Review Detail

3.7 7
Young Adult Fiction 551
A realistic tale of a girl trying to navigate grief and high school.
Overall rating
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Rose Zarelli is struggling to cope with her emotions after the loss of her father and the tragic way that he died. The story starts with Rose entering high school after the summer of her father’s passing, and nothing is the same anymore. Her mom, a practicing therapist for troubled youth, doesn’t know how to deal with her own daughter’s emotions and barely talks at all. In Rose’s eyes, her older brother basically abandons her and chooses college life (and a girlfriend) over helping her navigate life without their dad. Her best friend since childhood, Tracy, has entered high school with popularity on the brain and basically draws a line in the sand, putting Rose on the very outside edge of it looking in. Then there’s the issue of a certain boy, Jamie Forta, and how he makes her feel. Not really dealing with her dad’s passing or the circumstances that led to his death in a healthy manner as well as the added stress of high school leaves Rose pretty much pissed at the world, and that’s how this story unfolds.

There were several aspects to this story that really drew me in and kept me reading. The first, and probably the most important, was Rose. I’ll admit that before going in, I hadn’t realized that I was going to be reading about a fourteen year old, and finding that out was enough to give me pause and make me question whether I really wanted to continue with the story. But now coming out on the other side, I’m proud I stuck with my decision to carry on. Rose, though only fourteen, carries the snark and maturity of someone wise beyond her years. She soon learns that this will be one of her biggest struggles in high school. Staying level-headed and maintaining her personal values while also willing to be scrutinized by her peers for making smart decisions- going against the general grain of high school mentality- lands Rose in the hot seat more than a few times. But that was one of the things that I loved about her. She knew that there’d be backlash for her choices, knew with certainty that her vote would be the most ignored, but she stuck to her guns, and that made me respect her more. But Rose wasn’t perfect, she had just the right amount of awkwardness and indecisiveness about her that made her age and character more believable. Most of those fumbling moments centered around another character, Jamie Forta. He was older and attractive, seemed to like her, but his elusive behavior had Rose constantly questioning what was between them. Well, that and the fact that he had a girlfriend who had her havoc-reeking, hell-causing sights on Rose.

Another thing that I appreciated about this story and Rozett’s writing was the realistic portrayal of Rose’s high school experience. Often times in novels, I feel like high school is either over-dramatized or sugar-coated, but the author seemed to find the perfect balance in this story for me. The clichés were present, but often times students are a touch clichéd, modeled to fit into certain roles among the folds of high school and you simply belong where you belong. It’s stupid and wrong, but it’s true and that type of stereotyping is real. But it was those shining characters that stood among the fray, but broke through, that caught my eye. Like Rose’s friend Robert, who was a bit of a drama nerd, but had his popular moments and had a bit of a record for stealing… or “infractions.” There was the head cheerleader who was gorgeous and dated the former All-American quarterback, but she was nice to everyone and treated people with respect. Those type of people exist, too. What I’m getting at is that there was a variation in the supply of characters that made me like the story, as a whole, more.

The last note worth mentioning is how all the characters and their realness were portrayed in the story. There was diversity, but I feel like I saw each of the characters change, morph, fall, and some grew. It was interesting to me to watch all these characters make these transitions, to watch them make the same mistakes over and over again. Some learning from them, others not caring to learn at all. Even the smart characters were willing to make stupid decisions, deny the truths that were in front of them, all for the sake of popularity or for friendship/relationships. It just took me back to my high school years; I guess some things never change.

The Verdict: I enjoyed this book. I truly fell in love with Rose’s character, especially her lack of a verbal filter. Jamie has me rather curious about his past, so I’m definitely looking forward to finding out more about him. I’ll be picking up with the rest of the series because I think it’s going to be a blast to watch Rose grow up as her story continues. The second book, Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend, is set to make an appearance in 2013.

**Note** An e-ARC of this title was provided by the publishers, HarlequinTEEN, via Net Galley. However, that did not influence this review in any way.
Good Points
I believed Rose's character, and felt like Louise Rozett perfectly captured some people's high school experience.
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