ARC REVIEW: Top Ten by Katie Cotugno

Title: Top Ten

Author: Katie Cotugno

Published: 03 October 2017 | Balzer + Bray

Date Read: 01 October 2017

Synopsis:

Ryan McCullough and Gabby Hart are the unlikeliest of friends. Introverted, anxious Gabby would rather do literally anything than go to a party. Ryan is a star hockey player who can get any girl he wants—and does, frequently. But against all odds, they became not only friends, but each other’s favorite person. Now, as they face high school graduation, they can’t help but take a moment to reminisce and, in their signature tradition, make a top ten list—counting down the top ten moments of their friendship:

10. Where to begin? Maybe the night we met.
9. Then there was our awkward phase.
8. When you were in love with me but never told me…
7. Those five months we stopped talking were the hardest of my life.
6. Through terrible fights…
5. And emotional makeups.
4. You were there for me when I got my heart broken.
3. …but at times, you were also the one breaking it.
2. Above all, you helped me make sense of the world.
1. Now, as we head off to college—how am I possibly going to live without you?

*ARC Kindly provided by Balzer + Bray thru Edelweiss for Review*

It’s been awhile since I’ve read a Katie Cotugno book and a contemporary book in general. Top Ten is about Ryan and Gabby – best friends – who are anticipating their high school graduation and after years of friendship, they can’t help but reminisce different moments of their friendship. They do it in a very systematic way which is by writing a Top Ten List.

Top Ten has a very interesting premise and as a reader who is very into best friend’s type of story, I’m immediately totally up into this story. However, the story was not I’m expecting it to be. It lacked something that I can’t put my finger into. It just didn’t deliver the story I was expecting from the blurb that we all had before reading.

While the writing is okay, the timeline of the story really confused me. This is not the first book that I’ve read that jumps from one time frame to the other, but on this book’s case, it confused me! There has been a lot of back and forth between the Gabby and Ryan’s perspective from different timelines.

From the beginning, we all know that Ryan and Gabby are best friends, but do you consider people who constantly fight with each other about nearly everything as best friends? What they have is really an unlikely relationship because they don’t just bicker and tease each other. They fight. A LOT. I came to the point where I wonder why these two are even “best friends”. Given, the chemistry was there from the very first chapter, but I was looking for the build-up and relationship transition, but nada, there’s none of that as well. Just like their friendship, their romance is confusing and angsty and there’s a lot of back and forth.

Gabby is a girl who suffers a major social anxiety. I do understand and tried to understand where she’s coming from, but for most the story, she felt flat for me. But one thing that did surprised me with her character is her bisexuality. I really appreciate how she explored her feelings and sexuality and finding out who she really is. Ryan, on the other hand, is one of their school’s hockey player and is a social butterfly. Though, I do felt major “kilig” on him at times, his character also felt flat to me.

I can consider our main characters okay but honestly, they are both flat as a dough. I had a hard time connecting with them and it feels like I ended up just knowing about them from the outside.

The potential for a cute and adorable contemporary story was there but the confusing timeline and flat characters didn’t really give the story much justice. Though, I really appreciate how Cotugno inserted topics of anxiety and sports-related injury to the story. Those aspects where well-handled and written but I wish it was explored more as the story barely scratched the surface of said topics.

Overall, it was an okay read.

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ARC Review: Summer Unscripted by Jen Klein

Title: Summer Unscripted

Author: Jen Klein

Published: 13 June 2017 | Random House

Date Read: 05 August 2017

Synopsis:

A summer romance about missed connections and how not to miss out on the love of your life. For fans of Deb Caletti, Sarah Dessen, and Jenny Han.

Girl looks for a sign. Enter: boy.

Rainie doesn’t have a “passion” like her friends do. She’s more of a dabbler—quick to give up and move on. But as graduation approaches, she wishes she had more direction. So when gorgeous Tuck gives a monologue that literally puts into words exactly how she’s been feeling lately, it’s a sign! Tuck is her passion. How could she not have seen it before?

Girl follows boy. Enter: second boy.

Rainie convinces her ex-BFF to let her work at the same summer job as Tuck. She’s got a foolproof plan to date him. But when she arrives, Rainie discovers things aren’t that simple. And she meets Milo, a super-cute boy who also works with her. A boy with a complicated past.

Girl needs to figure stuff out. Enter: drama.

*ARC Kindly provided by Penguin Random House for review*

Summer Unscripted is a light, quick and easy summer book to read.

“You’re a canoe. You’re floating. Aimless. You’re drifting. Getting knocked aslew by the waves of the speedboats rocketing past you. They all know where they’re going. They all have a plan. But you, you don’t.”

When one of her school’s most sought-after guy gave this monologue at school looking right in the eyes of Raine, she knew it’s a sign. A sign that she needs to follow him on a summer theater troupe even though she doesn’t know a bit about theater and the play itself.

Raine is the type of character that I easily relate to. She’s unsure and undecided on what to do with her life. She jumps from one thing to another and really having a hard time finding her niche in life. I’m way older than Raine and I still feel the same at times that’s why I easily relate to her.

Milo is a fun character. He’s a perfect guy throughout the story – decent and talented (onstage and offstage). I also like that the author made him Mexican-American inserting a bit of diversity into the book.

“I’m like a human skipping stone. Splashing across life’s surface, going after one thing and then another. Sure, I might make a lot of ripples, but they always disappear.”

Delving deeper into the book, I just wished it tackled more on the aspect of Raine being indecisive about things about her future instead of focusing majority of her time in her boy-drama. This might also be a good time to mend broken fences with her friend Ella.

Overall, the story was okay. The writing is witty and engaging. The whole summer heather vibe was captured by the author including the dramas, competition and even the hook-ups. The pacing was also quick and though the story was quite predictable it is still fun to read.

Review: Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley

Title: Words in Deep Blue

Author: Cath Crowley

Published: 06 June 2017 | Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers

Date Read: 30 July 2017

Synopsis:

Love lives between the lines.

Years ago, Rachel had a crush on Henry Jones. The day before she moved away, she tucked a love letter into his favorite book in his family’s bookshop. She waited. But Henry never came.

Now Rachel has returned to the city—and to the bookshop—to work alongside the boy she’d rather not see, if at all possible, for the rest of her life. But Rachel needs the distraction, and the escape. Her brother drowned months ago, and she can’t feel anything anymore. She can’t see her future.

Henry’s future isn’t looking too promising, either. His girlfriend dumped him. The bookstore is slipping away. And his family is breaking apart.

As Henry and Rachel work side by side—surrounded by books, watching love stories unfold, exchanging letters between the pages—they find hope in each other. Because life may be uncontrollable, even unbearable sometimes. But it’s possible that words, and love, and second chances are enough.

*Finished copy kindly provided by Penguin Random House for review*

Who wouldn’t be enticed to read a book that is about books and lovers of books? That premise of Words In Deep Blue is what immediately captured my interest making me immediately put it on my anticipated reads list for this year. And just when I thought that the story is a simple as that I was so wrong because inside this book is a heartfelt story that tackles family, friendship, grief and loss

Told in alternating POV’s of old friends Rachel and Henry, we were all brought to the small town of Gracetown where Rachel and Henry grew up together. Until a time came when Rachel needs to move to another town. Loose ends have been left with Henry and her other friends. But now, years have passed and she has returned to Gracetown. Returning to her old hometown, old friends and to Henry. But nothing is ever the same. Rachel is no longer the same.

Now, they are both forced to deal with the past, live in the present and get ready for the future and face the truths.

“I’ve missed her. Even now when she’s not being herself, I miss her.”

I like Henry! He’s cool and geeky and such a sweetheart. Though I’m quite annoyed on how he reacts with Amy (sicker than a love-sick boy) I liked him because he was able to redeem himself at the latter part of the book. He wears his heart on his sleeve. I really can’t blame him on what happened between him and Rachel, but what I do appreciate about him is that he gently woven himself back into Rachel’s life. He knows that something is going on with her but he didn’t push her into telling him what it is. He let her take her time to tell him.

“I think you should be depressed. I think depression is completely fair enough. Depression is the absolute response here.”

Rachel on the other hand is such a tough nut to crack. From the beginning, her sadness and grief can be seen. She’s still grieving for the loss of her brother. She’s also grieving the loss of her “old-self” mom. Reading about Rachel on the books actually makes me feel melancholic. I felt for her. I felt her sadness, her grief, her guilt. Being in Gracetown makes her feel alive again even for just a little. The town holds a lot of memory of her and her brother and going back has been a  good start for healing to her.

The other characters also made the book more solid. There’s George, Lola, Martin, Rachel’s Aunt and even Henry’s Parents, these set of characters are all there at the center of the story solidifying the story more with their sub-stories that is as interesting as the main story itself.

“Secondhand books are full of mysteries, which is why I like them.”

The Howling Bookstore is the brightest part of this book form me. Just imagining how cozy the bookstore looks makes me fall in love with books all over again. I really love the unique idea of the Letter Library where customers can write in books, circle the words they love and highlight lines. They can leave notes in the margin and thoughts about meanings of things that can be later discovered by other people. This idea is brilliant because its like another method of communication. It creates connection between strangers who might share the same love and passion as you.

The Letter Library is also home to Rachel and Henry’s sweet moments. Though the love-story is not the highlight of the whole story, I still feel giddy whenever there is a Rachel-Henry moment. *squeee*

I love the characters, I love the story so why not give it 5 stars? Well because, it took quite long for the story to get into the heart of the matter. I reached a point where it felt like I was dragging myself into the story (but I did get my feet back at some point).

Another thing is that it feels like a lot is going on – death of someone, love life of someone, the bookstore, the books and letters. There are a lot of subplots that are very interesting and I think are important parts of the story but sadly the ending did not give it enough justice. In fact, I felt that the ending is still quite a loose end for me.

“The past is with me; the future is unmapped and changeable. Ours for the imagining, spreading out before us. Sunlight-filed, deep blue, and the darkness.”

Overall, it has been an interesting read for me. I loved the characters and the whole concept of the Howling Books but I just wished that the ending could’ve been more close tied. Nevertheless, I’ll be on the lookout for more of Cath Crowley’s books.

Review: What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum

Title:What to Say Next

Author: Julie Buxbaum

Published: 11 July 2017 | Delacorte Press

Date Read: 08 July 2017

Synopsis:

From the New York Times bestselling author of Tell Me Three Things comes a charming and poignant story about two struggling teenagers who find an unexpected connection just when they need it most. For fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jennifer Niven, and Rainbow Rowell.

Sometimes a new perspective is all that is needed to make sense of the world.

KIT: I don’t know why I decide not to sit with Annie and Violet at lunch. It feels like no one here gets what I’m going through. How could they? I don’t even understand.

DAVID: In the 622 days I’ve attended Mapleview High, Kit Lowell is the first person to sit at my lunch table. I mean, I’ve never once sat with someone until now. “So your dad is dead,” I say to Kit, because this is a fact I’ve recently learned about her.

When an unlikely friendship is sparked between relatively popular Kit Lowell and socially isolated David Drucker, everyone is surprised, most of all Kit and David. Kit appreciates David’s blunt honesty—in fact, she finds it bizarrely refreshing. David welcomes Kit’s attention and her inquisitive nature. When she asks for his help figuring out the how and why of her dad’s tragic car accident, David is all in. But neither of them can predict what they’ll find. Can their friendship survive the truth?

*Finished copy kindly provided by Penguin Random House for review*

Ever since reading Tell Me Three Things I told myself that I would read anything and everything Julie Buxbaum writes. Luckily, the awesome people from PRH gave me a chance to read an early copy of her new novel What To Say Next.

Before I started writing this review, I’m contemplating if I loved What To Say Next more than I loved Tell Me Three Things. I rated both books 5 stars so that was immediately a dead end for me, but then I realized these two books differ from one another. What To Say Next tackles a very different plot line with a different set of unique characters comparing to Tell Me Three Things.

Written in alternating POV’s of the main characters David and Kit –  What To Say Next is about these two people who are socially different from one another but both going thru a rough and tough time. From the characters, the plot and even the sub-plot – everything clicked and worked out great for me.

“Good-weird is what I’ve been telling myself I am for years, when being just plain weird was too much of a burden to carry. Good-weird is the only solution to the problem, when normal isn’t a viable option. Good-weird may very well be the opposite of cool, but I’ve never aspired to cool. At least not the version of it I’m familiar with.”

David is different. That’s my first impression of him as I started reading this book. But what becomes prominent as I go on reading is that he’s different in a good way – intelligent, honest and has a good heart. He is dubbed as a loner at school because he’s always by himself with his headphones and notebook in his own world but I adored him. For some reason, it’s not a tough job to connect with David because he wears his heart on his sleeve.

He has a high-functioning autism, possibly Asperger’s making him more “different” especially with the kids from school. Some are cruel to him but he eventually got used and grown into it. With his trusty journal that he filled with his daily observations, he also has a list of people to help him remember who are “good” and “bad”.

I honestly can’t remember if I’ve ever read a book tackling the subject of autism but what I’m sure of in reading about it here is that the author was able to capture the struggles of having it realistically.  We saw it on David’s POV and even saw it on how his parents and sister have treated him. This story also taught me that the autism spectrum is multidimensional, not linear. There are different kinds of it that sometimes can’t be seen with bare eyes. Aside from those, it also made me realize just how cruel society sometimes can be especially to people like David who are nothing but intelligent and kind but was treated as weird and with endless judgement just because he has autism.

But overall the story, I love David’s blunt honesty, awkwardness and geekiness. I appreciate the knowledge that he shared about Quantum Mechanics. *wink*

“I realize we all walk around pretending we have some control over our fate, because to recognize the truth-that no matter what we do, the bottom will fall out when we least expect it-is just too unbearable to live with.”

Kit is having a hard time dealing with grief. Her father tragically dies in a car accident over a month ago, and she’s grieving in her own way. With this grief, Kit begins to shut down everyone – her friends and even her mom.

She’s a mystery. That’s my initial impression of her. She doesn’t speak much about her past but I do know it has something to do on how she’s acting at the present. She’s really a tough character who barely cried during her father’s death. As a daughter who is closer to her father as well, I hurt and still hurting for Kit’s loss.

Being on the top of the social ladder on their school, it was a surprise for David and everyone at school when Kit sits by David every lunch time. They barely talk at first until David begins talking about Quantum Mechanics and from there begins an unlikely friendship.

Of course, this friendship is not all rainbows and flowers. They are both keepers of things to themselves and it took them sometime to open to one another, but as the pages go forward – seeing their friendship unfolds and blossom into something more, it was beautiful to read. They fit well together despite their differences.

Aside from David and Kit, the secondary characters are well written as well. There is David’s sister and parents and Kit’s friends – whom I thought would bash her out after leaving them but instead waited for her to grieve on her own way and will be there for Kit with arms wide open.

As typical of Julie Buxbaum, the writing flowed smoothly. Each chapter was quick to read and the thoughts are straightforward. I love the dual POV as we get to read what is inside David and Kit’s thoughts. There is a romance part of course, it was cute and swoony but it is not the highlight of the story. It was presented in a very subtle way for me. The story has deep issues – death, autism and grief –  it was handled seriously but there is no dark and depressing tone into it which is like a magic in writing.

Of course, revelation/climax part. At around 45% of reading, secrets are being unveiled. I do have hints here and there but it still surprised me in a way.

“Unimaginably bad things happened. We are left to choose whether to grow or to wither. To forgive or to fester. I’m going to choose to grow and forgive, for both myself and my mom.”

In just 300 pages or so, the story was able to explore the complexity of life and death and accepting the changes the life has given us. It packs a lot of lessons and emotions so get yourself ready as you read this.

This is probably one of the longest review I’ve written and it feels like my thoughts are everywhere, but please do yourselves a big favor and pick-up this book and other books by Julie Buxbaum. You will not regret it.

ARC Review: When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon

Title: When Dimple Met Rishi

Author: Sandhya Menon

Published: 30 May 2017 | Simon Pulse

Date Read: 10 June 2017

Synopsis:

A New York Times bestseller

The rom-com that everyone’s talking about! Eleanor & Park meets Bollywood in this hilarious and heartfelt novel about two Indian-American teens whose parents conspire to arrange their marriage.

Dimple Shah has it all figured out. With graduation behind her, she’s more than ready for a break from her family, from Mamma’s inexplicable obsession with her finding the “Ideal Indian Husband.” Ugh. Dimple knows they must respect her principles on some level, though. If they truly believed she needed a husband right now, they wouldn’t have paid for her to attend a summer program for aspiring web developers…right?

Rishi Patel is a hopeless romantic. So when his parents tell him that his future wife will be attending the same summer program as him—wherein he’ll have to woo her—he’s totally on board. Because as silly as it sounds to most people in his life, Rishi wants to be arranged, believes in the power of tradition, stability, and being a part of something much bigger than himself.

The Shahs and Patels didn’t mean to start turning the wheels on this “suggested arrangement” so early in their children’s lives, but when they noticed them both gravitate toward the same summer program, they figured, Why not?

Dimple and Rishi may think they have each other figured out. But when opposites clash, love works hard to prove itself in the most unexpected ways.

*ARC kindly provided by Simon Pulse thru Edelweiss for review*

Ever since I read about When Dimple Met Rishi, I’m immediately head-over-heels excited for it and wanted to read it pronto! Some of you might say and may find this book cliché and predictable but for me, this is one of the most adorable, fun and lighthearted book I’ve read this year!!!

“It was beginning. Her freedom, her independence, her period of learning-about herself, about the world, about her career. She was finally doing it. Here, she wouldn’t be Dimple Shah, wayward, Americanized daughter of immigrant parents; she’d be just Dimple Shah, future web developer.”

Dimple Shah is attending the Insomnia Con – a camp for aspiring web developers. She’s off to Stanford at the end of summer and she’s pretty much excited to start college and study coding.

Rishi Patel is attending the Insomnia Con – a camp for aspiring web developers. But he’s not an aspiring web developer. He’s there to woo Dimple Shah, his future wife.

When Dimple Met Rishi is like a dose of a romantic comedy movie. Written in alternating POV’s of Dimple and Rishi, there’s the awkward first meet, the getting to know you, the fun moments and of course the falling in love. As I’ve mentioned earlier, some readers might find this story cliché and predictable but I find it adorable, fun and fresh. I’m excited with each turn of the page.

Dimple and Rishi are probably one of the most fun and memorable characters I’ve read. They feel real and very much relatable for me.

“Seriously? That’s what you think I should be relegating my brain space to? Looking nice? Like, if I don’t make the effort to look beautiful, my entire existence is nullified? Nothing else matters-not my intellect, not my personality or my accomplishments; my hopes and dreams mean nothing if I’m not wearing eyeliner?”

Dimple Shah is a headstrong character from the very beginning. I admire her determination and will to reach her dreams. I enjoy reading about her geekiness over coding/computer stuffs.

Rishi Patel is a true blue nice guy from the very beginning. Nope, he’s not perfect, but for me, he’s the epitome of an all-out nice guy. He also had a good sense of humor which really spices up the story. He wanted to please and make his family proud of him and really values his Indian culture. He’s a bit of a geek too with his love for drawing and doing his own comics.

“Rishi..he was like a pop song you thought you couldn’t stand, but found yourself humming in the shower anyway.”

Dimple and Rishi’s relationship are off to a very rocky start (with iced coffee spilling incident included). There’s no love-at-first-sight and there’s no insta-love, they started with nothing and it was refreshing to see how their relationship progressed throughout the story.

Dimple was against the whole arranged marriage thing. She’s focused in studying and reaching for her dreams instead of looking for the IIH – Ideal Indian Husband. To her, arranged marriages are more about practicalities than romance and she’s not yet ready to dive into the domestic Indian wife life because she have dreams to pursue. Though saddened by it, Rishi has been understanding with Dimple’s thoughts about their arranged marriage and that made me admire him more.

But since they are the same camp and has been partnered together for a project, they spend more time together, getting to know each other until they find themselves liking and falling for each other.

Of course, there is a drama on the last couple of chapters but it was resolved satisfyingly. Both characters ended up apologizing and owning up to each other’s mistakes. I also saw changes especially with Dimple. She started off mean and a bit cruel but she ended up being more open and a bit nicer, I guess.

I’ve read a couple of books about arranged marriages and most of them are treated in a negative tone with all the force and abuse, but I like how Sandhya handled this topic on this book in such a positive way. It kind of deletes the negative connotation that I have with arranged marriages.

The author, being an Indian herself shared to us about their culture in a very interesting way. I enjoyed reading about Hindi references, clothing and even Bollywood stuffs.

Overall, When Dimple Met Rishi is a fast, fun and adorable read. I’m recommending it to each and every one of you!

ARC Review: That Thing We Call a Heart by Sheba Karim

Title: That Thing We Call a Heart

Author: Sheba Karim

Published: 09 May 2017 | HarperTeen

Date Read: 20 May 2017

Synopsis:

Shabnam Qureshi is a funny, imaginative Pakistani-American teen attending a tony private school in suburban New Jersey. When her feisty best friend, Farah, starts wearing the headscarf without even consulting her, it begins to unravel their friendship. After hooking up with the most racist boy in school and telling a huge lie about a tragedy that happened to her family during the Partition of India in 1947, Shabnam is ready for high school to end. She faces a summer of boredom and regret, but she has a plan: Get through the summer. Get to college. Don’t look back. Begin anew.

Everything changes when she meets Jamie, who scores her a job at his aunt’s pie shack, and meets her there every afternoon. Shabnam begins to see Jamie and herself like the rose and the nightingale of classic Urdu poetry, which, according to her father, is the ultimate language of desire. Jamie finds Shabnam fascinating—her curls, her culture, her awkwardness. Shabnam finds herself falling in love, but Farah finds Jamie worrying.

With Farah’s help, Shabnam uncovers the truth about Jamie, about herself, and what really happened during Partition. As she rebuilds her friendship with Farah and grows closer to her parents, Shabnam learns powerful lessons about the importance of love, in all of its forms.

Featuring complex, Muslim-American characters who defy conventional stereotypes and set against a backdrop of Radiohead’s music and the evocative metaphors of Urdu poetry, THAT THING WE CALL A HEART is a honest, moving story of a young woman’s explorations of first love, sexuality, desire, self-worth, her relationship with her parents, the value of friendship, and what it means to be true.

 

*ARC Kindly provided by HarperTeen thru Edelweiss*

It is rare to find a book with a Muslim lead-character. So I always get excited whenever I encounter one and read it. The Thing We Call a Heart might be the 3rd Muslim book that I’ve read and I’m happy and excited to be given a copy for a review. *wink*

“I had a simple plan. Get through the summer. Go to Penn. Begin anew. Don’t look back.”

Just like it is being rare to find a book with a Muslim lead-character it is also rare for me to find a book that I consider to be totally character-driven and reading The Thing We Calla Heart is one of those rare times.

Shabnam is a complex character. I had a hard time gauging who she really is I begin the story. She’s awkward, self-conscious but intelligent. She came off self-centered for me on most parts of the book and she frustrates the crap out of me most of the time as well but I still liked her – she’s flawed and she’s real.

Farah is Shabnam’s best friend and I like her just as much as I like Shabnam. They did have a bit of a fall-out in the beginning of the story after Farah started wearing a jihab without telling Shabnam but they did manage to work things out between them.

Of course, a love interest paved its way as well into the story into the form of a non-Muslim boy who’s very interested into the Muslim culture named Jamie. I never actually liked Jamie. I’m skeptical about his character from the beginning but it seems to fade whenever he makes or feel Shbnam special but nonetheless all throughout the story, I never liked him.

To say I’m surprised how Shabnam and Jamie’s story went is a complete understatement. I’m not going to go into details on what happened between these two but for me, the right thing happened because it opened a lot more for Shabnam.

It never gets old learning about the Muslim culture and history. I enjoyed reading about Urdu Poetry and learning about The Partition.

I love how different the Shabnam I met at the beginning of the story to the Shabnam on the last page of this book. Overall, this story is all about growing up. Figuring what you wanted in life and trying to understand life itself.

“Though sorrow is life destroying, we cannot escape it, as we have a heart.”

 

 

ARC Review: Girl Out of Water by Laura Silverman

Title: Girl Out of Water

Author: Laura Silverman

Published: 02 May 2017 | Sourcebooks Fire

Date Read: 13 May 2017

Synopsis:

Anise Sawyer plans to spend every minute of summer with her friends: surfing, chowing down on fish tacos drizzled with wasabi balsamic vinegar, and throwing bonfires that blaze until dawn. But when a serious car wreck leaves her aunt, a single mother of three, with two broken legs, it forces Anise to say goodbye for the first time to Santa Cruz, the waves, her friends, and even a kindling romance, and fly with her dad to Nebraska for the entire summer. Living in Nebraska isn’t easy. Anise spends her days caring for her three younger cousins in the childhood home of her runaway mom, a wild figure who’s been flickering in and out of her life since birth, appearing for weeks at a time and then disappearing again for months, or even years, without a word.

Complicating matters is Lincoln, a one-armed, charismatic skater who pushes Anise to trade her surfboard for a skateboard. As Anise draws closer to Lincoln and takes on the full burden and joy of her cousins, she loses touch with her friends back home – leading her to one terrifying question: will she turn out just like her mom and spend her life leaving behind the ones she loves

*ARC Kindly provided by Sourcebooks Fire thru Edelweiss for review*

The Girl Out of the Water is one of my most anticipated books this year. The first few pages seems a bit slow for me but reaching the 15% mark and I immediately plowed thru the book.

Anise is our main character who loves surfing. To say she loves surfing is an understatement because Anise and the waves flowed as one whenever she surfs. She’s athletic and competitive which I immediately saw on the first pages of the book.

“How much will I miss while I’m gone? What if so much changes and I don’t even recognize home?”

For this summer, she has everything planned – from surfing the waves, planning the yearly summer party and saying goodbye to some of her friends that are bound for college and joining the military.

Anise has never traveled out of town, she’s a true-blue Santa Cruz Girl. Until an accident happened and summer plans was put into a halt. Her aunt residing in the land-lock state of Nebraska was into an accident and Anise and her dad are bound to help. There’s no ocean and waves in Nebraska and none of her friends were there.

“I know I should want to go, I should want to help my family. But knowing and wanting are two very different things.”

I can see myself in Anise – comforted by the familiar things and is a bit afraid of changes. I understand where she’s coming from especially on how she feels when her summer plans were suddenly changed. The ocean was Anise’s comfort zone and when she finds herself landlocked in the middle of Nebraska she doesn’t know what to do. Without the water and surfing she feels like she’s losing herself.

But despite all of that and after all the attitude and even though she did have a hard time coming into terms on the changes on her summer plans, she did manage to help her dad, her aunt and her cousins. I think that summer helped Anise grow and move out of her own shell.

Just like your normal teenager, she may come off as flighty and have the “I don’t care in the world” attitude but she’s struggling with several personal issues. She has an abandonment issues with her mom.  Her mom who is an absentee wife and a wrecking force who goes in and out of Anise and her dad’s life without notice, not caring what destruction she leaves in her wake. I really appreciate how this issue was also handled on this book. It was heartbreaking and tough.

The story was also filled some amazing set of characters who are there to help Anise achieve her happy summer.

Anise’s father is great. Though he’s the one who has been under the spell of Anise’s mom and experienced her wrath tenfold, he didn’t let that deteriorate that love he has for Anise. He worked hard and bring Anise up greatly. I really appreciate how open he is with his daughter. He’s one of the best dad characters I’ve read!

I also appreciate the participation on Anise’s cousins. Though they are all young, they were able to contribute a part in the story that makes it whole.

“Disabilities are a part of us, but they are in no way our full definition.”

I really like Lincoln. He’s one-armed, straight-forward, fun, polite and talented especially on skateboarding. Lincoln is a nice guy. The skateboard place at the park was his turf. His attitude was so infectious and I really like how his character was built up. He’s also sensitive in way that he knows when to deal or say things at the right time.

Lincoln and Anise’ chemistry was so on point. They have their similarities and differences which I think makes them for compatible for each other. I really enjoy their bickering and skateboarding moments.

As to story progressed more, I wanted Anise to resolve her issues. I wanted for her to find healing with the help of her dad, aunt, cousins, friend and Lincoln because she truly deserves it.

“Home isn’t a place. It’s people. And I’ve always been with my people.”

The topic of family has played a huge part into this story. I really love how Anise’s family dynamics was written. They are not perfect but they are an inspiration. I’m so happy how Anise’s story turned out. She grew and learned. It was a tough and shaky journey but everything did work out well.

“One day, years from now, when these memories have blended together, I won’t remember the time I missed Eric’s wipeout or the time I missed Cassie’s dance recital, I’ll just remember I grew up with a group of really amazing friends.”

Overall, I really enjoyed reading The Girl Out of The Water. It was interesting, touching, realistic and relatable. The ending was a bit open but it was a good conclusion to the story. This is another lovely coming of age story.