The Year I Stopped Trying by Katie Heaney

Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher. Thanks! All opinions are my own.

Book: The Year I Stopped Trying

Author: Katie Heaney

Book Series: Standalone

Diversity: F/f romance, Lesbian MC

Rating: 4.5/5

Recommended For…: young adult readers, contemporary, romance, LGBTQIA+

Genre: YA Contemporary

Publication Date: November 16, 2021

Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers

Pages: 256

Recommended Age: 14+ (masturbation discussed, sexual content, romance, coming out, slight language)

Explanation of CWs: Masturbation and sexual content is discussed. There is a sapphic romance. Coming out is shown and there is some curse words.

Synopsis: Mary is having an existential crisis. She’s a good student, she never gets in trouble, and she is searching for the meaning of life. She always thought she’d find it in a perfect score on the SATs. But by junior year, Mary isn’t so sure anymore.

The first time, it’s an accident. She forgets to do a history assignment. She even crosses history essay off in her pristine planner. And then: Nothing happens. She doesn’t burst into flames, the world doesn’t end, the teacher doesn’t even pull her aside after class.

So she asks herself: Why am I trying so hard? What if I stop?

With her signature wit and heaps of dark humor, Katie Heaney delivers a stunning YA novel the sprints full-force into the big questions our teen years beg–and adeptly unravels their web.

Review: I really liked this book. It read like a Judy Blume book and it was so sweet. The book not only goes into mental health and how hard school is on teens, but also goes into discourse over society’s pressure to be perfect in school, do everything you’re told to do, turn in every assignment, and even into compulsory heterosexuality. The book makes a lot of good points about school, some of which I wished more kids knew. When I was in my sophomore year I discovered that I could get away with 1-3 missing assignments and still have an A in the class, which was a small relief for me during high school to be able to know if I had an off day I could just skip the homework. A lot of teachers overpressure kids to do everything in classes, for example extra credit even if they’re earning above 100%, and I hope that kids read books like this and realize that it’s ok to take time you need. Personally I believe that kids should have mental health days/PTO like days from school like how you get when you’re an adult at most jobs. I also loved the sex positive nature of the book and how the main character questions their sexuality in a relatable way. The character development was amazing as well.

The only issues I had with the book is that the world didn’t feel that well developed and I felt like the plot kind of died a bit in the end of the book. It was just drug out and didn’t move like the rest of the book did.

Verdict: Highly recommend!

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