How My Summer Went Up in FlamesFeatured
To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie just wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But with every mile marker that passes, Rosie discovers a new sense of self…and that sometimes the best revenge is moving on.
Okay, guys, believe it or not, but I haven't actually read too many road trip novels. It's a super popular sub-genre of contemporary fiction, but I only really started reading contemporary novels this past year. How My Summer Went Up in Flames has convinced me that I need to read more of them, because this book totally simulated a vacation. It's like I got to visit a whole bunch of touristy places I wouldn't actually want to go, so I can cross them off. Success!
Driving across country with her best friend Matty and brothers Spencer and Logan, Rosie visits so many sights. They pack a lot into their trip. It's seriously impressive how much they get done. Also, I love how much focus Doktorski gives to the music playing as they drive. Music is essential to a road trip, so I loved knowing what they were listening to. Also, Spencer rules for playing Al Simon as they drove to Graceland. *sings "We're going to Graceland, Graceland, Memphis, Tennessee"*
Doktorski also does a great job with the characters. All four of them felt like real people, though Rosie I didn't like, and I'll tackle that soon. However, I thought Matty and Spencer were utterly adorable and delightful. I only wish Rosie wouldn't roll her eyes and turn her music up over their dorky discussions of Star Trek, because I dig that. Logan, too, though not my favorite, has depths to him. Doktorski captures a lot of the awkwardness of time spent trapped together: the tiffs, the silences, the uncomfortable moments where personal space is invaded.
What Left Me Wanting More:
With novels in a first person perspective, one's enjoyment can be seriously impacted by the personality of the main character. In this case, the MC was the big negative to the book. Rosie, short for Rosalita, should be awesome. She's half-Ecuadorian and half-Italian, and she's very passionate. Plus, she has a distinct personality, so I do give Doktorski serious props for that. However, Rosie's also seriously obnoxious. She is seriously judgmental, selfish, and hypocritical. She slut-shames, even though she almost had sex with her boyfriend (she didn't because she wasn't ready which is great, but also means she's not opposed to sex before marriage), she judges girls who show too much skin, and she judges girls who drink, though she does a couple of times too. There's also a double standard to her mean thoughts; Rosie's predisposed to dislike females she comes in contact with, but sizes up every guy as a dating prospect, not judging them for drinking, bare skin, or sexual activity.
I'd been hoping that Rosie set his car on fire in a bit of overenthusiastic vengeance. Instead, it was an accident that happened while she was stalking him after the breakup. Rosie's crazy, completely obsessed with Joey. His birthday is even the password to her voice mail. All of this made her really difficult to relate to in any way. Also, I couldn't support the romance, because she's obviously not mentally stable enough to be in a relationship. I wish the ending had stayed more open-ended.
The Final Verdict:
For those who can stomach Rosie, How My Summer Went Up in Flames will be a fun, summery read. Doktorski's well-drawn characters and humor show talent, and I still hold out hope for her sophomore novel, Famous Last Words, to be released later this year.
I fell in love with impulsive Rosie and her posse of nerdtastic boys. This was one of those special books that hits your funny bone and you soft spots all at once. If you adore Kasie West's contemporaries, you'll love HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES!
This book was about a road trip with some light drama and light romance thrown in. I kept wanting a little more out of it, a little more romance, a little more drama, just a little more of something happening in the story. With that being said, let me clarify that this was not a boring read nor was it dull at parts, but I just felt like there was more potential at times for the story to deepen when it didn't do so.
Rosie, our MC, was comical and lovable, I found myself just wanting things to go right for her. I found myself getting annoyed with her at times in the way she complained too much and was stubborn in her ways. I felt that she should just get over her ex boyfriend when she consistently was pining for him. I was also annoyed that she couldn't decide who she wanted to be with and her feelings were floating around from guy-to-guy at times. However, I think that Rosie was a realistic character, she seemed like an average teenage girl and I liked that about her.
I love road trip books!! As it so happens, this book also adds in four characters that make the road trip that much better. I loved all the characters, the three boys and Rosie, together had fun adventures and brought out some fun bantering throughout their adventures. I love the people they meet along the way and I love the places they go.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book. It is the perfect summer read. It's light, entertaining and fun to read. I would recommend this one, especially if you enjoy road trip books!
But now I'm in a dilemma... If I decide to read another road trip book and its not as good as this one, I'm not sure I'll ever be a real fan of road trip books. That's really just how good this book was. Doktorski brought these characters to life during their trip and with every turn of the page I was looking forward to the adventures they had while making their way across the country.
One of my favorite things from the novel though, was the fact that it centered around a break up instead of a newly budding romance. I haven't read many books like this, and it was actually refreshing to see crazy Rosie develop into mature and smarter Rosie. Which in turn brings me to the one thing I didn't like about the book. The "OMG my life is over after this break up" turn she took after they broke up. Granted there probably wouldn't be a story without it, but I was definitely glad when she grew up and forgot all about him.
Another thing I really loved was the laugh out loud humor. There were so many times I got the stink eye from my boyfriend from just randomly bursting out in laughter because of Rosie's snarkiness. Her attitude along with Matty's was the reason I enjoyed the trip so much. With them there was never a dull moment.
Lastly, I know I've loved a book when I loved all its supporting characters as much as its main character. Everyone from Matty to Avery to Logan to Spencer, right on down to Pony. I developed a connection with them all and I hated for the story to end.
Doktorski's debut novel is seriously a laugh out loud , very sweet, coming of age novel. Definitely a must read for everyone as looking for a romantic summer read.
I've read that some people had trouble connecting with the protagonist, but I actually really liked Rosie. She was so freaking confused and made so many mistakes and that's what I liked about her. She never really had any dreams and her whole life revolved around Joey, so it totally threw her when he cheated on her. And then she had to figure out what the hell was next. I felt like her confusion and her lashing out was very realistic. It wasn't pretty, but it felt real. She was spoiled and rude, but so are a lot of teenagers. Plus the growth in How My Summer Went Up in Flames was phenomenal and I really liked Rosie figuring herself out a bit more and getting a bit of a reality check.
I also really liked the secondary characters - Matty, Spencer, Logan...they were all really interesting guys with their own storyline and growth to make throughout the story.
While there was a love triangleish thing, it was never really a love triangle because you could just tell where the real chemistry was and you knew that Rosie knew it too. Although I will say, as always, I picked the wrong guy. ALWAYS.
And of course, I'm a sucker for a good road trip.
Like I said, I just really enjoyed How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski. I thought it had a great combination of fun plot and realistic characters who were getting life experience for the first time and growing because of it. So if you like contemporaries and road trips and realistic characters, definitely pick up How My Summer Went Up in Flames. It's a great debut and I can't wait to read Famous Last Words.