I've been reading a ton of Fearless Fifteeners ARCs lately, but that doesn't mean I'm not reading anything else! I attended a panel at Books of Wonder in mid-February about unconventional teen romance, and picked up several awesome books there that I have to recommend.
Heather Demetrios' I'LL MEET YOU THERE lived up to all of the wonderful things I'd heard about it. I really, really enjoyed this book! It's about 17-year-old Skyler, a recent high school grad who can't wait to escape her small California town, and 19-year-old Josh, a former local hotshot who joined the Marines and returns from a tour in Afghanistan missing a leg. Skyler and Josh work together at the tiny, quirky Paradise motel, and strike up a friendship that feels like it could become something more. But as they grow closer, Skyler's world starts falling apart. Her mom loses her job and spirals back down into depression and drinking. Skyler starts to feel like she can't possibly go to college, leaving her broken mother behind. Meanwhile, Josh is struggling with PTSD and is grieving for the friends he lost in Afghanistan. I'LL MEET YOU THERE is about two people who are hurting and who find solace and strength in each other. Demetrios tackles heavy subjects with care and compassion. This book made my heart hurt (but don't worry—it made me so happy, too!). I can't recommend it enough.
At the same Books of Wonder event, I picked up a double-shot of Corey Ann Haydu's writing, purchasing her sophomore novel LIFE BY COMMITTEE and winning an ARC of her next book, MAKING PRETTY. I read them both over the past week and a half! LIFE BY COMMITTEE is about Tabitha, whose friends dumped her when she suddenly became "hot." Tabitha has a major crush on Joe—who happens to be dating one of the most beloved girls at school. After she acts on their mutual attraction and kisses him, she finds Life By Committee, a website where members anonymously share secrets and receive assignments in exchange for having their secrets kept. At first, LBC feels life-changing and liberating, pushing Tabitha to do things she never thought she could. But then the assignments get tougher, taking her farther out of her comfort zone. This book was a page-turner, especially toward the end. It was also a nice twist on the girl-gets-dumped-by-her-newly-popular/hot-friends plotline. I really liked Tabitha, even if I find the idea of Life By Committee more than a little terrifying! :)
MAKING PRETTY might just be my favorite Corey Ann Haydu book yet. It's set in NYC, which I loved—but of course that isn't the only thing I enjoyed about it! 17-year-old Montana has spent the past year dealing with her plastic surgeon father's latest divorce, while her older sister and lifelong BFF, Arizona, was off at college. To combat her loneliness, she's become friends with a 23-year-old from her acting class, the effortlessly cool and beautiful Karissa, who seems to represent everything Montana isn't. But with Arizona home from college for the summer—and changed in a number of ways—and her dad on the verge of making it official with wife number five, Montana feels like nothing in her life is stable and constant. Enter Bernardo, a guy she feels like she can lose herself in. Their relationship quickly becomes the most important thing in her life…which may or may not be a good thing, especially given how it affects her relationship with her sister. Be sure to grab this book when it comes out in May!
Finally, as part of the Fearless Fifteeners ARC tour, I got to read Jenn Marie Thorne's THE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT. I really enjoyed this story of family politics—and actual politics. (Especially having just finished watching House of Cards season 3!) Kate Quinn has been living with her aunt and uncle since her mom died last year. She never knew her father. And then—breaking news, literally—it turns out that her dad is a Republican presidential candidate who had an affair with her mom back in his local campaign days. Seemingly overnight, Kate finds herself on the campaign trail, being embraced and paraded around by her new family. Or is it all political spin to minimize the potential damage of the bombshell that is her very existence? Kate has to deal with living in the spotlight, discovering that her father's political views don't necessarily match her own, and, oh yeah, meeting a rebellious guy from the opposing camp whose motives in pursuing her may or may not be pure. Whether you're a huge fan of The West Wing or not much of a political animal at all, THE WRONG SIDE OF RIGHT is a great read about a girl who just wants to figure out where she belongs. It's out March 17!
That's it for now! More book recs next week...