How many times have we heard this oh-so-tragic tale of starcrossed lovers? Not just in Shakespeare but in EVERYTHING. But, okay, especially Shakespeare. Romeo and Juliet never struck as me as romantic, but certainly tragic. And everytime this story gets retold, I’m quick to look for all the spins and twists to make it COOLER THAN SHAKESPEARE’S while still having those delicious nods to the original. NOT THE CASE in When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle. There aren’t really any twists. There aren’t very many surprises; we know darn well what’s going to happen. Despite having that knowledge, however, we can’t stop ourselves from falling in love with the guy who will break her heart and we can’t help but love the girl who falls for the idea of a perfect love story with the best friend she’s known next to always.
When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle is such a wrenching, emotional rendition of the classic story we are all bound to know. Our feelings for this story, this girl stutter in their untouchable place, rendering us helpless because we are undoubtedly consumed by intense heartbreak for the love that never made it and the loss of friends, family as a result, the hurtful complications because the past is never easy to tame, to forgive, the stunning confusion and longing, and the painful spring of hope welling for a love that has yet a chance to grow and weld the two. When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle conducts a genuine portrayal of life and all its intricacies, its lessons – both harsh and tentative, and defines the truth of destiny.
WHO ARE ALL THE PEOPLE? WHY DO THEY MATTER?
So, what’s the biggie about Rosaline? She is the perfect girl next door. The girl with the laidback niceness, the innate goodness, that’s often underappreciated and overlooked, who involuntarily fantasizes about the boy next door—the one she’s known forever, NATURALLY—but never dreams that he could feel the same. She keeps her head down, never bracing for the blow but allowing it to land. She’s shy and sweet, in an interesting sort of way that makes it difficult to overlook anything subtle about her. When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle is about Rosaline asking questions about what doesn’t make sense and finally making sense of the unknown for herself, with the help of her trusty friends, family, and not to mention the supersuddenlyhot guy she’s been peeking at from the corner of her eyes.
Olivia and Charlie. Seriously the two best friends a girl could have. They bring you coffee in the morning, give you a lift to school, help you match your outfits, slander the name of whoever makes you miserable, and brings you joy with all your shared inside jokes, laughs, shenanigans. These two tolerate Rosaline’s BS, any moping or lingering sadness… to a point. They let her grieve, they push, they defend. They’re not perfect and they don’t ask nor demand Rosaline to be. They put up with whatever the others in the triangular friendship dish out, and support each other when choices go awry.
Len, however, is the sarcastic, witty loner who gets a kick out of charging her up, picking at the things she says. But he’s never a butthole, he never really brings her down. Instead, he’ll swap his good science grade for her crappy one, he’ll tell her straight-up that her best friend is being the biggest piece of shizz on the freaking planet. He’s honest, sharp, patient, though never a doormat. He’s smart and wise and observant, and he makes us forget all about our alliance with Rob, that hope for things between Rob and Rosaline to work out romantically fading into the wind.
Each character is precise, complex, and fun. They make a statement in everything they do, wear, speak. They grow to be a part of us, even the ones we learn to love hating. And the romance brings on EVEN MORE depth.
YOU BELONGED WITH MEEEE, BUT I CHANGED MY MIND.
This aspect of the story reminds me a little of The Selection by Kiera Cass. Rosaline has these soft, private dreams about a destiny meant for her and Rob, and those are coaxed out of her by her loving bffs, who heat up more crystal and make everything between her and Rob sound sparkly, romantic, and, yes, fated, ‘meant to be.’ So when those dreams are brutally, inconsiderately crushed by someone she hoped to reach out to and inadvertently by the boy she’s loved all her life, we are left as gaping inside as she, torn of dreams and hope, hating the one who becomes the thief.
Len is the better choice, though the more confusing one. Because, suddenly, Len is scarily attractive and more dead-on accurate about what’s going on inside her than Rosaline is willing to admit. He sees her, sees the girl beyond JUST the girl next door, the one everyone thinks they know. He knows who she is, what she wants, likes, and if he doesn’t know, he finds out and gives her all and more. He stubbornly calls her Rosaline because that’s who she really is as opposed to the cute alternatives and he refuses to hear of anyone else. He’s thoughtful, sexy, and mysterious with the added bonus of sarcasm.
THAT DAMN FINAL CHAPTER.
Smart, funny, real. When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle is told with simple writing that packs so much punch—Serle is the painter who does extraordinary things with the smallest, thinnest brush. Her novel isn’t just about the obvious, it’s about the little things too. About choices, the right ones, the wrongs, and where they lead you. As Serle brilliantly writes,
"…fate and destiny can only get you so far. Because they decide beginnings, not endings."
When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle tells of the perfect blend between fate and self, and shows us a tender series of steps toward finding and making true love an actuality.