Love, Lucy by April Lindner • Magan Reviews

book cover for Love, Lucy by April Lindner

Love, Lucy by April Lindner [google+ • website]
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
Publisher: Poppy
Pages: 304
Target Audience: Young Adult
Keywords: European travel, college, becoming your own person
Format Read: ARC from Publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Lucy is on the vacation of her dreams, traveling around Europe. But it comes with a steep price. In exchange for her trip, her father demands that she forget about becoming an actress, attend college and study to become a business major. (Blah.) While in Europe, Lucy meets a boy her heart can’t forget even when she’s back home in the thick of her semester.


I’m not one for making grand book comparisons, but I really want to capture your attention so I’m tossing that aside to tell you that if you enjoyed Just One Day and Just One Year, I think you’re in for another special treat if you decide to check out Love, Lucy.

Do I have your attention now? Okay, good.

Lucy is an actress. She comes alive on stage. But her father thinks she needs something solid to fall back on because there are tons of mediocre actresses who don’t make it in the real world. He stubbornly believes she should forget about acting, go to college, and major in business. After a failed audition, Lucy bargains away her future by accepting a trip to Europe for agreeing to her father’s plans.

Lucy marvels over the sights and history of each location with an acquaintance, Charlene, whom her parents have paid to travel along with Lucy. (This part was a little bit odd to me. Charlene is older, but not by much, and as nice and wholesome as Lucy is — why didn’t she go with any of her actual BFFs?) Love, Lucy begins at nearly the end of Charlene and Lucy’s travels, just as they’re arriving in Florence, Lucy’s most anticipated location. The girls are nearly at their wit’s end with one another though — Charlene’s abrasive attitude has put a damper on Lucy’s bright, peppy outlook. As they need some space from one another, Lucy bumps into a guy who works at their hostel, Jesse, who doubles as a street performer.

They bumble and meander their way through a few sites and make plans to meet up the next day (much to Charlene’s great displeasure.) Thus begins their great European love story…

Until Lucy’s plane departs and they’re thousands of miles from one another with nothing but email addresses to keep them connected. Lucy’s flung back into the reality of college and doing something she doesn’t want to. Though she dislikes her studies, she develops strong friendships with her roommates and tries to move on from Jesse when she meets Shane, a nice, intelligent, kind guy. She and Jesse try to remain in contact, but it’s difficult for Lucy to imagine him moving on and it becomes difficult to be honest with him about Shane. Their emails lessen and Lucy is in this self-realization state of trying to go after what she really wants (being in the Rent production her college is holding auditions for) and not moving too fast with Shane (when her heart still yearns for the boy she met in Florence).

Love, Lucy is filled with friendships (great ones!), cute boys, descriptive travel scenes, and the good ol’ message of going after what you want, standing up for yourself, and not letting other people write your life’s story. (Note: while I may have used JOD and JOY to get your attention, Love, Lucy stands on its own and takes you on a unique, lovely journey.)

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NA Slumber Party | 3:AM Kisses by Addison Moore

NA Slumber Party

Ready for some hair braiding, pillow fights, and sexy talk? I’m so excited to host our first NA Slumber Party with some fantastic ladies: Asheley from Into the Hall of Books, Betty from Book Rock Betty, Cassie from Books with Cass, and Kelly from Belle of the Literati.

So what does this mean exactly?

A few weeks ago we all decided to read 3:AM Kisses by Addison Moore together, and it was such a blast we decided to a) make it a regular thing b) share some of the fun with all of you. Every month, this feature will hop over to another blog with a new host and new book to drool over (or laugh along to).

3AM Kisses by Addison Moore

Over 150 emails later, texts, videos, and pictures… reading NA just became a whole lot more fun when you are sharing it with others. I haven’t laughed this hard in ages, and I know the girls will agree with me. 3:AM Kisses is about a college freshman named Baya who falls for her brother’s “off-limits” roommate. Uh oh, you know what that means. The book has gymnastics, sororities, short shorts, and a multitude of nicknames for, ahem, those private regions that it seriously rivals the thesaurus.

Just a warning; things get a little racy pretty fast.

Here are a few of the highlights:

NA Slumber Party Asheley from Into the Hall of Books 2

Asheley:  All of the 3:AM Kisses shenanigans take place at and around fictional Whitney Briggs University in the mountains of North Carolina – what should be the mascot of WBU? Make it sexy!

A: A Pirate. Argh!
C: Female coal miner -[& tatted up, duhhh ;)]
B: Definitely a COUGAR!
K: Sex Panther a la Anchorman…obvi
E: Bear for the Black Bear Saloon that Bryson and Baya work at. Grr?

NA Slumber Party Betty from Book Rock Betty

Betty:  Am I the only one that will never be able to listen to the song “Welcome to the Jungle” without giggling as a result of this book??

C: Bahahahah. No. But its okay, I started tally marks on my wall, btw.  Of course… it never goes past one but I play Welcome to the Jungle ………… at times now 😉 [This is a joke.]
K: Haha, I won’t now!! I’m adding this to Favorites playlist on my iPod immediately.
E: THIS was definitely a highlight in a very amusing scene, that is for sure.
A: Oh my gosh, that didn’t even occur to me but THANK YOU BETTY FOR CHANGING MY LIFE IN THAT WAY! Goodbye Guns N’ Roses, Hello 3:AM Kisses! Womp Womp.

NA Slumber Party Cassie from Books with Cass

Cassie:  Bryson talks about Baya’s “lime green eyes”. If you could have any array of eye colors in your mate, what [not-normal] color would they be?

C: Polka-dotted magenta. WHATTTUP!
K: Yellow: Betty and Asheley should know why 😉
B: Deep violet like Cole Holland from Alice in Zombieland!
E: I love some gray eyes. Can’t help it!
A: Purple! I looove purple. I also like red but that would be too freaky.

Kelly NA Slumber Party

Kelly: We now live in a dystopian society, words are few, because of this there can only be ONE name for a woman’s nether region, Baya is quite colorful in all her descriptions, which phrase or word to describe her private area would you choose for everyone to call it?

K: The Notorious VAG
B: …no comment.
C: The aforementioned Sweet Spot
A: Love Glove
E: Squeezebox

NA Slumber Party Estelle from Rather Be Reading Blog

Estelle: Recommend this book in one sentence.

E: Some serious fun and major sexy, 3:AM Kisses is a great book to kick back with.
A: Quick, racy, fun romance that makes you laugh – especially if you read it with friends!
B: A sex ed class like you’ve never experienced before!
C: Pure fun with a slice of Bry-Pie 😉
K: Fun, sexy, and hilariously colorful use of vocabulary to describe everything sexual.

Our favorite lines:

C: “Book camp!” Roxy sighs. “Is there such a thing?” “No clue.  But if there’s not, there should be.  It sounds like a great cover for just about any story– get it? Story?”

A: “Personally I’d like to see his Hardy Boys solve a few mysteries with my Nancy Drew.”

B: “The only notch Baya Brighton is carving in the one over my heart.”

K: I couldn’t pick just one so I narrowed it down to two. First– “I should have logged hours watching porn instead of reading Yates for Lit. It’s like I’ve got no fucking priorities.” Second– “I hear book boyfriends are all the rage.” ←-OBVIOUSLY!

E: “I double dog dare you to join me.”

How can we forget the refreshments?

Slippery Nipple Shot recipe ( 1/2 oz Bailey’s Irish cream + 1/2 oz Butterscotch Schnapps)

better than sex bry pie recipe from mug cakes

Recipe from Mug Cakes

Any closing thoughts?

C:  If you read this book, read with a friend and have your phone and email ready.  This was so much fun and I got way too many laughs out of reading with these girls! BUT in the end, I actually DID enjoy the book, too!  So, I’d say for the price, give it a go, girls!

B:  If you decide to read this…read it with friends.  TRUST ME. It is hilarious. It was a bit graphic for my taste… so if you aren’t down with descriptive sexy times, pass on this one.

K: This was some of the most fun I’ve ever had while reading a book. Reading it with some of my favorite book friends made it that much better.

A: I agree with what everyone says about reading it with friends – I’ve never laughed and texted and emailed so much over a book in my life, but that’s what made it great because we read it together! SO. MUCH. FUN. Also, if you take your New Adult really seriously, this one isn’t for you –  you have to just have fun with it!

E: With 3:AM Kisses, be prepared for mega-sexy moments, some laughs, and a whole lot of drama. Reading with these girls definitely enhanced the fun for me!


If you want to check out our next read, the NA Slumber Party is going to be checking out A Little Too Far by Lisa Derochers this month! Feel free to pick up your own copy and tweet us with your thoughts! (Cassie will be hosting next month’s NA Slumber party so be on the lookout for that in November!)


3:AM Kisses by Addison Moore: B&N | Amazon | Goodreads
Publisher: Addison Moore Publishing | Publication Date: 9/17/2013

book cover for fangirl by rainbow rowell

Book Report: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Last week, we revived our Book Reports with Where the Stars Still Shine by Trish Doller. We got some great feedback from you guys, and really, really enjoy diving into these discussions. Estelle was trying to decide what she should read next and we discussed how great it would be to do a Fangirl Book Report. Magan had already read it and despite doing a joint review recently, really wanted to discuss the details a little more with Estelle. So here you have it, friends! Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell…

book cover for fangirl by rainbow rowell

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (website | twitter)
Publication Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: St. Martin’s Press
Pages: 433
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: college, fanfiction, twin sisters, empty nesting, separation anxiety
Other Books Reviewed by This Author: Eleanor and Park
Format read: ARCs from the publisher (Thank you!)

Summary: Twin sisters Cath and Wren have moved away to college to begin their freshman years. While Wren is diving into the college life, Cath is despising the change and scared of moving forward. She clings onto her fanfiction writing and is begrudgingly taken under her roommate, Reagan’s, wing.

Just in case you need a reminder of who is who below, here ya go:



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I don’t even know how to start! There were a bazillion and a half things I loved about Fangirl.


Clearly, we don’t have time to mention them all. How about top 3? (I’m hilarious.)


Hahahah — I loved the New Adult feel – the fear of experiencing college and moving forward because life as you know it is awesome. The relationship aspect – friendships and otherwise – were so well developed, and I think there was a lovely depiction of what it’s like to be in a relationship, but to be afraid of getting too attached to someone and all the physical pressure that comes along with relationships. What about you? What were standout aspects for you?

Great points! I totally agree with those, and have to add the escapism factor. I could totally relate to Cath and her affection for something people may not understand. (I guess when you have a Disney blog you understand these things on a “deeper” level.) But she was so consumed by the world she had created for her characters and for herself that she was forgetting there was a whole outside world to experience. Or maybe just didn’t know how to take that next step and let go of what anchored her. Oh and maybe also finding this balance between your passions and also LIVING. I know a lot of us have those moments where we are so into what’s happening on twitter or in the book world, or just in the world of books, and it can be very isolating.

You hit on two major, major points here. Cath, the main character, had so much going on in her life. Her dad seemed to be suffering from separation anxiety (and more) after Cath and Wren left for college. Wren was trying to create her own identity, separate of Cath, and that left Cath feeling very lost and confused. Her fantiction was the only stable element of her life. She was a brilliant writer, people depended on her, and it was a positive amongst a lot of heavier “real life” issues. I connected so much to the “fear to move on” side of Cath. Each time in my life I’ve had to make big decisions – going to college, moving, etc. – I have become so emotional and had trouble accepting the new.

Same here. I felt forced to relive some of the more difficult moments of my freshman year of college when I was reading Fangirl. I really wanted to transfer, feared I would never feel comfortable there, and definitely spent too much time wrapped up in other things than attempting to make a place for myself in this new life. I have to say this though. For all the heavy moments and the scary changes, there is so much humor in Fangirl. It takes a ton for me to LOL but I was definitely doing that on more than one occasion during my reading. It surprised me! I don’t remember having that kind of reaction in Attachments or Eleanor and Park. Cath’s thoughts are so amusing and so things that I would think.

I agree. And her interactions with her roommate Reagan? My gosh, I loved Reagan. She was so honest and authentic. There’s the scene where Reagan finally takes Cath under her wing and forces her to go to the cafeteria? I was dying.

Same here. I wish everyone had a Reagan!


Me too. And via Reagan, we meet Levi!


Oh Levi. What a great character. I could picture him SO well.


I think from what I’ve seen around the blogosphere and twitter, everyone is swooning pretty hardcore over Levi. You’ve now read all of Rainbow’s books. Would you say he’s your favorite of her male characters?

That’s so tough. I really really enjoyed Lincoln in Attachments. His plight was so unique to any fiction I’ve written (a sort of momma’s boy trying to move forward from a love he can’t forget) so I’d have to say it’s a very close tie when it comes to Lincoln and Levi. What about you? I know how much you loved Park.

I did really love Park. But I also loved Levi. Levi in many, many ways reminded me of my husband, Dustyn. The way he wouldn’t enter Cath and Reagan’s dorm room even though he had a key… or the way he would randomly bring a coffee by… how he smiled at everyone. He was kind and so thoughtful. Probably the most respectful male character I’ve read about in a long, long time. Needless to say, it’s a toss up. I think because I met Dustyn when he was about Levi’s age, something kind of pulled me to him.

I could see that. Honestly, Levi was probably a guy that I would not have liked in college because I didn’t really like NICE boys. (Bad Estelle!) And I don’t really think he is like James at all. (HA) But, I do think he is the kind of guy that girls tend to pass over because he is too nice. Like, he always ends up being the friend? So it was interesting to see how this played out. I also liked how the “romance” was never the main part of this book. Rainbow did a great job of juggling a lot of different story lines and making it feel like all the events were happening pretty organically.

It’s really true. There’s one aspect that pulled me out of the story a little bit though: the inclusion of Cath’s fanfiction and excerpts of the original story she was manipulating. How did you feel about this? (Can I just say it pains me to critique anything about Rainbow’s writing?)

It wasn’t too jarring to me but I felt myself really wondering how the fanfic situation was mirroring real life or if it was supposed to be? I also (I hate to say this) kept getting a little confused by the characters in the fanfic and almost wish there was more included if it was going to be there at all. So maybe it was more jarring than I thought but I think (and I know you agree) we are so invested in Cath and her life and just want to find out what happens. Oh, now that I’m thinking about this. Maybe it was purposeful. Cath is going through life and keeps interrupting her own growth with the fan fic? Or is that reaching?

I really think you could be right, but I think the confusion for me was that it took me a bit to catch on to who was writing which part. I also didn’t get a sense of the timeline the fanfic followed or if it was supposed to be eluding to what happened in Cath’s life as well. Essentially, I thought about it too much when all I really wanted to be thinking with was how Cath was dealing and what was going to happen next.

I understand. I felt the same way. I tried to savor it all though and trudge through the fan fic as best I could. (I stayed up until 2am reading this on Friday night. I did not want to take a break at all!)

Hahah – I’m sure James loved being ignored for Cath and Levi.


It’s okay. He had video games to keep him company :) But let’s chat about Wren.


Oh, man. The twin sister.


I was so intrigued by their relationship, and I love a good sister story. I felt like I spent most of the book being really angry at Wren.

Oh, girl! ME TOO. She seemed so selfish and angsty. However, Wren’s storyline showed me a completely different side of Cath. I saw Cath as someone who wasn’t so skittish and scared. She became a stronger woman to me through all of these interactions with Wren and their father. I began to see a tender, compassionate, STRONG side of her.

It’s true. I understood that both girls really need to steer their own paths. That took a lot of courage when they were so used to being together and sharing each other’s lives. But it was almost too extreme and I wanted to shake Wren just to talk to her sister! How could she just… let her sit in her room. Even though Cath didn’t like to party it up, Wren could have been encouraging and available to her sister. It felt like they were strangers.

It really did. Wren’s actions almost made it unbelievable that at some point she was into the fanfiction too. She became such a different girl than who I think Cath grew up with.

Another totally realistic portrayal of the choices people can make when they go to college.


Gosh, yeah. College is like this huge opportunity to essentially reinvent yourself. Cath wasn’t sure she wanted to do that. She liked her life as it was. Meanwhile, Wren was fleeing. She wanted the exact opposite. I can’t pinpoint any specific examples of this happening to me in college, but I can imagine how difficult it would be to make it through that kind of behavioral change.

Especially when you are going to school with a built-in friend. Or so you think.


I know you and I have both had adult friendships go awry under circumstances we just didn’t understand. I think that was one of my favorite aspects of Fangirl. Even though they were still younger than we are, I really, really connected to their circumstances even more so than I normally do with Young Adult books. It felt so refreshing.

I totally agree with that. Even Cath’s investment in her dad’s health and how she was so dedicated to keeping up with him. Parents are usually the ones begging for their kids to call them, and here she was kind of taking on this burden to make sure he stays afloat.

I finished the book and texted you “This is what NA should feel like.” NA isn’t a specific category yet and I don’t know that Fangirl is being loosely classified as such, but it felt like this was such a gaping hole in what I’ve read after I finished it. I need more books to make me feel the way Fangirl did. I need more NA books to not focus so much on people with huge sexual agendas. I’ve mostly stayed away from books marketed as such because they’ve all felt the same.

That is an amazing point. I want to read a book that I relate to and characters with intense baggage and this insatiable sexual hunger and tension… that was just not my life and it’s not going to be my life. Cath and Wren had real problems, real joys, and real growth. Their story could easily be someone I knew in college, or a friend of a friend.

Rainbow does a phenomenal job of making her stories so believable by including family, background stories, friendships, relationships. Their dad’s story, as you mentioned, was such an interesting one to me. I don’t believe I’ve read about someone before who was quite like him. I was so intrigued by him, but also cautious. I never knew quite what to expect.

Same here. I could tell he really cared for them but something was off? It was a strong point of the story for me, and I almost missed him a bit at the end. Again, I think his absence was on purpose because of well… I’m not saying what… but he seemed like a great guy.

Is there something we haven’t touched on that  you’d like to mention? I just read through all of my notes again and I just feel so happy re-living this story with you.

I think all I can say is: BUY THIS NOW. The re-readability level is so high… I am anxious to get this book on my shelf.


I couldn’t agree more. I have a really hard time with re-reading because I feel like there are so many new books to experience, but I just NEED to own this one. And honestly? How gorgeous are all of her covers?

The cover is wonderful and so creative. I feel like it fits the book perfectly.


It really does. I just looked at how Cath and Levi were positioned on the cover and it made me smile, thinking about them in her dorm room. It’s so accurate. Aside from BUY NOW, any final words about Fangirl?

Ah. You just made me think of something. My final words are going to be about how accurately Rainbow described the writing classes in this book. I was a writing major and these were some of my most challenging classes but also the most personal to me. I could relate to how hard Cath had to work, her attraction to other good writers/thinkers in her class, and I was so so so angry at a certain character in this book for certain actions that I may never be over it. (You will know what I’m talking about once you read it, everyone.) But Rainbow really inspired me to think about writing and why we do it and why it’s so important. So I just wanted to say thanks for that. I haven’t felt that way since The Princesses of Iowa. I felt really empowered by Cath’s passions, for sure, and hope this nudges me to move forward a little bit with my own.

I love that. I loved those writing classes in a completely different way. I kind of gave up on writing because I had a professor tell me that I didn’t need to major in it because “writing was something I could do via any profession” and “there were too many English majors out there looking for jobs.” I am happy I pushed myself to study something different, but I also felt a little bit sad. I felt like I wanted the professor Cath had who saw something in her and helped her fine-tune her talent and even pushed her to embrace it. I felt like that was a missed opportunity for me.

That teacher was amazing. I loved how she went to-bat for her. A teacher like that could make all the difference.


Me too. How absolutely everything there played out was so fantastic. And even in some of the most subtle ways. That wasn’t a huge, huge storyline, but I always kept wondering what Cath was up to and how she was handling her English class.

Same here.


You somewhat mentioned this earlier, but I want to bring it back to focus again. So many times I thought about how Cath living in her fanfiction world was so understandable for me because I feel like being a blogger takes as much investment and effort as she was putting forth. Her fanfiction wasn’t something she could sell and this blog isn’t something we make money off of, but it’s something that defines a very large part of who you and I are. I just kept coming back, over and over, to the point that there needs to be a balance between living in the real world and not allowing this to take over our lives. I think it’s really easy to want huge blog hits, lots of twitter followers, etc., but ultimately, those are just things. My friendship with you is so much more than all of those things.

I totally agree with that. Ah the internet would can be so complicated and so wonderful but you do really have to learn your limits. Something I think Rainbow nailed is how everyone on the internet has this other part of them we just don’t know about. No one knew why Cath was busy and not writing, and no one know what was going on when she was going on writing benders either. This is also a theme (sort of) in This Song Will Save Your Life by Leila Sales too — another fantastic contemporary. Sort of these secret worlds our characters go to, where they feel so powerful. Even when in their real lives they are bumbling.

I would say that’s true for me too, even though I wish I could say it’s not. I think there are certain areas of our lives we protect and keep hidden because we’re just not sure how to share them. Or we assume people won’t understand. Cath expected to be ridiculed for her fanfiction by the people she told. (Sometimes I was a little amazed by her forthrightness at sharing considering the reaction she anticipated.) I think it almost goes beyond developing a persona and becomes more about becoming wholeheartedly comfortable with who we are and not caring how people will react in return.

Exactly. I think that is the perfect note to end on tonight.


Well, there you have it, folks. We broke down just about every aspect we could think of for Fangirl (in the least spoilery ways possible). Our sincere hope is that you’ll take a chance on Cath and let us know what takeaways you experience.

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Estelle: Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky

Anatomy of a Single Girl by Daria SnadowskyAnatomy of a Single Girl by Daria Snadowsky ( website | tweet )
Publication Date: January 8, 2013
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pages: 240
Target audience: Mature young adult
Keywords: summer break from college, med school, sex, relationships
Format read: ARC from NetGalley (Thanks!)

Summary: Dom, a pre-med major, is home for summer break and hoping to spend some time with her best friend, Amy, and her supportive parents. She’s also still trying to get over high school boyfriend, and survive the longest period of time she’s been home since they broke up. Will she spend the summer wallowing or will she find someone or something to distract her?

I was not expecting Anatomy of a Single Girl, the first book I’ve started and finished this year, to be more than a fluffy, fun read. Nothing wrong with that. But lemme tell you, it shocked me. Shocked me because it was so much smarter than that, shocked me so much because I was blushing like a maniac because it was overflowing with sex. And not only the kind you have with a hot guy, trying to get your first O (oh that’s in there too) but um, the self-pleasing kind as well.

See? I’m all nervous just typing that!

I am all for girl power: ladies like Carrie Bradshaw and Jessica Darling, who know how they feel and what they want. Not only in their personal lives but for their professional ones too. Main character Dom is a science geek, friends! A science geek who is also still cool, pretty, likes her parents, and has a great relationship with her best friend, Amy. Dom wants to be a doctor, and has been memorizing Gray’s Anatomy since she was in high school.

Now she’s on break from college, after working her ass off, and she needs some relief from those finals. RELIEF. If you remember or if you are experiencing it now, summers home are tough. Friends can change, your parents might seem a little boring, and, man oh man, that freedom you so loved at school may not come as easily. Snadowsky has this down including the super supportive parents who are always begging for more time with their kid.

And where’s Dom? Volunteering at the hospital, and hanging out with Guy, who loves science as much as she does. I love this girl so much because she is SO herself, whether it’s geeking out or thinking so black and white about relationships. Most of us has been there: what’s the point of dating for fun or having a fling if there’s no future? (Okay, so I used to have this mindset so I get it.) Like me, Dom has a problem just LETTING GO + it seems the mission of the summer is all wrapped in that.

In the meantime, her bestie, Amy, is in a committed relationship but dares to flirt and be forward with the boys anyway. I liked this parallel a lot. Amy and Dom have this cool friendship you could only hope for. College can change the dynamics between friends so much, and they manage to fall back into old times as soon as they see each other — even when there are some growing pains to deal with. You can tell they also keep great touch despite going to different colleges, miles and miles away from each other.

You know, I had absolutely no idea that Snadowsky had written a previous book about Dom. But the snappy, honest writing (even with Dom’s long-winded and technical thought process) never made me feel like I was missing anything or getting an intense recap from book 1. I love when authors write a series but each book can also be seen as a standalone. In fact, since finishing Single Girl, I’ve read Anatomy of a Boyfriend and I felt majorly grateful to read another book that was so open about sexuality, virginity, and the dreaded leaving high school for college process.

Snadowsky knows how to write women — strong, flawed women who are open to discovering their bodies and what makes them feel good. (Whether it’s science or sex.)

own it now -- highest ranking from Rather Be Reading Blog

Goodreads | Buy on Amazon | Anatomy of a Boyfriend

Estelle: Saving Ruth by Zoe Fishman

Saving Ruth by Zoe FishmanSaving Ruth by Zoe Fishman
Publication Date: May 1, 2012
Publisher: William Morrow
Pages: 304
Target audience: Adult fiction
Keywords: eating disorder, college student, racial prejudices, summer
How I found out about it: A pick for Big Kids’ Table

Summary: Ruth is back in the south, on her first summer break since leaving for college in the fall. Life at home is intense, her older brother is distant, and no one can stop commenting on her weight loss (she thinks she looks great, they think she looks too skinny). Even working at the pool isn’t the relief it used to be as judgements begin to surface after a child nearly drowns.

I can remember how weird it was to come home that first summer after being away for 2 semesters. You’re used to so much freedom and all of a sudden you are under the same roof with your parents and the same rules. As for friends, it always took a little while to get back into the swing of things with people you didn’t see that often.

After reading so much YA, it was interesting to read an adult contemporary title about a 19-year old who had some very adult problems. (I actually don’t know why it couldn’t have been classfied as YA.) Ruth is forcing herself to keep a very strict diet and exercise plan. After being an overweight child, she is scared that gaining any ounce will mean she will be right back where she began. When I read about a character with an eating disorder, I’m always curious about what moment would be their breaking point. Despite the comments from her family and friends, Ruth maintains this regiment for a majority of the book. Fishman does a realistic job of painting this girl who was so affected by the people she grew up with and even the small comments made now and then by her parents. No one knew that those small moments could grow to mean so much.

In fact, Ruth is “hired” to help another overweight girl in the neighborhood after her mom sees how “fabulous” Ruth was looking. (Ironic, isn’t it?) I loved the train of thought that came out of these lessons and also the parellels between her and the youngin. That’s the thing about Ruth. She is completely aware of what she is doing. She knows she lacks the knowledge of proper nutrition but even knowing that is not enough for her to put a halt to her behaviors.

A well-done subplot of the novel was also the difficult relationship Ruth had with her brother, David. The once popular/uber successful/soccer star champion is suddenly withdrawn and Ruth has no idea how to get through to him. I was very caught up in their relationship and what might have been David’s problem. (I guessed wrong.) David’s secrets open a can of worms when an emergency occurs at the pool and Ruth is forced to face certain truths about him. Not only that, but prejudices she never encountered start to bubble and force her to see others in her community differently.

Fishman has created a well-written work that manages to weave in various storylines and not pollute the pages with too much of anything. She has a refreshing and simple style that was easy to connect with and I couldn’t put the novel down. (Sidenote: there’s also some romance and I mention that because it’s sweet but also I love how Fishman doesn’t make it bigger than it ought to be.) In fact, I was utterly sad when it was over. In the end this book is about people vying for control of their lives and how that control is so fragile. So it’s also about learning how to let go, go with the flow, and why that isn’t always the easy thing to do.

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