Dear Cassie (Pretty Amy #2)

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3.3
 
3.7 (3)
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Dear Cassie (Pretty Amy #2)
Author(s)
Age Range
16+
Release Date
March 05, 2013
ISBN
978-1620612545
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What if the last place you should fall in love is the first place that you do?

You’d think getting sent to Turning Pines Wilderness Camp for a month-long rehabilitation “retreat” and being forced to re-live it in this journal would be the worst thing that’s ever happened to me. You’d be wrong. There’s the reason I was sent to Turning Pines in the first place: I got arrested. On prom night. With my two best friends, who I haven’t talked to since and probably never will again. And then there’s the real reason I was sent here. The thing I can’t talk about with the guy I can’t even think about.

What if the moment you’ve closed yourself off is the moment you start to break open? But there’s this guy here. Ben. And the more I swear he won’t—he can’t—the deeper under my skin he’s getting. After the thing that happened, I promised I’d never fall for another boy’s lies. And yet I can’t help but wonder…what if?

Editor reviews

1 reviews

A Look into the Mind of a Troubled Teen
Overall rating 
 
3.3
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
What I Loved:
Dear Cassie is, initially, a very hard book to like. Where Amy in Burstein's debut Pretty Amy is weak and sympathetic, Cassie is brash, vulgar and completely uninterested in anyone's pity. At times, Dear Cassie hurts to read, and I had a pretty visceral reaction to some of the hatred that Cassie spews at everyone. However, Dear Cassie is also the kind of book that slowly changes over time to become something else entirely, depicting an impressive character arc through the alteration in the writing style.

For approximately the first half of the book, Cassie insults everyone, both out loud and in her head, and she swears like a sailor. She slut shames, she makes nasty assumptions, and she generally hates on every single person in the world. While it's fairly obvious Cassie uses this hate as a coping mechanism, as a way of avoiding her own problems, it's not pleasant to read. What Burstein does quite effectively, though, is reflect Cassie's progress in rehab through her writing. As the book progresses, Cassie talks less about others, and sticks much more to the basic facts. She swears less, mostly only in her dialog. Over the course of the novel, her outlook becomes healthier, and that's reflected so well in the narration.

What I am perhaps most glad of is that Cassie had a deeper issue than the arrest that was so central to Pretty Amy. Yes, it was the catalyst that sent Cassie's life spinning off the rails, but she had much bigger problems come after. Burstein deals with a larger, darker subject than that, and does so well. Burstein does not try to fully heal Cassie over the course of the book, and she doesn't oversimplify her experiences. In fact, I think Cassie's still trying to bury her past, to forget what she's done at the novel's closing, which is more realistic than being over what she's been through.

What Left Me Wanting More:
I almost DNFed Dear Cassie, but pushed on in hopes of the change that I did eventually find within its pages. Like with Cassie herself, the other characters come off as stereotypes of the different kinds of rebellious teens: the slutty one, the tortured one, the hot one, the tattooed one, the jock, etc. It's a regular breakfast club of teen lawbreakers. Burstein does eventually give a bit more depth to the others, but the story really isn't about them. I get that the focus is on Cassie's mental progress, and that this wasn't the kind of camp where they all sit around and talk about their feelings. They're there because they're sort of beyond the point where ordinary behavior, like talking with others, can shock them out of their ways. Still, a bit more development into some of them might have been nice.

What left a bad taste in my mouth, though, is the romance. I do understand the purpose the flirtation served in helping Cassie overcome her issues with boys, but I think they got too serious too fast. I never felt a real connection between them, and I really don't think she's mentally stable enough for a relationship right now, not to mention a long distance one. On top of that, I'm not entirely convinced Ben is on the level. The romance sort of overpowers the plot towards the end, and that is unfortunate.

The Final Verdict:
Much darker than its counterpart Pretty Amy, Dear Cassie tackles rough subject matter in an honest, harsh way. Though not for everyone, Dear Cassie will appeal to those looking to see more grit in YA writing, those sick of wimpy heroines. Burstein's sophomore novel is daring, and sure to be a hit with the right readers.
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User reviews

3 reviews

Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
4.0  (3)
Characters 
 
3.3  (3)
Writing Style 
 
3.7  (3)
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Dear Cassie
Overall rating 
 
2.7
Plot 
 
3.0
Characters 
 
2.0
Writing Style 
 
3.0
Dear Cassie was supposed to be poignant novel that would leave readers this certain feeling. It probably is, but unfortunately I had a hard time connecting with it.

Here we get to meet Cassie which is full of angst and seems to be angry with the whole world except her brother. She’s a broken character who is battling with guilt and grief on her own. She’s selfish and mean and sarcastic and hates herself the most. In my reading history, I’m supposed to be able to relate or embrace Cassie but I didn’t. Or maybe not fully.

What I really don’t understand was how the camp helped these delinquent teens with whatever issues they have. Maybe I’m too ignorant about this stuff but how did the activities helped them in any way? From I can see it only made Cassie interact to other teens possible because of the close living quarters as well as the competition between the boys and girls. If she wasn’t in the camp, I know she’ll never exert an effort to get to know those around her.

Then here comes Ben. He’s the guy Cassie wants to avoid and the guy who gets under her skin. He keeps on provoking her into saying something to him and he seems to really want to get to know her. He talks like an old soul who saw a lot in this world and he’s pretty much easy to befriend. Well, except that Cassie wants nothing to do with him… at first. He’s actually a good guy, who happens to be in a delinquent camp, but all will be explained when Cassie read his journal. (I know what you’re thinking. Bad Cassie!)

Of course the romance was present, but I’m glad that it was not the focus of Cassie’s stay in Turning Pines. I was actually expecting her to find a guy and have a whirlwind romance that will be testing when her secret comes out. Why? Because it usually happens. What I wish was there was an explanation or something why Ben is eager to crack Cassie’s protective shield around herself. He’s been brushed off a lot of times already but what made him pursue her?

This book is not about young romance between two delinquent teens who fixed their broken selves after they found each other. This is about Cassie and her struggles to accept and forgive herself on what happened in the past—a healing process.
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Dear Cassie by Lisa Burstein
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
5.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
I was given this review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.

I really enjoyed reading Dear Cassie. There is not a book I have read lately where I could relate to the main character as much as I did Cassie. She is snarky, crass, stubborn and has been through some tough stuff.

Cassie is sent to Turning Pines wilderness camp after she is arrested on prom night with her friends. She knows there is really another reason other than her arrest that she was sent there. However, she refuses to talk about it with anyone. I couldn't put this book down I wanted to know so bad what Cassie was beating herself up about, literally beating herself up. When I finally found out what it was I saw that I could relate so much more to her than I thought. Although I chose a different path than she did.

At camp Cassie meets Nez and Troyer who are both just as messed up as she is. Nez is a compulsive liar and Troyer doesn't speak. She also meets Ben who just wants to get to know Cassie and accepts her flaws and all. But after all that Cassie has been through she just can't seem to open up to him or anyone else.

Cassie is so vulnerable and raw in this book. It really makes you think about mistakes you yourself have made and kept inside. Cassie was also very easy to like with her no nonsense attitude. She was even more likable in those moments where she was so exposed and vulnerable.

I would actually like to read another book about Cassie. See what happens to her and where her life goes after the end of this book. I would highly recommend this book if you like young adult contemporary. What's not to like about a snarky and hilarious female lead character?

Review originally posted at my blog: http://www.ramblingsofabooknerd.com/2013/02/review-dear-cassie-by-lisa-burstein.html
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Dear Cassie
Overall rating 
 
3.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
3.0
Writing Style 
 
4.0
Much like its companion Pretty Amy, Dear Cassie is not a happy read. It’s another hard punch of reality that continues with the consequences of Amy, Cassie, and Lila’s disastrous prom night. This time we’re following Cassie to rehab as part of her sentencing. However, it’s not the medical facility that she was expecting. It’s a camp in the middle of the woods where she’ll have to learn how to survive in the wilderness on her own while reflecting on the choices that landed her there. It’s not only the massive amount of marijuana and driving under the influence that have brought Cassie to Turning Pines. She has a secret that she can’t even talk to herself about.

I really liked the format of Dear Cassie. Each chapter is one day at the camp. Sometimes Cassie is telling us about what strenuous activity they had to perform that day, or she shares from her Assessment Diary. She also goes into the prom night events, so even if you haven’t read Pretty Amy, you’ll know exactly what happened. It turns out that Aaron played a huge role in her life after the arrest, too, and he’s the biggest factor that she won’t talk about. The story does get a little repetitive with us getting the ins and outs of camp life, but I did enjoy Cassie’s reflections on her time there.

The one thing that I did not like was the romance. I didn’t feel like it needed to be there at all. Cassie meets Ben at the airport before they’re whisked away to the campground. Then he spends much of their co-ed time annoying her, or rather, Cassie spends most of the being being annoyed by him. I just never felt an attraction between them, and I actually did find Ben irritating at times. I do understand that Ben was another challenge for her to face, since she wants to avoid boys, but it felt forced and like an obvious plot device.

I did enjoy the other characters though! Troyer was my favorite though. She doesn’t speak at all, but she’s the one that helps Cassie open up the most. I found myself most curious as to what brought her to rehab. Nez was just a bitch! I loved to hate, but at times she was a bit much. She takes slut to a whole other level! She’s a source of much frustration for Cassie. Even their counselor, Rawe, was a good source of entertainment. You could tell that she wanted to help, but that she was also irritated with the bickering between the girls.

I did enjoy Dear Cassie a lot despite my complaints. I didn’t like it quite as much as Pretty Amy, but I think that just comes down to me finding Amy more relatable than Cassie. Of course, this will be different for each reader. I like how the author isn’t afraid to show the darker side to being a teenager. Sure hanging out with friends and being rebellious can be fun, but it can also have some major repercussions.
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