Sunday, April 20, 2014

How My Summer Went Up In Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

Published May 7, 2013 by Simon Pulse
Paperback, 302 pages
Borrowed from library

Rosie might have just gotten herself into a little bit of trouble... Following a breakup with her boyfriend who cheated on her, Rosie lets her anger get the best of her and sets his car on fire. Then attempts to make amends. And is considered a creepy stalker that needs to STAY AWAY so on the first day of summer, she gets slapped with a restraining order. When Rosie's neighbour and good friend Matty declares a road trip with a couple of his good buds and invites Rosie along, her first instinct is NO WAY. But her parents thinks it's a good idea for Rosie to distance herself from her ex-boyfriend so that she doesn't get into more trouble. So across the country, Rosie goes! And oooh, there may be a boy in a car full of boys to keep her mind off of her ex...

Who's ready for summer to start? Because I DEFINITELY am. Maybe you can tell by the number of books set during the summer I've been reading lately? Not a bad thing at all though because I love summer time! And this book sounded like the PERFECT book to get me into a summery mood with its focus on a fun road trip across the country! Hooray!


+ Rosie, the protagonist.
I had conflicting feelings about Rosie the entire time I was reading this book. On one hand, I really admired how she was a very independent person and took action for her life rather than sitting around and not doing anything to help herself. She's definitely feisty, but I loved that about her! And there were some qualities in her that I could see in myself as well. Rosie acts on impulse and often lets her emotions lead what she does (a la the whole igniting the ex boyfriend's car on fire). While I don't think I'd ever light my ex boyfriend's car on fire, I'm very impulsive as well and often do things without thinking about the consequences. But despite all the qualities that I admired/could relate to in Rosie, I thought that she was really self-centred and honestly, didn't give much thought to anybody else. From the very start of this book, Rosie has made it clear that she does not want to be on this road trip and while most of it is just whining, she actually does leave for the airport once and totally ruins everyone else's plans. I understand that this is probably not the ideal situation for her, what with the restraining order and all, but I also think that Rosie could have given more thought to others and how her actions would affect them, instead of just following her feelings.

+ The pacing.
Truthfully, I thought this book was pretty slow. I think a problem that happens with a lot of road trip stories is that they often are very repetitive - for me, at least! It's just one event after another and another and really no variety and spontaneity. And that's why a lot of road trip books get muddled in my brain. They sort of all become one because they're all so similar and there's nothing setting them apart. And I feel like that's what happened for me with this book. There was nothing unique about the road trip at all and it was just one place after another and a little drama here and there but nothing JAW-DROPPING. I guess you could say that in terms of pacing, it was all pretty consistent throughout this book but it felt so slow for me that a lot of times, I was just bored. Imagine it this way: instead of an intense roller coaster ride, it was more like an endless flat strip of road that just went on and on and on...

+ The romance.
Okay, to everyone who read this book, who really had any doubts that she would have ended up with Logan? Like, COME ON. I liked the progression of their relationship and how it wasn't like BAM, but honestly I had a hard time believing it. There just wasn't anything THERE at all. No chemistry between them. I could see them as friends but in a relationship? Not so much.


+ Avery and Matty and Spencer.
While there wasn't much exploration of the secondary characters, it was easy to see how most of them were really sweet! Especially Matty, Avery and Spencer. They were really such genuinely nice characters that any scene they were in was instantly a hit for me!

I've had my eye on this book since last year when it came out! It sounded like a quirky contemporary that would get me into the mood for summer so when I saw it in the library, I was like YES I NEED IT. While it was definitely a fast book to read, it didn't satisfy me at all. I felt really bored after a hundred pages in and by the end, I just thought reading it was kinda pointless because I didn't come out with anything. It was just a very surface-level book with too many things that didn't like.

If you enjoyed Reunited by Hilary Weisman Graham, I really think you'll like this too as they're both very similar! People who are looking for a fast pick-me-up type novel should try this!


Willa @ Lit Up Review says "This book has fantastic character development, hilarious prose, and a road trip worth taking! Rosie and her friends are a cast of characters I loved reading about, and I can’t wait to see what Jennifer Salvato Doktorski has in store next!"

Jen @ Pop! Goes The Reader gives it three stars: "While it lacked the raw, emotional intensity of Jessi Kirby’s In Honor or the quick wit and creativity of Morgan Matson’s Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour, Jennifer Salvato Doktorski’s debut novel How My Summer Went Up In Flames is a light, fun story that’s a great addition to the road trip sub-genre."

Sana @ Artsy Musings of a Bibliophile also gives it three stars: "For the most part, it's a story about a girl getting over a relationship through a cross-country road trip which is a fun concept but it wasn't executed well enough to make me feel that it's an awesome book. However, I do look forward to reading more by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski."

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