Anna lives next door to her two best friends, Frankie and her older brother Matt. She’s never told anyone, but Anna’s been in love with Matt forever. The day he kisses her, on her fifteenth birthday, she’s thrilled. Matt makes her promise not to tell Frankie – he wants to tell her himself – but before he has the chance, he dies. Now, a year later, Frankie has become a crazy, boy-obsessed girl and she and Anna are vacationing in California together, both trying to escape the ghosts that Matt left behind.
I won this book in a giveaway last summer. I’d seen the book all over the place but had never been terribly interested in it. The title turned me off. Then I read an interview with the author and changed my mind about the book. I was lucky enough to win it, but didn’t get around to reading it for months. By December, I wasn’t really very interested anymore, and I planned to purge the book. Then I read the first tiny part, where Anna and Matt have their first kiss and fall in love. I loved the writing and the characters, and they made me feel the glorious experience of first love. I decided not to purge.
Now, three months later, I finally got around to reading the book. I needed a break from all the heavier books I’ve been reading. I re-experienced that first part of the book, loved everything up to the end of chapter 2, when Matt dies, and then the rest of the book…wasn’t really for me. It wasn’t badly done or anything, it just wasn’t really the sort of book I like. I couldn’t stand the two girls, especially Frankie. I’ve never liked the girly crowd of makeup frenzy and shopping and boy-conquest. For awhile I actually considered dropping the book, but I persevered until the two girls met a few more characters that helped to anchor the plot a bit.
But even with anchoring, I honestly didn’t care very much what happened to Anna or Frankie after the first two chapters. There’s a climax scene between them where Frankie does something to Anna that, in my mind, is unforgivable, but I found it difficult to care. If these had been characters I’d cared about, that climax could have made me cry. It could have made me scream hysterics at Frankie. It could have made me hate her passionately and hate Anna for any forgiveness she might have shown. But it didn’t.
This book would work well for others, I think. Just not for me. It’s well-written, and the opening is very well done. And it was definitely a good lighthearted book to take my mind off the heavier books I’ve been reading (Mornings in Jenin, Agnes Grey, Death in Venice, The Danish Girl…). It was something I needed: an evening off to read something fun. It doesn’t matter that I’ll give away the book now or that I won’t remember it in a few months. It gave me escape for a day, and that’s what I needed.