“Alone, Empty, Fraud, Shame, Fear”
Punk 57 is such a unique romance between two people who have only ever known each other as pen pals. Both of our main protagonists, Misha and Ryen, have gender neutral names, which caused them to be paired together, from different schools, seven years ago. Now they are both eighteen, and have both agreed never to add or look up each other on any form of social media or no exchanging numbers, but they continue to write letters and have no plans of quitting.
Until one night, when Misha, at a party, accidently finds out what Ryen looks likes and approaches her, even though she has no idea who he really is. Misha soon realizes that Ryen is much different from her letters, yet he still finds himself completely mesmerized by the girl he has fallen in love with through letters over the past seven years. That is until Misha leaves the party and his life changes forever.
We are then flash forwarded three months and Ryen hasn’t received anything in the mail from Misha. She is desperate to find out what happened and to make sure he is okay, but she finds herself having problems in her senior year of high school. Her friends all secretly hate her, she doesn’t know how to tell the most popular boy in school no, and now she has to deal with a new student that is making her life nothing short of hell. Ryen needs Misha more than ever, but she is desperate to find any outlet she can find.
Like, I’m getting old, guys. Reading romances set in high school isn’t my favorite now days. I’m old, I’m bitter, I’ve been graduated from college for a while now, and I just can’t find myself completely immersed and loving high school romance anymore. This being said, If I read this when I was 18, I would have been obsessed and hailed it as my favorite book of the year. Hell, being in my late 20’s I will easily and confidently say this is a great book, with some important messages, but the high school setting plus a few other things just made it fall a little short for me.
Also, this book can be a little hard to read. Like, I always review romance and erotica differently than I review other literature, but that’s not to say I won’t talk about the uncomfortable topics. First off, Ryen has a very hard time telling the most popular boy in school the word “no”. Even though there is no sex involved, some grey areas of consent are for sure present and abundant. Also, trigger warnings for homophobia, bullying, drug abuse, and depression.
Next, even though there are important topics like surrounding yourself with people and friends who love and accept you for who you are; it’s a rough journey for Ryen to get there. The result is some girl hate in this book, and maybe even some slut shaming. Also, even though the author never makes this behavior seem acceptable, there is a lot of homophobic slurs in this book, towards one side character in particular. Again, I’m just noting this because it did make the story less enjoyable for me.
Lastly, Misha and Ryen have a very big hate to love relationship. Or, I guess love to hate to love relationship. Like, Misha is downright a bully to Ryen in this book. I think this is important to know going in, because I know that trope isn’t for everyone, even though I personally really do enjoy it.
Besides those things Penelope Douglas has truly crafted a romantic tale unlike anything I’ve read before. I’m such a sucker for books about letters and writing, I love musicians, and some of the sex in this book is the best I’ve ever read. Plus, I actually think she wrote her hate to love storyline better than anyone else I’ve ever read. She did it cruel, yet emphatically. Hard to read, yet unable to look away. Heartbreaking, yet absolutely beautiful.
Punk 57 is truly a story about finding your tribe or just where you truly belong. High school is hard, and when you’re at that age it feels like it will never get better, but I promise you it will. I’ll be the first one to say I’m nothing like the girl I was in high school, but that doesn’t make living through those years any easier. It’s important to know you are worthy of love, no matter what, and that there are genuine kind souls out there that will show you that unconditional love. To me, that’s what the heart of this book was about, and for that alone I would completely recommend it.
“It gets better, you are important, and you can’t be replaced. Hang on.”
The writing was great, the romance was perfection, the story was completely unique, and the messages were super important. I really enjoyed this, and I can’t wait to read more by Penelope Douglas.