I felt really torn when I sat down to write this review because I just wasn’t sure how to rate it. The plot was decent, the characters were alright, the message was genuine—altogether it should have been a really great read, but the writing ruined it.
I don’t want to just dump a bad review on this book without being fair, so I want to point out some of the things I did like. I enjoyed the concept of the story—based in a time before Twitter and Facebook, readers got a fresh look at young love and all its complications. We got to watch a teenage girl discover herself and who she wanted to become versus who she was at this moment. I think the author wanted to highlight a simpler time but, in all honesty, this book demonstrated that the challenges of love haven’t changed. Love is not complicated because of modern social media, bustling city life, or age; it is complicated because it’s simply complicated. I’m not sure if that’s the message Manley really wanted to send but that’s what I picked up. Overall, the heart of the book was kind and sweet—it was a nice beach read you could get through in a few hours and I would recommend it to young readers looking for a lazy book to cozy up with as the summer winds down.
Now, what did I dislike about the book? My biggest issue was the writing; this book was written for YA readers, but it felt more like middle grade or even younger. The writing was so elementary and plain I was a little surprised it was not self-published. I winced while writing that last line, but the writing here was just not strong enough for me to imagine it being represented by an agent and published by an actual company. The amount of five-star reviews for this book are either people who were paid or didn’t actually read it. There was no description, no depth, no characterization—it felt like I was reading something written by a child, for a child, or written by someone who hasn’t actually read a book in years.
I don’t like leaving terrible reviews like this, but I always promise to be 100% honest when I write for The Rebel Christian. Don’t get me wrong, the concept and message were really good, but the writing simply was not strong enough to pull everything together. Maybe if the author took his time to read, reflect, and improve his skills future releases will be much more enjoyable.
*I received a free copy of this book on behalf of The Rebel Christian in exchange for an honest review*