Julie Cross hits the feels out of the park with Whatever Life Throws at You. She doesn't pitch a perfect game, but it was a thrilling one to watch. Sure, she walks a batter in at the end, but it was an awesome game nonetheless. Okay, that's about all the baseball references that I can manage. Did I sports well? Ahem. Whatever Life Throws at You is a swoony young adult/new adult romance with sportiness and family feels.
For the first 150 pages or so, I wasn't entirely sure about this book. I was very much unsure about the romance, since Brody was womanizing it up with his new fame. I wasn't sure if there was any chemistry there either. Well, there was. Damn but Julie Cross can write a good ship. Honestly, I'm surprised that Cross convinced me to ship a nineteen-year-old baseball player with a high school student, but she did.
For one thing, the romance occurs really slowly. Jason Brody and Annie Lucas become friends first. They run together (why anyone would want to run I don't know), study together, and share secrets. Though there's a new adult feel to the book, the romance isn't tawdry, creepy, or hyper dramatic. The sexy scenes aren't super graphic, but they are fairly plentiful. Until the relationship really takes off, I wasn't sure, but they have such a great dynamic and treat each other really well. Plus, [spoiler] I think Cross has a great explanation for why Brody isn't actually sleeping around. The fact that it's publicity and he's so careful not to fuck up this chance makes me respect him a lot. [/spoiler] It's also really great that Annie has her own sport (running) that she's amazing at and that both her dad and Brody are super supportive.
Even better than the ship perhaps are the family feels. Annie has an amazing relationship with her father, Jim. I love it even more for the things that don't make their relationship perfect. When Annie gets caught with a fake ID, he yells at her, grounds her, and then comforts her because she begins crying over a boy; That scene really encapsulates the great connection between the two. Dads and daughters fight, but the love is always going to overwhelm anything else. Though more fraught with pain, I also loved the handling of Annie's relationships with her mother and grandmother.
What Left Me Wanting More:
My favorite secondary character is Savannah, the team's publicist, and I totally ship her with Annie's dad. Aside from her, though, the secondary characters didn't get quite as much development as I prefer. Lenny, for example, doesn't really change much throughout Whatever Life Throws at You, aside from what's hinted at in the epilogue.
In fact, I really could have done without that epilogue. While it's nice to see how well people are doing, it throws a lot of stuff at the reader really quickly. For one thing, I think it's a bit overly optimistic in terms of baseball: [spoiler] they win the World Series on top of Brody being rookie of the year? Is that really necessary? And it's just thrown in as an aside? [/spoiler] Plus, even though I do like Brody and Annie together, I could do without all of the marriage talk, considering that she just graduated high school. I really don't like my YA contemporary novels to end with marriage on the table, but that's a personal preference.
I'm sad to have to say this, but Whatever Life Throws at You had quite a few editing mistakes. I noted a lot of errors, though I didn't keep a list. The most egregious one was from page 277 where Lenny says "Emersion is the only true way to truly grasp a foreign language," when obviously that was meant to be "immersion."
The Final Verdict:
Whatever Life Throws at You is my third Julie Cross novel, and it's been the third success. At this point, it's official that Julie Cross books will be going on my to-read list, particularly if they're contemporary romances, because she can bring the swoon.