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Winter and Arden Allister are two teenage sisters who've just moved from Memphis to San Francisco and their interracial family is thrust into the bourgeoisie of San Francisco’s elite once the girls begin the year at an exclusive private school But when Winter starts having problems with a boy at school and Arden continues to suffer inexplicable and terrifying blackouts each girl must tease loose a separate thread of fate from their interwoven close knit identity as sisters in order to unravel the arcane mystery of who they really are Once their futures are disentangled Winter and Arden find that destiny has drafted them both into the oldest war the world’s ever known—but placed them on opposite sides

10 thoughts on “The Alchemy of Being Fourteen

  1. says:

    This feels like the kind of book a teenage girl needs to read it's like a crutch for those tumultuous years It has drama which might not be anything new but it doesn't ever claim to be It is self indulgent as the author declared from the start but that doesn't stop me from rooting for the characters when they fall down and feeling oh so satisfied as they punch back It's unapologetic in calling out the self entitled and validating the feelings of the oppressed It tells young girls who want to feel pretty that they matter that it's okay to be selfish and it's okay to want the best for yourself that being noble and selfless is alright but wanting a certain type of happiness just for yourself is eually so Doing things because you want to because you think it's cool and gives that little boost of self esteem that you didn't even know you needed That is not the same as doing things because they are the right thing to do or because it's for the greater good but not everyone can do that anyway Or maybe they can but they don't want to Some people don't want to be larger than life they just want to be the best they can be for their own sake It's not self deprecating it's not shallow it is self empoweringSo imagine all this within a particular settingImagine a regular urban fantasy story in the suburbs With mysterious circumstances and things crawling in the shadows With fantastical beasts and eually fantastical beings You know a werewolf here a vampire there maybe a few hunters sprinkled somewhere too But all of those are a secret which means a lot of people know They just don't talk about it with anyone else Which can lead to some awkward moments if you find out that one of your friends is secretly part of a super powered gang hell bent on destroying the other special secret super gang Even worse when it's the one you're inBut that's just like a hypothesis a what if kind of scenario you know? Because a girl who attracts trouble like a magnet and can do cartwheels in midair would not be very eager to tell everyone in sight about it mostly because she can't explain why or how she's doing it She has enough trouble on her hands what with growing up and feeling awkward about it having the foot in mouth syndrome when she was just trying to be nice or stick to her principles from time to time Things just happen Besides getting attacked by a vampire is a bit understandable than having gross old men leer at a pre teen just for wearing her regular school uniform Your sister isn't helping much either If you told her she might think you're nuts Besides she has her own life personal issues included Heaven knows what's her problem especially when she keeps disappearing in the middle of the night and comes back tight lipped and cryptic And since your best friend won't tell you anything when you ask her why should you tell her your secrets? So yeah who cares anyway you've got practice and your pet rat is the only confidante you'll ever need

  2. says:

    It's fun to get excited to read a book even before you read the first line In The Alchemy of Being Fourteen the cover the chapter art the chapter titles even the intro all scream READ ME Have you heard a better chapter title than Polyglot Muse?And the book itself does not disappoint I love it when an author's writing style can suck you into the story and almost make you forget you're reading a book Leah Williams writes her main female characters as smart And real I felt like these were friends of my daughter that I could meet in real life It's nice that YA books are not only the most diverse books with the most cutting edge stories but that they do a really good job of reflecting reality And she does a fantastic job of showing you what it's like to be in high school It was like Dante’s Inferno except the seven circles of hell were different levels of starter kit adolescent embarrassment on up to the patented potent teen angstShe has an amazing flair to her writing It really is the kind of book you don't want to stop reading And you know you've found an author that's great at writing suspense when you find yourself holding your breath So often in paranormal fiction it ends up overtaking the whole book This book is about the supernatural But it isn't The conflict between the Praeta and Supra is there read the book but it's not like the focus of the book Sorry had to get one like in there It's the conflict between Winter and herself; between Arden and herself About coming to terms with who they are As teenage girls Adolescence sucks in so many ways There are so many conflicting things going on Leah Williams captures that perfectly adding a fascinating subplot In this way it's like real life you have the stuff you're truly dealing with and everything else just serves to make it frustrating or interesting depending on your perspective Highly recommended

  3. says:

    So I don’t know if I can do this book the justice it deserves not because the author is my friend but because this book crosses so many different genres and is exactly the kind of book I wish someone had handed me as a teenager and said “read this and everything will be okay” To which I would have rolled my eyes because hello teenager but stillSo this at the heart of it is an urban fantasy novel with teenage girls Teen girls who just want to settle into their new town and their new private school which is hard enough to do with the usual litany of teen woes and hormones learning and knowing your place in a society that at the end of the day doesn’t respect you for who you are This is a book about awesome teen girls and the literal powers they wield while doing that This book is about identity this book is about the kind of courage it takes to be a teenage girl who is still figuring out who she is and what she stands for And what she stands for doesn’t always have to be noble or self sacrificing because any kind of happiness you can claw from a world that is so intent on putting you down is enough This a book about girls who cry girls who are earnest girls who are little bit dumb girls who have developed a hard shell to protect the softness underneath but the best part is they’re all the same girl

  4. says:

    If you have hesitations to read this because you're WAYYYYY older than 14 lemme dispel any concerns Leah has an impeccable ability to wrap you up in uick witted prose that appeals to older ages while still preserving the window looking into the mind of young teenage girls who have never even had their first kiss while navigating through a world of heavy issues revolving around self esteem body image sexual harassment etcHer story telling is fleshed out wonderfully with an amazing skill for making tricky descriptions click just right in ways I'd never expect Her style of writing is colorful vibrant and cleverly designed for an audience of women of varying ages and walks of life that makes it hard to put her book downI'm fervently awaiting the next book and plan on donating to show my support for such a talented ambitious author

  5. says:

    This book is AMAZING I can't possibly give enough reasons to treat yourself to this fantastically told story Mixing both classic and modern themes it tells the youth fantasy story in a way I have never encountered before It's believable moving and genuinely funny Like seriously funny This is the angst driven hormonal romp through supernatural adolescence that Harry Potter could have been but wasn't I am counting the days until the next in the series is published and I can continue to learn about the intense lore and exciting tale laid out in this intro I really can't waitRead this book if you like books Just read it You won't regret it

  6. says:

    Me during this whole book NIIIIIICE

  7. says:

    This book was everything I did not know that I desperately wanted to read in a young adult novel Part teenage romance part science fiction part paranormal thriller this book is impossible to classify And it is all the better because of this There are werewolves and vampires and girls with superpowers in this book GIRLS WITH SUPERPOWERS Girls that can do ridiculous backhand springs and girls that are cheerleaders and girls that are mean and snarky and girls that smile dorkily when the boys they like text them and girls that cry into their pillows and girls that fight with their moms and girls that get in trouble with their teachers and girls that feel self conscious in their skin Girls in all of their varied and wonderful and painful and HONEST manifestations I think this book is a brave and radical undertaking on the part of the author It is hard sometimes impossible work to imagine a world that is better than this one This book is beautifully written has fantastic character development and dialogue and is above all else an invitation into a world that none of us has dared to dream was possible in young adult fiction I'm humbled and honored to have been allowed in to this world and I cannot wait to see where Winter and Arden's journey takes them next I cannot wait for the next book in this series

  8. says:

    I laughed a lot AND I had nightmares??? There weren't books like this when I was a teenager and I'm relieved there are now

  9. says:

    Y‘ALL I THINK IM IN LOVE WITH THIS BOOKI started reading this over a snowy weekend and almost immediately fell in love with the book aesthetic The chapter headers are AMAZING and the cover is so bright and badass it practically screams at you to read it Oh and the best part? The story is JUST AS AWESOME as the artwork on the bookI wish I could properly put into words how much I felt this book While reading it I realized that The Alchemy of Being Fourteen is one of those novels that really gets what its like to be a young person in the modern world I will always appreciate a well written strong female main character but I feel like Leah took it to another level with this book What I appreciated most about the way that the girls are written is that they were allowed to be angry So many times in books women are expected to be docile and if they do get upset its made out to be unnecessary Teenagers are angry They’re angsty That really shines through in this book and that is important to me I felt their struggle throughout the entire book and that helped me become invested in them I wanted to help them succeed but I also wanted to protect them? Ugh I need Also can we talk about the world building???? I thought I was in for a light contemporary read but this turned out to be SO MUCH MORE OMG Im not even sure what genre this book would be? Maybe magical realism? Fantasy? I HAVE NO IDEA BUT I NEED MORE OF IT IMMEDIATELY I FELT SO BLINDSIDED BY THE PLOT TWISTS I usually pride myself on being able to guess where a story is going but I LITERALLY HAD NO IDEA The entire time I was reading the last half of the book I just kept saying “Jesus Christ WHAT NEXT?“If you are looking for something to completely consume you pick this book up I absolutely DEVOURED IT and im already longing for morreeeee

  10. says:

    The Alchemy of Being Fourteen is one of those very rare books you find that actually tells the truth of what it's like for girls growing up It is urban fantasy which I rarely read and even rarely like but I loved this book The reason? It is so different from so many of those fantasies in that it keeps up the reality of being teenagers in the modern world with all the anger and other emotions that goes with that along with the fantasy elements Which were also intriguing and I found myself really enjoying The characters really shine and the writing for them is amazing You feel each character's struggle so intently There's so much for people especially teenagers to relate to in this book how horrible going through adolescence is being Different a misfit a victim of racial prejudice gender prejudicereally something for everybody One of the things I really enjoyed was reading the parts where the main female teenagers got gasp ANGRY So much of the time anger in females is played down in books and film and society today still has a problem with women feeling a perfectly normal emotion