Oh boy. Where to begin? Ever read a book and things are going along swimmingly and you’re thinking “this is really good” and then BAM! WTF? WHAT AM I READING? Yeah? No? That was The Trouble with Paper Planes. At first, this book was refreshing. Not only is it written from the male’s point of view, but the plot was rather intriguing. Heath, the narrator and main character of the book, is reeling from the loss of his childhood friend turned girlfriend. She is literally lost. Emily has been missing for five years and it isn’t until much later in the book that the reason behind her disappearance is revealed. Heath is grieving for her loss along with their close-knit group of friends as well as Emily’s family.
Enter newcomer to the town Maia, who takes a job at Emily’s mother’s restaurant who looks eerily similar to Emily albeit with different hair color. So much so that Emily’s mother calls Heath to warn him of her disturbing resemblance. After meeting Maia, Heath is inexplicably drawn to Maia in a way that he has never experienced—not even with Emily. While this may seem unbelievable, Amanda Dick’s writing allows you to actually believe that their connection is real.
“It felt like we’d missed a step somewhere along the line. Like we’d skipped a few pages in the book, or scenes in the movie. It felt both wrong and right, simultaneously. I wanted to caution myself against getting too involved, yet at the same time, I wanted to scream that I didn’t care and dive in head-first regardless. My head swam.”
Heath’s feelings for Maia are strong. So strong that even he questions the experience himself.
“It wasn’t enough. I simultaneously wanted her to be part of me, and yet I felt like she already was. I was stricken with an extreme sense of vertigo, as if I were falling and she was holding me up. The prospect scared the shit out of me.”
Despite their strong connection, Maia remains somewhat of a mystery to Heath. While she knows about Emily and his past, Maia reveals very little. However, later we learn that Maia was involved in some sort of accident and has experienced amnesia. She remembers nothing about herself, her past, or anything else for that matter. It’s at this point that Heath begins to wonder if Maia could actually be Emily. And this is where the trouble enters for me with The Trouble with Paper Planes.
All throughout the book, Heath’s friends, and Emily’s family make comments on the remarkable likeness of Maia and Emily. Mannerisms are pointed out as similar, although their personalities are different. I find it unfathomable that if Maia and Emily look so strikingly similar that Heath or Emily’s mother Bridget, wouldn’t look for some defining physical characteristic to link the two together such as a mole or a scar. We all have those. This was a gaping plot hole for me that I couldn’t wrap my head around.
And then the author decides to take this book way into left field so much so that I’ve spent too many days returning to this post to try to finish this review. To be honest, I’m not even sure I understood what I read. I felt like I missed something really big but the plot twist was so surprising, and terrible, in my opinion, that I didn’t even want to go back and reread it. I immediately had to tell two people how incredibly bizarre the ending was. It was that kind of book.
Which leads me to my next question…do you look at reviews for a book before you read? I rarely look at the reviews. I don’t want the book to be spoiled and reviews can often contain major spoilers. I came across The Trouble with Paper Planes as a suggestion from Amazon based on other books I like. After the super surprising ending, I immediately jumped on GoodReads to see what others thought. It’s always surprising to me how different reader’s reactions can be to the same book. Surprisingly, a lot of the reviews were positive, however, I did feel validated that there were several that had the WTF feeling just like me. With that being said…read at your own risk.
What was the last book that you read that left you feeling like WTF?