Read mostly in springtime… YA(ish).
Cathy Cassidy – The Chocolate Box Girls: Coco Caramel
The fourth book in this series about a group of sisters focuses on animal-mad Coco, while still giving us plenty of information about the other characters. One of the things I like is getting to see how problems aren’t necessarily immediately solved in Cassidy’s world (we see, for example, Summer still dealing with her eating disorder and how this affects the entire family, along with Honey’s ongoing dramas), as well as that sense of feeling slightly out of step with your peers. Coco is more concerned with saving the world than boys and hairstyles and makeup, and even when she finds a boy who shares her passion for horses, it doesn’t quite become a romance.
Cat Clarke – A Kiss In The Dark
I am not entirely crazy about this book, though it does many of the things I love about Cat Clarke’s other books – namely, have teenagers who lie and deceive and are in many ways (horribly realistically) awful to one another. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just note that the pretense that fuels most of the first half of the book feels implausible, and the events of the second half left me feeling uncomfortable. A novel I expected to love much more than I did.
Paige Harbison – Anything To Have You
Two best friends fight over the same guy. In alternating sections, they relate the events both before and after a night that changes everything – the night that Natalie hooks up with Brooke’s boyfriend and ends up pregnant. This is another one that I wasn’t crazy about – Brooke is presented as so unpleasant that it’s clear we should be rooting for Natalie, which leeches some of the drama out of this (why can’t they both be decent humans and have this be a little more complicated?), and Aiden is presented as this prize of a guy when actually his behaviour isn’t that decent at all. Liked the themes, not crazy about the execution, basically.
Abbi Glines – The Vincent Boys
Oh, ‘new adult’, you do wear me down a bit. This is one of the key NA titles cited in all those articles about the field, and it’s… fine. Nice. A nice story with some moderately sexy bits about a girl who likes a guy who’s the cousin of her actual boyfriend, and about small-town ideas about people and their families.
Non Pratt – Trouble
Apparently I went on some kind of books-about-teenagers-having-sex spree around this time? Hmm. Anyway. This debut novel handles a situation I haven’t seen much in YA fiction before – what happens when you’re the new, male friend of the girl who gets pregnant? The novel switches between Hannah, known for being ‘easy’, and Aaron, the new boy at school with a secret of his own and a sense that he needs to redeem himself as a good guy, as they become friends and Aaron decides to step up and claim to be her baby’s father. The real father – Hannah’s stepbrother – is staying silent. This book has an awful lot going for it, and the one thing that did kind of spoil it for me – and this is spoilertastic, sorry – is the reveal that actually Hannah hadn’t slept with anyone before her stepbrother, thus saving her from being ‘a slut’ or something, I suppose, and teaching us all a valuable lesson about not listening to rumours (instead of saying something about how it’s actually okay for girls to like sex). It’s certainly worth reading – great writing and voice and characterisation – but that missed opportunity hit me hard.