REVIEW: 'Please Don't Hug Me' by Kay Kerr is Possibly My New Favourite Novel
Hello Fellow Readerholics,
Last year, I went to the 2020 YA showcase and I was lucky enough to interview Kay Kerr about her debut novel, Please Don’t Hug Me. The premise sounded interesting and after hearing Kay speak, I knew I had to read it. Almost the second I was able to, I preordered it and I’m glad I did.
Erin is looking forward to schoolies, at least she thinks she is. But her plans are going awry. She’s lost her job at Surf Shack after an incident that clearly was not her fault, and now she’s not on track to have saved enough money. Her licence test went badly, which was also not her fault: she followed the instructor’s directions perfectly. And she’s missing her brother, Rudy, who left almost a year ago. But now that she’s writing letters to him, some things are beginning to make sense.
In my time as a reader, there are many books that I have loved. There are books that have grasped me, pulled me in until I am utterly submerged in them. Books such as these have made an imprint on me, but none so much as this.
Please Don’t Hug Me is narrated by Erin, a seventeen year old autistic teenager who writes letters to her brother, Rudy, who has been gone for almost a year. Each chapter, Erin tells a new story from a new letter addressed to her brother. Every letter is honest and raw and I loved seeing the thought processes of Erin as she navigated her final year of high school.
For me, Erin is a character I’ll never forget. Erin is incredibly intelligent and perceptive. She’s also a character I couldn’t help but love. Her narration was often funny (albeit unintentionally) and poignant in a way that made me view the world I hadn’t before. Despite our differences, I see a lot of myself in Erin and I imagine that that would be true for a lot of people. Not only is she fabulous neurodivergent representation but she is generally, just very good teenage representation. Kay Kerr clearly knows how to capture a young audience. If I could meet Erin, I’d like to give her a hug and that’s saying a fair bit coming from me. However, I don’t think she’d like it all that much. Hence, the title.
The people in Erin’s life are a magnificent burst of colour and character at every page. Those surrounding Erin are not only exceptionally interesting but they’re so real, I could see them in my friends and family. There were characters such as Erin’s friend Dee, who was bright, lovely and overall, a magnificent friend. I desperately want somebody like her in my life! However, there were also characters like Erin’s boyfriend, Mitch, who I despised with a passion. He was horrible but he was also someone who I can imagine to be incredibly authentic.
Surprisingly, the biggest strength of this novel was not the characters. It was the writing and the plot. The writing style, as told by Erin, was so passionate. She was often angry at Rudy for leaving her family, or celebrating and wanting him with her. Erin’s anguish and triumphs shone through her letters to her brother and they were a joy to read! The plot maybe isn’t so interesting at face value, why read a book that you could basically just experience? For me, that wasn’t the case. The unique worldview of Erin painted a different view of what I consider to be the most mundane of experiences. I clearly adored it.
Overall, this book might have changed how I see the world, I don’t know, I might have to wait awhile to experience the true impact it had. I don’t know what book I’m taking off of my favourites tab but something has to go. I highly recommend this to everyone. I’m rating this a 5/5.
Your Favourite Bookworm