Althea & Oliver by Cristina MorachoAlthea & Oliver by Cristina Moracho

Althea & Oliver

byCristina Moracho

Paperback | March 8, 2016

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"The bittersweet romance, Oliver’s battle with his illness, and Althea’s coming-of-age struggle should appeal to fans of John Green and Sarah Dessen who are looking for something new." —VOYA

Althea Carter and Oliver McKinley have been best friends since they were six. Now, as their junior year of high school comes to a close, Althea has begun to want something more. Oliver simply wants life to go back to normal, but when he wakes up one morning with no memory of the past three weeks, he can’t deny any longer that something is seriously wrong with him. Then Althea makes the worst decision ever, and her relationship with Oliver is shattered. When he leaves town for a clinical study in New York, she drives up the coast after him, determined to make up for what she’s done.

Cristina Moracho’s extraordinary debut is an achingly real story about identity, illness, and love—and how one decision can change everything.

TIME Magazine Top 10 YA of 2014 ~ An SLJ Best Books of the Year ~ A Booklist Editor's Choice 2014 ~ A Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014


"Fans of Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park will enjoy debut author Cristina Moracho’s trip back to the 1990s in Althea and Oliver." —CNN.com

"A gut-wrenching tale." —People

* "Moracho’s coming-of-age story carries rare insight and a keen understanding of those verging on adulthood." —Booklist, starred review

* "Mesmerizing." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
This is Cristina Moracho's first novel. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and tweets at @cherielecrivain.
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Title:Althea & OliverFormat:PaperbackDimensions:400 pages, 8.25 × 5.44 × 1 inPublished:March 8, 2016Publisher:Penguin Young Readers GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0142424765

ISBN - 13:9780142424766

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from THE BEST. MY FELLOW REVIEWERS, I have a difficult question for you to answer: what are your issues with this glorious book? I have owned Althea and Oliver by Cristina Moracho for the longest time ever—perhaps since it was released. I think I remember purchasing it a few weeks after it was initially released because I needed another Eleanor and Park in my life. This is a riskier, wilder, but exactly the same real example of the Eleanor and Park that we readers all know and love. This is the story of two best friends who are so close that no one else understands them the way the other does, and how they need to rely on each other for so much. There is so much negativity, debates going around about how the author handled rape (which I do have my opinion on, I'll get into it) and how the book was boring. But honestly? I didn't see barely any negativity—this was just a great read that I'm so happy to own in my book collection. Sometimes anticipation goes down the drain. That happens quite frequently with me. Sometimes, anticipation is totally worth it. I decided to read Althea and Oliver on a road trip where I brought all hardcovers, all books that scream "SUMMER" and "SUMMER COLOURS." Obviously, yellow is a summery colour, so I just grabbed this one and went with it. I was super excited to read it. Thankfully my expectations were correct. This book just WOWed me. I am still shocked with the ending to this very day, weeks later. I am shocked with the way that Moracho handled the romance, how she didn't take Althea and Oliver, two best friends who are as close as two peas in a pod, that she didn't take them and implanted them into each other—make them a fictional couple who are so in love and are starstruck with why or how they did not notice the other person years ago. This went in a complete different direction and I promise you, if you decide to read this, you will agree with me: you never have read a book that ends like this. Fluffy at times and all, where Althea and Oliver just cannot stop obsessing over each other as they are separated at two different parts of the country, this has a very complex set of themes and ideas that Cristina planned out perfectly. This is not fantasy—the fact that Oliver sleeps for weeks and wakes up out of nowhere—Oliver's condition, Kleine-Levin syndrome is not fake. I searched it up after being so mesmerized with the topic, and it is a real illness that's rare, yes, but that exists with many people. This is not a book about a boy having experienced something tragic and is undergoing amnesia. Oliver sleeps, out of nowhere, and loses the bits of his life that would be important to him if he was able to see it, or in fact, live it. This is where the rape issue comes in. Many have deducted high ratings because of what happened between Althea and Oliver at one point of the novel, before he heads to New York City to be watched and monitored by that ultra-cool doctor of his. No one really mentions it, but Moracho hints at male sexual violence, in a way. Althea sleeps with Oliver, but he doesn't remember any of it, his first time, when he wakes up, because he was half-awake, or however Oliver's mother likes to call it. Althea should know half-asleep Oliver from fully-awake Oliver—I even noticed. Oliver didn't really give consent, and after he woke up, he was pissed at Althea, which creates this horrible tension in the novel, and next thing Althea knows, her first love is in New York City, being treated for his condition without saying goodbye because he's too upset at Althea. It looked like rape to me—but I wasn't so annoyed. I just hated how Althea denied it—she thought that she was perfect and the best, never doing any wrong. Don't get me wrong—I loved Althea as a character, but she was too arrogant, too much of a trouble-maker for me to believe that she didn't mean it or whatnot. I see that many people are thinking the exact same thing as me. From the two, I loved Oliver and his story much more, comparing to Althea's. And this was never mentioned, but I wonder if Althea just went to NYC to find Oliver to apologize. She was a crazy man-freak who really didn't put that much emotion into her love for Oliver as Oliver did, you know? It was really, really interesting to see the twist on this story that people stereotypically see the opposite of. From beginning to end, this was just so enjoyable. I finished reading this in one sitting, one sitting full of laughs, but mostly constant page-flipping because I was just so intrigued with Moracho's writing. The writing was lyrical, poetic and so real. It screamed out summer, fall, and all of the seasons because as we got to know Althea and Oliver more and more, time passed by and they were caught with different things in their lives. The story starts off in North Carolina, a new favourite setting of mine where it's basically summer all year long, and then progressed into NYC, my favourite city in the entire universe. This book is the anthem for the power of books. Althea and Oliver is completely original, taken place in the 90s where we read about mixtapes (which are currently trending again), times with no cell phones and a different life that I, myself, hadn't ever experienced because of my age. I just want to listen to The Backstreet Boys and jam, thinking about this powerful story that caused me to think about relationships, life and just... everything. Althea and Oliver is mesmerizing, addicting and powerful. It contains a variety of messages, some that pop up to some people, and others that intrigue other people. It's all about the perspective that you look at these characters, and how you treat life. It's philosophical, real, and has no inch of fantasy that will make you doubt anything that happened in the plot. I couldn't stop reading, and my mouth still has an "O" shape out of shock. That ending—that was unbelievably great.
Date published: 2016-12-19
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Horrible, Sexist Book That Trivializes Rape Part 1 You’re probably under the impression that this is a cool, edgy love story about two best friends falling in love - I know because that’s the assumption I made before starting Althea and Oliver. I was horribly disappointed. This book is an unbelievably sexist mess. Moracho tries to make Althea seem like cool, angry, confused badass but only successfully creates a whiney rapist. RAPIST. Because, what is described in the synopsis as “the worst bad decision ever,” is actually a rape. It’s a rape because rape is a word that has a definition (sexual intercourse against a person without that person’s consent) and that definition meets Althea’s actions. Believe me. I checked the dictionary and the criminal code. It fits. *Serious spoilers start here. But I strongly suggest that you don't read this book, so maybe keep reading anyway. Althea has sex with Oliver during one of his Klein-Levin Syndrome episodes, during which time he wakes up to experience a period of “childlike mental acuity”. He has no self-control, no understanding of his own actions and, later on, has no memory of what’s happened. Althea knows all of this and even though earlier in the book Oliver tells her that he is “not ready to have sex,” she has sex with him. Althea is in a position of power over Oliver. It is her responsibility to stop them from having sex because she is well aware that Oliver is not capable of giving consent. So regardless of how Oliver and Althea feel about the situation, it is a rape. According to the criminal code, it’s a rape because Oliver did not give consent or permission for the act to take place. This isn’t a grey area, and it isn’t up for debate. And if the roles had been reversed, there wouldn’t have been a debate, because if Oliver was a girl and Althea was a boy, anyone would call it rape.
Date published: 2015-11-14
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Horrible, Sexist Book That Trivializes Rape Part 2 Althea is an annoying character for a lot of reasons. She’s whiny and doesn’t care about anyone other than herself. But let’s face it: us teenagers are selfish. Even if Althea’s selfishness is excessive, it also helps her to seem a little more believable. However, Althea really does take her self-absorption to an extreme level: she abandons her father and doesn’t care about her mother. She lives with a bunch of poor bohemian teenagers without paying rent. And she only cares about what she did to Oliver because it makes him mad at her and he stops talking to her. Really. That’s the only reason she cares about having sex with him. Not because it was morally unacceptable, but because her friend is angry - and Althea also doesn't understand why Oliver is so upset. Moracho tries to make the reader sympathise with Althea. We’re supposed to feel bad for poor, impulsive, misunderstood Althea, whose best friend doesn’t love her back. We’re supposed to relate to her. Besides the rape, there’s another pretty bad example of sexism in Althea’s friendship with Coby. I’d already stopped paying much attention to what was happening in the book by the time I got to this part (I was only reading because I was sure that at some point Moracho was going to actually deal with the rape -- that doesn’t happen), but I still don’t see how Althea is justified in beating Coby up. She’s just as guilty as he is in everything they do. And when Coby and Althea have sex, it’s consensual; she actually initiates it. But for whatever reason Althea thinks that she has the right to beat Coby into a bloody pulp. And Althea and Coby’s friends play it off by saying that he probably ‘deserved it’. Now, imagine if Coby beat Althea horribly. Do you think her friends would still say she ‘deserved it’? The rape is critical to the storyline of the rest of the book. It sets the rest of the events in Althea and Oliver in motion, leading to the end of this book, which is pretty romantic in a modern sense of the word. In that way, I could argue that Moracho romanticises or glorifies rape. But that’s up for discussion. What’s not up for discussion is that she most certainly trivialises it. Not only is the rape passed over as largely unimportant, it’s also excused because Althea had been pining after Oliver. So let me ask, if a hot guy is pining after a cute girl, does that make it okay for him to have sex with her without her permission? Moracho excuses, diminishes, trivialises and largely ignores a rape. She also tells jokes with rape as the punch line, such as when Althea sees her “friend” Coby at a Halloween party and asks, “What are you supposed to be? A date rapist?” The irony here is that this scene takes place after Althea rapes Oliver. I’m not against books that deal with rape or sexism. But I have a HUGE issue with this book because although the rape is what causes Althea and Oliver’s actions leading to the end of the book, it’s almost forgotten by the end. It is at no point discussed or dealt with. And while I know that in real life these things aren’t always dealt with, I don’t believe that Moracho left anything unresolved in an attempt to make the book more believable. And she wasn’t trying to start any kind of discussion or make any kind of “artistic” statement. I believe that she genuinely doesn’t understand the implications of what she’s written. She doesn’t understand that what Althea does to Oliver is rape, even though she’s a girl and he’s a boy. That’s why this book is sexist. That’s why I will strongly encourage anyone NOT to read this book. I’m all for freedom of expression. But Moracho clearly bit off more than she could chew with this book. No matter how nice the prose is, this book isn’t okay. I’ve seen girls as young as ten or eleven pick it up because the cover is so innocent, and walk away reading it. That terrifies me, because reading other reviews of this book, I see that a lot of people don’t even recognise that the rape is a rape, or how strongly this book plays to a misandrist double-standard. I don’t think that this book should be promoted by bookstores or publishers or book bloggers or anyone else for that matter. I’m seventeen myself and I can tell you that Moracho's prime audience, teenagers, are impressionable. And what’s she doing is propagating dangerous, sexist misapprehensions. Ask yourself, whether you’re a boy or a girl: How would you feel if someone had sex with you while you were sleeping and you had no idea? Do yourself a favour. Don’t read this book
Date published: 2015-11-07
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Worst Book Ever This book is horrible and sexist. It has little to no redeeming features, at least none that excuses the rape which is not addressed as such because the victim is male. I would not recommend this book to anyone. If I saw anyone trying to buy this book, I would talk them out of it.
Date published: 2015-07-27

Read from the Book

“It wasn’t exactly how I pictured it, either,” Althea shouts back. Her legs are shaking. “How do you think I feel? Do you think that’s what I wanted?”            “Then why did you do it?”            Althea stares at him, knowing if he even has to ask, it’s already over, she’s already lost. “I don’t think I could have stopped it. And if you could remember, you would know what I mean, and you would know that I’m right.”            Releasing her, he takes a step back, shaking his head. There’s gravel in his voice, a roughness she’s never heard before. “I’ll tell you what I know. This, you and me, this is all just geography. If it had been some other little girl who grew up down the block from me, I would have been her best friend for ten years, too, until I realized one day that I wasn’t sure I even liked her very much. You’re like an incumbent president that no one can stand but you get reelected anyway, you have the advantage because you’re already in and when someone’s in it’s so much harder to get them out.”

Editorial Reviews

Praise for Althea & Oliver: "The bittersweet romance, Oliver’s battle with his illness, and Althea’s coming-of-age struggle should appeal to fans of John Green and Sarah Dessen who are looking for something new." —VOYA "Fans of Rainbow Rowell's Eleanor and Park will enjoy debut author Cristina Moracho’s trip back to the 1990s in Althea and Oliver." —CNN.com "A gut-wrenching tale." —People "Moracho’s coming-of-age story carries rare insight and a keen understanding of those verging on adulthood." —Booklist, starred review"It is the exquisitely created and painfully real, pitch-perfect characters who make it so memorable." —SLJ, starred review"At turns gritty and gooey, Oliver and Althea’s evolving relationship unfolds in a warts-and-all narration that alternates between the two, deftly capturing the purgatorial crossroads between youth and adulthood . . . Mesmerizing." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review"Can boys and girls really be just friends? This endearing novel explores that, and a whole lot of other things including but not limited to: falling in love, punk rock, circa-’90s NYC, and a very complicated sleep disorder that causes those afflicted to fall asleep for days, weeks, even months at a time." —TeenVogue.com"A gorgeous, glorious, unforgettable novel about punk rock, bad decisions, falling in love, and the messy beauty of growing up. Althea and Oliver is a flawlessly-crafted straight shot to the heart." —Sarah McCarry, author of All Our Pretty Songs "Marrying dazzling prose and sharp-eyed realism, Althea & Oliver is a gritty, sparkling triumph. It's everything a novel is meant to be." —Bennett Madison, author of September Girls"With beautiful language and wrenching, complicated relationship dynamics, Althea & Oliver captures the painful state of longing that is adolescence perfectly." —Corey Ann Haydu, author of OCD Love StoryIt's very rare to come across either a book or two young protagonists as appealing and insightful as Althea & Oliver. Big-hearted and wiseassed and penetratingly smart, they experience growing up as a time machine that's whisked them into a future they don't want, even as they're dying to know what's out there." —Jim Shepard, author of Project X and You Think That's Bad"I can't wait to tell people about this one. It's mind-blowingly good." —Molly Templeton, WORD Books "Even if the book weren’t eloquent and hilarious, it’d be a must-read for all children of the ’90s. But thankfully, it is, and if you’re smart, you’ll run out and grab a copy."  —Bustle"Go buy this book! Read it now!" —Hello GigglesA TIME Magazine Top 10 YA of 2014 An SLJ Best Books of the YearA Booklist Editor's Choice 2014A Kirkus Reviews Best Books of 2014One of TeenVogue.com’s Best YA Books You Should Read This FallOne of CNN.com’s 40 New Titles to Feed Your YA Book Addiction