Jessica is the author of RELATIVELY FAMOUS, FLAT-OUT LOVE, and a few e-shorts. Her next book, a mature New Adult book, will be out in the summer of 2013. She lives in New Hampshire where she spends an obscene amount time thinking about rocker boys and their guitars, complex caffeinated beverages, and tropical vacations. On the rare occasions that she is able to focus on other things, she writes.Please visit her at her sites: http://flatoutlove.blogspot.com and http://whatthekidsays.blogspot.com
Gr 11 Up-In Park's tale (Amazon Children's Pub., 2012) of grief and healing, Julie Seagle moves in with the eccentric Watkins family, whose disturbing idiosyncrasies seemingly center on perpetually globetrotting oldest brother, Finn. Nowhere is this more manifest than in teenage Celeste, who is never without a life-sized cardboard representation of her absent brother. Then there's pretentious Matt, who antagonizes Julie at every opportunity. Julie begins a flirty online relationship with Finn and falls hard. But when a lie involving a gift Finn sent to Celeste from "abroad" is exposed, Julie becomes suspicious and uncovers several more discrepancies in her crush's stories. Julie learns that Finn is dead and everyone's odd behaviors stem from a morbid failure to cope with the loss. The boy she'd been communicating with online was Matt masquerading as his brothe. Julie is angry, but eventually forgives this deception when she realizes she's in love with Matt. Despite an inspired concept, the story's execution falls flat. Characters are difficult to relate to, romance lacks chemistry, and the ending is overly cliched. Listeners will likely guess the big plot twist early on and spend the remainder of the story wondering why Julie is so oblivious to the obvious. Mature situations make this a poor choice for younger audiences. Julia Whelan's clipped dictation seems far too formal for the genre. Skip this and consider Twenty Boy Summer (Little, Brown, 2010) by Sarah Ockler which deals with many of the same issues.-Alissa Bach, Oxford Public Library, MI (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.