Title: Punk 57
Author: Penelope Douglas
PubDate: October 21, 2016
Page count: 371
“He hurt me, and I hurt him, but shit happens and love doesn’t change. He makes me happier, he makes me stronger, and he knows everything and still wants me. If he can say the same, then this is it. The real thing.”
This is my second book from Penelope Douglas, the first was Bully which was disappointing, and I really think her books and I have a very strange relationship! I mean, I like her writing style and her characters but there’s just something about her stories that, I don’t know, doesn’t really get into me. With Bully, I really wanted to love it because I liked Tate but Jared confused me so much and there was something about the story that didn’t impress me. It was okay but it could’ve been better, I think. Now with Punk 57, the characters felt real to me but Ryen sometimes irritated me, which is not a bad thing. I don’t have a problem with the plot, it’s actually good, but then again I don’t know why I’m not giving it a higher rating! See? That’s my problem. I like her books but I can’t bring myself to give them a higher rating because *shrugs* something is missing? Or is it too much? Either way, I enjoyed Punk 57 and I think Misha is the reason for the added .75 star!
“Those letters are everything. They’re her and me, kids just trying to figure themselves out and going through our growing pains. They’re where I first started to fall for her and need her. They’re my fucking songs and a part of me.”
Ryen and Misha are childhood pen pals. They began writing to each other in fifth grade as part of a school project but even though it already ended, they continued writing their letters with a few conditions; no social media, no pictures and no phone numbers. For seven years they write to each other, confiding and saying everything they can’t tell other people. They are best friends and they feel like everything is okay as long as they write to each other. Until Misha breaks his promise.
It’s no doubt Penelope Douglas can write a good NA and there’s something about her stories that’s compelling and intriguing. Her characters are also not hard to sympathize with and I love how she can make grade A assholes like Misha that you can’t help but love anyway! I admit I had a hard time liking Ryen but Misha won me over. He can be mean to Ryen but I think it’s his way of punishing Ryen for not being what she made him believe she is. But then I understand Ryen because really, who didn’t have a hard time in high school? I guess we all went through that phase when we felt all the insecurities inside and around us and we struggled to find our place in the crowd. That’s why Ryen turned out to be a bitchy cheerleader so that she can be popular because it makes high school bearable. And she might’ve found a way to fit in but it makes her feel guilty. She doesn’t really want to be one but she knew what it feels like to be an outcast, to not fit in. It’s hard to pretend but she decided to put up with her bitchy friend, Lyla, the asshole Trey and high school, as long as she can. That’s the reason why she writes to Misha. Because though she pretends to be a bitch in front of her friends just to keep her status, with Misha she can be just herself. She can talk about lyrics and poems and everything and Misha is her safe place. The person she can tell everything to. That’s why when Misha stops writing her letters, she needs another outlet.
Don’t change, Ryen wrote in a letter once. There’s no one like you, and i can’t love you if you stop being you. I guess I shouldn’t say that, but I’m a little drunk right now-just came back from a party when I saw your letter-but what the hell? I don’t care. You knew I love you, right? You’re my best friend.
So don’t ever change. This is a big ass world, and when we leave our small towns, we’re going to find our tribe. If we don’t stay true to ourselves, how will they recognize us? (Both of us, because you know we’re on the same tribe, right?)
And even if it’s just the two of us, it will be the best.
Misha, Misha, Misha! Well, I might be in love with him! Unlike Ryen, he fights for what he knew is right, he protects the people he loves and he doesn’t put up with other people’s bs! He cares for Ryen and his family and I liked that he makes mistakes that he regrets. It may be his decision to lie to Ryen but he has his own reasons. And oh my god that sexy romance between him and Ryen!
This book has a complex story but I love how everything ends. It’s very high school but I think that’s what makes it more relatable because it feels real. The high school drama, the angst, the chemistry between Ryen and Misha, I think they’re all perfect! Though I admit I’ve guessed some turn of events earlier in the book. And aside from the main characters, some of the secondary characters are also endearing. I liked Ten from the start and J.D. and Dane as well. They’re funny and I liked that Ten and J.D. stick with Ryen in the end. I also like the lyrics, the letters and the vandals, in short, I like the art in this book! And the family dynamic is also present which helped built Misha’s character.
Overall I enjoyed this book! It doesn’t only focus on Ryen and Misha’s romance (though it’s my favorite) but it also deals with the issues of acceptance, belonging, betrayal, loss and love. It talks about high school pressure, insecurities and finding your true self. But like I said earlier, the author and I have a peculiar relationship because no matter how much I enjoyed this book, I feel like there’s something missing and I can’t give it a higher rating than 3.75. But, but! That’s only me. I see that others have really really loved it and I’m glad they did because this is a really interesting and powerful book.
* * *
You’re not alone, it gets better.
You are important, and you can’t be replaced.