We Were Restless Things by: Cole Nagamatsu

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From debut author Cole Nagamatsu comes an atmospheric contemporary fantasy about three teens coming of age in the wake of a mysterious death.

Last summer, Link Miller drowned on dry land in the woods, miles away from the nearest body of water. His death was ruled a strange accident, and in the months since, his friends and family have struggled to make sense of it. But Link’s close friend Noemi Amato knows the truth: Link drowned in an impossible lake that only she can find. And what’s more, someone claiming to be Link has been contacting her, warning Noemi to stay out of the forest.

As these secrets become too heavy for Noemi to shoulder on her own, she turns to Jonas, her new housemate, and Amberlyn, Link’s younger sister. All three are trying to find their place–and together, they start to unravel the truth: about themselves, about the world, and about what happened to Link.

Unfolding over a year and told through multiple POVs and a dream journal, We Were Restless Things explores the ways society shapes our reality, how we can learn to love ourselves and others, and the incredible power of our own desires. “

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Content Warning:
-Mention of childhood abuse
-Self-harm mentioned
-Suicidal thoughts mentioned

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Last summer I saw this book, and its beautiful cover, online and decided to pick it up. The summary seemed somewhat mysterious and magical which always catches my interest. Sadly, like many books I buy, it sat unread on my shelf for months. Over the last few months, I’ve drastically reduced the number of books I buy so that I’m reading more books that I already own.

A few days ago I was scrolling through book Twitter and saw a post by the author, Cole Nagamatsu, where they stated they were harassed for the Ace rep in this book because they weren’t publically out as Ace. This bully forced them to come out before they were ready. I can’t imagine how hurt they were having someone accuse them of adding Ace rep as a money grab when it’s still something, of themselves, they’re still coming to terms with. After seeing that tweet I decided to bump this book up in my TBR pile…and I’m so glad that I did.

This book bounces between a few different narratives, as well as some dream journal entries, which gives it a very “peek into the life” of all the characters involved. We get to see how Link’s death has affected each character including Jonas Lake who only just got to town. This book is full of honesty, self-doubt, concern, love, and understanding. We get to see all these different people for who they are as well as who they feel they are. I honestly love stories that are like this, ones where it feels like we’re just peeking into a life.

I found the way in which one of the characters opens up about being Ace, and what that means for them, to be so beautiful. It can be so scary to open up about something so deeply personal and I found the way Cole wrote it to be so honest and pure. Sexuality is a spectrum that varies from person to person.

Until I read my first Ace character and saw more videos on Tiktok about being Ace, I didn’t realize there was a difference between aesthetic/physical/emotional/sexual attraction. Growing up I’ve always found a lot of people aesthetically attractive like walking pieces of art but that’s literally all I saw them as…walking art not people I wanted emotional/physical/sexual intimacy with. I’ve always loved hugging, cuddling, and just touching but for me, it isn’t sexual it just brings me emotional comfort but I’ve avoided it a lot due to fear that others would misinterpret it as sexual. The more introspection I’ve done, over the last year, I’ve realized so much about myself and where I fit within the spectrum. I’m so happy to see more Ace rep out there in the media because for some of us it takes seeing it to start to really understand ourselves.

I just now, about ten minutes ago, finished reading this story and the ending almost had me in tears. Not tears of sadness more like tears of hope in regards to the future, which is unknown. Although this is a YA book, I feel like many people, of all ages, could relate to some of the character’s feelings, either by reminiscing of their own adolescence or even seeing things in themselves they never noticed before.

This book, although very different in content, reminds me of how I felt after finishing “The Hunger” by Alma Katsu. Neither are fast-paced books, but both had me feeling like I was just peeking into a certain point in time and had me wishing I could see and know more. Realistically it wouldn’t make sense to have a sequel, for either book, so I’ll just daydream and imagine what the future holds.

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Published by Noelle Loves Books

Growing up, Japanese and Indigenous, it was hard to find books that showcased stories and worlds that accurately portrayed Noelle’s experiences. Fantasy quickly became her main love, as you could really be anyone, anywhere. As the years went on, and technology grew, Noelle was finally able to see more stories and authors that looked and felt like her. Noelle is open to all genre’s though she can mostly be found reading own voice, fantasy, and romance. Ratings: 5 Stars: Completely blew me away 4 Stars: Loved the story but didn't feel completely blown away by it 3 Stars: Liked the overall concept of the story but either had poor execution, had a lot of plot holes, or was written poorly 2 Stars: I struggled to understand the plot, poorly written, or just had really unlikeable characters along with a poor writing 1 Star: Horribly written, major plot holes, or extremely unlikeable characters and plots.

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