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Magan: When You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle

book cover for when you were mine by rebecca serleWhen You Were Mine by Rebecca Serle [website | twitter]
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Target Audience: Young adult
Keywords: Heart break, classic re-telling, debut novel
Pages: 334
Format read: Paperback from ALA (thanks!)

Summary: Rosaline was Rob’s (Romeo’s) first love and best friend. Everything was working out perfectly for their senior year until Rosaline’s estranged cousin, Juliet, moves back to town. Juliet steals Rob away and we are given an inside glimpse to Rose’s life in this modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet.

After I finished Insurgent, I wanted something 180 degrees different. What better to pick up than a modern-day Romeo and Juliet story  - except this time from the perspective of the girl Romeo (or Rob, in When You Were Mine) discarded, Rosaline? I have to admit I was a little unsure of how closely the story would follow Shakespeare’s masterpiece. I don’t want to get into the details of the ins and outs of what happens because you should experience the emotional roller coaster without any warnings from me. Please note that even if you aren’t familiar with Romeo & Juliet, you needn’t worry. This story can be enjoyed by anyone who enjoys an epic, tragic love story.

Despite being familiar with the framework set up by Shakespeare, I allowed myself to hope that Serle had put a spin on this classic tale. I fell head over heels in love with Rob. I’ve admitted this in earlier reviews, but I am a sucker for stories that explore two best friends falling in love. Rosaline didn’t want to fracture the relationship she had with Rob, but ultimately, decided to follow her heart and allowed herself to fall for him. She had two female best friends, Charlie and Olivia, but there was something so pure about her friendship with Rob. Charlie and Olivia were a little silly and snobby, but they turned out to be the type of friend I aspire to be – encouraging when Rosaline was uncertain about Rob and protective when he broke her heart. I just couldn’t stop my heart from hoping that our Romeo would profess his love for Rosaline in spite of the spell he succumbs to when Juliet makes her appearance.

Juliet is Rose’s estranged cousin. Family drama to the max. Rose, Juliet, and Rob used to be best friends before Juliet’s family moved away. Rose is in utter darkness about why her cousin wants nothing to do with her when she returns. I had to chalk up the secrecy and Rose’s naiveté regarding the family tension to her young, unquestioning self when everything happened ten years prior. Juliet appeared after my heart had already fluttered happily for Rob; she was a little late to the game, but man, did she make an impact when she was introduced to the story. When Juliet hypnotized (figuratively, not literally) Rob, I felt like things happened so abruptly and the story began to progress much more rapidly. Serle set up the perfect scene for every romantic’s heart and then BAM, crushed it. I wept tears of sadness for Rose.

Just as you’ll remember from high school English study of Romeo and Juliet, When You Were Mine is filled with lots of:

  • family drama
  • scandal
  • mystery
  • broken-heartedness
  • hostility

Amidst the black hole that is Rose’s extended family, there is a beacon of light: Len. He’s a facetious but goofy guy. He’s given the cold shoulder by Rose and her circle of popular friends because he appears so unmotivated and detached from high school life. Rose feels as if the whole world is against her when her (terrible) bio teacher pairs her with Len. I was completely taken aback by the friendship that developed slowly and beautifully and delicately between these two unlikely characters. I was often caught off guard by Len’s insight and thoughtful observations.

Serle’s writing was incredibly engaging, and I was fully invested in the story almost instantaneously and couldn’t stop reading. When You Were Mine is a wonderful debut novel that Rebecca Serle should certainly be proud of. My only complaint is that I was left wishing for more – I wasn’t ready for Rosaline’s story to be over when I closed the book.

(Take this one with you to the beach this summer; it’s the perfect companion for drinks with umbrellas and a lazy afternoon in the sun.)

Goodreads | Amazon

June 18, 2012 - 2:51 pm

Alexa @ Alexa Loves Books - I’m a big fan of Romeo and Juliet, so the moment I heard about this book, I HAD to have it. Luckily, I was able to get it at a signing and meet Rebecca – who is so pretty and so nice in person! I can’t wait to read it this summer :)

May 15, 2012 - 6:37 pm

Hannah @ So Obsessed With - “I wasn’t ready for Rosaline’s story to be over when I closed the book.” = I must read this now. Stop reading & reviewing so many awesome books! My wallet can’t take it anymore :)

May 15, 2012 - 12:10 pm

Jamie - OMG I NEED THIS!!! I’m definitely getting this on my Nook for the honeymoon!!

May 14, 2012 - 5:23 pm

VeganYANerds - I am so looking forward to this book and even more so after reading your review, Magan! I have a copy and I want to start it this week so I’m glad you found this a book you couldn’t put down!

May 14, 2012 - 3:53 pm

Anna - Basically I want to read this right now.

May 14, 2012 - 12:48 pm

Magan - Daisy, I definitely didn’t like Rob after Juliet arrived either. He just make a complete 180. I didn’t understand how his feelings could transition so fast, but I think mine *probably* really did in high school…just like that. :-/ Ha! It’s okay to be all exclamation-mark-ish about a book! Love your enthusiasm for it! :)

Katie: THANK YOU SO MUCH. That was so incredibly sweet of you to say. You’ve made my gloomy day a little brighter. :) xoxo

Rowena: definitely pick it up soon. It’s a great one to lose yourself in and just see how the story unfolds. I’m a sucker just like you!

May 14, 2012 - 12:42 pm

Daisy - YES! Perfect beach/pool/backyard/balcony read!! :) I SO loved this book and though I didn’t fall all that hard for Rob (GAH, what a douche! Well, after he meets Juliet), I am completely in love with Len! Seriously, that boy! *le sigh* I loved the developing friendship between him and Rose as well, it was wonderful! I feel all exclamation-mark-ish over this novel :)
Glad you liked it so much!!

May 14, 2012 - 11:56 am

Katie @ Blook Girl - Magan, you and Estelle write the very best reviews! Upon finishing this particular one, I immediately added When You Were Mine to my Wish List and will definitely be stopping by the bookstore this week to pick up a copy for myself.

Thanks for the heads-up on what sounds like a really fabulous read! :-) <3

May 14, 2012 - 11:45 am

Rowena - Fabulous review, thanks so much. I’ve been antsy for this book to release so I must pick this up. I am a total sucker for heartbreaking, best friends falling in love with each other storylines and this one sounds like such a good one.

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