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.

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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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Wildlife by Fiona Wood | Estelle Reviews

Wildlife by Fiona WoodWildlife by Fiona Wood ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: September 16, 2014
Publisher: Poppy/Little, Brown for Kids
Pages: 400
Target audience: Young adult
Keywords: Australia, friendship, sex, relationships, nature, grief
Format read: Borrowed from the library.

Summary: Sib and Lou are two students living in the wilderness for the semester while dealing with the past, old friends, and new love.

I was tempted to read Wildlife because the reviews have been such a mixed bag. Here are some of my thoughts organized in a pros & cons list:

PROS

  • The setting. I haven’t read another book where students took a semester to live in the wilderness. It very much felt like a camp (but with grades), and I enjoyed hanging out in a new setting and taking part in all the nature-y and physical activities that were part of their every day routines. (I don’t know if I ever would have survived a semester like this.)
  • Lou is dealing with some very heavy grief. She’s also brand new to this school, and is able to shrink in herself as she deals with a tragedy that totally shattered her world. I loved how realistically Fiona Wood handled this storyline. Lou has to come to terms with so much without a familiar shoulder to lean on. She’s independent but hurting, and I liked how her story was broken down in diary entries as a way for her to work through these hefty emotions.
  • I felt similarly about the sex in this book. Sib, who is dealing with some new treatment from her classmates because of a modeling gig she has, engages in a secret relationship with one of the most popular guys at school and she has so many questions about deciding to take the next step and what it means to her. This was some of the best inner dialogue I’ve seen about sex in a young adult book, and I wish there was more of it. What do you do when you think sex is a big deal and your partner doesn’t?
  • Michael — Sib’s true blue best friend who is sort of pushed to the side while she pursues other interests and also a new friend to Lou. He’s quiet but super solid and I had a lot of love for him throughout the story.
  • Short chapters! Again, something I rarely see in the books I’m reading but very welcome when I’m reading during lunch and only have a short amount of time to jump back into the story. It felt like I always had a stopping point. (Plus the chapter number art was beautiful.)

CONS

  • The pacing was a little slow. Wildlife takes place over a semester and because all of the chapters were so introspective, there was very little action. I kept wondering what was going to break the book wide open, and it took awhile. (Even when it got there, it felt more like a tiny fire than a full on explosion.)
  • I was reminded a lot of my reading of Paper Airplanes from a few weeks ago. Two girls become friends, one of them has a toxic best gal pal, and there seems to be only a little bit of time for a full-fledged friendship to develop. It was obvious Sib and Lou could help each other (especially because Sib’s best friend is a piece of work) and I wanted the seed for their friendship to be planted sooner so maybe they could be farther along as I came up to the ending.

Final thoughts: Wildlife is written so beautifully, and I loved the supporting character that nature played in the story. The author did such a commendable job bringing to life two girls going through so much: one dealing with questions of her own limits (in relationships and friendship) and another working to make peace with the past. It was real and emotional but also hopeful. Definitely looking forward to reading more of Wood’s work in the future.

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