Originally reviewed here
.Why I Read It:
I'm sticking to my resolution of reading as many 2012 releases that catch my eye. I'm not usually into "cute" books like this, but it sounded TOO cute to pass up. Also, I've been busy with school stuff (well, I still am actually, but anyway) and haven't been able to handle anything that's too intellectually strenuous or long.
Honestly, this book was exactly what I needed. Yes, it's light and fluffy and super cutesy, but I don't mean that in a derogatory way -- this is not a mindless brain-candy read that I'll immediately forgot.
I do have to admit though that the writing initially threw me off. It's told in the third-person present tense, but limited to Hadley. I don't recall ever encountering this style before; usually present tense is told in the first person POV. So, it did take a bit to adjust to this strange narration, but once I did, it made sense. The present-tense adds an immediacy that is perfectly apt for this story and the third-person POV allows the narrator to dish out information to the reader that would have felt awkward coming straight from Hadley's mouth.
The story itself is fairly predictable, but because Smith focused almost solely on Hadley and Oliver she was able to develop them in a such a satisfying way that I didn't care how obvious it was that they were going to end up together in the end. Smith doesn't bother with side characters or side plots to try to make the plot more interesting or to add unneeded drama. She sticks to the essentials, and yes, the story is short, but it's really all the better for it. It's a tight story, and as I mentioned above, the focus on Hadley and Oliver allows for them to be properly developed. They're easy to root for too. Hadley's in a crappy situation so you feel kind of sorry for her and Oliver is just a sweet guy (though you find out he's a really crappy situation himself); I couldn't help but grin at his jokes and goofy demeanor. No wonder Hadley crushes on him so hard.
Also, Shannon from Giraffe Days
brings up a very poignant point that captures the essence of this novel perfectly: "It's not a complicated story, nor a hugely unpredictable one, but it catches a moment in time, one of those beautiful times that you'd look back on with great fondness, reliving often. I think we all have times like those in our lives."
When I read her review, I was nodding my head vigorously at most of it, but especially this part. I know I definitely have a few stories like that (like how I met Jacob), which made it easy for me to relate to Hadley and Oliver.
While there is a large focus on Oliver and Hadley, the novel is not solely about their serendipitous encounter: the novel also chronicles Hadley's family turmoil. Some reviewers have commented that Hadley acts like a brat about the whole thing, but I couldn't help but sympathize. Yes, I sympathized with her father too (I don't condone what he did, but feelings really are very complicated aren't they?) but it's hard to see both sides of the situation when you're on the shitty end of the stick.
The ending was satisfying in many ways, as I really was actually slightly concerned that Hadley and Oliver would reconnect (though in the back of my mind I knew they would in the end) because of some things that happened before, but their finally reunion before the novel's end gave me gooey happy feelings that reminded me of Anna and the French Kiss
. Some of Hadley's family issues were tied up a little too neatly perhaps, but did it bug that much? No, not really.Final Judgment:
In a lot of ways, this novel reminded me Anna and the French Kiss
. Not because the plots were all the similar, but more because of the ways that the novel made me feel. Also, they're both cutesy Contemporary YAs with a focus on romance that have actual substance to them. The writing style threw me off a bit at first, but once I got used to it, it made sense. The two leads are easy to root for (the male lead is also really cute, which helps) and Hadley's family troubles make her easy to sympathize with (even when she's not always exhibiting exemplary behaviour.) The book is short, the plot is simple, but Smith didn't adorn it with any unneeded fluff, which made for a tight and well-paced story with wonderfully developed characters. The resolution might be too quick and easily resolved for some people, and while I can see why people feel that way, it wasn't something that bothered me. I wholeheartedly recommend this to fans of contemporary YA that are looking for something relatively light and fluffy but not forgettable, or fans of Anna and the French Kiss