I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies.
If you know me, you know I liked to watch bad Lifetime movies. I've actually reviewed quite a few of them for this blog. And when I read the summary of this book, it sounded a bit like a bad Lifetime movie (a kidnapped child reunited with their custodial parent). And a lot of my friends-who are hard critics loved it. So, automatic read, right? Well, I had other die hard critic fans that hated it.
My verdict: It's okay.
If it was just for the plot and style this book would be getting an A plus. I read it within the span of three hours. Grant it, I was highly stressed when I read it which meant I finished it in record time with little moaning. But if it was truly groan worthy I would've been bitching a lot more than I did.
I also loved how the book took place in Florida. While I don't like in the sunshine state, I have made many a trips to different parts (i.e. not just Orlando) of Florida. And I also loved how she decided to give Callie a rich heritage. While Callie might've found some of that Greek food disgusting, I found my mouth watering.
Really, how can you not like dolmas?
Okay, I get how you can not like them. They might not look the most appetizing, but they are delicious. Really delicious.
Really the setting and the utilization were probably Doller's strongest strengths in what is a rather interesting story for the most part. The problem: well, the characters...
I will say that not all the characters are bad. I did like the dad character and the stepmother. And Callie's big Greek family was pretty cool. But, the lead character. Ugh.
I actually feel a bit conflicted about Callie. I get that she's supposed to be fucked up. And I do think in that regard Doller really succeeded. But God, this is one character I just wanted to smack. She is self absorbed on so many levels, makes bad life choices, and has to deal with little to no consequences. And I sort of get given the way she was raised this is expected, but at the same time I wanted her to develop as a character. Instead, it seems she was enabled to be the brat that she was.
Maybe part of the problem was that most of the book seemed to be confined to a small time frame. Developing character in that sort of time is sort of difficult, but I have to say Callie really, really, got annoying fast. Much like her love interest.
Alex isn't the worst YA love interest I ever read, but he's by far not the best. I guess in some ways he acted how a real guy would act. But man, he was a bit of a jerk and a man ho. And it's not like he was Callie's only choice.
Really? Why do all the guys in this book even want her. I mean, everyone wants this dipshit. I just don't get it because she acts like such an ass.
Actually, I can sort of get the Alex thing. All they want to do is have sex. Well, and that automatically turns into love according to many daytime TV programs. And that to me is really annoying. While I get that they have physical chemistry and that's great and all, I sort of wish that Callie would develop a healthy relationship. I sort of thought Conner got the bum end of the stick and if developed more they could've been pretty interesting together. But I'm not going to complain (much).
Besides, Callie the character that annoyed me the most was Kat. My sister loves the ABC show, The Middle. I cannot stand said show mainly because of the character, Sue. Kat reminds me of Sue. Over eager, annoying, and just plain cringe worthy. I really didn't even understand her desire to be besties with Callie, it wasn't like she didn't already have friends already....
Overall, I rate this one as average. While the story and setting were engaging enough, the characters really drove down some of the appeal. In the end, I really didn't end up loving or hating this one. I just have sort of an average feeling for it.