ABOUT THE BOOK
Life by Committee by Corey Ann Haydu
young adult realistic contemporary published by Katherine Tegen Books on May 13th, 2014
Some secrets are too good to keep.
Tabitha might be the only girl in the history of the world who actually gets less popular when she gets hot. But her so-called friends say she’s changed, and they’ve dropped her flat.
Now Tab has no one to tell about the best and worst thing that has ever happened to her: Joe, who spills his most intimate secrets to her in their nightly online chats. Joe, whose touch is so electric, it makes Tab wonder if she could survive an actual kiss. Joe, who has Tabitha brimming with the restless energy of falling in love. Joe, who is someone else’s boyfriend.
Just when Tab is afraid she’ll burst from keeping the secret of Joe inside, she finds Life by Committee. The rules of LBC are simple: tell a secret, receive an assignment. Complete the assignment to keep your secret safe.
Tab likes it that the assignments push her to her limits, empowering her to live boldly and go further than she’d ever go on her own.
But in the name of truth and bravery, how far is too far to go?
Life by Committee is a messy, messy book. I like messy which is my way of saying that not everyone will be able to stomach it, not everyone will approve of it, and not everyone will like Tabitha. If you’ve the read the blurb, even if just the tagline on the cover, you’d know this book tackles cheating, broken friendships resulting in slut shaming, and secrets. Despite all of that, I could relate to Tabitha, to her struggles, to her lonely, lonely life. But that is not to say that cheating is okay. It’s more about just living life, y’know. Learning from your mistakes. Letting go of stuff. Growing up. Moving on. Being more.
You know when you’re reading a book, you come across all the flaws of a character, you shake your head at them but you cannot stop admiring them? That’s Tabitha for you. I cringed when I first learned that she defaces her books by writing her thoughts in the margins but that’s Tabitha for you. She’s her own person who’s growing up lonely with parents who had her when they were sixteen themselves. It may seem like an über cool life, but it’s life and it’s not easy. Especially not when you fall in love with someone else’s boyfriend.
I like it when books make me think page after turned page about what’s been written. Makes me think in the way that I’ve to stop reading and just feel the words wash over me. To nod along them ’cause at one time those words formed in my mind, too. Life by Committee is one such book. Even more than that, Life by Committee is unpredictable and that’s just a cherry on top of the way it’s been written. It’s all about making a mess of things and of people who make a mess of you for no reason at all other than the jealousy they feel for you. ‘Not every decision can be bigger than the one before. And not every decision is better because a dozen other lost people are telling you what to do.’
Tabitha is going through a difficult time because her best friend abandoned her when she stopped liking the change in her, the change that comes in the form of makeup and harmless flirting with boys. The ex-best friend who judges and judges and judges Tabitha and makes her feel unsure about herself. Luckily, Tabitha has exactly three people in her life who still care about her. Namely, her parents and Elise, the almost new best friend. Then she gets so tangled up in Joe that she goes past the point of wanting him to wanting him despite him being in a relationship. Obviously, she’s not the person anyone should go for an advice and on a subconscious level, she’s aware of that. So when she gets a chance to spill a secret, she goes ahead and soon finds herself in a tangled web of secrets that will only remain safe if she completes every assignment she’s been given in 24 hours.
I didn’t expect Life by Committee to be anything more than just a fluffy contemporary with ugh moments and that’s where I was wrong. It’s like the cover of the book, which I felt was too weird to be a book cover, turned out to be a photo of Tabitha from the knees down which means something. Life by Committee is an amazing book with secondary characters that are as deep and as alive as Tabitha. I’m particularly fond of Star and I hope that Corey Ann Haydu decides to write her story. Really, really hope. There’s a big plot twists that threw me in for the loop as I was so wasn’t expecting that to happen and started laughing at the absurdity of it all. Oh, boy. I really enjoyed it, though.
I don’t know if it’d be stupid to spill your secrets online so that a bunch of strangers can tell you what you can do about them. But the idea appeals to me so much that I would love to be a part of it in actual life ’cause things like that take guts and I’m all for feeling liberated, taking risks, and being reckless. This is what Life by Committee is and this is why I’m freaking amazed by it.
‘It’s good for things to be messy. It’s not necessary to clean your life up all the time. You can let it grow wild.’
‘Keyboards, echoing percussion, and feminine male singers fill the room with sound, and I sing along at the top of my lungs. Dance a little in my chair. Tell my heart to stop leaping in every direction: love, fear, nostalgia, boredom, interest, thrill, loneliness.’
very well said, I agree with everything! 🙂 I agree that it's a messy book & that Tabby is not necessarily likable, though I did like her only because I was privy to her thoughts and feelings and I knew the truth. I think that her being pushed away by her friends preempted her falling for Joe because she was fulfilling the prophesy. fantastic review. I love when I fall in love with a book & just want to float in the feelings it evokes for a while. This book did that.
You totally sold me on this one. I loved Haydu's debut and already planned on reading this one, but now I'm really excited! Your mention of the cheating made me a little hesitant at first because I have a hard time reading about that, but I think I can get past it. Tabitha sounds like an incredibly authentic character and I LOVE when that's done well. Nobody's perfect and it's always nice to see people's flaws in books.
Joyous Reads says
You are a brave woman for finishing this. I don't think I can, which is probably why the book is not even in my radar.
Nidhi Mahajan says
This book sounds like my kind of read. Out of the ordinary, the regular. I love messed up situations and characters! Adding it RIGHT NOW.
Alexa S. says
I'm so glad you enjoyed Life by Committee! It's seriously such a great contemporary read, with a story that's strong and compelling and a main character who's real and flawed. I really liked this one as well.
Fahima M says
I LOVE that Tabitha writes on her books! I would never do it myself *the horror*, but I think it's a really cool idea, and I think it'd be really awesome to read a book with someone's thoughts all over it! Which is another reason why I love used books. I actually have one book that's written on, with a beautiful letter in the beginning (it was a gift to the previous owner), and it's so nice to see those glimpses into strangers' lives.
Unfortunately, I didn't like Life by Committee as much as everyone else seems to have (this really sucks), cut I still think it's pretty great in how it portrays all these different parts of being human in it.
Love the quotes you've picked! <3
Sam (Realm of Fiction) says
I am so bad at stomaching cheating in books, and I know that will bother me here, but at the same time, I love how realistic and raw this sounds. Those quotes are wonderful, and I love the excerpt at the top. I've heard a lot of good things about this author and look forward to giving this a try. 🙂 Great review, Sana!
Megan @ Adrift on Vulcan says
Oh my GAWD, Sana. I'm seeing so many beautiful blog designs today! Though yours probably isn't that new anymore, haha, since no one else is commenting on it… Anyway, it's BEAUTIFUL. Especially the header and the whole social network bar above that. Love the simplicity!
Okay, now I'll ACTUALLY get to commenting on the review. 😉
I find that the best contemporaries are the ones that make you think, and the ones that make you feel uncomfortable, no matter how slightly, because those are the ones that stand out and stick with you longer than the cheesy and funny ones. And like Sam said, I love how raw and gritty this one sounds. It's especially incredibly how you were able to relate to Tabitha so well, even though she cheats with someone else's boyfriend. But gosh, this is only a review and I already get what you mean, I'm already feeling for her! I know what it feels like to feel truly alone, even with so many people around you, and it's painful, so I guess I can relate to her at least in that aspect, though she's going through so much more than that. And any secondary character that makes you want to read about THEM is a good character, IMO.
Some people don't like being surprised while reading, but I do, so — another reason why I should read this! I'm particularly curious to all these huge plot twists that had you laughing. I'm really starting to like the sound of LIFE BY COMMITTEE more and more. Dammit, why didn't I download this from EW when I had the chance? Totally blaming it on the cover. I agree, it's weird, and it didn't attract my attention enough for me to even check the blurb out. Mehhh.
Anyway, this one sounds like a real winner. I'd buy it, except that I've been spending a lot on books lately and they're all piling up unread, both in my bookshelf and in my Kindle. But Corey Haydu sounds like an amazing author, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to resist myself for long. Definitely adding this to my TBR-shelf. Thanks for the review, Sana! This book is another prime example of why I shouldn't judge books by the covers. -_-
Christine D. says
I like that you describe this book as "messy". Even the cover gives that idea. I can also see where you got that from throughout your review. It's a good kind of mess to read about. A character with flaws, once masterfully crafted, is a great thing.
I have seen friends of mine judged by others for the same reasons Tabitha was. A little bit of eyeliner and harmless flirting made tham slut-shamed…. This already sounds like a realistic contemporary to me. I also love the quote you shared!
Georgina Robinson says
So you have completely sold this to me. Sometimes I feel we need more books that don't tiptoe around subjects like this because quite frankly it happens whether we like it or not. I also like the fact we're seeing it from the MC it's so raw.
'It's good for things to be messy. It's not necessary to clean your life up all the time. You can let it grow wild.'
I think this has to be one of my most favourite quotes ever!
Great review, I'll have to break my spending ban now 🙂