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We Are Inevitable

We Are Inevitable

by Gayle Forman

Narrated by Sunil Malhotra

Unabridged — 7 hours, 54 minutes

Gayle Forman
We Are Inevitable

We Are Inevitable

by Gayle Forman

Narrated by Sunil Malhotra

Unabridged — 7 hours, 54 minutes

Gayle Forman

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"No one writes about love like Gayle Forman. Lose yourself in her passionate mash note to rock music, indie bookstores and best of all, the miracles that can happen when you take chances on other people." - E. LOCKHART, #1 New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars and Again Again

A poignant and uplifting novel about the power of community, from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of If I Stay.

Aaron Stein used to think books were miracles. But not anymore. Even though he spends his days working in his family's secondhand bookstore, the only book Aaron can bear to read is one about the demise of the dinosaurs. It's a predicament he understands all too well, now that his brother and mom are gone and his friends have deserted him, leaving Aaron and his shambolic father alone in a moldering bookstore in a crusty mountain town where no one seems to read anymore.

So when Aaron sees the opportunity to sell the store, he jumps at it, thinking this is the only way out. But he doesn't account for Chad, a "best life" bro with a wheelchair and way too much optimism, or the town's out-of-work lumberjacks taking on the failing shop as their pet project. And he certainly doesn't anticipate meeting Hannah, a beautiful, brave musician who might possibly be the kind of inevitable he's been waiting for.

All of them will help Aaron to come to terms with what he's lost, what he's found, who he is, and who he wants to be, and show him that destruction doesn't inevitably lead to extinction; sometimes it leads to the creation of something entirely new.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

★ 05/03/2021

Embittered in the wake of his older brother’s overdose and death as well as his mother’s abandonment, 19-year-old Aaron Stein, who is white and Jewish, feels like one of the doomed dinosaurs he obsessively reads about. He’s been forced to run his family’s failing Bellingham, Wash., bookstore since his parents filed for bankruptcy and transferred ownership, a business that seems slated for extinction. Concerned about his dad’s intensifying mental confusion and agitation, and angry at his late brother for the financial fallout surrounding his drug reliance, Aaron makes a secret property deal. But the meddling of 21-year-old “Best-Life Bro” Chad Santos, a former classmate who uses a wheelchair, challenges Aaron’s pessimism. Forman (If I Stay) movingly communicates Aaron’s grief through his hostility and flawed understanding of addiction; his burgeoning relationship with brown-eyed, freckled musician Hannah, who’s newly sober, and his growing self-awareness bring nuance to this discussion and depiction of addiction. Both a moving story of growing through grief and an ode to the miracle of books and independent bookstores, Forman’s newest is a sincere and affecting volume. Ages 14–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel, Goderich & Bourret. (June)

From the Publisher

"No one writes about love like Gayle Forman. Lose yourself in her passionate mash note to rock music, indie bookstores and best of all, the miracles that can happen when you take chances on other people." — E. Lockhart, #1 New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars and Again Again
"The fastest way to a girl’s heart is a novel set in a bookstore. I loved We Are Inevitable and its cast of characters (slightly damaged, a little shopworn, but never bargain-basement.) The only flaw: that Bluebird Books doesn’t exist in real life, and I can’t go there to browse." — Kelly Link, author of Stranger Things Happen, Magic for Beginners, Pretty Monsters, and Get in Trouble and owner of Book Moon bookstore
"We Are Inevitable is one of those magical books that reads almost like a modern day fable. I found myself falling in love with the entire cast of characters, and rooting for Aaron all the way through. At its heart, this is a beautifully rendered reminder of the importance of community at a time when we need it most." — Len Vlahos, Author of Hard Wired and The Scar Boys and owner of Tattered Cover
"A masterfully layered story about friendship, family, and acceptance with brilliant bursts of Seinfeldian humor zinging throughout. I could’ve stayed up in the Cascades with Aaron and friends for a whole ‘nother book!” – David Yoon, New York Times bestselling author of Frankly in Love and Super Fake Love Song

"This story hits hard, right in the book lover feels! We Are Inevitable is full of endearing characters, witty dialogue, and a heart-wrenching, thought-provoking plot that will leave readers inspired and itching to get back to the bookstore. I loved it." — Christine Riccio, New York Times Bestselling author of Again, but Better
We Are Inevitable is a love letter to bookstores, and a bow to the importance of community.  It is an understanding of the complexity of grief and an uplifting embrace that tells us we can, no, we will survive.  Boy, did I NEED this book – my guess is you do too!” — Heather Hebert, Children's Book World
"We Are Inevitable is both hopeful and honest in its portrayal of grief and the struggle to find your way back to yourself. A testament to the healing power of books, friends, and community." — Margot Wood, author of Fresh

*"Both a moving story of growing through grief and an ode to the miracle of books and independent bookstores, Forman’s newest is a sincere and affecting volume." —Publishers Weekly, starred review

"A love letter to bookstores and a deftly drawn portrait of the ripples of addiction." —Kirkus Reviews

School Library Journal


Gr 9 Up—After his brother dies from an overdose, Aaron is alone and adrift. His friends have all graduated, his mom has left town, and the family bookstore is literally falling to pieces around him. It seems inevitable for him to sell the store, but once it's sold, an old friend of his brother's named Chad suddenly convinces Aaron to make it wheelchair accessible, and a local crew of unemployed lumberjacks decides to assist in the renovations. Aaron doesn't have the heart to tell them about the sale before everything spirals out of control. Aaron is a thoroughly unreliable narrator and a reluctant friend. Grief and loss have made him close himself off from the world, but it's impossible for him to hide away from all the people who want to help. When the sale of the bookstore is revealed, he's forced to confront his own secrecy and deception, which helps him begin to understand his brother's addiction. The story is full of love and admiration for small businesses and small bookstores in particular. The themes of addiction and loss will resonate with some readers, and many will find the message of hope through pain and loss meaningful. Many of the main characters attend support groups, which are presented as valid and useful avenues for personal growth and accountability. Chad uses a wheelchair and Jax uses they/them pronouns. Aaron and his family are Jewish and coded as white. Their town is predominantly white with few Black residents. VERDICT This is an additional purchase to hand to fans of heartfelt drama.—Laken Hottle, Providence Community Lib.

Kirkus Reviews

Nineteen-year-old Aaron Stein lives with his father, Ira, and works in their used bookstore.

When a shelf suddenly collapses, it triggers a domino effect: They can’t afford a replacement, and Aaron discovers they’re in dire financial straits and that his father’s been relying on credit cards to cover expenses. Aaron has been struggling since his older brother’s overdose death and his mother’s subsequent departure. His brother’s years of addiction and final hospitalization wiped the family out; transferring the bookstore’s ownership to Aaron was supposed to offer a clean slate. Aaron can’t bring himself to tell his father that he’s sold the shop to a local business owner. Then party bro Chad, an old friend of his brother’s who uses a wheelchair, shows up in their small town in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state and insists on helping build an accessibility ramp for the store. Soon more townspeople appear, eager to help renovate. Aaron tries to renege on the sale, but the buyer demands $13,000, delivered in two weeks. While he’s running out of time, he’s drawn to a charismatic girl, the perfect distraction. As the community brings the store back to life, Aaron flees until he realizes he can’t hide any longer. Aaron’s reckoning with grief is slow-burning and real, and the cycle of addiction is rendered with care and precision. Most characters are assumed White.

A love letter to bookstores and a deftly drawn portrait of the ripples of addiction. (Fiction. 14-18)

Product Details

BN ID: 2940177327266
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Publication date: 03/12/2022
Edition description: Unabridged

Read an Excerpt

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs

They say it took the dinosaurs thirty-­three thousand years to die. Thirty-­three millennia from the moment the asteroid slammed into the Yucatán Peninsula to the day that the last dinosaur keeled over, starving, freezing, poisoned by toxic gases.

Now, from a universal perspective, thirty-­three thousand years is not much. Barely a blink of an eye. But it’s still thirty-­three thousand years. Almost two million Mondays. It’s not nothing.

The thing I keep coming back to is: Did they know? Did some poor T-­rex feel the impact of the asteroid shake the earth, look up, and go,Oh, shit, that’s curtains for me? Did the camarasaurus living thousands of miles from the impact zone notice the sun darkening from all that ash and understand its days were numbered? Did the triceratops wonder why the air suddenly smelled so different without knowing it was the poison gases released by a blast that was equivalent to ten billion atomic bombs (not that atomic bombs had been invented yet)? How far into that thirty-­three-­thousand-­year stretch did they go before they understood that their extinction was not looming—it had already happened?

The book I’m reading, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs by Steve Brusatte, which I discovered mis-­shelved with atlases a few months back, has a lot to say on what life was like for dinosaurs.But it doesn’t really delve into what they were thinking toward the end. There’s only so much, I guess, you can conjecture about creatures that lived sixty million years ago. Their thoughts on their own extinction, like so many other mysteries, they took with them.


Fact: Dinosaurs still exist. Here’s what they look like. A father and son in a failing used bookstore, spending long, aimless days consuming words no one around here buys anymore. The father, Ira, sits reading in his usual spot, a ripped upholstered chair, dented from years of use, in the maps section, next to the picture window that’s not so picturesque anymore with its Harry Potter lightning-­bolt crack running down the side of it. The son—that’s me, Aaron—slumps on a stool by the starving cash register, obsessively reading about dinosaurs. The shelves in the store, once so tidy and neat, spill over, the books like soldiers in a long-­lost war. We have more volumes now than we did when we were a functioning bookstore because whenever Ira sees a book in the garbage or recycling bin, or on the side of the road, he rescues it and brings it home. We are a store full of left-­behinds.

The morning this tale begins, Ira and I are sitting in our usual spots, reading our usual books, when an ungodly moan shudders through the store. It sounds like a foghorn except we are in the Cascade mountains of Washington State, a hundred miles from the ocean or ships or foghorns.

Ira jumps up from his seat, eyes wide and panicky. “What was that?”

“I don’t—” I’m drowned out by an ice-­sharp crack, followed by the pitiful sounds of books avalanching onto the floor. One of our largest shelves has split down the middle, like the chestnut tree inJane Eyre. And anyone who’s read Jane Eyre knows what that portends.

Ira races over, kneeling down, despondent as he hovers over the fallen soldiers, as if he’s the general who led them to their deaths. He’s not. This is not his fault. None of it.

“I got this,” I tell him in the whispery voice I’ve learned to use when he gets agitated. I lead him back to his chair, extract the weighted blanket, and lay it over him. I turn on the kettle we keep downstairs and brew him some chamomile tea.

“But the books . . .” Ira’s voice is heavy with mourning, as if the books were living, breathing things. Which to him they are.

Ira believes books are miracles. “Twenty-­six letters,” he used to tell me as I sat on his lap, looking at picture books about sibling badgers or hungry caterpillars while he read some biography of LBJ or a volume of poetry by Matthea Harvey. “Twenty-­six letters and some punctuation marks and you have infinite words in infinite worlds.” He’d gesture at my book, at his book, at all the books in the shop. “How is that not a miracle?”

“Don’t worry,” I tell Ira now, walking over to clear up the mess on the floor. “The books will be fine.”

The books will not be fine. Even they seem to get that, splayed out, pages open, spines cracked, dust jackets hanging off, their fresh paper smell, their relevance, their dignity, gone. I flip through anold Tuscany travel guide from the floor, pausing on a listing for an Italian pensione that probably got killed by Airbnb. Then Ipick up a cookbook, uncrease the almost pornographic picture of a cheese soufflé recipe no one will look at now that they can log onto Epicurious. The books are orphans, but they are our orphans,and so I stack them gently in a corner with the tenderness they deserve.

Unlike my brother Sandy, who never gave two shits about books but conquered his first early reader before he even started kindergarten, I, who desperately wanted the keys to Ira’s castle, had a hard time learning to read. The words danced across the page and I could never remember the various rules about how anE at the end makes the vowel say its own name. The teachers would have meetings with Ira and Mom about delays and interventions. Mom was worried but Ira was not. “It’ll happen when it happens.” But every day that it didn’t happen, I felt like I was being denied a miracle.

Toward the end of third grade, I picked up a book from the bins at school, not one of the annoying just-­right baby books that got sent home in my backpack, but a hardcover novel with an illustration of a majestic and kindly lion that seemed to be beckoning to me. I opened the first page and read the line: Once there were four children whose names were Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. And with that, my world changed.

Ira had been reading to me since before I was born, but that was not remotely comparable to reading on my own, the way that being a passenger in a car is nothing like being the driver. I’ve been driving ever since, from Narnia to Hogwarts to Middle-­earth, from Nigeria to Tasmania to the northern lights of Norway. All those worlds, in twenty-­six letters. If anything, I’d thought, Ira had undersold the miracle.

But no more. These days, the only book I can stomach is The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs. Other than that, I can’t even look at a book without thinking about all that we’ve lost, and all we are still going to lose. Maybe this is why at night, in the quiet of my bedroom, I fantasize about the store going up in flames. I itch to hear thatfoof of the paper igniting. I imagine the heat of the blaze as our books, our clothes, our memories are incinerated. Sandy’s records melt into a river of vinyl. When the fire is over, the vinyl will solidify, capturing in it bits and pieces of our lives. Fossils that future generations will study, trying to understand the people who lived here once, and how they went extinct.

“What about the shelf?” Ira asks now.

The shelf is ruined. Consider this a metaphor for the store. Our lives. But Ira’s brow is furrowed in worry, as if the broken shelf physically pains him. Which it probably does. And when something pains Ira, it pains me too. Which I why I tell him we’ll get a new shelf.

And so it begins.

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