Sunday, May 20, 2018

YA Romances

35791907Goo, Maurene. The Way You Make Me Feel
May 8th 2018 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
E ARC from

Clara is a trouble maker, and when her friends put her up for junior prom queen, she goes all out to try to win, masterminding a rendition of Carrie when she is crowned. It doesn't go well, and she and the junior class president, Rose, get into a fight on stage and cause a fire! In order to make reparations, Clara has to spend her summer working on her father's Korean-Brazilian food truck, KoBra. Rose's uptight lawyer parents think it would also be good if Rose worked there. The girls have to learn to work together, and learn that everyone has problems that impact their lives. They meet the very cute Hamlet, whose wealthy Chinese parents have parked him in the US with friends, and he and Clara start dating. Clara has unresolved issues with her mother, who had her at 16 and now works as a "trendsetter". One part of Clara's punishment was that she couldn't spend time with her mother, but when her father refuses to enter a food truck competition, Clara books a flight and goes to meet her mother anyway. She's a little surprised that her mother is working and that the vacation isn't time for the two of them to spend together, and she gains a bit more insight into how hard her father has worked to raise her.
Strengths: The California setting of this one, and the details about running a food truck (right down to parking near a communal kitchen and buying the food from local sources!) were really interesting to me, as was the inclusion of very young parents. The dichotomy between Clara's hard working, struggling father and her very privileged mother added a twist to the story, as did Rose and Hamlet's privileged but not perfect lives. Clara had some really bratty moments, but she did turn herself around. I think the thing that I liked best about this was that it wasn't another ordinary teen romance-- it had a fresh setting and different characters. Hamlet's "grandparents", the family friends with whom he was staying, were fun as well.
Weaknesses: The book deserves a better cover, and there was some coarseness-- Clara throws out handfuls of tampons at a school assembly, and the prom scene involves fake blood as well as a fight scene. Clara is often unlikable, but she does turn around by the end of the book.
What I Really Think: This was a delightful, fresh teen romance that has a lot of very good elements. I think I will buy it, despite my own personal objections to the coarseness at the beginning.

The Tiffany Stewart (below) has run afoul of a whole lot of people. This book wasn't interesting enough for me to buy, but everyone must make an individual decision.

Stewart, Tiffany. Holly Jolly Summer
May 29th 2018 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux
E ARC from Netgalley.

Darby is the daughter of the long time mayor of Christmas, Florida, and since her mother died in childbirth, she spends a lot of time workin gin her father's office and helping him out. When she and her boyfriend are caught kissing at the opening of the town snowglobe, and chaos ensues, she ends up having to spend the summer working maintenance at the local theme park so she doesn't hurt her father's political career, since Christmas is an up and coming town and higher level politicos are watching him. Complications ensue.
Strengths: I liked that Darby was 15-- veyr few books have characters that age, and it's perfect for middle school students who want to read about characters a few years older than themselves. I was intrigued by the setting (wouldn't one set in North Pole, New York at a theme park be fun?) as well.
Weaknesses: Nothing fresh or interesting.  .
What I really think: Although Christmas themed romance books do really well in my library, there was nothing particularly fun or amusing in this. Will pass on purchasing.

34722536Mainwaring, Anna. Rebel with a Cupcake
April 3rd 2018 by KCP Loft (first published March 25th 2015)
Public library copy

Jesobel is perfectly happy with how she looks, thank you, even though she is on the heavy side and her mother used to model. When life gets tough, the tough eat cupcakes, and she's not going to apologize for not adhering to societal norms. She'll wear what she likes if its fashionable, even if she is beginning to realize she would look better if she weren't so heavy. When her mother buys her a dress for an upcoming dance, she decides a diet wouldn't hurt, and goes about it in a way that makes her faint. Her sister Cat, who may well have an eating disorder of her own, shows her a little about how to diet and not pass out, and Jess does lose a little weight. It's not enough to entice Matt, her crush, to go out with her, but she does connect with friend Alex and reaches something of a body image understanding with her mother, sister, and herself.
Strengths: This is definitely on trend as far as body image and fat acceptance topics go.
Weaknesses: Jess is not a very pleasant person, there are a LOT of British terms used, and the message about bowing to cultural norms is very mixed.
What I really think: A bit too young adult for my library, and since my readers no longer find Louise Rennison funny, I think they would struggle with the Britishisms.


  1. Why do you consider the British terms a weakness?

  2. I don't PERSONALLY consider the British terms a weakness, but lately my students have not been as fond of British books as they've been in the past. Angus, Thongs, and Full-Frontla Snogging was a HUGE hit in my library for years and years, but lately my students have been getting a chapter or two in and bringing the book back. Types of books come and go-- I was hoping the royal wedding would reignite a passion for Brit Lit, but it hasn't happened!