The Song girls have always been close. After the death of their mother Margot, Lara Jean and Kitty have had to work together to be strong; not only for each other but for their father too. So when Margot flies 4000 miles away to study in St Andrews University in Scotland, middle child Lara Jean finds that the majority of the responsibility falls heavy upon her shoulders.
It is difficult enough being the responsible one but Lara Jean has to deal with her burgeoning feelings for her sister’s ex-boyfriend Josh; a boy who she once loved but stopped herself from thinking about due to Margot liking him too. However, when a box of love letters that Lara Jean has written somehow get sent to all the boys that she has had feelings for before her whole world is turned upside down.
Initially I wasn’t really feeling this book. I felt that it was paced at warp speed and the short scenes felt a bit choppy to me. However, I think this could have been because of the sweeping narrative of the book that I had previously read was still playing in my mind. This is not a fault of Jenny Han’s but just because it was such a sudden shift. I needed t readjust.
As I got further into the story I actually began to see the pacing as one of the books main attributes. Life is like that when you are young and in love. Everything goes fast, one drama after another that lose significance as the weeks go on. It was actually a clever stylistic trick employed by the writer.
As for the Song girls, they were so easy to like and what I thought was so special about Lara Jean is that she was the balance between the two surrounding sisters. She had the heart of Margot and the playfulness of Kitty and it was s lovely to see her develop and take on the role as older sister as opposed to middle child.
What was also rather lovely about the story is that it didn’t make grand sweeping gestures. It was the simple things that were important such as the little notes passed back and forth between Lara Jean and Peter or how they slowly got to know one another. Lara Jean came across as a young insecure teenager. She wasn’t whiney or gauche which you can sometimes find in YA fiction. She was still growing and developing.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before was a sweet innocent book that has the ability to remind us just what it is like to be in the first throws of teenage lust; a gloriously wretched feeling. Jenny Han has done herself proud.
To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han is available now.
* Special thanks to Sophia at Scholastic for sending me a copy for review.
Anna has the worst father ever. He is making her leave her home in Atlanta to spend the year living and learning in SOAP (the School of America in Paris). She has to leave her family, her friends and the boy that she sort of might have a thing with…well it was looking that way before she was forced to go away from everything that she loves.
Determined to dislike everything about France, Anna is initially lonely but when she starts to make friends with her classmates she realises that European life isn’t all that bad…and the guys are pretty good looking too.
But will the people in Anna’s life back in Georgia wait for her?
It is not often that I will be so emphatic about a book but I have to say that Anna and the French Kiss was one of the best YA books that I have read ever. I absolutely bloody loved it.
What I loved about Anna and the French Kiss was the mixture of trivial problems mixed with real life. Anna is dealing with your average teenage issues with the added extras of not speaking the language and missing home. The other themes – cancer, overbearing parents, break ups, bullying – they are all in this novel. Perkins manages to give a well rounded account of the daily worries of teenagers. She gives a voice to them and she does it so well.
I became so invested in Anna’s story. I whooped with joy when she got the boy; I became protective over her when she was betrayed by friends and I feel like I felt everything she went through. To me, that is the sign of good storytelling.
Paris was the perfect setting for this teen romance and allowed this Francophile to indulge in her love of all things French.
Now on to Lola and the Boy Next Door.
Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is available now.
Sabine is a girl with a secret. Sure all teenage girls have secrets. Boys they are crushing on; homework or tests that they have not studied for or cheated on but these pale in comparison to Sabine’s secret. If Sabine’s secret is found out then she would be in some serious trouble.
You see, Sabine has two lives. In both worlds she is a normal teenage girl, in both she is 18 and in both she is ready to graduate. One world does seem better than the other and Sabine seems determined to just live the one life. However, her plans for this are knocked on their head when she falls in love.
Between the Lives is a quirky entry into the dystopian YA fiction genre that has garnered much popularity over the past few years. Actually, I would go as far as to say that it is an innovative approach to storytelling. Initially, I was dubious as to how this would work and I was waiting for a crack to appear in the story to make me start to disbelieve and/or lose interest in the characters but
Shirivington manages to create to very real but very separate worlds as well as giving her protagonist Sabine reason enough to be unhappy with her existence. She draws upon the power of societal roles to create an impression of ease, and equally, discomfort – i.e. how being popular in high school and coming from money can be seen as a privilege whereas in her other life Sabine doesn’t have the same style of upbringing.
Overall, Between the Lives is a very interesting read with a good strong and likeable protagonist who you do empathise with. The story does throw you a lot of twists and often at breakneck speed. However, I did guess parts of the ending before they happened which isn’t a bad thing but did make me wonder if it could have been written differently. If I am totally honest, I would have liked Between the Lives to have been the beginning of a series and I genuinely think Shirvington could have accomplished that with a different ending.
Between the Lives by Jessica Shirvington is available now.
Hudson has it all figured out. He is going to be a doctor; he already has his admissions interview with the Dean of the University of Mississippi. Everything is going according to plan However, when Leila pulls into Hudson’s fathers mechanic shop, he knew his life was changed forever. He couldn’t say how or why but he knew she was special.
Bree is a drifter. She wanders up and down lonely highways night after night thumbing for a lift. She keeps herself to herself, distancing herself from her past. She is a tough kid with protective emotional barriers surrounding her. That is until she meets Leila. Leila somehow brings out the truth in Bree. Bree swiftly learns that no matter where you run to your past will always be one step behind you.
On Elliot’s prom night he is nearly run over by Leila. He is already having a pretty crappy night but being run over takes the biscuit. Leila is the driver that nearly mowed him down. That night she becomes his saviour convincing him not to give up on love. She pushes him into a series of wacky adventures (much like the ones that happen in the 80s movies that he keeps referencing) to try and win the heart of the girl he loves.
Sonia feels likes she is betraying the memory of her boyfriend. Sam died of a brain haemorrhage but his family have kept Sonia at the heart of it. However, Sonia feels guilty because she has fallen for another man. So now she is torn between her new boyfriend and her ex’s family. It all comes to a head when they are both taking part in the wedding of Sam’s sister; it is too much for her to take so Sonia runs away. During her turmoil she bumps into Leila who becomes a confident and a superhero trying to get Sonia back to the wedding.
Firstly, let me say I loved this book, not only the unique and quirky stories that were in it but also the clever style in which it was written. I loved that Leila, who was clearly the protagonist, was presented as a secondary character in the lives of the people she met.
What I also loved was that all the characters all had something missing. Something that they were searching for and that it took Leila, who was arguably missing for the largest thing, to help the other characters to find/realise it. The stories had a clever fluidity about them. It is almost a book about the kindness and good nature of strangers along with the surprises that the people that you love can give you.
What can definitely be said is that YA is currently kicking ass in the fiction world.
Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid is available from August 1st 2014