Monday, May 6, 2013

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Title: How My Summer Went Up in Flames
Author: Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Series: n/a
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Source: received from publisher via Edelweiss
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble

First she lost her heart. Then she lost her mind. And now she’s on a road trip to win back her ex. This debut novel’s packed with drama and romance!

Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious.

To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But her determination starts to dwindle with each passing mile. Because Rosie’s spark of anger? It may have just ignited a romance with someone new…

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.

Rating:   photo 3-1.png 1/2

Favorite Quotes:

"Why were you arguing about Bill Gates?" Spencer asks.
"Someone's gotta defend Microsoft."   I shake my head in mock disbelief.  "Apple groupies."

Logan remains silent, but I see his eyes shift toward Matty in the rearview mirror.  Is Logan jealous?  Am I?  And if I am, is it because Matty likes Avery or is it because Logan is jealous that Avery may like Matty?  Then I wonder, if I jump out of this moving Taurus, will I die or simply tumble across the barren landscape like a Salsola plant?

My eyes flutter open and there's a glowing white orb about two inches from my face.  Is that the sun?  Or...oh no.  I gingerly feel the back of my head and neck.  Phew.  No probes.  That's a relief.  Because obviously, if anyone's getting abducted while we're in Roswell, it's me.  That's the kind of luck I have.

Matty answers.  I hear screaming on the other end.  "No, Mrs. Catalano, we're fine.  Rosie didn't fall into the Grand Canyon.  I know.  I know.  That's some GPS you had on that phone.  Yes, I said had.  Uh, here, talk to Rosie."

About the author:

In addition to writing for teens, I’m a freelance writer who has written articles and essays for national publications including, Cosmopolitan. I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer even though I often referred to my college major in English as “PreLaw” because it held the promise that I might actually find work someday.

As it turns out, I did find work. My first paid writing gig was as an editorial assistant for the North Jersey Herald & News, where, in addition to developing a life-long passion for coffee and news, I wrote obituaries for eight months. I’ve also worked as a speech writer, bank teller, ghostwriter, bookkeeper in a lampshade factory, pet shop clerk, and music zine editor.

My debut young adult novel, HOW MY SUMMER WENT UP IN FLAMES, will be published by Simon Pulse in May 2013. My second YA novel, FAMOUS LAST WORDS, about a teen obit writer will be published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers in July 2013.

Find Jennifer:

WebsiteBlog | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest


  1. I'll take 3.5 stars. ;) I'm reading this one very soon, so I'm keeping my hopes up. :D

  2. Hope you'll like your next read more.

    Andreea @

  3. LOL -- I didn't get approved for this one either. I may try to pick it up at the library and give it a chance…

    You can find me here: Jen @ YA Romantics

  4. Thanks for the honesty. It has all the things I love in books too. Sounds like maybe it was a little too much to handle/wield.

  5. I love summer and roadtrips too! though I'm not sure whether I'll pick this one up or not. I like that it is surprising and that you get to journey with the character as she gets to a healthier place, but I'm not sure the getting there would be enough fun for me to invest. Although a book does not need to have a romance for me to love it, using the phrase 'sheer number of romantic entanglements' worries me!

  6. Hmm...this one did appeal to me, but I'm a little up in the air now. Nice review Jen!

  7. You make me even more excited to read it! I'm glad for the warning of information dumping in the beginning too because I think I might be put off if that happened. I absolutely applauded when you said that the author didn't fall into the trap of introducing a new character and her being a mean girl. I loved the addition of quotes as well. Can't wait to read this one! Great review :)

  8. Hah hah, I don't mind a good pun at all. :P I like road trip books so I'm definitely going to give this one a go sometime. I'm glad you enjoyed it overall, aside from a few reservations.

    Wendy @ The Midnight Garden

  9. This sounds like a lovely read. I love all road trip novels. This cover caught my eye a few months ago. Definitely sounds promising!


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