Book Review: Our Year Of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Book: Our Year Of Maybe by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Published January 2019 by Simon Pulse|384 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Aspiring choreographer Sophie Orenstein would do anything for Peter Rosenthal-Porter, who’s been on the kidney transplant list as long as she’s known him. Peter, a gifted pianist, is everything to Sophie: best friend, musical collaborator, secret crush. When she learns she’s a match, donating a kidney is an easy, obvious choice. She can’t help wondering if after the transplant, he’ll love her back the way she’s always wanted.

But Peter’s life post-transplant isn’t what either of them expected. Though he once had feelings for Sophie too, he’s now drawn to Chase, the guitarist in a band that happens to be looking for a keyboardist. And while neglected parts of Sophie’s world are calling to her—dance opportunities, new friends, a sister and niece she barely knows—she longs for a now-distant Peter more than ever, growing increasingly bitter he doesn’t seem to feel the same connection.

Peter fears he’ll forever be indebted to her. Sophie isn’t sure who she is without him. Then one blurry, heartbreaking night twists their relationship into something neither of them recognizes, leading them to question their past, their future, and whether their friendship is even worth fighting for.

I was pretty excited about this one after reading You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone.  Our Year Of Maybe was okay, and I didn’t like it as much as I wanted to.

I didn’t care for Sophie or Peter.  Their friendship didn’t work for me at all and it seemed like she needed him a lot more than he needed her.  I felt like she couldn’t function without him, to the point that she didn’t want to go away for a weekend because she couldn’t see him.  Their friendship seemed really one-sided, and it was strange to me that it was so much on Sophie’s end, considering she was the one who didn’t need a kidney.

I do think it’s awesome that she donated a kidney, even though her parents didn’t seem to agree with her decision.  And we do see Peter struggle with taking her kidney, and feeling like he owes her everything for what she did.  But the fact that he seemed to know she had feelings for him, and didn’t really talk to her about didn’t sit right with me.  It’s fine if the feelings aren’t reciprocated, but he acted like things were fine until he decided to say something.  I don’t know why he didn’t say anything earlier…well, actually I do, and I’m pretty sure it’s the kidney she donated.  But still, I just didn’t like it.

I did want more background on why she decided to donate.  I wasn’t completely sure why she decided to it, especially with her parents not seeming happy about it.  She was 18 when she did it, so I don’t know how much influence they could have had, but I know for me, my grandparents still had a pretty big influence on me, and I would have taken their concerns into account.  But maybe that’s just me.  Still, I would have like more on that.

I thought Sophie was pretty bratty, though.  All she cared about was Peter, and as much as she seemed to love choreography and dance, she seemed to not want to do anything with it unless she could stay near Peter.  I did like seeing her eventually start hanging out with others, but by that point, I just didn’t care.  Also, she was horrible to her sister, who was a teenage mom.  I wish we saw a little more with that, but this book was not about the relationship she had with her sister.

2 stars.  I didn’t particularly like Peter or Sophie, and there were some things that I think needed more information.

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Book Review: On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

Book: On The Come Up by Angie Thomas

Published February 2019 by Balzer + Bray|464 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Sixteen-year-old Bri wants to be one of the greatest rappers of all time. Or at least make it out of her neighborhood one day. As the daughter of an underground rap legend who died before he hit big, Bri’s got big shoes to fill. But now that her mom has unexpectedly lost her job, food banks and shutoff notices are as much a part of Bri’s life as beats and rhymes. With bills piling up and homelessness staring her family down, Bri no longer just wants to make it—she has to make it.

On the Come Up is Angie Thomas’s homage to hip-hop, the art that sparked her passion for storytelling and continues to inspire her to this day. It is the story of fighting for your dreams, even as the odds are stacked against you; of the struggle to become who you are and not who everyone expects you to be; and of the desperate realities of poor and working-class black families. 

I was nervous going into On The Come Up.  I loved The Hate U Give, and I’ve been looking forward to this book for a long time.  On The Come Up was great, and I loved it just as much as The Hate U Give.

This is a very different book than THUG.  Bri, I think, is a character who is not always the easiest to like or root for, but Bri is a really interesting character.  She’s angry and resentful and impulsive but she wants a better life for her and her family.  She lost her dad, her family is struggling to make ends meet, and has to deal with a lot of sexism in the hip-hop industry.

Bri’s trying to figure out who she is, and I love her for that.  She has a great group of people who love her and support her, from her grandparents, to her aunt to her friends to her mom and brother.  The relationships really stood out to me, particularly the one with her mom.  Her mom was amazing, and she just wanted Bri and her brother to do better than she did.  She was supportive and encouraging and wanted them to do well in school.  Her mom had a lot to deal with, from people not wanting to give her a chance because of a prior history of using drugs to going to school to give her kids a better life than the one she had.

I loved seeing Bri’s raps throughout the book.  I’m normally not a fan of lyrics (particularly original lyrics) in books, but it was a way for Bri to express herself, and I really liked it.  I’d actually love to see this book as a movie just to see the rap battles and to see Bri perform.  I really felt for her when someone thought that she didn’t write her own lyrics, and performing her own music was really important to her.  She really stuck to that, and I hated that no one took her seriously when she didn’t want to do someone’s else’s lyrics.  Actually, now I’m curious to see if there’s an audio book, just so I can listen to the lyrics.

On The Come Up does mention the events of THUG, so while we don’t see Starr, or get any follow up on what happened after, it is mentioned.  It makes sense, since this book is set in the same neighborhood.  Now I just want to re-read THUG to stay in this world a little bit longer.

5 stars.  I LOVED this book, and it’s a great follow-up to The Hate U Give.  I loved everything about this book, and I feel like I can’t properly do this book justice.  It’ a great book, and I definitely recommend it!

Book Review: The Rules For Breaking by Ashley Elston

Book: The Rules For Breaking by Ashley Elston

Published May 2014 by Disney-Hyperion|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Rules For Disappearing #2

Genre: YA Contemporary/Thriller

Who do you trust when no one is what they seem? The gripping sequel to contemporary, romantic YA thriller, The Rules for Disappearing.

Anna Boyd almost lost her life to get what she wanted most in the world: freedom.

But just when it seems that her family has finally escaped Witness Protection, the illusion that Anna could resume a normal life comes crashing down.

The deadly man Anna knows as Thomas is still on the loose, and now he’s using her as a pawn in a dangerous game with the drug cartel determined to silence her forever. When Thomas and a mysterious masked man capture not only Anna but also her fragile younger sister and her boyfriend, Anna decides it’s time to break all the rules-even if it means teaming up with the lesser of two evils.

Anna will do whatever it takes to protect the people she loves and win her life back once and for all. But her true enemies are hidden in plain sight. Before long, Anna will learn that putting her trust in anyone may be the last mistake she ever makes.

After reading The Rules For Disappearing, I knew I wanted to pick up the sequel.  I was pretty curious about what happened to Anna after the events of that book unfolded.  The Rules For Breaking was okay, and I didn’t like it as much as I thought I would.

I did like seeing what was going on with Anna, and how things weren’t over for her, even though they seemed to be.  I loved her dedication to her family and friends, and how loyal she was.  She really did want to protect them and keep them safe, and I really liked that about her.

It’s definitely action-packed and though predictable at times, it was a pretty fast read.  Anna doesn’t know who to trust, and we’re definitely along for the ride.  It’s more action-packed than the previous book, that’s for sure.  The first book was more of a mystery, trying to figure out what was going on, and why they were in Witness Protection.  This one was more dealing with the aftermath of what happened in that first book.

One thought that was going through my head when I was reading this book was how well the first book worked as a stand-alone.  I was wondering where the story was going to go, since things were pretty resolved in the last book.  There is more story to tell, and Anna’s life after leaving Witness Protection, with people still out to get her, is one way to go.  I liked seeing her story, don’t get me wrong, and I’m glad I finished this series, but the first book does work pretty well on it’s own.

2 stars.  The Rules For Breaking was more action-packed than the first book, and I loved how Anna would do anything for her family.  I just wasn’t as into this book as I thought I would be.

Book Review: The Rules For Disappearing by Ashley Elston

Book: The Rules Of Disappearing by Ashley Elston

Published May 2013 by Disney-Hyperion|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: The Rules For DIsappearing #1

Genre: YA Contemporary

She’s been six different people in six different places: Madeline in Ohio, Isabelle in Missouri, Olivia in Kentucky . . . But now that she’s been transplanted to rural Louisiana, she has decided that this fake identity will be her last.

Witness Protection has taken nearly everything from her. But for now, they’ve given her a new name, Megan Rose Jones, and a horrible hair color. For the past eight months, Meg has begged her father to answer one question: What on earth did he do – or see – that landed them in this god-awful mess? Meg has just about had it with all the Suits’ rules — and her dad’s silence. If he won’t help, it’s time she got some answers for herself.

But Meg isn’t counting on Ethan Landry, an adorable Louisiana farm boy who’s too smart for his own good. He knows Meg is hiding something big. And it just might get both of them killed. As they embark on a perilous journey to free her family once and for all, Meg discovers that there’s only one rule that really matters — survival. 

This book has been on my TBR for what feels like years and I figured now was a great time to read it.  I liked it but not as much as I thought I would.

There’s definitely a mystery/thriller vibe to the book, as Meg tries to figure out why her entire family is in Witness Protection.  Obviously, I don’t know how accurate the portrayal is, but I’m going to take a wild guess and say that it’s not completely accurate.  The book was definitely a fast, entertaining read and I don’t mind any inaccuracies that may be in the book.

I definitely felt for Meg and her sister.  It couldn’t have been easy, changing identities all the time, and dealing with a father who’s working all the time, or dealing with a mother who’s there physically but not mentally.  There’s a lot of danger since since Meg doesn’t know what’s going on.  I get why her parents, especially her dad, didn’t want to tell her what was going on.  Thankfully, we don’t see anything where things could have been avoided had the characters had all of the information.

Still, given the danger they were all in, I think Meg knowing would have been a good idea.  She still does some incredibly stupid things, and drags other people into it, and things seem to be mostly resolved, but I still think actually communicating would have been a good idea.

There wasn’t a lot of romance, but I think there is a lot more potential for it in the next book.  I get why Meg doesn’t want to get close to anyone, and I don’t blame her for wanting to protect herself.  I was expecting more romance, and to me, it seemed like it headed that way.  Maybe it’ll be more of a thing in the sequel.

I felt like I was right there with Meg as she learned more about the events that led to her being in Witness Protection.  I wasn’t actively trying to figure anything out and it’s not that I was necessarily surprised, but I was along for the ride.  She’s been through a lot, but considering she didn’t know why they were on the run, I don’t blame her for acting the way she did.  She was doing the best she could for herself and for her sister, and I might have done the same thing had I been in her shoes.  I loved the relationship she had with her sister.

3 stars.  I liked The Rules For Disappearing but I didn’t love it.  I felt for Meg and her family, and I’m hoping things are better for them in the next book.

Book Review: Come November by Katrin Van Dam

Book: Come November by Katrin Van Dam

Published October 2018 by Scholastic Press|373 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

It’s not the end of the world, but for Rooney Harris it’s starting to feel that way. It’s the beginning of senior year and her mom just lost her job. Even worse, she isn’t planning to get another one. Instead, she’s spending every waking moment with a group called the Next World Society, whose members are convinced they’ll be leaving Earth behind on November 17. It sounds crazy to Rooney, but to her mother and younger brother it sounds like salvation. As her mom’s obsession threatens to tear their lives apart, Rooney is scrambling to hold it all together. But will saving her family mean sacrificing her dreams—or theirs?

Come November was a book that I picked up on a whim at the library recently.  I wasn’t sure if I’d like it (and I was expecting to not like it) but I was intrigued enough to give it a try.  I’m glad I did, because I ended up really liking it.

Rooney has a lot on her plate, and I’m not the hugest fan of a teen being completely responsible for her family because mom has checked out for any number of reasons.  But it didn’t bother me in this book and that surprised me.  I think it’s because her mom is in this environmental cult-like group.  That part was really interesting.  It’s like Heaven’s Gate meets Greenpeace, and I was wondering how dark this book was going to go.

Rooney’s mom does talk about how she ended up in Next World Society, and it was pretty easy to see how she ended up being involved with them.  There was a wide range of people in Next World, but there was one girl in particular that I really felt for.  I’m drawing a blank on her name, but she was one of the younger people involved, and it seemed like she lost a lot during her time with them.  You could say that about a lot of the people in Next World, and I really felt for Rooney as she tried to rebuild after things didn’t go the way everyone expected it to go.

I wasn’t surprised and I don’t think Rooney was surprised either.  It took a lot for her to call her dad, and I felt so much anger towards her mom.  It definitely seemed like she kept him from Rooney and her brother but I was glad she reached out to him for help.  At the end of the book, it really seemed like they were trying to heal things and move past how horrible things were.

She was living in such a bizarre situation, and while she was able to ask for help, I felt for her brother.  I really want him to be okay, and there’s definitely a lot of healing that needs to happen.  For everyone, not just Rooney and her dad.  It seems like they’re all headed in the right direction, and I hope everything works itself out.  I don’t blame Rooney for not wanting to be in contact with her mom after everything that happened, but it seems like she’s trying.

Her mom made a lot of choices that had a huge impact on her marriage and her relationship with her kids, and the choices she makes for most of the book are these really insane choices.  Again, given her mom seemed pretty fragile, I could understand how she’d end up with a group like Everett’s.  And she does find a way to get past it and move on.  A lot of people might not have that opportunity, and even though I didn’t like Rooney’s mom, I was glad that she had the opportunity to change things and get better.

4 stars.  I really liked Come November, and I’m glad I picked it up.

Book Review: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith

Book: This Is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E Smith

Published April 2013 by Headline|404 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

If fate sent you an email, would you answer?

When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O’Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds. 

Then Graham finds out that Ellie’s Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media’s spotlight at all costs?

I thought This Is What Happy Looks Like was just okay.  I really wanted to like it more but I just wasn’t into it.

It was cute, I’ll give it that.  Smith is really good at the cute romance that takes place over a pretty short period of time.  I just thought it was weird and a little creepy that after a few emails, Graham decides that her town is a great place for his new movie.

It could have been really cute, and had they met in a different (and not weird and creepy) way, I might have liked it more.  Smith definitely thought a lot about their stories and what she wanted for both Ellie and Graham.  I liked their emails to each other, but I didn’t actually feel like there was anything between them.

I was bored reading it, and I’m honestly not sure how I got to the end.  I kept waiting for something interesting to happen, or for the book to get my attention in some way but that never happened.  It was hard to stay interested but I think I kept reading to see what would happen.  So the book wasn’t all that bad, and it was cute, even though it wasn’t for me.

2 stars.  This Is What Happy Looks Like wasn’t for me and even though it was cute at times, I was bored and had a hard time getting into it.  I also wish I had more to say about the book.

Book Review: Canary by Rachele Alpine

Book: Canary by Rachele Alpine

Published August 2013 by Medallion Press|400 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the paperback from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Staying quiet will destroy her, but speaking up will destroy everyone.

Kate Franklin’s life changes for the better when her dad lands a job at Beacon Prep, an elite private school with one of the best basketball teams in the state. She begins to date a player on the team and quickly gets caught up in a world of idolatry and entitlement, learning that there are perks to being an athlete. 

But those perks also come with a price. Another player takes his power too far and Kate is assaulted at a party. Although she knows she should speak out, her dad’s vehemently against it and so, like a canary sent into a mine to test toxicity levels and protect miners, Kate alone breathes the poisonous secrets to protect her dad and the team. The world that Kate was once welcomed into is now her worst enemy, and she must decide whether to stay silent or expose the corruption, destroying her father’s career and bringing down a town’s heroes.

Canary is told in a mix of prose and verse.

I really liked Canary!  I wasn’t sure about it at first, especially since it took quite a while to get to get going.  I didn’t mind, since you really did need to get thrown into Kate’s world and what the school was like.

What’s sad is that I wasn’t surprised by Kate’s story or that people were so horrible to her.  I was sad and angry at her dad for checking out after her mom died, and for placing sports and his team ahead of Kate ad her brother.  I was angry that the team and the championship was more important than what happened to his daughter.  And while he was eventually there for her, I was angry at him for not having an immediate reaction to it.  I was angry that it took so long for him to go to the police station with her and that he didn’t want her to say anything about it.

I wasn’t surprised by anything that happened, but I really liked Kate.  You see her get caught up in the world at Beacon, and how quickly things change once word spreads about what happened to her.  I also liked her blog posts, and while there is an actual website listed, I never actually checked to see if it went somewhere.  It would be cool if it did but Canary has since been returned to the library and I can’t remember what the website.  I still liked reading it, and how much writing seemed to help her.

I will say that for a book that centers around the rape of a teen girl, it takes a really long time to actually get to that point, and we didn’t get a lot of what happened after.  We get some, but it didn’t feel like enough time to completely resolve things.  Not that things have to be resolved, of course, but I felt like more time was given to life before than life after.  It should have happened a lot earlier in the book, and I really thought it happened too late in the book- there was too much build-up and not a lot of resolution.

4 stars.  I really liked Canary, especially the blog posts but I thought that it took too long to build up to the main premise of the book.

Book Review: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Book: Open Road Summer by Emery Lord

Published April 2014 by Walker Childrens|352 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

After breaking up with her bad-news boyfriend, Reagan O’Neill is ready to leave her rebellious ways behind. . . and her best friend, country superstar Lilah Montgomery, is nursing a broken heart of her own.

Fortunately, Lilah’s 24-city tour is about to kick off, offering a perfect opportunity for a girls-only summer of break-up ballads and healing hearts. But when Matt Finch joins the tour as its opening act, his boy-next-door charm proves difficult for Reagan to resist, despite her vow to live a drama-free existence.

This summer, Reagan and Lilah will navigate the ups and downs of fame and friendship as they come to see that giving your heart to the right person is always a risk worth taking. A fresh new voice in contemporary romance, Emery Lord’s gorgeous writing hits all the right notes.

I’ve been in a YA contemporary mood lately, and I figured Open Road Summer was a great choice for my next read. Even though I didn’t love it the way I loved her other books, I still really liked it.

I liked Reagan and Lilah, and they have such a great friendship.  Lilah’s tour was definitely an adventure for both of them, and I think it was a great way for the two girls to get away.  Reagan in particular seemed to have a lot going on, and things with her stepmother, while rocky, seemed to get at least a little bit better at the end of the book.  At the very least, Reagan seems to understand her a little bit better.

There are a lot of ups and downs over the summer, and I liked seeing Reagan and Lilah navigating the tour and fame and how it changed and affected their friendship.  I liked that they have each other, and that it didn’t change their friendship drastically.

I loved that Lilah was the same Lilah mentioned in one of Lord’s other books, and that the t.v. show that Reagan watches is mentioned in another one of Lord’s books.  It just makes me feel like her books are all set in the same universe, and I hope we see things like this in her other books.  It’s a nice touch, and I’m not sure why I like it so much but I do.

It definitely made me cry at the end, and if I need a good cry, her books are always a good choice.  This book was no exception, but not to the degree that her other books did.  I did like it, just not as much as I thought I would.  And not as much wanted to.  Still, it has the complicated family relationships, romance and friendships that I’ve come to know and love, and she’s great at writing very complicated relationships.

4 stars.  I really liked it but I didn’t love it.  I also wish I had a lot more to say about Open Road Summer, but I don’t.   It’s worth checking out, especially if you like books about road trips!

Book Review: Love And Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Book: Love & Luck by Jenna Evans Welch

Published May 2018 by Simon Pulse|303 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

Addie is visiting Ireland for her aunt’s over-the-top destination wedding, and hoping she can stop thinking about the one horrible thing she did that left her miserable and heartbroken—and threatens her future. But her brother, Ian, isn’t about to let her forget, and his constant needling leads to arguments and even a fistfight between the two once inseparable siblings. Miserable, Addie can’t wait to visit her friend in Italy and leave her brother—and her problems—behind.

So when Addie discovers an unusual guidebook, Ireland for the Heartbroken, hidden in the dusty shelves of the hotel library, she’s able to finally escape her anxious mind and Ian’s criticism.

And then their travel plans change. Suddenly Addie finds herself on a whirlwind tour of the Emerald Isle, trapped in the world’s smallest vehicle with Ian and his admittedly cute, Irish-accented friend Rowan. As the trio journeys over breathtaking green hills, past countless castles, and through a number of fairy-tale forests, Addie hopes her guidebook will heal not only her broken heart, but also her shattered relationship with her brother.

That is if they don’t get completely lost along the way.

I loved this book!  I loved it a lot more than Love & Gelato, and I’m glad I picked this one up!

Love & Luck (like Love & Gelato) had this Anna And The French Kiss sort of feel.  I’m not sure why I’m reminded of Anna, but I think it’s the girl in a different country part of it.  Addie was mentioned in Love & Gelato, and this book focuses on her.  Lina does make an appearance later on in the book, and it was nice to see her.

To be honest, I’m not sure why I loved this one more than Gelato, but I did.  There’s something about the relationship she has with her brothers, especially with Ian.  I loved seeing Rowan take her on all of these adventures based on a guidebook Addie found while Ian was off doing his own music-related things.  It wasn’t the trip Addie expected, but I think it was a good adventure for her.  I liked that things were able to get better with her brother, and they definitely have a good friend in Rowan.

I really liked the way she explored Ireland, and it’s definitely different, but I think it worked for what Addie needed.  I wish we had seen a little bit more of Ireland, but overall, I didn’t mind it.  I think it’s because Ian and Addie (even if Addie didn’t necessarily realize it at the time), had something in mind for what they wanted to do.

Ian obviously had his own plans, which ended in a music festival.  While the indie music obsessed characters can be a little tiring at times, I didn’t mind in this book because Ian wasn’t a main character.  His adventures led to Addie’s adventures, and I really liked seeing her adventures.

5 stars.  I loved this book, and it was fun and cute and what I needed.

Book Review: A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Book: A Very Large Expanse Of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

Published October 2018 by HarperTeen|320 pages

Where I Got It: I borrowed the hardcover from the library

Series: None

Genre: YA Contemporary

It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.

Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments—even the physical violence—she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.

But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her—they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds—and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.

I really liked this book!  When I heard she was coming out with another book, I knew I had to read it, especially since her Shatter Me series is pretty awesome.  I was curious to see what a YA contemporary written by Mafi would like, and it didn’t disappoint!

I really liked Shirin, and I thought she was a great character.  I understood where she was coming from, and she was pretty guarded.  I don’t blame her for being so guarded, and I probably would be too if I had to deal with everything she had to deal with.  We feel her isolation and how different she feels, and we see how people make assumptions.  I also don’t think I’ve seen a character who liked break-dancing, and it’s different in a good way.

I loved the relationship she had with her brother, and with the other guys in their break-dancing club.  Shirin and her brother are very different people but I liked their bond.  He’s a great character, and while we see him quite a bit, I wish we saw more of him.  He’s definitely one of my favorite characters.

I think I would have been fine without the romance- it didn’t really do anything for me, especially since Shirin was dealing with people’s stereotypes and racism in a post-9/11 world while Ocean’s biggest concern was not wanting to be on the basketball team anymore.  I get they have very different experiences and things going on in their lives, and I do appreciate that dating Shirin was eye-opening to what other people are going through, but I felt like they were at very different points.

And while I’m not a huge fan of love triangles, I think I might have been at least somewhat okay with it had it happened.  But maybe not, considering I would have been fine without the romance.  Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, and wanting Shirin to be with anyone else.  Yusuf had a lot of potential as a character (not just a love interest for Shirin), and I wish we saw more of him.

4 stars.  I really liked A Very Large Expanse Of Sea, and this book is worth checking out, even if Shatter Me was not your thing.  It’s beautiful and heart-breaking, and Shirin was amazing.