my tears.
I could rave about this book for hours, but I don't want to give a single thing away, because I desperately want the very few people who read this review to read this book. All in all, this book is astounding. I would recommend it to absolutely anyone, but especially those that like quick humor, fantastic characters, 90s nostalgia, and books that tears your heart apart while putting it back together.
Reviewer Grade: 11

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