Cover Image: Greta & Valdin

Greta & Valdin

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Member Reviews

After his ex-boyfriend dumps him and moves from New Zealand to Argentina, Valdin's life seems fine from the outside. He has a nice apartment with his sister, Greta, and a job that he mostly likes. But inside, he struggles with the breakup and what he wants for his next steps. When a business trip takes him to Argentina, Valdin finds himself reconnecting with his ex-boyfriend and the possibility of a future he thought was beyond his grasp. Back at home, Greta is facing her own struggles, not least of all are her own career questions and the ongoing drama that her close-knit family cannot help but cause.

This was a touching and perceptive story. Well written and with strong characters, it is an engaging exploration of family, identity, and love.

Highly recommended!

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This book was so much more than what I expected from the cover. I really fell in love with this family who have so much figured out, yet nothing figured out! The language of the book was very accessible and I felt like I could get lost in the prose easily and forget that I don't actually know these characters. This is the kind of book that leaves an impression on you after you finish reading because although there is some resolutions, there are also a lot of life left living off the page.
As someone who spent time living in New Zealand, I was very nostalgic from the descriptions of place. But I do think anyone will like this book, even if you have very little context of Kiwi life.

Thank you NetGalley and Avid Reader Press for the ARC.

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This was certainly the *hot new book* for this past winter, and I totally get it. The writing is dripping with a witty, dry humor, the pop culture references are on point, and it has a really sweet ending. I loved Greta & Valdin's weird family and huge cast of supporting characters. My complaint is that I felt like I didn't connect with the characters enough. There was a cold remove to them and I felt like because of the switching POVs of the two siblings with each chapter, there was not enough of a distinct voice to keep me on track between them.

There is not much of a plot, I would say the book is more of a series of vignettes following G and V, as they are most often called. They are siblings with an eccentric family, and they are both dealing with love relationships and career changes. It was interesting to find out that about 25% of the way through, Valdin was actually a famous TV presenter? He is going through a breakup with a family friend, and Greta is trying to date but gets hung up by the various speedbumps caused by her friends and colleagues at the university she works at.

It's a quirky book, filled with chaotic storylines and clever dialogue. I loved the New Zealand setting (haven't read many of those) and the last quarter did shine for me. I just wasn't as enamored with the book as many others were.

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Had me in stitches, some of the best dialogue I've read in a long time. The Māori and Russian culture mix; brilliant. The everyday strangeness inside families, excellent. I enjoyed the self-aware commentary, though I am a bit past that time—uni parties where people call cigarettes 'durries' that are probably 'just back from Berlin'.

The dialogue running into the 'inner' dialogue did get a bit confusing. It's like when someone retells you a story and adds what they thought in the same sentence as describing the situation, and you need to ask, 'Did you actually say that?' And then they say, 'No, of course I didn't SAY that'. I had to reread some passages. There is also a list of characters at the front, so dense on people with similar names/go by two names, you have to pay close attention.

A book of stream of consciousness, absurdist, out-there thought processes that somehow, at the same time, make perfect sense.

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Did not finish reading this book seeing as I was unable to find it interesting in the first several pages. Will revisit at a later point.

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This is a story of a Māori-Russian-Catalonian family. I'm going to start with that. I want you to take a moment and appreciate that cultural mix. What should have happened for all these people to get together and build a family? What are the chances? And they are queer one way or the other. Everyone is free to live their lives, no judgement, no constraints. What a family!

I like to read about siblings especially the ones that are attached at the hip and won't do anything without telling each other. Greta and Valdin were one of those siblings. So when Valdin decided to follow his heart (and second brain) and follow his boyfriend on his way to parenthood without telling Greta a thing, Greta's world crumbled a bit. She didn't know where Valdin was. She could tell him about what life was throwing her way. She wanted to follow her heart but what if....

It was hard to keep up with this family. While main focus was on Greta and Valdin, everyone else in their circle was no different than those two. They ended up throwing a big wedding party where whole family and friends came together as they should have done.

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I liked this book for the characters -- I loved getting to know them and living in their heads, with their idiosyncrasies and quirks. The writing style felt a little off for me, though I can't exactly explain why, but it didn't affect my enjoyment too much!

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this book only has two flaws: it has 930 characters and all of them fall under the same family tree and 78% of their names start with G and two of them are greta and it is genuinely impossible to keep them straight even if you dramatically flip back to the beginning multiple times; and it has two perspectives and they're identical, as in the characters have nearly the same voice, but in a way that's a pro for me bc i don't like books with multiple povs.

otherwise this is perfect: so funny, no plot, just vibes, memorable characters, filled with jokes and generational humor and pop culture references without being annoying. of course i didn't love when the book's final pages descended into tons of points of view, because i don't like that at the best of times and i couldn't remember anyone's relationship to one another, but i would have read the first 200 pages of this book for 930 pages. i never expected to get Living With A Beloved Sibling And Knowing That It Will End Soon Because You're Both In Love And Wanting That And Not Wanting That And Being Heartbroken And Happy At Once representation, and what a treat to receive it.

for this, i give it a proverbial kiss on the forehead and 4.5 stars.

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this felt like a great book to take when you’re traveling and want to be accompanied by characters that feel like family.

the whole thing was so heartwarming and funny and actually so real, i wish we could’ve gotten more of the siblings interaction since it was more focused on their own personal lives instead of how they helped each other on their problems but i still enjoyed it very much.

there’s a lot of characters but for a first i didn’t feel very confused about them, i think they were very well written and focused on their roles and what they’re supposed to bring to the story and the way i ended up connecting with them surprise me very much.

thank you avid reader press for the arc and everyone go get it and enjoy it as much i did.

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This book really grew on me as I read it. I found the characters to be more and more lovable as the story went on. I often find characters' insecurities to be an overplayed trope and annoying, but the writing here is so strong and the character development so thoughtful that I was never annoyed. This family is so funny with unique dynamics and kind of wild connections to each other. They demonstrate love and caring in such real ways, sometimes a bit messy, but always real. This is a really special book about how we make our families and I recommend it to all.

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Things I love in books:
1. discussions on being mixed race
2. gay

Things this book had:
1. discussions on being mixed race
2. gay

Greta and Valdin is very much a slice of life type of book, so not for those who need a plot. Thankfully I love character study books, so this was for me.

Greta and Valdin are Russian/Māori siblings, and the book simply follows them through some messy adventures. and I honestly don't want to say much more than that. The only thing that maybe bumped my rating down was my confusion over all the characters. We were (thankfully) given a character list at the beginning of the book, but while reading the e-arc it was too annoying to have to keep flicking back to it for reference. There were a lot of characters to keep track of, some of which shared a name. It also would've been really cool to have a family tree diagram! In addition to (or in replacement of) the character list at the start. I'm a visual girly hehe.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for providing the arc for review.

I'll leave this with some of my favourite parts.

"I wonder if my mum is embarrassed because these women think she named her firstborn child after a cartoon character, or because she didn’t give any of us Māori names. Would a different name have improved my life, or would people have been more openly racist towards me? Once, at school, I got called to the dean’s office because I didn’t show up to a careers meeting for Māori students, and they assumed I’d been wagging. It turned out my form teacher thought it was a mistake and threw the letter about it in the bin."

"Earlier, upstairs in the gallery, I looked at a painting that I didn’t like, a painting of a dark-skinned woman with golden hair, which the little plaque described as a racially mixed goddess. The same as me and the opposite of me, with my pale skin and black hair. Not a goddess at all, just a normal racially mixed mortal woman. I didn’t tell Geneviève that the painting made me feel bad, because I didn’t know if she would understand."

"“Sorry, I just have to fill this up,” I say, standing up with my bottle, and everyone nods because water is an acceptable thing to want. It’s transparent."

"I think that’s an issue with queer society. People still have trouble accepting anyone who isn’t already in or aspiring to be in a same-sex relationship as a part of the community. Being queer is... it’s in yourself, it doesn’t always have to do with other people.”""

"“Yeah, it’s just very hard to convince anyone that wanting to look pretty doesn’t mean you want attention from men. And then people say it to me so much I think I am bi, and I go out with straight guys and feel like I’m suffocating.”"

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Greta & Valdin how I wanted to you. I don't even know why. From the cover and the synopsis I thought it was going to be true love. But I tried it in ebook, then audiobook, then physical book. There were some really funny moments, but overall, I needed more of a plot line. And I hate saying that because I usually LOVE coming of age novels, but something about this one didn't work for me.

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Greta & Valdin was an exceptional read. Centred around siblings Greta and Valdin's chaotic but loving family, the book follows the brother-sister duo as they navigate young adulthood in Auckland. At once deeply hilarious, smart, and heartfelt, Reilly perfectly depicts the siblings contending with their relationships, family dynamics, and careers. Reilly also comments on structural racism and settler-colonialism in Aotearoa, addressing topics such as multiracial identity, queerness, micro-aggressions, class privilege, and land back.

I recommend this novel to lovers of authors such as Sally Rooney, Elif Batuman, and Emily Austin. Thank you to NetGalley and the publishers for the e-ARC of this title.

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𝐑𝐚𝐭𝐢𝐧𝐠: 4/5⭐️⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
⁣⁣⁣⁣⁣
𝗪𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐞𝐧𝐣𝐨𝐲𝐞𝐝: I really loved this quirky, eccentric debut novel. It’s very character-driven, and both Greta and Valdin (and their supplemental family members/friends) were so odd, but in such an endearing way. It’s heartfelt, resonates deeply, and delivers this super dry humor and sarcasm that had me laughing out loud.

This book was so global in its representation, and I really loved learning all about the different, blended cultures. I was glad to have listened to it on audio alongside the physical copy because it helped with the pronunciation of the Māori, Russian, and Catalonian sayings.

I saw another review that mentioned this book having the vibe of a Wes Anderson film and that rings so true for me.

𝐑𝐞𝐚𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐟𝐨𝐫 𝐩𝐚𝐮𝐬𝐞: There’s a very large cast of characters, many of them sharing names, so I found it hard to keep track at times—especially at the end when so many of the storylines converged.

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3 stars, with a caveat (DNF)

Greta & Valdin kicked off with a promising start for me, a glimpse inside the ever churning minds of two queer siblings of Russian/Maaori heritage as they navigate their romantic heartbreaks, career questions, and daily relationships with friends and family. They're both very intelligent, quite insecure (but in a very endearing and relatable way, at one point Greta reacting to an uncomfortable interaction by wanting to "kick the cover of the manhole [she's] walking over and fall into it"), and more alike to each other than they might want to admit. Their parents, a scientist and an artist, are formidable and quirky. Their older brother Casper has a family and isn't around much. Their best friends are self-centered in ways that draw people in their 20s together to bond over their individual self-centered escapades. Reilly's clever, brisk writing style is fresh and engaging and rapid fire.

So why has it been, after a promising start, such a slog for me to even get to 45% of this book? It's because, I realize with a sigh of disappointment, I am simply no longer the right audience for it. I am too old and the misadventures of the siblings too familiar as a lived experience, for me to feel anything but an obligation to keep going. I kept trying because I really like Greta and Valdin and I want them to be happy. But I'm worn down by the quirkiness and the pacing where each day in their lives is soaked to the brim with awkwardness and wistful malaise. This is a great book for a person who's struggling with relationships or their professional trajectory. It's vibrant and relatable. But for me, it felt like I was stringing the book along by trying to read it when I knew full well it was a relationship that had no future.

Nevertheless, I would like to very much thank NetGalley and Avid Reader Press for providing me with a review copy to give this one a try. I am sure that this book will land right with a lot of other people.

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Rebecca K. Reilly's debut novel, "Greta & Valdin," paints a vibrant and captivating portrait of two queer siblings navigating the complexities of love, identity, and adulthood in the bustling city of Auckland, New Zealand. The story delves deep into the lives of Greta and Valdin and their large, eccentric, and multicultural extended family; giving us a glimpse into their daily toils and victories.

Although dizzying at times, the novel unfolds through alternating first-person perspectives, offering readers a unique insight into the minds of both Greta and Valdin. Through their eyes, we witness their struggles with dating apps, relationships, and self-identity in an increasingly internet-connected world. And the constant battle of keeping your battery topped up.

What sets "Greta & Valdin" apart is its refreshing portrayal of queerness within the family dynamic. In Reilly's world, queerness is accepted and embraced as the norm, fostering a sense of belonging and acceptance that permeates the narrative.

At its core, "Greta & Valdin" celebrates found families and love without limits. The novel's engaging narrative and vibrant characters invites readers to explore the universal themes of love, acceptance, and self-discovery. Warm, lively, and brimming with heart, "Greta & Valdin" is a captivating debut that is sure to leave a lasting impression.

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Perfect perfect perfect! GRETA & VALDIN is smart, funny, frothy, sharp, heartfelt, fierce, and thoughtful all at once. The characters and their relationships all so well-drawn, from the major to the minor. So too is Auckland, which fairly thrums under the surface of the novel. I think it’s going to be a perfect summer novel for people that want something engaging but with a little more meat to it—something entertaining and clever.

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“I wonder what plant I would be, if I were a plant. Maybe something with big leaves that droop sulkily if not provided with the exact right amount of water and light.”

*giving this book a big, BIG hug!* because I loved it! This is the perfect example of the elevated prose of literary fiction that leaves me feeling breathless. It has all the makings of the next big "cool-girl-lit-fic" book of the year and I am LIVING for it!

Greta and Valdin are two queer siblings born to a Māori-Russian-Catalonian family. Greta, a graduate student in Russian literature, is every bit the broke-but-relatable-and-funny young woman who traipses between infatuation with crushes and running (then promptly fleeing) one-night stands with men until she meets the charming Scottish woman of her dreams. Valdin, almost-30 and still fighting the painful loss and pivot of an over-planned life, is transformed when he reunites with his ex-love in beautiful Argentina.

This book felt like a perfect slice of life from the most culturally interesting family ever. You're not them, but you want to be them *so badly*. It was touching and warm (reminiscent of Bridget Jones with a Normal People vibe), and fueled by a fusion of socio-political commentary with the humor and tragedy of life. The broad cast of characters gave the book many contextual touchpoints - it felt global and big while maintaining this heir of easy, effortless, down-to-earth connections between them.

Reilly has truly made a brilliant debut, and I can't wait to see what else she graces us with!

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3.5/5 ⭐️
🤧 welp, back from vacation and first things first; get a cold. Luckily I’m feeling a little better and got to finish this galley, GRETA & VALDIN by Rebecca K. Reilly that follows a brother and sister as they navigate queerness, love, complex family dynamics and multiracial identity.

This book had sally rooney vibes, mixed with SCHITTS CREEK and also reminded me of a recent title (CLEOPATRA AND FRANKENSTEIN) that I really enjoyed. I naturally gravitated to Valdin’s story and his accidental new career path, his misguided efforts at love and trying to get his shit together while realizing that what he had was already perfect. Funny, voicey and felt fresh as far as contemporary stories go. Some of the story felt a little slow and there were lots and LOTS of characters names to remember and some with very similar names that was somewhat confusing. Out now!

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It took a while for me to warm up to the book and its sort of apathetic circuitous writing, but I did manage to feel very attached to both Greta and Valdin and their lives. I would not recommend this for people who don’t like the kind of “finding yourself” litfic genre but I enjoyed it.

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