By: Penelope Douglas
Published: October 21st 2016
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary
Source: Borrowed from Holly
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Goodreads description--“We were perfect together. Until we met.”
I can’t help but smile at the words in her letter. She misses me.
In fifth grade, my teacher set us up with pen pals from a different school. Thinking I was a girl, with a name like Misha, the other teacher paired me up with her student, Ryen. My teacher, believing Ryen was a boy like me, agreed.
It didn’t take long for us to figure out the mistake. And in no time at all, we were arguing about everything. The best take-out pizza. Android vs. iPhone. Whether or not Eminem is the greatest rapper ever…
And that was the start. For the next seven years, it was us.
Her letters are always on black paper with silver writing. Sometimes there’s one a week or three in a day, but I need them. She’s the only one who keeps me on track, talks me down, and accepts everything I am.
We only had three rules. No social media, no phone numbers, no pictures. We had a good thing going. Why ruin it?
Until I run across a photo of a girl online. Name’s Ryen, loves Gallo’s pizza, and worships her iPhone. What are the chances?
[...]I need to meet her.
I just don’t expect to hate what I find.
He hasn’t written in three months. Something’s wrong. Did he die? Get arrested? Knowing Misha, neither would be a stretch.
Without him around, I’m going crazy. I need to know someone is listening. It’s my own fault. I should’ve gotten his number or picture or something.
He could be gone forever.
Or right under my nose, and I wouldn’t even know it.
I don't really know what I want to say about Punk 57. Holly recommended it to me, so I added it to my TBR list without even reading the description. And when I started to feel a potential reading slump coming on, I picked it up in the hopes that it being a recommendation would be exactly what I needed to keep me reading. And so I jumped in blind. And what I found was that I was really intrigued.
Misha and Ryen have been pen pals for seven years. The description tells you how they got matched up, and that they only had three rules (no pictures, no social media, and no phone numbers). But Misha stumbles upon a Ryen at a fundraiser his band is doing and considering the unique spelling of her name he dives a little deeper and realizes that she is his pen-pal. Yet he chooses not to reveal himself right then. Something happens that night, and Misha's life will never be the same. As a result, he finds himself unable to write. Unable to write to Ryen and unable to write lyrics, two things that have always been a constant for him. Ryen has no idea why he stopped responding, and she finds herself needing a new outlet. A new way to say the words that no one else wants to hear.
I don't want to spoil anything for someone who hasn't read Punk 57 but that would be essentially all I could say about this book if I didn't risk some potential spoilers, so proceed with caution. Misha and Ryen have only lived one town apart the entire time they've been writing each other. And after that fateful night, Misha decides that he has some business to attend to in Ryen's town--her school even. But when he actually gets to spend more than two minutes with her, he doesn't exactly like what he sees. It appears that Ryen's been lying to him for seven years about who she is. And that makes him angry.
Normally, I find myself easily connecting to the leading male in a story but sometimes struggling with the female, but I have to say that I struggled with both of them. I understand that Misha's been through a lot and he could easily blame Ryen for things that aren't exactly her fault. I understand him feeling like she's lied to him for years. But I don't understand how he was so mean to her. Calling her out is one thing, but he didn't really stop there. He was downright awful to her at times. Now Ryen isn't without blame here. She's downright awful at times in general and not just to Misha. But why she would feel herself attracted to someone who was so mean to her is something that I don't understand. Had he gone about revealing her flaws in a different way, I could see her finding that and him attractive, but under the circumstances I was having a hard time here.
In the same way, beyond finding Misha attractive despite the way he treats her, the physical scenes were a bit much for me. I fall on the lower tolerance for this in my reading preferences anyway. But I don't think this would have bothered me as much had it not been for the emotional relationship between the two. False pretenses being used. And the harsh treatment left me feeling ugly and dirty concerning these two and their relationship. Definitely not hot and bothered (which I think was the intention). And way, way, way outside of the realm of warm and fuzzy. It just didn't sit right with me at all. Holly's review warned of the content so it wasn't that I didn't know it would be there, but I didn't expect to feel so grossed out by it.
There were a lot of lessons that the characters learned--specifically Ryen. And I did like the overall message of loving yourself, being kind to others, and how high school does not define your worth. Despite people being a member of the popular crowd or the outcasts, I think you will find that rarely does anyone feel confident in who they are and whether or not they're accepted by others at this age. So even though the message was good, I did sometimes struggle with Ryen--wanting her to be stronger. I wanted her to be one of the awesome heroines that I love to read about. She wasn't, but she wasn't meant to be at the same time.
Punk 57 had a great premise. I loved the idea of the pen-pals that have never met and when they do they're not everything they portrayed themselves to be and the fallout that results. But execution let me down here when the physical scenes were included. It wasn't so much that they were present, but rather the circumstances that surrounded them that left a bad taste in my mouth and turned me completely off. Where I feel Punk 57 had the potential to be a 4+ Star read for me, it ended up only being a 3.5. Have you read Punk 57? What did you think Let me know!