Here’s the thing about this book- I REALLY didn’t want to read it at first. I’m not the biggest fan of romance stories in general- just not my thing. So, while I was extremely reluctant to pick this novel up when my friend nagged me into it, I ended up being pleasantly surprised by Sarah Dessen’s work.
One of my favourite things here was how well the characters were fleshed out- everyone had their little quirks, whispers of backstory, and even if it wasn’t explained, there was hints that they were actual human beings- little subplots everywhere that strangely enough, fit in well. All the characters here were flawed to some extent, and I enjoyed that. None of the ‘most-perfect/evil-person-in-the-world’ syndrome, which you often see in today’s YA fiction. Also, any boy protagonist who is capable of being sweet and not creepy will probably sway me over too- go Dexter!
Speaking of Dexter, he’s also one of my favourite parts of the book- slightly shallow, but he was one of the most likable male protagonists I’ve read recently. Awkwardly charismatic, with an air of slight dorkiness, he’s a lot friendlier than some characters I know, though he is somewhat…desperate. He’s definitely not flawless, and has his own faults, but it’s the openness he displays that is so refreshing, as it’s something you see so rarely in YA nowadays. I really liked that, and that’s why I’ve actually given Dexter his own paragraph. He and his potato songs deserve it.
Also, this conversation alone explains everything:
“I thought this was a cookout. You know, dogs and burgers, Tater Tots, ambrosia salad” Dexter picked up a box of Twinkies, tossing them into the cart. “And Twinkies.”
“It is,”…”Except that it’s a cookout thrown by my mother.”
“And my mother doesn’t cook.”
He looked at me waiting.
“At all. My mother doesn’t cook at all.”
“She must cook sometimes.”
“Everyone can make scrambled eggs, Remy. It’s programmed into you at birth, the default setting. Like being able to swim and knowing not to mix pickles with oatmeal. You just KNOW.”
I should probably stop talking about Dexter here.
Something I also enjoyed in this novel was the plot- while it was predictable in a sense that the two love interests would ‘get together’ at some point in the novel, there were definitely things that I did not see coming at the beginning of the novel. For example, the emphasis on Remy’s family and how it affected her was really interesting to me, and something I didn’t expect. I also liked how it wasn’t just about the build up of the relationship between Remy and Dexter, something you see oh so often in a love story, but rather about how the relationship continued to grow after they became ‘a couple’. There is also a twist that isn’t so twisty that I liked in the novel(which I’m not going to reveal), and I have to say that for me, it was definitely a high point in the novel.
There were a few, small details that irked me a little throughout the novel though, and for that I liked it just a little less.
Remy goes from being somewhat of a delinquent at first, doing all the wrong things and generally screwing up her life in the past, but by the time this novel takes place, she’s going to Stanford and is ‘extremely choosy’ with boys. There is no explanation for this, and it just kind of irked me. Another factor I also found extremely annoying was why she was annoyed at her dad for dying. I mean, it was an accident, so why keep such a grudge on musicians? These were just some of the small details I didn’t really like so much in the novel, but as I said- small details. Not that big of a deal.
Overall, this is a simple yet sweet novel with surprising edge to it, and I found myself really enjoying it. Even if you’re not big on romance, I say give it a go. You may be surprised.
Four stars- I liked it!