Book Title and Author: The Start of Me and You by Emery Lord
General Thoughts: This is a great story about a teenager named Paige trying to rediscover herself after her boyfriend’s tragic death. She’s tired of being seen as “the girl whose boyfriend died” and compiles a list of goals she feels will live life again and actually be someone. This story also does a good job of using Paige’s relationships with other people to help find herself, showing the impact others can have on who we are or become. I enjoy how that, although there’s a love story within the book, it isn’t the main focus and really serves as a way for Paige to figure out who she is and what she wants. That said, I think the “And You” part of the title is unnecessary.
Book Title and Author: Where the Road Takes Me by Jay McLean
General Thoughts: This was a book I got from Amazon on Prime Day, and it was worth the deal. The story is very much a love story that revolves around Blake, a high school basketball star, and Chloe, a girl who likes to be invisible. Upon reading the book’s description, admittedly, I, being a basketball fanatic, was sold on it when I read that one of the main characters is a basketball player. Blake and Chloe have been attending the same high school, but their paths didn’t cross until one night during their senior year. Blake becomes enamored with Chloe, and the more time he spends with her, the more he questions who he is and what he really wants to do with his life. Chloe begins as a rather mysterious but complex character, and the way her story unfolds is intriguing. Blake and Chloe’s relationship allows them to be people they didn’t know they could be, and they help each other work through issues to get there. It’s a bit cliche at points and may seem just like another love story, but I really enjoyed the way they each helped the other work through lingering issues and their pasts.
Book Title and Author: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before series by Jenny Han (To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, P.S. I Still Love You, and Always and Forever, Lara Jean)
General Thoughts: I’ve wanted to read this series since I discovered the first novel in 2014. It’s just one of those books I had on my to-read shelf and never got around to. And then I went to Books-A-Million last month, and the entire series was on sale, so I couldn’t pass it up ― especially with the movie coming out on Netflix later this year.
The series is about protagonist Lara Jean, a hopeless romantic who wrote private letters to boys she had big crushes on. She writes them for herself and has no intention of actually sending them out. Panic strikes when her letters somehow get sent out to the guys who now know how she felt about them, which the first book focuses on. Although To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before’s main conflict is her letters being sent out, the story doesn’t actually focus too much on Lara Jean trying to find out who sent them or how, which I didn’t expect but did like. It’s much more about her learning to deal with the attention this causes and her relationships with these boys because of it. In addition, the first book demonstrates the importance of family, especially in her family as she has no mother, just two sisters and a dad. I really enjoyed the sisterhood aspect of it.
While the main conflict from the first book has been resolved, the second book does address it, which is nice, because that part of the story wasn’t entirely finished. P.S. I Still Love You further develops Lara Jean as a character and addresses her first relationship and a sort of love triangle that develops as result of the letters. She learns what being in a romantic relationship is like ― it’s not the perfect picture she envisioned as a hopeless romantic. She learns the importance of trust and starts to come out of her shell.
The final book of the trilogy, Always and Forever, Lara Jean, wraps things up nicely without being too cliche or predictable. Lara Jean is a senior in high school and is striving to have the best senior year with her boyfriend, who she plans to go to college with. She learns that things don’t always go according to plan, but that’s okay and can be better than what you had planned. Old friends and things from her past start to leave, but new people have come into her life. By the conclusion of this book, it’s clear that Lara Jean has really grown. And I absolutely love the Asian-American representation this series brings to the YA genre.
Book Title and Author: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
General Thoughts: This was the best book I’ve read in a while, and possibly my favorite of 2018! It was a fascinating, uniquely told story with a dynamic plot line. The book follows the lives of four siblings who know the date they will die. It is split into four parts so that we get each sibling’s perspective as they live their lives with this date in mind. While it may sound bleak, the book is not so much about death as it is about exploring what it means to truly live.