Three new 2014 teen romances!
CJ, or Claire as she is now known, has had a lot of first kisses, so much that she’s got something of a bad reputation. Luckily, she’s in with the Crownies, a group that is 4 of the most popular girls in their grade. It’s the start of senior year and Claire really wants a real boyfriend, not just to kiss boys, and he has to only want her, not her best friend Megan. Just before school starts, Claire meets the new boy, Luke, a senior who also really likes soccer, Claire’s passion. She already is daydreaming about the two of them together, but Megan likes him too. It’s a season of testing friendships, finding romance, discovering you can recover from tragedy, and most of all discovering yourself.
I really liked this book right up until the very end. The ending just seemed ho-hum to me, but maybe that’s because I was banking on a really spectacular romance. Claire has had a tough time, both with her family (her baby brother died and her mother has been sunk in depression for years) and with boys. Rumors about how she’s a slut for kissing boys have gotten around the school, and it seems like Megan and the other Crownies are on her side. However, Megan, who always gets what she wants, goes after Luke, and invokes girl code for the two of them. Megan and Claire agree to not be the first to kiss Luke but rather let him make the first move with the two of them. Here’s where the story gets hairy and the reader might get indignant on Claire’s account. At every turn, Megan is manipulating Luke (whether by her dress or by flirting or by luring him away from Claire with an “emergency”) and it just seems very unfair to Claire. Then again, Claire is doing her utmost to flirt with him, while still keeping her own boundaries from Megan. Still, she plays fair. Megan, on the other hand, breaks their agreement, kisses him first, and then proceeds to date him which, according to “girl code”, makes him off-limits for Claire. This frustrated me to no end! What a crappy friend! I’ve never heard of girl code being invoked among four girls (without prior agreement) saying that said ‘ex’ boyfriend is off-limits forever. Still, it’s not the happy ending you think might be coming when Luke turns out to be a big jerk. While I enjoyed the journey Claire made, I did not understand her friendships and just was not impressed by the ending. Yes, it’s a-typical, but it just seemed like it was going to end with a bang and…didn’t.
Note: Sexual situations, alcohol, drugs, and depression are mentioned as well as death. Also, slut shaming is not okay!
Aside: I almost couldn’t take the mentions of Claire’s brother dying. I had to grit my teeth and bear that, what with my own little one at home.
Haley is forced to go with her dad, stepmom, and twin half-siblings for the last bit of the summer on a camp trip to Fort Wilderness in Orlando, Florida. She is much less than thrilled because her summer was supposed to be great! She was planning a romance, but because of her recent seizure, her dad is being super overprotective. So there she is, stuck tagging along with the excitable four year olds and her dad and stepmom to a place that doesn’t really hold much attraction for her. Her dad has always gone on and on about Fort Wilderness and the now closed River Country, but Haley doesn’t really see what’s so great about it all, especially when despite her dad and mom meeting at River Country, they’ve been splits-ville for awhile now. After a group of teens overhear Haley’s impromptu tantrum over being watched constantly, they invite her to a scavenger hunt. With her parent’s permission, Haley meets up with Dina and the other teens. It’s a complicated list of scavenger items, but Dina and Haley determine to get the pictures from the west end of River Country first while it’s dark. As Haley swims to get into the abandoned and forbidden River Country, she hears someone following her and it isn’t Dina. She falls and this triggers another seizure. When she wakes up, people are surrounding her and an especially cute lifeguard boy, Jason, is helping her. Her surroundings look unfamiliar and as he’s talking to her, she is thrown for a big surprise. She’s woken up in 1982, the year her parents met, and she’s in River Country during its hay-day. Confused as to how she’s ended up here, she must depend on Jason, and discover that there might just be a reason and not only because she might see her parents. Maybe there just is a bit of romance in her summer after all…
I genuinely enjoyed this book! Partially because I love amusement parks and trivia about amusement parks and abandoned places. River Country and Discovery Island are pretty much a part of history now, which is why I was itching to get my hands on this book! The time travel plot point is not overdone, and I think just simplistic enough that it works for the story. True science fiction time travel fans might have an issue, but that would be too much extraneous detail in this novel. I found this entire book to be a breath of fresh air and very enjoyable. The ending, while it did not dissolve into a puddle of romance, held artistry and gave satisfaction to the reader. Perhaps the ending is not how you might have wanted it to wrap up, but it also doesn’t delve into the creepy complaint of older men romancing much younger women (Twilight and other vampire fiction anyone? Not that I have a problem with vampire fiction).
Note: The book did not have a disclaimer, but really, don’t try to cross into River Country and Discovery Island now. Don’t know why they haven’t decided to renovate and make both places into something new, but maybe someday in the future…
Obviously, I’ve loved Miranda Kenneally’s other books and this one might just be my favorite.
Annie Winters is training to run a marathon. No, she’s not crazy. No, it’s not for track or for the Olympics or a life goal, but she’s determined to do it. For her boyfriend. For her…dead boyfriend. Kyle has been gone for a few months now, and he was training to run the Country Music Marathon when he died. With all of the guilt she feels at being a reason that he died, she has resolved to do it for him no matter the cost. With the help of the new football coach, she signs on with Matt, a professional running trainer who has his own company. As she’s trying to work up from little more than 3 mile runs, she meets Jeremiah, Matt’s extremely athletic younger brother. Annie has no time for boys what with work, planning for college, and running for Kyle and she’s in no position for romance again. But she also can’t say no to Jeremiah and his infectious ways. Can Annie really run 26 miles and move past the hole Kyle left in her life?
Overall, the book was very inspiring! Kenneally doesn’t just gloss over the tough stuff, but really dives into messy issues, drama, and heartaches that teens might come across as they move past childhood. Annie’s vulnerability and determination makes her an admirable heroine, and Jeremiah is just too irresistible for his own good. If you’re a fan of Miranda Kenneally’s, you’ll notice her past characters sprinkled once more into the pages of this book, and enjoy seeing what they’ve been doing with their lives. I’ve no doubt she’ll be writing more (two more in the Hundred Oaks series are due out in 2016 and 2017 respectively), and I most certainly will be reading them!
Note: Contains sexual circumstances, death, alchohol, and extreme sports!