I received this novel as an advance copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I rarely read contemporaries. It’s not that I have anything against them, it’s just that I love reading fantasy, thrillers, and science fiction books so much that I don’t have time for other genres. However, the cover and description for this book intrigued me enough that I wanted to try it. Here is my review:
Summary (Goodreads): For Penny Lee high school was a total nonevent. Her friends were okay, her grades were fine, and while she somehow managed to land a boyfriend, he doesn’t actually know anything about her. When Penny heads to college in Austin, Texas, to learn how to become a writer, it’s seventy-nine miles and a zillion light years away from everything she can’t wait to leave behind.
Sam’s stuck. Literally, figuratively, emotionally, financially. He works at a café and sleeps there too, on a mattress on the floor of an empty storage room upstairs. He knows that this is the god-awful chapter of his life that will serve as inspiration for when he’s a famous movie director but right this second the seventeen bucks in his checking account and his dying laptop are really testing him.
When Sam and Penny cross paths it’s less meet-cute and more a collision of unbearable awkwardness. Still, they swap numbers and stay in touch—via text—and soon become digitally inseparable, sharing their deepest anxieties and secret dreams without the humiliating weirdness of having to see each other.
Review: I wasn’t expecting to love this novel as much as I did. But yeah, I loved it! I actually could not pull myself away from this book!
I think that the characters in this book were absolutely brilliant. I loved that our protagonists were so different from others, and yet, were easy for the reader to relate to. Their way of thinking isn’t something that is so out of the ordinary, it’s just the way they express themselves that is so unique. I loved how these two got closer to each other and I liked that the author used text messages as the main platform for their communication; any time an author uses a different medium and structures passages from their books in that format, I love it.
This novel didn’t have a super speedy plot. It was definitely a slow burner but that meant there was plenty of time for the relationship to develop between Penny and Sam. I think that in order for the romance, which is the main focus of the story, to develop properly, it needed to take as much time as it did to be successful. So I really didn’t mind the slower plot. And it honestly didn’t feel that slow to me! I chalk it up to the really great writing and the way that the author allows the readers to connect with the different characters; I was too invested to care about how slow the story was moving!
However, there were certain things about this book that weren’t handled as well. The author creates two characters that have a whole bunch of other issues and traumas in their life. Slowly, we find out what these traumatic incidents/issues are … but they don’t get properly addressed or resolved. They are put in there to explain certain aspects of behaviour, but are easily dismissed or “fixed”. This annoyed me a bit because it’s a very unrealistic portrayal of how people cope and change over time. If this had been properly executed, I would probably have given a higher rating. Better yet, why even include those aspects if they don’t play a central role to the story or won’t be addressed properly? The story wouldn’t have suffered without their inclusion, and I really don’t get why so many authors feel the need to introduce traumatic pasts into their characters’ lives.
Despite this last issue, I still really enjoyed this novel. It exceeded my expectations in a lot of ways and it was an engrossing story. I fell for the characters and their romance, so for those reasons, I’m giving this a 4/5 stars.
Happy reading ~