Rose Zarelli is just starting her freshman year and she doesn’t have a clue what the fuck she’s doing. Her dad died in Iraq a few months back and she’s definitely nowhere near finding closure on that, then the typical high school drama starts with her best friend changing into a cheer-witch, and a cute older guy showing interest in her while being aloof and attached to another girl, she doesn’t know which way is up.
Is any book going to earn 5 stars from me ever again? This one gets criticism for the same reason so many others do, the ending. This one has a non-ending type deal. At the end, Rose makes a decision to do something and then that’s it. We don’t see how it works out or how she resolves things with the special guy, it’s just implied that things will improve. I almost dislike those more than massive cliffhangers.
Beyond the ending, I really enjoyed quite a bit of this book. Rose was an interesting character to follow, she reminds me a good bit of Jessica Darling (from Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty), though a bit less observant. As the title implies, she is a bit angry at the world because of her father’s death and is avoiding the issue rather than dealing with it. Add to that anger the turmoil of starting high school and this novel is so full of teen angst (the good kind) that I was jumping for joy. Rose’s anger lead her to do things I wasn’t expecting and the violence she displays later in the novel had me cheering her on. Yeah, yeah, violence is never the answer, I know. But sometimes, it’s a great path to the answer.
The other characters were all interesting as well, especially Angelo. Nope, he’s not the love interest, that’s Jamie. He’s Jamie’s sidekick. Talkative with a sweet side that you never see coming, he almost had me rooting for him to win Rose’s heart (almost). Jamie, though, was a bit of a mystery. I liked him initially simply because everyone around Rose didn’t. Every “friend” she mentions him to cautions her to stay far away and that just automatically caught my attention. Another small disappointment in this novel is that you don’t get to learn too much about him. I understand that since its all first person via Rose that I will not be privy to his inner thoughts, but some sharing would have been nice. All we really learn about him is that he has a troubled home life.
Rose’s bestie, Tracy was even more of a mystery. She’s constantly being a bitch to Rose and then the nice switch flips and she’s nice for a page or two then its back to bitchville. I mean, I understand that those friends you make in childhood are hard to forget and I’m as guilty as the next person at standing silently by someone who really needs to be put in their place, but Tracy takes it a bit far.
I really like the writing style. Each chapter begins with a word and its definition, which amused me greatly. I love learning new words, and though I knew most of these, a few were unfamiliar, such as blunderbuss or quagmire. I loved Louise Rozett’s blunt way of discussing sex. I loved that she put in that health class discussing STD’s and unplanned pregnancy and all the ways sex can go wrong if you aren’t ready or prepared. I loved that Rose doesn’t want to have sex yet because she knows she isn’t ready and she won’t let anyone pressure her into believing otherwise. Considering YA paranormal’s always come up with an absurd reason that the teenage characters can’t get it on (like one it’s impossible to comingle the species, or some such nonsense), it’s refreshing for the character to simply not be ready and leave it at that.
This is a contemporary story of a girl trying to deal with all the pressure and changes associated with high school. It’s heartbreaking and funny and stunningly true to life. I recommend it to anyone looking for a good contemporary read.
****Thank you to Harlequin (UK) Limited for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****