Synopsis: Signed, sealed, delivered…
While spacing out in chemistry class, Lily scribbles some of her favorite song lyrics onto her desk. The next day, she finds that someone has continued the lyrics on the desk and added a message to her. Intrigue!
Soon, Lily and her anonymous pen pal are exchanging full-on letters—sharing secrets, recommending bands, and opening up to each other. Lily realizes she’s kind of falling for this letter writer. Only, who is he? As Lily attempts to unravel the mystery and juggle school, friends, crushes, and her crazy family, she discovers that matters of the heart can’t always be spelled out…
Review: God, I don’t know. I gave it 3 stars initially on Goodreads, but I don’t know why. (P.S.–haha get it?–by the end of this review I decided on 2 stars. Sorry.)
A disclaimer: I just moved to college five days ago (I’m writing this on August 31) and so to calm my nerves I reread my guilty pleasure-y-est, favoritest non-Rainbow Rowell contemporary, Anna and the French Kiss.
Okay, the title makes it seem worse than it is, but it’s pretty bad. British accents and Paris and grand romantic gestures on the top of Notre Dame and boarding school and cringeworthy moments and more ~miscommunications~ than you can count. Ugh, it’s so fun. I highly recommend it for anyone who needs a mushy teenage love story in their life.
ANYWAY, back to the point–it probably wasn’t fair to follow up Étienne St. Clair with any other contemporary. There’s no comparison. I know this. But it’s Kasie West! She’s only a couple of tiers below contemporary queens like Rowell and Perkins…or Hoover, if you’re into that.
First off, I can’t believe it was 300 pages long. It truly felt like nothing happened. It was the same scenes mind-numbingly repeated: Lily and Isabel at lunch, Lily and Cade fight, Lily has a crazy family, Lily writes a letter, Lily receives a letter, Lily has a crazy family, Lily and Isabel at lunch, over and over and over. And the characters still felt super flat. Probably because of how flat their existences seem to be.
Also, our protagonist was way on the cusp of being a manic pixie dream girl–or as I like to refer to it, “I’m not like other girls” disease. Kind of like Anna and the French Kiss’s disappointing companion Lola and the Boy Next Door. Sigh. Anyway, that proximity made it impossible for me to feel comfortable. I was just waiting for Cade to supposedly “compliment” Lily by saying something to that effect, or Lily to warn someone about herself by saying it, or something.
I was so excited for the letter aspect too! That’s like the cutest thing ever to me, letter-writing. Relationships like that are so uncommon these days (& for good reason), but I still romanticize snail mail. And note-passing for its similarities. But the letters are uncomfortably written and inserted into the text, and they were filled with intimate secrets that somehow made me feel no closer to the characters. And, sorry, but the “mysterious” pen pal was fairly obvious all along.
The whole book was just not as well written as usual. It felt…uncomfortable, if that makes sense? It felt like it was hard to write and that made it hard to read. (Which didn’t help matters when characterizing our narrator.)
I guess I’m giving this 2 stars and not 1 just because I’m so in the mood for contemporaries right now (they’re SO soothing). And/or because I still trust in Kasie West. Catch me reading her next book whenever it comes out.
Sorry for the fragmented review! I’ve got Étienne St. Clair on the mind and an alarm set for 7:30 taunting me.
Bottom line: This has a 4.04 on Goodreads, so other people like it. You might. I did not.