Sunday, October 31, 2021

Crashing in Love

Jacobs, Jennifer Richards. Crashing in Love
October 12th 2021 by Candlewick Press
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Peyton has plans for her summer in the small town of Mussel Shoals, Maine, where she hopes to work with her best friend working at the Anchorage Hotel.  When Mari decides to spend the summer in Gloucester helping out her aunt, Peyton feels abandoned. On an early  morning bike ride, she comes across a boy who has been hit by a car and is unconscious. She calls 911 right away, and soon the EMTs are taking the boy to the hospital. Her mother, the town's only journalist, finds out that he is a camper from Brentwood named Gary Olsen. There's very little evidence about who would have hit him, but Peyton's mother starts an investigation. Peyton wants to help, and is excited about the idea that she could do investigative journalism like her mother, but she soon becomes obsessed with the romantic idea that Gray could be destined to be her boyfriend for the summer. Unfortunately, he is badly wounded and unconscious for a very long time, but that doesn't stop Peyton from visiting the hospital, and even taking the job of talking to the boy when his mother needs to catch up on her work. Mrs. Olsen is touched by Peyton's devotion, but her own family is worried. Sisters Call and Brownyn think she should find something else to do, and her grandmother and father are hurt that she chooses to spend the summer in town living with her mother so that she can visit the hospital, instead of staying with them and helping out on the farm. It doesn't help that Mari doesn't keep in close contact, although Peyton hears that her best friend is having a more exciting summer than she is having, complete with her first boyfriend. Still determined that Gray will be her first boyfriend, Peyton does have some success in solving the mystery of who hit him, but is disappointed when the boy she saved wakes up. 
Strengths: The small town setting, which enables Peyton to get everywhere on a bicycle and know everyone in town, was very appealing. The family dynamics, with the grandmother being very possessive of Peyton, were interesting as well, and the mother's job came into this in a very realistic and interesting way. Peyton is a well-developed character, who has her own quirks and interests, like putting up posters of inspirational quotes, and her interest in Gray develops in a way that makes sense for the story. There's a little bit of a mystery as well. 
Weaknesses: While the story is solidly middle grade, Peyton's obsession with Gray seemed more like a young adult one. Her motivation for helping him is more romantic than I would expect for a tween. It doesn't seem impossible, just a bit unlikely. 
What I really think: I've often said that the difference between middle school romances and high school ones are that middle school ones are happier, and high school ones have more angst. This has a bit more angst. While I liked the mystery and the family working through the aftermath of divorce, I'm just going to have to think about this one and whether I have readers for it. 

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