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Holier Than Thou by Laura Buzo

Holier Than Thou

by Laura Buzo

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The following review was part of a three-way review on our blog. The context can be found here.

I spent a huge amount of time in high school and occasionally in college playing The Sims. My younger sister and I have discussions about where are Sims meters are at any given time and it makes total sense to us. In the chart on top, you can see where I'd like my meters to be at any given time. If you approach me when my meters are at those levels, I will be chipper like no one's business. In Holier Than Thou, Holly's meters are, well, a total crapfest. She's in a draining job where she receives little recognition for the work she does, she and her live-in boyfriend don't talk about anything, and she's lost touch with all of her friends. The only thing Holly looks forward to is spending time with her co-worker Nick, who trains in circus acts during his free time. The two of them develop a smooth friendship where they can toss movie quotes back and forth and she maintains a relationship with him and talks to him about all the things she isn't talking to her boyfriend about.

I think a lot of my connection to Holly had to do with her relationship with her friends. I love my friends to death, all of them, so when I spent two years doing service work, mostly gutting and rebuilding after Katrina, and then I'd go visit friends and they'd say things like, "Oh, is that stuff still going on down there?" and "I thought everything was better now," it would make my blood absolutely boil. At the same time, everyone is doing their own thing so I'm sure they probably wanted to tell me about their jobs and I'd like to think that I didn't trivialize their experiences. But I'm sure I probably did, so I could totally identify with Holly's holier-than-thou persona. It's hard to take it down a notch to socialize when you have a huge emotional attachment to your job.

This is one of those books that readers will either totally connect to or not so much, as totally evidenced by the reviews on Goodreads (and in this three-way! heh), and it is understandable. There isn't a ton of plot movement, but I thought the book flew by because I was enthralled with the characters, what choices they would make, and whether Holly's Sims meters would get the upturn that I kept hoping they would. Holly compartmentalized grief from the death of her father, she's mourning the loss of several friendships, and she's wondering about her relationship. This book is just about the buildup, buildup, buildup, and release. I love it all the more for the fact that many questions are never answered. That's life. ( )
  FlanneryAC | Mar 31, 2013 |

Well... this is disappointing. I was so certain I would love [b:Holier Than Thou|13480258|Holier Than Thou|Laura Buzo|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1330421326s/13480258.jpg|19012539] after enjoying Buzo's first novel, but I found myself thinking it was neither as funny or as sad as the blurb would have you think. It's basically the story of a young woman's day-to-day life, from moving into a new home, to being in love, to dealing with her father's death. When you write the kind of book that is about a normal person with a fairly normal life, I just need to see a little drama, some humour, a touch of sadness, something to stir things up a bit. [b:Holier Than Thou|13480258|Holier Than Thou|Laura Buzo|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1330421326s/13480258.jpg|19012539] - its story, characters, etc. - they all seemed to massively lack charisma.

Buzo's debut - [b:Good Oil|8079815|Good Oil|Laura Buzo|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1298925793s/8079815.jpg|12803237] - is a fantastic book, both heartwarming and sad. There's a bittersweetness to it, and that's long been something I can't resist, bittersweetness can break my heart so much more easily than tragedy when it's done right - I'm just like that. Plus, it would be hard to find someone who can't relate to [b:Good Oil|8079815|Good Oil|Laura Buzo|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1298925793s/8079815.jpg|12803237], and perhaps this is my ultimate problem with [b:Holier Than Thou|13480258|Holier Than Thou|Laura Buzo|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1330421326s/13480258.jpg|19012539]. Buzo's first book is about a teenage girl who develops a huge crush on her older co-worker, and honestly, how many ladies here don't know how this painful story goes?

In [b:Good Oil|8079815|Good Oil|Laura Buzo|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1298925793s/8079815.jpg|12803237], I was Amelia, I had been her before so many times, I'd obsessed over a number of Chris-like characters, and her story was my life a few years ago. I think this is the book's strength, that relatability which takes you back to all those fond but slightly cringy memories. [b:Holier Than Thou|13480258|Holier Than Thou|Laura Buzo|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1330421326s/13480258.jpg|19012539] isn't my life, the protagonist is unfamiliar and boring to me. I thought I would be ready for this "New Adult" genre, being twenty years old and hitting the top end of "Young Adult", but perhaps I am actually a little too young for Holly's story. I am not yet dealing with a "proper" job, or considering settling down with a long-term partner, or thinking about babies - I'm still just hoping I get at least a 2:1 in my degree. Would this story have spoken to me if it had been more familiar? Shirley's review and Catie's status make me think that it might have done.

I think Buzo might have a talent for writing stories that bring back the readers' memories, that remind them of first crushes, first jobs, first homes... she certainly did in [b:Good Oil|8079815|Good Oil|Laura Buzo|http://photo.goodreads.com/books/1298925793s/8079815.jpg|12803237]. This book fell a little short of the mark for me - whether that's because of my age or because of the story itself, it's hard to tell. But this just didn't give me those warm and slightly sad fuzzies that Buzo's first work did. ( )
  emleemay | Mar 28, 2013 |
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Holly Yarkov has a boyfriend who is a gift from the universe. She has a job that fulfils her even as it wears her down. She has a dangerously appealing co-worker who literally plays with fire. And she has a layer of steel around her heart that is beginning to tarnish. Just as she is reaching for a future she can't quite seek, Holly finds her present invaded by the past, by memories of her father's death and of her once best friend, the boy-who-never-was -- cover.… (more)

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