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This review is also available on my blog, Bows & Bullets Reviews
Wren is average. She is ranked somewhere in the middle of her high school and the only comment her teachers ever have about her is that she is a bit too quiet. She is sick of it and desperate to change. Speak up more, live in the moment, and not let people push her around. She definitely gets people’s attention when she performs the Heimlich on a guest at a wedding at her parents catering hall and saves his life. Grayson was that guest and he can’t get Wren out of his mind ever since. He used to be the big man on campus at St Gabriel’s, but after being expelled for selling term papers, he’s a bit lost. Not sure who he is anymore or who he wants to be, he only knows that Wren saved his life and he has to find out more about her.
Wren was a character I could instantly sympathize with. I can completely understand that feeling of being labeled “average” when it’s anything but accurate and letting people walk all over you because your too quiet to speak up. I enjoyed watching her try to step out of her comfort zone, especially when Grayson was around. There were moments when I wanted to slap her because, as much as I like Gray, I couldn’t believe she was buying his bullshit. That whole mall thing would have sent me over the deep end and no amount of kisses and sweet-talk could have convinced me to forgive him at that exact moment. I get that she a bit under-experienced when it comes to boys, but come on lady, open your eyes and demand answers in a now-or-never fashion and he either fesses up or moves on. Speaking of her experience with guys, can I just say that I love the fact that she isn’t a virgin and is still portrayed as a “good” girl?!? Too many times in YA, a girl can’t be the goodie goodie if she dares to have sex and it’s sickening. But that’s not to be found here, with Wren being an honors student, a great worker at her parents catering hall, and a loyal friend.
Grayson was a bit of a jackass in the beginning. In fact, I think Wren’s first description of him was something similar because he was doing obnoxious tricks at the wedding she was “waitressing.” He improves though. I am delighted to say that this is told in duel perspectives, so we get to see Gray’s side of things as well. The more time I get behind his eyes, the more I just wanted to hug him. He seems so lost. He has basically lost his identity because everything changed when he got booted from St Gabes, his friends even ignored him all summer. But they are back now, demanding his help with “Operation Amsterdam,” a scheme that would bring shame to anyone with a lick of sense. I thought it was a weed selling business, because Amsterdam always implies marijuana, but oh how wrong I was. I think the truth is much worse than that. That’s really sayings something for me because I’m extremely anti-drug. He’s out of the game and doesn’t want to get back in, especially because of what Wren would think if she found out, but his friends are pressuring (and threatening) him to come back for just one last score. I think he is trying to grow up and move on, but they just won’t let him.
What is really adorable here is the interactions between the entire cast. Grayson is so sweet to Wren and I love them together, her presence pushing him to be better and his pushing her to step out of her comfort zone. Even though it felt a bit insta-lovey, I still enjoyed the two pairing up. But it isn’t just them I enjoyed, I liked the banter between Wren’s entire group of friends and family, as well as seeing Gray’s half-siblings. Wren and Jazz do that whole movie quotes/references thing that puts me in nerd-girl heaven.
One bit of advice though? When you are doing a reference or a quote, don’t go back and say what you’re quoting. In a real conversation, if I quote <i>The Princess Bride</i>, I know enough to know that my friends will understand the reference and I know there is no need to explain it. I felt like the book was almost dumbed-down a bit to make sure everyone understood the film references and that brought down the magic level a bit. It may sound a little silly, but it took me out of the moment and if it bugged me, I’m sure it’ll bug someone else too. Another minor issue was the insta-love I referred to early. I know they are teenagers and become connected because she saves his life, but saying the L word within two – three weeks is a bit too soon. I think it would have been entirely feasible to just leave that out and the novel would have progressed fine. The attraction was enough to bring the two together and keep them together, no need to throw love in the mix. Maybe just a hint of it, but no declarations until the end, please! The final issue is just my personal thought, but it felt like Gray used too much teen-speak. Maybe I’m too adult now to know how “kids” really talk these days, but there were a few moments when Gray’s inner monologue (or dialogue) felt wrongly worded.
Despite the minor problems, this book really gets massive amounts of love from me. Wren and Gray’s journey to one another is adorable, while still managing to have enough drama to provide adequate conflict. It’s filled with sweet romantic moments, humorous dialogue, and an addictive quality that made it impossible to stop reading. I devoured this book in just a few days and considering this is exam week and all my spare time has been ear-marked for studying and taking my exams, that’s really saying something. Anyone who enjoys contemporary YA’s will love this. It reminded me quite a bit of Anna & The French Kiss and that alone should recommend it!
****Thank you to Balzar + Bray, An Imprint Of HarperCollins Publishers, for providing me with an eARC via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review****