The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried
Shaun David Hutchinson
Genre: Contemporary, YA
Publication date: February 19th, 2019
by Simon Pulse
A good friend will bury your body, a best friend will dig you back up.
Dino doesn’t mind spending time with the dead. His parents own a funeral home, and death is literally the family business. He’s just not used to them talking back. Until Dino’s ex-best friend July dies suddenly—and then comes back to life. Except not exactly. Somehow July is not quite alive, and not quite dead.
As Dino and July attempt to figure out what’s happening, they must also confront why and how their friendship ended so badly, and what they have left to understand about themselves, each other, and all those grand mysteries of life.
-A copy was provided by Simon Pulse for review-
So I was going to open this review on a whole tangent about how long I’ve been reading Shaun David Hutchinson but when I went onto Goodreads, I realized I haven’t even READ ALL OF HIS BOOKS because I am a terrible person. But, in some ways, opening an SDH book is so familiar and comfortable even though, including The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried, I’ve read all of three books by Shaun David Hutchinson.
The Past and Other Things That Should Say Buried is more reminiscent of some of Hutchinson’s earlier stuff in that it is more lighthearted but that’s not saying much when even at his most light hearted, Hutchinson never fails to punch you in the feels. The best way to really describe this book is that even though it is so funny (I laughed out loud A LOT), it is also deeply sad. July may have been temporarily brought back to life by some magical forces, but throughout the novel, we as readers are all deeply aware of how temporary this is.
Hutchinson’s work stands out because of how bizarre his books can be. Characters who have powers to perform miracles, alien abductions, universes that shrink, DEAD PEOPLE WHO COME BACK TO LIFE, ALL WEIRD, fascinating stuff. Hutchinson clearly isn’t afraid to venture out into the weird and bizarre but the reason why his books always hit the mark for me is because he is SO GOOD at writing characters. His teens always feel so authentic to me and July & Dino are no different.
July and Dino used to be the best of friends but when Dino started dating Rafi they slowly drifted apart. A lot of things were left unsaid and they slowly became resentful of one another. It’s been approximately a year since they ‘broke up’ when July has an aneurysm and dies. When July suddenly comes back to life, it is like a second chance for their friendship. Of course, they cannot stop bickering and playing the blame game. BUT, EVENTUALLY, they begin to communicate and fix their friendship.
One of the my favorite things about this book is how much we are aware of the fact that July is basically a zombie. There are detailed descriptions about how her body is decaying even though her mind is reanimated. IT IS GROSS but it grounded the book and made it feel all the more real.
While this book really focuses on their friendship, I love that we also get to see both July and Dino grow as people (EVEN IF JULY IS DEAD) as they relearn each other and face what went wrong with their friendship.
The Past and Other Things That Should Stay Buried is full of wit and snark, and also just laugh out loud moments. It is also incredibly thoughtful and respectful. You should definitely pick this book up if you love complex characters, weird scenarios and some good, old snark.