ARC Review: Me and Milo the Great by Michelle Schlicher

Title: Me and Milo the Great

Author: Michelle Schlicher

Publisher: Self published

Source: A copy of this book was provided to me by the author in exchange for an honest review.

Check it out on Goodreads.

Buy it at: Chapters

My name is Holiday Sanchez. I carry a heavy burden.

But I’m not the only one.

There are others who know what it feels like to remember. Maybe they are the answer. Maybe we can help each other. Maybe I’ll finally get past it.

Maybe it just takes time—and a little bit of magic. (Source: Goodreads)

Holiday’s father did a terrible thing a long time ago and Holiday has never been the same. What she wants now is to figure out how to fix herself, so she’s looking for the other people who her father hurt to see that they’re okay so she can know to be okay too. She does this all while falling in love with Milo, a comedic magician.

This is my third time reviewing a book by Michelle Schlicher. I always feel really happy when I see she has a new book coming out (and this one came right on my birthday!), so I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to read this one. It’s unfortunate that I didn’t really enjoy it though. My biggest issues were that: I couldn’t connect with Holiday, I didn’t really buy into the love story, and I found some of the story choices kind of bothered me.

We’ll get to all of that but first I want to talk about Schlicher’s writing. Having read her three most recent books I am able to really see a huge improvement in her writing. Not only has her writing improved it’s gotten more complex as well. In this book there is a narrative that alternates between past and present weaving together the threads of Holiday’s life. I think this was a bold move and a really good attempt at something a little less straight forward. I don’t think it really had a huge pay off in the book because it wasn’t used to really further the narrative and instead tied in a few subplots that didn’t really go anywhere. A better use of this would have been to withhold the fact Holiday’s father was the person who planted the bomb on the train, or establish Milo’s connection to her from an earlier point. While it didn’t really work out I do think it shows a huge amount of growth for Schlicher as a writer.

I also think that her descriptions have grown a lot. This wasn’t the case throughout the entire book, which could have used some more time to really elevate all of it to the same level as some other passages in the book. But when we do see it, it’s really striking. There are scenes where Holiday thinks about intimacy in particular and about her love for Milo that really struck a chord with me as I felt they were some of the best writing not only in this book but in any of Schlicher’s books so far. I can see how much she has grown which is why it’s such a shame that this book didn’t do it for me.

So let’s talk about Holiday. She is a victim in many ways to her father’s terrorist attack and his emotional violence against both her and her mother. All of this is the main cause for her extreme anxiety, social phobias, and other personality/behavioural differences. I can get behind all of that to a certain extent, it’s just that how Holiday is portrayed didn’t resonate with me at all. I have a great deal of anxiety, I deal with my fair share of anxiety attacks, and frequently need persuading to leave the house so I feel like I should be able to connect with Holiday on some level, but I just couldn’t. Some of that had to do with how much she dwells on this past tragedy, without ever really doing anything about it – like finding Stan, speaking to Stan, or even seeking treatment for her trauma. Even by the conclusion of the book she’s really just relying on Milo to fix her life for her which kind of disappointed me.

I also just found the one method of dealing with her trauma kind of….off putting. She’s essentially stalking the other next of kin from the train explosion so she can see how they’re doing. Learning about this was an immediate no-no for me. It was like hitting the brakes as I tried to read the book. I think Schlicher wants us to sympathize with Holiday and see this as the correct course of action but I just felt horrified by Holiday’s actions – as do some of the people she’s stalking. This sort of ties into the story things that felt wrong to me, because we’re supposed to think that it’s dandy that Holiday is stalking people but it’s…not? It’s creepy. Obviously she course corrects a little bit towards the end but honestly even her continued use of a PI was kind of weird for me.

Our other sort of main character is Milo the magician. He is Holiday’s love interest who we meet very early on – he’s also the namesake of the book. I think naming the book after him is an unfortunate mistake. Milo is not developed nearly enough to justify this, and more specifically the romance isn’t developed. “But wait!” you must be thinking, “You said the writing about Holiday’s love/intimacy for Milo was well done!” Indeed I did, the issue is that it is writing that describes an established long term romance which is not what is going on in this book. We don’t see a bond being formed we just see 2 people meet and now….they’re in love! Schlicher doesn’t develop or build that bond in front of us. We see strangers being very much in love but it’s not believable – and it’s not significant enough to the plot to title the book about it. This book probably needed to be a lot longer to justify the beautiful writing about Milo that we get from Holiday’s perspective – and if we’re going for love at first sight we need more of a smacked in the face with love feeling at their initially meeting.

Why do I feel like Milo isn’t the right person to name the book for? Well, yes, Milo forces a sort of agency onto Holiday in the last chapters of the book, but is he central to the plot? Is he the thing that haunts us around every turning page? No. Stan is. And yet, we never see Stan in the entire book, he’s a loose thread in a narrative built around his actions. His absence is significant in creating the Holiday we know, but his presence feels needed to turn Holiday into the person she wants to be. A confrontation, or even a sighting of Stan, would have been much more significant to me that the sort of lame, kind of predictable plot twist that Milo provides in the final pages of the book. The twist (spoilers: he’s another next of kin) doesn’t have the impact it should because it doesn’t really mean anything, he’s just another person Holiday would eventually have stalked. That was the second time in the book where I could see Schlicher’s mind moving in the right direction – creating this big twist, building it into the alternating plot lines, but she missed the mark again for me. Milo’s revelation doesn’t really mean much in the long run – tying Stan back into this plot that so focuses on him would have for me.

All of this kind of ties together the plot pieces that just don’t work together. There are certainly good elements. There’s a lot of deception and secrets at play throughout the book that are fairly strong but not used very well – as in the case of Milo’s revelation. There’s 2 alternating plot lines that don’t tie up into anything meaningful nor do they reveal anything interesting to us. All of this feels like the right pieces in the wrong order, pieces that could have used many more pages and much more time developing. I think Schlicher’s got something here, I think her passion is shining through, and the work she’s putting into her craft is clear which is why I’m disappointed. Come This Way was such an improvement over Gracie’s Song and in all honesty Me and Milo the Great is an improvement over Come This Way it’s just that it needed more space and time to develop.

Do I recommend you pick up Me and Milo the Great? Yeah actually I do. Schlicher is such a wonderful writer, she clearly loves what she does and I think that in itself is rewarding when you read one of her books. I didn’t love the book but I did come away feeling good. So, yes, check this out – check out Come This Way too – and support Schlicher’s work.

Ramble on,

Have you read Me and Milo the GreatLet me know your thoughts in the comments!
Check out Michelle Schlicher at her GoodreadsTwitter, and website.
Connect with me on Goodreads, BlogLovin, and Twitter.

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