Marc reviews the audio version of ‘Social Skills’ by Sara Alva, published by the author on September 29th, 2014. The audiobook lasts 10 hrs and 14 mins and is narrated by Andrew Eiden. This book was released as eBook on January 21st, 2013 and has 357 Pages.
Why I read this book: I wanted to read either ‘Social Skills’ or ‘Silent’ by Sara Alva for a long time, so when she offered Rainbow Gold Reviews a review copy of her audio version of ‘Social Skills’ I just HAD to take it. 🙂
Click on the covers to buy either the audio or eBook version of this book.
Music is the only form of communication Connor Owens controls. No matter how badly he wishes to fit in, friendly banter and casual conversations have never been his thing. College is yet another social universe he has no clue how to navigate—until he meets Jared, a football player with chestnut eyes and a cocky grin that holds the power to shatter his self-imposed prison.
Jared’s attention opens Connor up to a new realm of emotional and physical intimacy. But as Connor’s self-confidence grows, so does his fear that everything will fall apart. Because in this socially stratified world, how long can a relationship between an introverted violinist and a closeted football player really last?
The cover is very beautiful. It shows Connor right in the passion of creating music, with notes in the background. There is a certain intimate sensuality about the moment and it caught my attention the very first time I saw it 😉
Social Skills as a title directly made me think that one of the major themes of the book was the main protagonist trying to overcome his difficulties in that area. It is easy to remember and accurately paints a picture of what one can expect from the novel.
I thought the audiobook was very well done and the inclusion of classical music at certain points really got me in the right mood for the story. The narration is clear, differentiates the characters well and the narrator’s voice is pleasant to listen to.
I must admit, while I thought the book was very well-written, at first I thought it would be just the same old thing I read before so often. A social outcast falls in love with the popular kid. It works wonderfully in their own private bubble, but the socially accepted kid is so afraid to be found out that he treats his lover badly in front of his friends. While the social outcast at first would have sacrificed everything just for one kiss, he finds his self-worth and demands more for himself, which leads to a fall-out. Eventually, the popular kid makes a big romantic gesture and everything is well again.
Well, parts of this story follow those tried and true classic trope, but there is more behind the surface.
Connor isn’t just an outcast, he has real social anxiety. It seems even his family does not truly understand him or the amount of pressure he puts upon himself to overcome his challenges and try to be normal.
Music is his way to escape. It is something he is truly good at, something he can control.
As he gets into college, he tries very hard to fit in and find friends, but it is very hard for him. Music is one of the things that connects him to a new group of friends, but it is when he meets Jared, a cocky and very sympathetic football player that his world really changes.
Jared is not only super-hot, he also treats Connor with respect and desire. Treasures him. He has a way to break through all of Connor’s walls and gives him more selfconfidence and worth.
Connor starts to take his life into his own hands and grows more and more independent. He has his own friends who grow to love and support him and the introverted violinist changes more and more in front of the reader’s eyes. It is a beautiful transformation, but the better everything gets the more Connor is afraid that it will all crumble and fall apart, leaving him hurt and worse-off than before.
Indeed, Jared wants to remain closeted and considering the ‘macho’ sport and how the future he imagines for himself hinges on the sport, it is understandable. As is Connor’s wish to have more, especially as he opens up more and more and does not want to crawl in the shadows anymore and hide his emotions.
Here is where the story and the way it was told really became different for me. Jared and Connor are no stereotypes and their stories has many unexpected twists and turns. Throughout the whole story, I was able to understand their reasons for their decisions, I thought the challenges in front of them never were easy ones and their story really drew me in.
Every main and secondary character is created with loving detail and feels real. The plot is well-constructed, the narration spot-on. The story emotionally intense and never boring. The characters come alive on the pages and are not easily forgotten.
In short: This story is a MUST-READ. 350+ pages that just fly by and draw you so deep into the story that you forget you are listening to an audiobook and not actually there. Connor is one of my favorite literary characters. Period.
GO AND READ (OR LISTEN TO) THIS BOOK! 😉
My Rating: 10/10
Sara Alva is a former small-town girl currently living in big-city LA with a husband, two cats, and an avocado tree. She recently discovered– after a year in her house– that she also has a fig tree in her backyard, which might mean she needs to get out more. But sometimes the stories waiting to be told demand more attention, and when she puts fingers to keyboard, it’s usually to write about journeys of self-discovery, heartache, personal growth, friendship and love. When she isn’t writing, she’s teaching or dancing.