ARC Book Review: When We Were

When We Were CoverBook: When We Were by Alexandra Diaz

Expected Publication is September 29, 2015 by The Studio|Expected Number Of Pages: 247 pages

Where I Got It: I received a digital advanced copy from netgalley.com, which hasn’t influenced my review in any way. Promise!

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Blog Graphic-What It's About

Previously published as OF ALL THE STUPID THINGS, this coming of age novel is a 2011 ALA Rainbow List Book and a 2011 New Mexico Book Award Finalist.

No one messes with Whitney Blaire or her friends, which is why she can’t help but let it slip that someone spotted Tara’s boyfriend making out with one of the guy cheerleaders.

Even after spending hours training for her marathon, down-to-earth Tara can’t outrun the rumors about the boyfriend she thought was perfect.

Pinkie, the rock and “Big Sister” of their inseparable group, just wants things to stay exactly the way they are…

…but that’s not possible when new-girl Riley arrives in school and changes everything.

Suddenly Tara starts to feel things she’s never felt before—for anyone—while Whitney Blaire tries to convince her that this new girl is Trouble. Meanwhile, Pinkie’s world begins to crumble as she begins to suspect that the friends she depends on are not the girls she thought she knew. Can friendship survive when all the rules are broken?

Blog Graphic- What I Thought

When We Were seemed really interesting, and yet, I found myself thinking that it was just okay.  I really did want to like it more than I did.

I think the biggest reason why When We Were was just okay was that I felt like it wasn’t as developed as it could have been.

Like Tara, Pinkie and Whitney Blaire.  I get the girls are best friends, but they’re all so different that it was a little hard to see why they were such close friends.  They were all pretty stereotypical- Tara’s the athlete, Pinkie is the academic/glue of the group who has no mother, and Whitney Blaire is the mean girl who acts that way because her parents are never there.  There is mention that they have a history together, but unfortunately, we don’t see that history, and I think having a little bit of history would have made their friendship a little more realistic and believable.

I feel like each girl was somewhat superficial, and I wonder if it’s because we see each chapters from all three girls. We don’t really get enough time with each one for them to fully develop.  Which brings me to Riley.  I think, of all the characters, Riley is probably the most interesting.  She had a little bit more to her than the other characters did, and I wish we saw more of her.  I didn’t get Whitney Blaire’s instant dislike of her, which was for no apparent reason. Later on, I could understand her dislike of Riley, because Whitney Blaire has some abandonment issues, and feels threatened by how close Riley and Tara become.  Initially, though?  There’s no reason for it.

As much as I liked Riley and wanted to see more of her, I also felt like her relationship with Tara was sort of random and out of nowhere.  I think, because only a third of the book is from Tara’s perspective, we don’t see Tara really explore her feelings for Riley- all of a sudden, they’re making out.  The reactions from Whitney Blaire and Pinkie (especially Pinkie) were weird and frustrating.

I really need to back-track for a second- there are rumours that Tara’s boyfriend Brent was seen making out with one of the guy cheerleaders, which leads to Tara breaking up with him, and Brent denying it.  This is then ignored for most of the book, until we learn that it wasn’t actually true. Really, for the lack of attention it received, and the way it was dropped, she could have broken up with up with him for any reason.  I think I was just expecting it to be more of a thing.

Back to Whitney Blaire and Pinkie.  I get Whitney Blaire thinks Tara is believing Riley over her, but saying that Riley and Tara are dating simply because Tara believes Riley over Whitney Blaire was weird, confusing and out of nowhere.  It made no sense to me.  I felt that way with Pinkie, a little, but with Pinkie, it was more frustrating than anything else.  Pinkie is convinced that Tara can’t be interested in girls because she dated Brent and because she’s too pretty.  In particular, when Pinkie says that she has no problem with gay people but doesn’t want them near her…I was horrified by that, especially from someone who seems caring.  Honestly, it sounds more like a Whitney Blaire comment than a Pinkie comment, at least from what we see in the book, and it’s just so cruel and hard to believe that she would say it, because until that point, she’s the last person I’d expect it from.  But their reaction to it was overall believable, in the sense that I can actually see people reacting that way.

Her mom was pretty awesome, though, in how she reacted.  Yes, the mom was surprised, but she was so accepting of Tara.  Even though it seems like it would be an adjustment for her, Tara’s happiness is so important to her, and I loved that.

Even though there are a lot of things I didn’t like or thought were weird (with one or two things I did like), When We Were did keep me intrigued, and I really wanted to see what would happen with the characters.

Blog Graphic- My Rating

2 stars.  When We Were isn’t my cup of tea, but something about it did keep me interested enough to see what would happen.

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