Estelle: From What I Remember by S. Kramer & V. Thomas

From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer & Valerie Thomas
Publication Date: 5/15/2012
Publisher: Hyperion
Pages: 325
Target audience: Mature young adult
Keywords: high school graduation, Mexico, unexpected road trip
Format read: Bought eBook for my Nook
Recommended to me: Ginger from GReads could not stop raving over it! I bought it immediately.

Summary: Responsible, over-achieving Kylie has been working her butt off on her valedictorian for way too long now. So when she wakes up on graduation morning, hungover and somewhere in Mexico, with popular, hot, and cocky Max sleeping next to her, she’s not sure what alternate reality she’s stepped into. How did she get here? And will she make it to graduation on time?

For those who know me, I’m kind of a serious person. I always worked really hard in school (especially high school). I was pretty involved (go marching band! go newspaper!) and I also worked a part-time job as soon as I turned 16. (During my senior year, I worked two.) So I totally get not being able to let your hair down and have fun sometimes because there are more important things to do. While I never rose to the level of Kylie’s dedication (not to mention the care she took of her younger brother, who has Asperberger’s) or was quite as smart, I could relate to the pressures she felt, and the judgements she made about others who appeared to “have it easier”.

Then there’s Max…a popular kid with heart. No one would know it but Max is dealing with his own shit at home. But there he is strutting down the halls, kicking ass in squash, and dating one of the most gorgeous girls in school. It’s just so much easier for him to play into this persona, the one he is known for, than to be himself. It’s frustrating to hear that from a character and since I was the bookworm with high marks and not exactly the most popular (and made fun of by those who were) it’s hard for me to sympathize with the guy. But I liked him. I did.

So when Kylie and Max unexpectedly (and unhappily) must work together on a project and get roped into a wild goose chase when her laptop gets stolen by some scary men in a U-Haul — you sort of figure that the two might be able to help the other out. Maybe she’ll loosen up… maybe he’ll be real for once. Their “road trip” evolves into this KYLAX bubble that I did not want to leave. Even when I was getting burnt by the sun and I could finally go swimming, I kept on reading until the last possible moment. I was totally swept away in their wild adventure, their bickering, their chemistry, and when they finally let the other in.

While the chapters alternate between Kylie and Max, we also get to know Kylie’s fabulous gay best friend Will (loved him) and Max’s girlfriend, Lily, who is dealing with a catastrophe of her own. I liked when the supporting characters piped in… for me, it built up the tension between Kylie and Max and later, their race to get back to school. (We also get to know Kylie’s younger brother Jake a bit. I liked this insight into Asperberger’s a lot. I haven’t read about it in any other young adult books yet.)

Kramer and Thomas could have easily written the fluffiest book with a synopsis like this. But instead we have two very different people, who are each dealing with a lot at home, and we find them discovering a bit about each other. And authors have also captured this cinematic pacing that felt like I was speeding through a movie and not reading a book at all. I loved that. (The movie quotes at the beginning of each chapter was also a nice touch, brought back a ton of memories for me.)

From What I Remember is addicting from the very first page and while it’s a light, sexy read with an “omg-is-this-really-happening” type of energy, it has dimension. Life needs to be able to take chances sometimes (even if they are scary), and don’t forget that age old lesson: there may be more to people than it seems.

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>> P.S. Ginger is giving away a signed copy of From What I Remember from Stacy & Valerie! Go enter!