Author: Jenny Kaczorowski
Narrator: Katie Flahive
Length: 6 hrs 9 mins
Publisher: Audible for Bloomsbury
Publication Date: December 30, 2013
Purchase: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Audible
For seventeen-year-old Bria Hale, image is everything. She’s a militant vegan with purple hair, Doc Martens and a permanent scowl. Kissing captain of the football team Ben Harris? Definitely not part of that image.
Now with each secret kiss, she’s falling deeper for the boy every girl at Oceanside High is crushing on. Throw in a few forbidden bacon cheeseburgers and she’s facing one major identity crisis.
Ignoring Ben should be easy, but when a flashy display of artistic spirit lands her in close quarters after hours with the boy she’s too cool to like, she can’t keep pretending those kisses meant nothing. With her reputation and her heart on a collision course, Bria must either be true to herself or to the persona she’s spent all of high school creating.
Although I called this book a good palate cleanser in my initial thoughts on Goodreads, I have to admit it wasn't nearly as fluffy as I'd imagined it would be based on that summary. Yes, it's about a girl falling for a guy she probably shouldn't, but it's also about that same girl figuring out if she wants to let the world see who she really is or if she's going to let everyone keep on believing she's the girl she's always portrayed herself to be.
In high school, image is everything...or so it seems when you're that young. Really, it's more important to be who you are or to try to be the person you want to be. As the end of her high school career grows near, Bria is having a bit of an identity crisis. It starts with sneaking a little meat into her vegan diet every once in awhile and escalates when hottie Ben Harris -- her best friend's slightly older brother, no less -- kisses her on the beach.
Bria was a realistic teenage girl, though maybe a bit naïve if she really thought she could keep up her carefully concocted façade for much longer. Her friends seemed to be part of that persona, being artsy and creative people, too, but the friendships seemed genuine despite that. Bria has a promising future as an artist, but she secretly really loves math and helps her father with the accounting for his business. I liked that she was kind of like two sides of the same coin, and the only person who ever truly saw both sides at the same time was Ben.
It's actually because of her quasi-relationship with Ben that she overcomes some of the labels she's put on herself, that she takes a look at what she really wants versus what everyone expects from her. This puts her on a path to self-discovery that most young adults undertake at this point in their lives, and I enjoyed how realistically her story was handled, that her path was not without its bumps.
There's another guy in the picture, though I wouldn't call this a true love triangle. Bria essentially hangs out with Raf to occupy her mind while she figures out her feelings for Ben. But it's pretty obvious where her heart lies, especially since she's pretty much always had a mad crush on her best friend's brother. She just doesn't want to jeopardize her friendship with either of them in order to pursue something more.
Katie Flahive did a fabulous job of making Bria sound every bit the typical somewhat angsty teenager going through an identity crisis. She maintained an air of snarkiness while also allowing Bria to sound vulnerable at the same time. I enjoyed this audiobook and the narrator's presentation and found that it was over much too quickly. I'll definitely be on the lookout for more YA audiobooks narrated by Katie Flahive.
And I'm also looking forward to more novels from Jenny Kaczorowski. This book only just popped up on my radar, but as soon as I read the premise, I knew it would be a great listen-in-one-day kind of story. The writing was crisp and fresh, and I can't wait to read more from this debut author.
About the author:
Raised in Avon, Ohio, the duct tape capital of the world, Jenny began her writing career as a featured columnist for her hometown newspaper. After earning a degree in photojournalism from Kent State University, she vowed to never spend another winter in Ohio and moved to Los Angeles, where there is far too much sunshine.
Amid working as a grant writer for Sound Art, a non-profit that teaches music in inner-city neighborhoods, and raising two kids, Jenny decided to do something with all the snippets of stories she wrote during microeconomics and began writing for young adults. She likes her heroines smart and quirky, her heroes nice, and her kisses sweet. Her debut, THE ART OF FALLING, is coming from Bloomsbury Spark in Winter 2013.
Apart from writing, Jenny is still an avid photographer, loves music despite no discernable musical talent and reads the dictionary for fun. She lives near Los Angeles with her husband, son and daughter. The four of them are always looking for their adventure.
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