Ashlyn Zanotti has big plans for the summer. She’s just spent a year at boarding school and can’t wait to get home. But when Ashlyn’s father is arrested for tax evasion and her mother enters a rehab facility for “exhaustion,” a.k.a. depression, her life is turned upside down. The cherry on top? Ashlyn’s father sends her to work with a cousin she doesn’t even know at a rustic team-building retreat center in the middle of nowhere. A self-proclaimed “indoor girl,” not even Ash’s habit of leaving breadcrumb quotes—inspirational sayings she scribbles everywhere—can help her cope. With a dangerously careless camp manager doling out grunt work, an overbearing father trying to control her even from prison, and more than a little boy drama to struggle with, the summer is full of challenges. And Ashlyn must make the toughest decision of her life: keep quiet and follow her dad’s marching orders, or find the courage to finally stand up to her father to have any hope of finding her way back home.
No Place Like HereFeatured
This story is a companion book to ‘It Started With Goodbye’, and ‘Everywhere You Want to Be’. Although they have crossover characters, each can be read separately.
I was really excited to read, ‘No Place Like Here,’ when I found out it took place at a wilderness retreat. This is such a unique premise and setting.
It is a ‘Hansel and Gretal’ retelling, although this is very subtle. Deb as the witch definitely took a while to catch onto even with the candy and gingerbread house references. Ashlyn’s quote journal and her leaving ‘breadcrumbs’ of quotes everywhere was wonderful and something I would love to do.
I did feel sorry for Deb. In some ways, I felt she was a very misunderstood character. I also liked Ashlyn, she was very flawed and I loved that. I liked Hannah and that she was Ashlyn’s cousin. I would love to see more cousin relationships in YA.
Of course, the elephant in the room is what a big jerk Ashyln’s father was. He was so terrible to his family. He was such an unsympathetic character. Her father going to jail really seemed justified and really added to Ashlyn’s story.
The story did drag a little in the middle and I felt like there were a lot of little things going on. This did give the story a slice of life feel, though, and I enjoyed reading about the activities going on at the retreat.
I liked seeing Ashlyn grow as a person throughout the story and thought the ending was great. I loved the book and I really hope to hear more of Ashlyn’s story in Christina June’s future books. A perfect YA summer read.
***Originally posted on Thebookreturn.com***
As Ashlyn tries to do her job and get to know her cousin, she begins to learn more about herself and come out of her shell. With summer job fun, a tiny bit of romance, and a whole lot of friendship, Ashlyn’s summer is anything but boring.
This is a quick read, which makes it perfect as a summer tagalong to the beach. It could easily be read in a sitting. The content could be heavy but is infused with a lot of hope and growth plus a few moments of kissing and fun. The biggest part of the book is Ashlyn starting to deal with her own anxieties and coming to realize who she wants to be- outside of what her father wants for her. There is also a great friendship that forms, as a secondary plot, between Ashlyn and Hannah, as well as another character. It was great not to have a romance take the primary plot.
I also appreciated the way the mental health of her mother was handled, acknowledging the stigma in that it is referred to as exhaustion but ultimately showing her mother getting help and starting to heal. There is a lot of character growth for Ashlyn and her parents in this book.
As a small point, the dialogue was a little stilted in places earlier in the book (particularly a few teen conversations), but it does improve later. I would also have loved more story- for it to be longer so that we could see the post-summer changes. The book was complete, but I really enjoyed the characters and would love to see more from them.
Overall, this was a really fun YA contemporary about being yourself that could appeal to a wide audience (I think even older middle grade readers would enjoy this one). There are some fantastic themes/messages herein, and this would be a wonderful book to grab on the way to the beach this summer!
Ashlyn’s struggle with finding her own voice is completely relatable. For teenagers and even adults, there is so much messaging encouraging us to be perfect. We must do the right things, say the right things, look the right way, and never make a mistake. It is quite a mountain to climb and Ashlyn finds herself doing that. What makes it worse is that her dad, even from prison, is very demanding and belittling. He always looks for the bad in Ashlyn’s behavior, so much so that she’s decided it’s better to do nothing than to risk failure. Her journey is one that could help a lot of people struggling with shame and self-confidence and I wish I had this book when I was younger.
NO PLACE LIKE HERE’s setting is dreamy. I always wanted to work at a summer camp, even though, like Ashlyn, I’m not the biggest fan of dirt or bugs. This book took me there, even if it was just for a few days. I love that there is no cell reception or internet connection where Ashlyn is working. The story reminds us of the kind of adventures we could have if we spent less time on our phones and opted to get outside more. It even inspired me to look up wilderness certifications and zip lining.
Despite awkward dialogue and a few predictable plotlines, NO PLACE LIKE HERE is the perfect beach read. It’s quick, entertaining, and good for fans of Sarah Dessen.