So recently I’ve been trying to read more contemporary books, and I’ve been loving my choices so far!
I decided to start out with Sarah Dessen’s newest book, The Rest of the Story, and Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett, which I’d heard great things about. Thankfully neither of them disappointed me, and it’s definitely made me want to read even more contemporary.
Check out my reviews below!
The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen
‘There is always the rest of the story, right? Even if you don’t know right now what it is.’
Emma’s mother died when she was only ten, and she has few good memories of her. However, she does remember the stories she used to tell her about North Lake, the lakeside town where she grew up, and long, magical summers. When Emma unexpectedly finds herself spending her own summer with her mother’s family she starts to understand her mother better, and reconnects with a lot of people from her past, including her childhood friend Roo.
As a teenager I loved Sarah Dessen’s books so much! They were such feel-good reads, and always had such relatable heroines and lovable love interests. However, the last couple I read didn’t quite have that same magic for me, so I approached The Rest of the Story with caution…
However, I ended up absolutely loving it! It definitely gave me that nostalgic Sarah Dessen feel that reminded me of some of her earlier books, and it had that same feel-good vibe.
I also really loved the central characters of Emma and Roo. I really related to Emma and liked how her anxiety is portrayed in her need to have everything planned out and in order. I loved the way she learns to loosen up as the book goes on, and starts to work through her problems, as well as come to terms with her past. And Roo was just the sweetest!
There was also a really good supporting cast in this book, and the ‘ragtag bunch of misfits’ vibe that was Emma’s long lost family reminded me a lot of the catering crew from The Truth About Forever (my favourite Sarah Dessen book!). I particularly loved grumpy Trinity and how she gradually warms up towards Emma, and I loved Gordon and her love of chimpanzee comics!
This book was definitely a fun, feel-good book, and it really reminded me of exactly why I always loved Sarah Dessen’s books so much. In fact, this one is definitely going up there as one of my favourites! If you like Sarah Dessen’s books, you’ll probably love this one, and if you’ve never read her books, this is a great place to start.
Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
“You and me, yes.”
“The two of us hiking to Condor Peak? Alone?”
“I wasn’t planning on inviting the bear along, but if you think we need a chaperone..”’
Lennon and Zorie used to be the best of friends, but something changed a year ago, and they’ve been avoiding each other ever since. However, when a group camping trip goes wrong and they end up stranded in the wilderness alone, they have no choice but to hash out their issues and stick together if they’re going to make it back home in one piece…
The main thing that drew me to this book was the concept. I loved the idea of a book that combined the whole ‘enemies-to-lovers’ trope with being stranded in the wilderness, and it definitely didn’t disappoint.
Surprisingly though, whilst the whole ‘camping in the wilderness’ thing was really cool, the best thing about this book for me was the characters. I loved Lennon and Zorie, and thought the chemistry between them was amazing, even from the start when they supposedly hated each other.
Zorie was really relatable as a protagonist, and I loved that she loved astronomy so much! It was a great and slightly unusual character quirk. I also liked the backdrop of her family problems, and you really sympathised with her and the conundrum she finds herself in on that front.
And Lennon was such a great love interest! For one thing, I really don’t feel like there’s enough emo love interests in books, or is that just me? And for another thing, he just seemed like a genuinely really good guy, and it became frustrating (in a good way!) that Zorie couldn’t seem to see for ages that actually he still really cared about her. I literally spent most of the book like ‘Come on! Get it together you guys!’.
I’m really glad I read this book, and it definitely confirmed that I do want to start reading a lot more contemporary. In fact, I’ll probably start by checking out some other books by Jenn Bennett, as this is one of my favourite books that I’ve read recently.
So have you read either of these books? What did you think? Are there any other contemporary books you’d recommend to me?