The Way We Bared Our Souls

The Way We Bared Our Souls - Willa Strayhorn i remembered something else kaya had said in people: "sometimes i don’t really consider my condition the absence of pain. i consider it the presence of something else. something magic."

where do i even start with this book? i spent months drooling over it after i saw the blurb and cover, and i had to have it the very second it was available. i loved (almost) everything: the setting, the characters, the friendships, the parental relationships, the familial relationships, the rituals, the storytelling/writing. it was beautiful. perhaps even more than all of that, from what i've gathered, the author did a lot of research about native american culture/history, and that's something that i really respect.

from the summary alone, i knew this book was going to be different from roughly 90% of the other books i've got on my to-read/read shelves, and i was not disappointed at all. consuelo was a strikingly unique mc, sassy, selfish, and occasionally infuriating in a way that was so realistically teenaged - not even just that, it was human. she was a human being that popped right out of the book, along with the rest of her friends.

even the background characters in this book were well thought out and meaningful, and the relationships that formed out of the main character's line of vision were perfect. strayhorn very skillfully wrote from a first person pov: consuelo never knew more than she would realistically know, there was no flirtation with the fourth wall. some questions were left unanswered, situations unexplained, characters underdeveloped, and all of that was perfect because that's how life works. you don't know everything about everyone around you, some things are a mystery, left unsolved forever. the most you can hope to do is learn from your own mistakes and grow as a person to be more emotionally intelligent and understanding, compassionate person, and this book really captured that.

there was only one flaw here for me, personally: the romance between consuelo and thomas. it was unnecessary, awkward, and to be completely honest, contrived. i've never liked the whole "i've always liked you since way before this book!!" trope because it feels like the author is taking the easy way out of having to write actual chemistry and development, and unfortunately, this book was no exception to that. i didn't actually understand why those two characters wanted to be together, except for this ritual drawing them together and even then, i'm not really sure i get it. there were other romances in this book that i liked, but that particular one just made me uncomfortable. it felt like this book could have been a lot better if that had been either left out entirely, or developed/acknowledged beyond just "i like you" "i like you too!!" and then eventually "i love you" "i love you too!!!" and everyone is magically happy.

overall, though, i thought this book was amazing.