First, a rave review from Amazon, which I agree with completely:
Dessen has built a well-deserved reputation for delicately depicting teen girls in turmoil. Her latest title showcases a socially awkward young woman who seeks solace in the comforting rigidity of academic success. Auden is about to start college in the fall, and decides to escape her control-freak professor mom to spend the summer with her novelist father, his new young wife, and their brand-new baby daughter, Thisbe. Over the course of the summer, Auden tackles many new projects: learning to ride a bike, making real connections with peers, facing the emotional fallout of her parents’ divorce, distancing herself from her mother, and falling in love with Eli, a fellow insomniac bicyclist recovering from his own traumas. The cover may mislead readers, as despite the body language of the girl in pink and the hunky blue-jeaned boy balanced on a bike, this is no slight romance: there’s real substance here. Dessen’s many fans will not be deterred by the length or that cover; they expect nuanced, subtle writing, and they won’t be disappointed.Now the synopsis:
It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.First Sentence:
A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.
"The e-mails always began the same way.I had to give you more than the first sentence, because it's funny. Well, I laughed. She so perfectly captures both Auden, her mother, and Heidi. You don't learn everything there is to know about them in the first page (good thing!). What this does is set us up for learning about them, which we do, slowly throughout the entire novel.
It was the extra exclamation point that got me. My mother would call it extraneous, overblown, exuberant. To me, it was simply annoying, just like everything else about my stepmother, Heidi."
Beefs: Hm... nope, fresh out.
Brownie Points: The other characters. Yes, I loved Auden. She's witty and funny and serious and has great voice. But what really set this apart from other witty, funny, serious, great voiced books, are the supporting cast. I loved each and every one of them. I could clearly imagine them, would have hung out with them.
Ending: The problems in this novel didn't magically get better at the end. There was a sense of finality while showing that things don't end--there is no Happily Ever After, cuz the story keeps going (in the magical land where books characters exist and their lives don't end on the last page)!
Recommendation: If you like YA contemporary romance, read it. If you've been thinking about trying a YA romance, read it. If you like complex characters and a great read, read it.
Would I represent it? Previously, I hadn't considered myself as a YA romance kind of girl. I am now.