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REVIEW: Things I Know About Love by Kate le Vann

Things I Know About LoveDear Ms. le Vann,

If not for the cover, I do not think I would have tried this book.   The premise sounded cute at best, but nothing that I would fight to read, and the short length was a turn-off for me as a reader.   But, because the cover instantly reminded me of the best of chick-lit and all of the things I love about it – well, I just couldn’t resist.   What followed was a book that   truly expressed what it means to be in love for the first time.

Livia Stowe has just gone into remission after having a bout with leukemia.   She’s been healthy for almost a year, and after spending so much time in the hospital, she’s ready to be her energetic self again.   When her brother, who is attending Princeton, wants her to come visit for a few weeks, she pushes thoughts of school and being able to go off to her higher education away in order to visit him.   After being gone for so long, she misses him.

Convincing her mother was hard to allow the trip was hard.   On her flight down to America, Livia decides to start a journal/blog of sorts.   She wants to find love.   She wants to know what love really is.   Up to this point, she’s only dated two guys – one being a meaningless snog at a party, and another who was a jerk underneath his humor.   Love isn’t something that’s come easy to Livia, but she wants to find it someday – and something tells her that going on holiday may just be the key.

When Livia’s brother shows her around Princeton, she ends up meeting, for the second time, an old friend of his also going to university in America – Adam.   She doesn’t recognize him at first, but after she does, she’s lost.   Smitten.   A guy that she really wants to reach for, and he’s actually a Brit.   Livia learns about first love in more, and chronicles it all in the hopes of remembering every second of it.

Over the past few months, I’ve gone farther and farther away from realistic fiction like Thirteen Reasons Why and other slightly depressing reads.   When I realized this fun romp would involve a leukemia patient, I was skeptical.   After my many encounters with authors like Lurlene McDaniel, sick protagonists have not been the most appealing to me.   Livia’s first blog entry was captivating and funny.   I couldn’t help but read on and discover that we are treated to a protagonist that just wants to live.   It was a breath of fresh air to see a character so energetic and vibrant after suffering through such ordeals.     I also loved that she is a red-haired protagonist that isn’t a size zero or some other impossible number.   Her weight is described as normal – fluctuating during her illness – but it’s not a major issue or care for her, which is wonderful.   Each and every post reflects a fun wit that is in the vein of the Georgia Nicholson books such as Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontal Snogging – definitely British, but not overbearing.

Her entry about her first ‘boyfriend’ Darren shows her humor.

My heart still wouldn’t give it a rest; it kept pumping blood into my cheeks.   Whenever I put my hand on them, my hand was cold and clammy and my face was hot, which meant red. You’ll know this if you’re ginger – when your face is red, red isn’t the word.   Your skin is nuclear powered.

The following path to romance with love interest Adam was so adorable.   YA has a tendency to over-complicate romance or to not show the full range of how two characters get from non-romantic to romantic, but you expertly showed us the slowly building relationship.   Adam is a great hero in that he’s simple, and not a jerk like so many other YA males.   Their relationship was overall pretty smooth, and it felt very good to watch it unfold.   From a trip to New York City to a simple night talking, the love between these two characters was honest and realistic.   Livia’s slight monologue about her question on whether or not to have sex was also interesting – it was good to see a character that, while doubting she would go that far, was willing to admit that it was a possibility, and that Adam would be a good choice for a first time.   Every moment between them was real, and that really helped make the romance my favorite part of the book.

The initial set-up – a private blog used as a virtual diary – was really clever, and felt a lot like a blog did.   The one problem the book didn’t really have a major conflict behind it aside from Livia’s quest for love – which really wasn’t anything too stressful.   However, the short style of the book actually made this redeeming in a way, because it allowed me to view the love story without feeling bored with it.   Livia’s blogs are occasionally interrupted by ones done by Adam, who takes her advice in starting a journal, even thought it’s ‘for girls’. I would also have liked to see more of Adam’s entries, though his character and the shortness of the book wouldn’t have made them necessary.   Their sweetness made me want them to appear more.

This example just made me smile.   I love that you manage to make his love for her seem so cute.

Blogplace:   Inside Adam

July 31

THANK GOD for the train ride home.   At that point, I was seriously worried.   For most of the day, I’d been doing very well.   I mean, really, you should have seen me.   I made a couple of okay jokes, she seemed to like the flea market, I took her to look at shoes…but at some point in the day I might have actually bored her to death.   But then she was opening up her game on the train, and getting excited about it in that ridiculously cute way of hers, and it happened.

I am besotted with Livia Stowe.

The ending was what really propelled the book forward for me.   I am not going to say what happens for fear of spoilers, but it was so touching it made me cry.   I have not cried from a love story in a long time, but it was so emotional I had to.   As I read the last sentence, I can remember clutching the book and wishing that I could stay with the characters just a bit longer.   In those short 153 pages, I was besotted with them all.

Thank you for giving me a romantic book for teens that does so much right.   I’ll be rereading this someday, and I’ll remember everything there is to know about love.   A-

All the best,


Book Link | Amazon | BN | Borders
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Ever since a good friend brought him a copy of Johanna Lindsey's Gentle Rogue, he has been hooked on the romance genre. Though he primarily reads in young-adult, he loves to spend time with paranormal, historical, and contemporary adult titles in-between books. Now, he finds himself juggling book reviews, school band, writing, and finding time to add to his TBR pile.


  1. Sandy James
    Jul 01, 2010 @ 16:13:12

    I don’t usually pick up YA, but might have to give this one a shot based on your review, John. Nice write-up! :)

  2. Jenny Schwartz
    Jul 01, 2010 @ 17:37:27

    I’ve been looking for a while for a book that used new media (like blogs, twitter, email) as part of how the story was told. I remember “Anne of Windy Willows” LM Montgomery (I think that was the book, the one where Anne is head teacher and boards out) where the story is told in letters to Gilbert. It was charming. I just wondered if new media lent a book the same immediate charm. From this review, it sounds like it does!

  3. Mary Anne
    Jul 01, 2010 @ 19:26:46

    I absolutely agree that a great cover can convince you to pick up something you’d never normally read.

    I love a “fun romp” so I might have to give this one a try – based on your review and – of course – the killer cover.

  4. John
    Jul 01, 2010 @ 21:48:54

    @Jenny Schwartz: Actually, it’s Anne of Windy Poplars. I need to read that and the rest of the Anne of…books. The first book was a great memory from my childhood, and I’ve read about one a year starting two years ago, when I was able to get the sequel. If you’re looking for more books using media, I just finished a book I’m going to review called Tweet Heart – that uses Twitter. The TTYL, TTFN, and L8R,G8R books by Lauren Myracle are excellent, and use IM to tell the story. Hope that helps some!

    Glad I convinced some of you to pick it up! I actually reread the last bit of it soon after finishing because it was so sad. ^^;;

  5. Eve Paludan
    Jul 01, 2010 @ 22:12:03

    I must have this book! Thanks for the review. Can’t wait.

  6. Rowena
    Jul 01, 2010 @ 22:29:00

    John! This was a fantastic review and I’m going to buy this book soon and read it. I can’t wait to read about the romance between Adam and Livia.

  7. Jikie
    Jul 02, 2010 @ 13:58:54

    On Anne of Windy Willows/Poplars: It was originally named Anne of Windy Willows, but the US publisher asked for a title change plus a few cuts, and it was published that way as Windy Poplars in the US and Canada. Elsewhere it was published as Windy Willows without the cuts, so technically both titles are correct.

  8. Jenny Schwartz
    Jul 02, 2010 @ 17:24:27

    @Jikie–thanks for the explanation. I’m Aussie so “Willows” it was.

    @John–Thank you! for the recs :) I’ll look out for your review of Tweet Heart.

  9. Justbooksclc
    Jul 06, 2010 @ 10:33:59

    Love experience of love has been disappointing, but suddenly, all seems to change. she's off to America to stay with her brother, after a year of serious illness, She's making up for lost time, and writing about her experiences in her private blog.

  10. Colorful
    Oct 27, 2010 @ 15:05:04

    I read this book! and it is really good i love the whole story about it even though well nevermind… But you guys should seriously read it.

  11. Oli
    Jan 16, 2011 @ 10:15:39

    I read this book and loved it! The ending made me cry as well, I wasn’t expecting it and the way it is written is so touching… I read the whole book again after reading it, just because I loved it so much. I would recommend any book written by Kate le Vann- she’s a wonderful writer.

  12. Hale
    Jul 24, 2011 @ 23:31:16

    I loved the book all the way to the end. I was a little disapointed with the end. I knew she was ____ . but didnt think she would___! i cried but i just didnt like how that happened and how it was said. Because of the length i felt like she just kinda cut the thing….

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