Reviews

Arden Grey, by Ray Stoeve

elleisntabell's review

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emotional hopeful inspiring reflective tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

Ray Stoeve could write anything and I would eat that shit up.

Not surprised this was so good, but jeez.... it was good.

All the characters in this book deserve a hug. Except for Arden's mom and Caroline lol

thereadingchallengechallenge's review

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emotional hopeful reflective fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

I didn't know it 'til I was reading this book but I've been looking for a YA novel that tackles emotionally abusive relationships. About abusive parents, and especially about abusive mothers. And Ray Stoeve has written about it with as much care and sensitivity as I could have hoped. 

Arden is a fragile shell of a girl in this novel and it's so emotional reading about her and her family struggling to adjust to life when her mother leaves them for a new life in San Francisco. But it doesn't take long to figure out that they're better off without her, even though Arden, her brother Garrett, and their father all have trouble adjusting to their new lives. But their sense of family is strong and beautiful and it utterly warmed my heart. 

I loved the subplot with Arden's best friend, Jamie, too. I've read a lot of stories where teenagers ditch their friends or get ditched by their friends when someone finds their first romance but I've never read one that ended like Jamie's does. And it's heartbreaking, but it's such an important story to tell for a YA audience because it's something that happens at a tragically common rate. 

And Stoeve also handled Arden's coming out as an asexual lesbian beautifully. They captured the confusion and the hesitancy so deftly and balanced it incredibly well with the depression Arden was experiencing that clouded her ability to puzzle out her feelings. Vanessa, Arden's love interest, was wonderfully supportive and it was also lovely to see an asexual boy with their friend, Marc. More asexual boys in fiction, please!

A poignant, sensitive novel that has cemented Ray Stoeve as a favourite and should definitely be on the radar of every YA contemporary fan.

Warnings: emotional abuse, depression, alcohol misuse, acephobia (challenged) and references to self-harm and suicide.

wtnicolemarie's review

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emotional hopeful tense medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? No

4.0

flaviaaalouise's review against another edition

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3.75

I really liked this story a lot. The writing style seemed a bit young at times. Also if you don't want to read something a bit mean, please skip: The cover of this book is SO hideous and that makes me proper sad since it will keep readers away. Especially since this book is about photography. <\spoiler>

aviautonomous's review

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emotional medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

5.0

anniereads221's review

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challenging emotional reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? A mix
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes

4.5


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hearrrtshaped's review

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5.0

I think this book is absolutely vital for libraries and teen readers (and even adults!). Some moments in this book had me worried about the handling of abuse and how people were acting, but it all came together so well. Every time I was nervous about something being portrayed a specific way without mentioning xyz, it would come up later. The way asexuality was discussed and portrayed was so wonderful. If I had a book like this when I was younger it would have probably made my life so much easier. I can't be too specific without spoilers that I feel are important to the progression of the book, so I'll just say that each topic was handled with specific care and attention, and I highly recommend this.

missstefani's review

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dark emotional hopeful reflective medium-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? It's complicated

5.0

I truly loved reading this book. 

I thought the characters were so well written. The writing was emotional and delicate, and the relationships were heavy and complicated. 

I loved watching Arden grow throughout this novel. 

Sometimes when I read books I picture them as movies, whether they’re big budget action or low budget indie films. This would make a beautiful film, one of those quiet movies, Arden with her film camera, the loud sound of the shutter. The bustle of everyone moving around the school while she sits quietly observing. I could visualize it so well in my mind. 

I was frustrated with Arden’s friendship with Jamie at times, but I think it was this perfect depiction of people growing up and having different experiences at different times, branching off to different people. While it was broken through most of the novel, it was really glad to see that pieced back together in the end. 

Overall, I just can’t say enough how much I loved reading this. I read it in about 2.5 hours, it’s a quick read. 

Please note that there are many abusive relationships depicted in this novel, and the author addresses that at the end and provides resources. 

Content warnings: abusive relationships, bullying, depression, cutting, suicidal behavior, acephobia

betweentheshelves's review against another edition

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challenging emotional fast-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes

4.0

 Thanks to ABRAMS Kids and NetGalley for an advanced copy of Arden Grey to review! Stoeve’s debut, Between Perfect and Real, was one of my favorite reads of 2021, so I was excited to get to this one! I’m happy to say it lived up to my expectations. 

Where Stoeve really excels is at writing their characters. Not only is Arden a fully fleshed out character, but the secondary characters are as well. Especially as Arden explores her sexuality and tries to branch out from her friendship with Jamie. The shifting friendships and relationships are extremely relatable for high school, and Stoeve just nails teenage-hood overall. Almost everything about this book felt like an authentic teenage experience.

The examination of toxic relationships also feels authentic, and it's such an important topic to include in teen books. Even if their friendship was a little on the rocks, Arden was still willing to be there for Jamie. And his relationship allowed Arden to see some of the darker sides of her relationship with her mother. These are such important issues to explore in teen books, and Stoeve did it with grace.

My only complaint is that the pacing could have allowed the story a little room to breath. Slowing down some of the moments would have allowed even more space for the important issues that Stoeve touches on.

All in all, this is a lovely book that looks at identity, relationships, and high school. Definitely pick it up when it comes out later this month! 



This is a quick read, and feels very authentically teenagery. Stay tuned for a full review to come later this week!

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