Dear Ms. Colasanti,
You have become a big name in the YA fiction world. I have heard many, many people tell me how great your romances are. I’ve also heard tales of your mediocrity. I came into this book expecting to feel some kind of varied emotions. The cover also provided me with some expectations. After all, can a book involving possible cheating not have some sort of tension? Either way, I was pleasantly surprised with the book’s overall presentation, and now I have a new author on my radar for romance.
Lani is the kind of girl that you just miss in high school. She heads the One World club, bent on recycling and saving the planet; she has a great relationship with her BFFs Erin and Blake; and she has a great senior year slowly approaching her. Lani also is dealing with a newly found obsession involving horoscopes, tarot readings, and every form of fortune telling that’s become mainstream – including the Magic 8 Ball. Her life is pretty good.
Until Erin gets a new boyfriend. At first, Lani likes Jason. But when they first meet, Erin and Blake sitting around them in the pizza place, she feels a connection, something that is undeniably there, between her and Jason. Lani begins to sit with Jason at lunch – all under Erin’s good graces, of course – and they begin to foster a friendship that goes beyond what either of them expected.
He feels and thinks many of the same thoughts as Lani. He gets Lani in a way that no other guy had before or that she imagined a guy could understand her. The moment that she knows that Jason has a connection with her that’s deeper than a mere friendship, that she can’t deny the idea any longer, is when he shares her knowledge of the color rule: the idea that each bottled water brand’s flavor is based on a shape and color. Poland Spring is a red circle. With this knowledge, Lani finds herself venturing into uncertain territory. With Erin going away to camp over the summer, it’s just her and Jason. Can she help the connection she has with a guy that is just too good to be true, or will the thought of hurting her best friend Erin be too much to bear?
A cheating novel is okay in my book. The one thing that troubles me in romance novels the most is the plots revolving around babies, so this was not a major concern of mine involving the novel. Granted, it’s towards teenagers, so I did hope you would write it in a way that wouldn’t be like “Go cheat on your best friend”. Thankfully, you managed to do that.
The plot of the novel was actually well done, much more than I thought it would be, anyway. Lani is a sympathetic protagonist. She has a great first person voice that speaks to teenagers very well. Some of it may come off in a bad way to more adult readers, but it’s genuine message is very appropriate for the audience. The biggest plus you have within the plot is that Jason breaks up with Erin a third of the way through the book, so you don’t have a full-on cheater’s festival going on. Lani’s feelings of guilt are always present in some way, making it clear that keeping with a guy she’s growing to love isn’t coming without consequences.
Your characters are done in much the same manner. I’ve already stated how well I like Lani, especially her many little quirks. I also appreciated her genuine kindness; her positivity makes for a breezy read that is a welcome break from many darker YA books. Jason is also put together well, and his role as a hero was never questionable. His feelings came off pretty well when they were revealed, and he and Lani’s relationship as a whole had the ‘summer love’ feeling that feels good to read about.
Erin was also done extremely well – her actions towards the end of the book, while verging on ‘Super-Bitch’ in tendency, were understandable and classic high school, and really spoke volumes for how important communication and delicacy are in friendships and love lives. Blake, Lani’s main male friend, who just so happens to be gay and my favorite character, was left to rot. Frankly, with as well as you pictured the other characters, it disappointed me that Blake was sidelined until the very end of the book. Lani has fleeting thoughts involving his summer job, but you never brought him in enough to make him feel as important as he was to Lani.
After reading this, I feel like I’ve been missing out. The way you handled this type of relationship was great, and you managed to do a lot of good things with such a quick plot arch and characters. Your book is a well deserved B+ in my book, and I can’t wait to see what you have in store for your next book. If it is anything like this one, then I will most assuredly enjoy it.
All the Best,
This is a hardcover. I could not find an ebook copy