Author: Sarah Dessen
Release Date: June 4, 2013
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Description: 435 pages, Young Adult Contemporary
Luke is the perfect boyfriend: handsome, kind, fun. He and Emaline have been together all through high school in Colby, the beach town where they both grew up. But now, in the summer before college, Emaline wonders if perfect is good enough. Enter Theo, a super-ambitious outsider, a New Yorker assisting on a documentary film about a reclusive local artist. Theo’s sophisticated, exciting, and, best of all, he thinks Emaline is much too smart for Colby.
Emaline’s mostly-absentee father, too, thinks Emaline should have a bigger life, and he’s convinced that an Ivy League education is the only route to realizing her potential. Emaline is attracted to the bright future that Theo and her father promise. But she also clings to the deep roots of her loving mother, stepfather, and sisters. Can she ignore the pull of the happily familiar world of Colby? Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she’s going?
The thing is, I’m a massive Sarah Dessen fan, and by her standards, this book was something of a catastrophe– for the most part, I was crestfallen. For starters, I was royally pissed at the heroine at variegated times, and to say that the whole enchilada was a disappointment is a colossal understatement. I found Emaline too equivocal and non-committal, not spunky and audacious enough, and if there was one thing she altogether lacked, it was heart. I did sympathize with the fact that she juggled a multiplex of problems around, and I knew how hard it must have been for her to adjust to unfamiliar ground because I’ve gone through much the same things. I however, cannot so swimmingly approve of the fact that it was too elementary for her to throw away a lot of the things that once meant something important to her without even fighting back, and she was too quick to change her mind and dismiss someone as ‘not the person I once thought you were’. Whatever happened to reconciliation?
“Life is long. Just because you don’t get your chance right when you want or expect it doesn’t mean it won’t come. Fate doesn’t punch a time clock or consult a schedule.”
The plot was considerably singular and nonpareil, which made for one happy banana, but despite the fact that everything changed too abruptly, I could not wait to get past many of the scenes because they were that boring. In addition, most of the characters were too fickle and temperamental. Change is a good thing, yes, chiefly for the better, but if you don’t steadily transition from one version of yourself to the next, I’m never going to believe it. No offense to the idealists, but really, the shift in points of view of various characters developed or degenerated too abruptly and forthwith for my tastes—there was just no in between.
And this was a matter of preference, but many of the events I would have liked to happen did not, and many of the characters I would have recompensed with happily ever afters were thrown to the side and dismissed, rendering me devastated in the aftermath. I just… what sort of garbage is that? I resent plot devices, and even more so when the author makes one out of an exceptional character. The romance was bearable at its best, utterly repugnant at its worst, and in much the same way, everything progressed with no middle ground. It was simply make up or break up, and despite the fact that my heart welled with the knowledge that summer romances operates in that manner, I could not for the life of me understand what made Emaline’s anything special. She intrinsically blew off and pinned the blame on the first boy one second, and then shoved her tongue down the other’s throat the next. Who even does that? Why do they even like you? I just. Didn’t. Get it.
On the flip side, I was thoroughly smitten by Luke, despite the fact that he was a quintessential jock with the blonde hair and the beach body without the jerk-off persona, but he possessed a vibrant personality and I appreciated that. Theo on the other hand, was completely out of the ordinary and honestly a little bizarre, and I loved how free-spirited and ambitious he was, though I found him a bit pretentious and disapproved of his pomp– to me, there’s such a thing as excessively dorky, and he categorically crossed the line.
The one other thing that could have made for compromise was Benji, Emaline’s ten-year old half brother. He was fifty shades of adorable for the whole duration of the book, and I loved how his disposition made me appreciate all the little things in life that curl my lips into a genuine smile. Furthermore, he was an astute and innovative thinker for someone at ten, which of course was remarkably impressive. I do have to admit that the scenery sounded breathtaking, and the conclusion, despite not having been a complete picnic, was acceptable and of considerable redeeming value, but most importantly, reminded me of how wondrous I thought it was that Emaline could already manage to defend her beliefs and encourage people to do better. I also marginally approved of how the book wasn’t entirely romance-centric, and the family element to it made me feel relieved to say the least. SO I guess in a way, it wasn’t a total disappointment.
“When you have a kid, you sign on for the whole package: good, bad, everything in between. you can’t just dip in and out, picking and choosing the parts you want and quitting when it’s not perfect.”
But then again we’re talking Dessen here, and unfortunately it just wasn’t the same sort of magic. But if you think you can handle that, do try it out– and if you like it, tell me why and let’s see if you can convince me otherwise.
So what do you think of this book? If you haven’t read it, will you? Sound off in the comments below!