Author: Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Source: received from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
I love that cover. I love road trip books. I love summer. I love stories of revenge. So, you can see that this book and I were meant to be. It's cute and quirky and funny, and with a title like that, it was sure to pique my interest.
How My Summer Went Up in Flames starts off as a story about heartbreak and the crazy things love will make you do. And if I'm being honest, I almost gave up at 20% in because all that had happened by that point was some backstory and rehashing of the events leading up to the forced exile of our protagonist. I think I would've rather learned all of those details after the road trip had commenced, as flashbacks or what have you. That's not to say that all of it was dumped on me at the beginning because it wasn't. And that's partially why I gave the book a second chance and soldiered on.
The road trip was interesting, full of curious exploits and adventures. It wasn't necessarily the road trip I would have planned for myself, but that's alright, because it wasn't really Rosie's idea of fun, either. It was planned by a couple of self-proclaimed nerds, after all. Still, this trip and Rosie's companions served up a much-needed dose of humor, and Rosie actually finds that she's enjoying herself, despite her predicament.
It was hard to relate to Rosie at first, even though I was a bit hot-tempered and unpredictable at that age myself. Break-ups are hard at any age, but they seem most traumatic when they're your first. I did think that the narrative voice was rather true to the character and situations. It reads immature at times, but I think it was a true reflection of Rosie's emotional instability to voice her character so. And eventually, I stopped trying to relate to these characters and just went with the flow, much like Rosie on her trip, and it all worked out for the better. For the most part.
The sheer volume of (possible) romantic entanglements did try my patience. Rosie's unsuccessfully trying to get over her ex, and then her parents throw her in a car with three teenage guys. This is not the kind of punishment my parents would have awarded me for torching my ex's car, but who am I to judge? However, I did appreciate that Rosie ultimately decided that the road trip was more about finding herself than anything romantic. I wish I would have had that kind of foresight at that age. And I was glad to see that Rosie was more interested in making healthy, lasting friendships. And that the author didn't resort to a mean girl cliche when it came to introducing a new character later on. Those are so tiresome. So, props to the author for showing that girls can be friends...that they don't have to be mortal enemies just because boys are involved.
How My Summer Went Up in Flames wasn't quite what I expected, but I'm glad I went along for the ride. (Pun totally intended. :P) Funny and witty, this novel makes for a great summer read, and it's perfect for fans of contemporary YA looking for a bit of an escape. I'm very excited to see what this author cooks up in Famous Last Words, due out this summer.