Chloe Green is so close to winning. After her moms moved her from SoCal to Alabama for high school, she’s spent the past four years dodging gossipy classmates and a puritanical administration at Willowgrove Christian Academy. The thing that’s kept her going: winning valedictorian. Her only rival: prom queen Shara Wheeler, the principal’s perfect progeny. But a month before graduation, Shara kisses Chloe and vanishes.
Chloe as a character is definitely interesting and she felt very authentic. Sometimes when I’m reading contemporary books the characters either read too young or old but I feel like Casey McQuiston got all of these characters pretty spot on. I liked the fact that Chloe rebels against the rigid rules and regulations at her school. At first I was confused as to why Chloe was so adamant in figuring out what happened to Shara and why she just had to follow her clues. I felt like there was no motivating factors for her to continue chasing after Shara when it was obvious she was just messing with them and sending them on this wild goose chase.
I didn’t like Shara’s character at all honestly. From what we find out about her throughout the course of the book she has always capitalized off her position as the principal’s daughter and uses and manipulates everyone around her for her own gain. Her quest she sets out for Chloe, Smith and Rory again really showcase how much of a bad person she is and I didn’t really like how she is supposed to be redeemed at the end. We don’t get to see her have conversations with Smith and Rory about how she used them and vice versa, we’re just supposed to accept that they are all good and dying each other’s hair. She just wasn’t really held accountable for anything and that annoyed me.
Overall I just didn’t understand what the purpose of the book was. It was centered around Shara however we don’t even meet her until almost three quarters of the way through. We see everything through Chloe’s perspective and she doesn’t have the nicest things to say about her and then I’m expected to believe that it was actually love she was feeling. Shara very nearly sabotaged Chloe’s whole academic career because she actually liked her too much? Just doesn’t make sense to me.
I understand that these are teenagers and maybe the way they feel isn’t supposed to make sense and this book was just supposed to be about accepting who you are and coming to terms with your feelings and growing from that, but I came out of it not feeling miffed. The other characters were entertaining and distinctive for the most part. The Rory and Smith subplot was adorable and I really enjoyed seeing them come together!
⭐️2/5 stars I can understand the appeal, wasn’t for me though…
Watch Over Me is about a girl named Mila who has just aged out of the foster care system. She has been offered a job on a remote farm tutoring young foster kids who live there. She loves it there but is haunted by the past traumas that threaten to overwhelm her life.
This is not what I was expecting at all. I thought this was going to be a young adult thriller/horror novel where kids keep disappearing or found murdered on this farm, but really it was a contemporary with a speculative twist.
I think this book was structured perfectly. From the present timeline where Mila is being introduced to life on the farm and finding her place within this already established family. To the flashbacks of Mila’s time with her mother and Blake giving us much needed context and displaying how these events still have an affect on Mila all these years later.
The ghosts added the perfect touch of edginess to this otherwise quite rudimentary storyline. Had they not been there and having the mystery surrounding why they are haunting this farm I think I would of otherwise been a little bored with this book.
Mila is an endearing character. I found the relationship she developed with Lee to be touching and I feel she may have using him as a surrogate for her younger self and how she wished she would have been treated by her mother. We are only given a glimpse of what she had to endure in her past and we definitely see how some of the decision she made back then have just compounded on her conscious and are brought to the forefront for her to deal with.
This was a touching story about guilt and remorse and how someone who has been dealt a tough life is still able to move on and gain a family and a place to feel welcome and comforted.
⭐️3/5 stars haunting, poignant & moving
This was great!
Clap When You Land is about two sisters who didn’t know each other existed. Their father was leading a double life and would live throughout the year with one of his daughters in New York and then in the summer would go back to the Dominican Republic to be with his other daughter, until he tragically dies in a plane crash.
The tone of the book and the format was spectacular. Having the story told in verse I felt made the story that much more personal and poignant. It really connected me to the characters and made me so much more invested in them individually.
We see both Camino and Yahaira simultaneously having to deal with their father’s death and working through their grief. I loved the contrasts between the two sisters and learning how different both their lives have been even though they both have the same father. How he influenced them both separately yet they still have similar memories about his mannerisms and his overall presence.
Camino felt a little more passive and naïve to me. She is hopeful when she finds out about her sister and wasn’t as betrayed be her father than what Yahaira was. Her relationship with her Tia was wonderful to read and I just loved the fact that she chose to stay with Camino to raise her after her sister died even though she knew what her brother in law was doing in New York.
Yahaira had a bit more of that New Yorker attitude I felt. She really had to step up when her mother couldn’t cope with her grief and make sure that they weren’t being taken advantage of by their extended family. I think he anger with her father and her sister was natural but the fact that she overcame that and replied to Camino really showed her true character.
The overall theme of grief and sisterhood really impacted me and at times made me tear up a little. The scene in the rain where Yahaira, her mother and Tia went and saved Camino from El Cero was very powerful.
Overall this was a pretty fast read for me even though the pacing was a little stalled at times. I would of liked to get more time with the sisters actually together and getting to know each other a bit more as opposed to having the majority of the story with them separated.
⭐️4/5 stars Highly enjoyed, highly recommend!
This book is a fun contemporary about a girl named Dimple who has just graduated high school and is going to a 6 week course at San Francisco University where she meets Rishi. They have been brought together by their parents to hopefully get married one day, Dimple is very much opposed to the union and Rishi wanting to appease his parents has agreed.
This seems unrealistic but I have a feeling this kind of situation probably happens often. I think the fact that Dimple’s parents didn’t warn her first was a little problematic especially when they feigned innocence when she called and confronted them. But they do end up apologising and supporting Dimple’s decision in the end.
Dimple came across a little arrogant at times for me. She can be quite dramatic and doesn’t really take into consideration other people’s thoughts and opinions. She writes Rishi off pretty quickly and then once she gets to know him realises how wrong she is and then pushes him away again. It was a little frustrating and I thought it was a little ironic that she called Rishi the coward.
I actually really enjoyed Rishi, I found him adorably naïve when it came to Dimple and their first meeting was hilariously cute. The respect he has for his parents was honourable and even though he disagrees with them in the end he was able to work it out maturely. I loved that he has a backbone and calls out inappropriate behaviour from those around him, not caring if he made people uncomfortable!
Culture really means a lot to both Dimple and Rishi and I loved that it was explored throughout the course of the plot line. Their beliefs had an impact upon every decision that they made and we see them both reflecting a lot on what their parents would think and how they would be perceived in their community.
I just thought the relationship progressed too quickly and felt a little rushed to me. I would have liked if they would have more time to cultivate their friendship before jumping straight into a quite serious relationship in the course of a month. Even though they met when they were younger it wasn’t as if they were ever friends. Just a tad too insta-lovey for me personally!
⭐️3/5 Cute, fun, didn’t blow me away by any means!
Love from A to Z is a dual perspective story following Zayneb and Adam. Zayneb has just been suspended from school after confronting a inslamaphobe teacher at her school and is sent on an early spring break to Doha. Adam is dealing with just finding out he has been diagonsed with multiple sclerosis the diseases that killed his mum when he was nine.
What I loved about this book was that even though it is a contemporary love story at it’s core, it doesn’t stop each character from having their own personal drama’s that they are having to overcome. The narrative isn’t focused solely on them and dramatised in a way to keep them apart, it’s realistic and thought provoking and genuine.
Zayneb I found to be a little too focused on justice which at times clouded her vision and forced her to make brash decisions. When she is upset her anger overwhelms her and she can’t see any other side besides her own. I love that we explore so much of her culture and the decisions that she has made to commit to her way of life and be unapologetic about it. She definitely evolved and developed over the course of the storyline and the fact that she was able to recognise some of her faults but mould them into positives was indicative of her growth.
Adam is the sweetest, calmest, most frustrating character! I just wanted him to confide in his father from the beginning about his diagnosis but I can understand why he chose to keep it a secret. Having this condition that killed his mother and reliving some of his memories of her was heartbreaking and again we really see him come to accept the things he is not in control of and embrace the good things, the marvels in life.
Every single character in this book serves a purpose, from Adam’s group of friends to Aunty Nandy and especially Zahid. I have to say Zahid was definitely my favourite of all the characters in this book. The length that he went to in order to help this young man he didn’t even know really captured my heart and brought a tear to my eye.
I loved the format of the story told from the perspectives of their journal and having such stark contrasts between our two main characters. It was a quick, emotional, touching book that I feel I will be rereading many times in the future!
⭐️5/5 stars Another MUST read!!!