Mini Reviews: Three Contemporary YAs

Mini Reviews: Three Contemporary YAs

I’ve had semi-written drafts of reviews of three contemporary YA novels sitting in the queue for ages. Ages as in months.

So, I thought I’d just admit that I’m not going to be able to write one of my patented epically long reviews for every book, and instead pass along my thoughts of three contemporary young adult novels I read and enjoyed this summer. 

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

Moonglass by Jessi Kirby

I read once that water is a symbol for emotions. And for a while now I’ve thought maybe my mother drowned in both.

I wasn’t as in love with Jessi Kirby’s 2012 release, In Honor, as I hoped I would be, but even though I wasn’t swept away by that story, I thoroughly enjoyed the writing. So, when I spotted her debut, Moonglass, deeply discounted, I snapped it up and absolutely loved it. This novel has that same quality of Melissa Walker, Sarah Ockler or Sarah Dessen—it’s a gentle little story featuring relatable characters and a subdued style. (This is such a refreshing contrast to the high drama that’s so trendy in contemporary YAs this year.) While the themes are heavy (the main character’s mother killed herself), it never feels HEAVY.

Moonglass stands out among the many grief/loss YA novels for a number of reasons, but firstly because the death occurs well before the book’s opening, making the story very much about Anna, the main character, finding herself and figuring out where the loss of her mother at such a young age fits into how she is. There’s a very lightweight romance that progresses in a natural way, and it takes place in a swoon-worthy California beach community that absolutely comes alive, despite the novel’s short length. (Yes, a setting can be swoon-worthy.) 

My only issue with this book is that the symbolism felt a bit over-the-top, but it’s also executed quite well, so that’s more of a personal preference than something that will bother most people. 

{Buy it at Amazon | BN | iBooks | Book Depo}

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Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

The thing is that people only get hurt—really hurt—when they’re trying to play it safe. That’s when people get injured, when they pull back at the last second because they’re scared. They hurt themselves and other people.

I adored Morgan Matson’s debut, Amy & Roger’s Epic Detour—it’s a rare re-read book for me. However, I wasn’t super-thrilled when I found out that her 2012 release was another grief/loss-type story. However, I should have had more faith in such a solid author, because Second Chance Summer is an emotional and surprisingly heart-warming read for me. 

The book’s blurb does it a bit of a disservice, because it sounds as if Second Chance Summer is a kissing book, which would be a bit odd, given that it’s the story of a family who returns to their old vacation home so that the father, who’s dying of cancer, can spend one last summer together. Instead, this is a book about family and friendship and lots of different kinds of love. Matson does a remarkable job of exploring the complexities of parent-child relationships and how the transform so intensely over the brief teenage years. I will admit, there were multiple moments I teared up reading this Second Chance Summer, and it wasn’t in the moments you would expect. 

Also, there’s a teeny, tiny Amy and Roger cameo in this book, which thrilled me to no end. 

{Buy it at Amazon | BN | iBooks | Book Depo}

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When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

It’s not that most girls are delusional, per se. It’s just that they have this subtle ability to warp actual circumstances into something different. And if there’s one thing I’m really against, it is turning a blind eye to reality. What’s the point? Things are the way they are, and the best thing for us to do is to just acknowledge that. No one ever died from having too much information. It’s the misunderstandings that are the problem.

I was less than thrilled when my book club picked this book. You see, I hated Romeo and Juliet when I was forced to read it when I was in the ninth grade. Hated. It. I remember getting in a huge argument with one of my best friends, because she thought it was terribly romantic and I thought Romeo was an asshat and Juliet was a whiny nitwit. 

However, color me impressed that I found Rebecca Serle’s retelling from Rosaline’s point-of-view extremely engaging and creative. When You Were Mine explores the side of the story that originally bothered me so much: the part where the story isn’t “romantic” at all, that it’s dysfunctional and pathetic and sad. I was fascinated by the way this book remains faithful to the play while making it feel contemporary (the balcony scene and the fight scene are great examples). I ended up feeling pretty empathetic toward most every character in the novel (which is saying something, since I had some pretty intense pre-dislike of Romeo et al), and I was able to get beyond the things that bothered me, such as the yuckiness of popular girl culture and the impracticality of some of the resolutions.

My one major annoyance with this one was the prologue, which was wholly unnecessary and quite heavy-handed and distracting—just skip it if you read this book. There have been very mixed reviews of When You Were Mine, and I can see why; even if you don’t like When You Were Mine, you’ll probably find it an interesting read, regardless.

{Buy it at Amazon | BN | iBooks | Book Depo}

{Add it on Goodreads}

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