WHY I PICKED IT UP: I've heard high praise of Jennifer Echols from teens, and I always want to stay on top of what teens are currently loving. Also, I follow Echols' agent Laura Bradford on Twitter, and she's hilarious, so I figured I should check one of her clients' books out. I saw this at my library, and that was that.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: Here's the description from Echols' site:
Gemma can’t believe her luck when the
star football player starts flirting with her. Max is totally
swoon-worthy, and even gets her quirky sense of humor. So when he asks
out her so-called best friend Addison, Gemma’s heartbroken. Then Addison pressures Gemma to join the date with one of Max’s
friends. But the more time they all spend together, the harder Gemma
falls for Max. She can’t help thinking that Max likes her back—it’s just
too bad he’s already dating Addison. How can Gemma get the guy she
wants without going after her best friend’s boyfriend?
But it's about a lot more than that. This description doesn't even allude to the fact that it is, at its core, about Gemma's used-to-be-hidden talent of baton-twirling, her self-image issues concerning her weight, and her struggle with her so-called "friendships," which give the book a great deal of substance.
THE POSITIVE: Well, I read it in 2 days, and it's not usually my genre. It's like taking an afternoon nap in a sunspot. Effortless, relaxing. Will it make you wide awake for a long time? Probably not, but it's not something you'd regret. OK, my metaphor is starting to derail. Basically, it's not a tough book to follow, and Gemma has a lot of voice. I liked being inside her head. And the boy she's swooning over, Max, has a really interesting quirk that involves delving into people's psyches in an analytical way. Very inventive.
Also, this book tackles weight issues in an interesting way. Gemma loses a lot of weight in order to feel better about herself when she's a majorette. But not in an unhealthy way. She works out and cuts out dessert. Even though her weight loss is perpetuated by a desire for conformity, not health, she does it in the right way, and that sets a good example for girls who want to lose weight for any reason.
The characters were pretty distinct from each other, and every character was rounded out well. I didn't feel like I was cheated by the ending, and little loose threads from throughout were nicely tied up.
THE NOT-SO-POSITIVE: We're in Gemma's head, and I felt like she repeated her thoughts a lot, especially about a situation that I as a reader had figured out pages ago (and I don't think that's just because I'm older than the target age group). There was also a part towards the end (I won't spoil it for you) that I thought was pretty out of character for her, because it basically involved doing something that could have been considered betrayal, but was - due to luck - not perceived that way. This instance was never really addressed in that light. She's not perfect - which makes her feel more real - but it would have been consistent with her character to feel some sort of guilt or hesitance about this event.
OVERALL RATING: Recommendable. If you like stories about young teen love and tough decisions about boys and best friends - which seems like a popular theme in books - then yes, this is definitely worth a read. Heck, I don't flock to those kinds of books and I sped through it because I was genuinely caught up in the story. This book definitely takes the sometimes overdone high-school-love-triangle plot and gives it some substance, which is great.
Have you read this book? Did you find this review helpful at all? Let me know what you think!
I've also just finished reading Insurgent by Veronica Roth, so look for that review soon.
Hope your summer has been swell so far!