My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Raincoast Books
Published: June 25th, 2019
Publisher: Bloomsbury YA
Recommended Age: 13+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Romance, Family Drama, Friendship Dynamics, High School, Social Issues
I am always impressed when authors are able to successfully alternate between genres. I have read A CURSE SO DARK AND LONELY from this author not so long ago and it was an incredible fantasy. CALL IT WHAT YOU WANT is a contemporary romance devoid of any magic and curses, but it’s a gripping story nonetheless and proof that authors should be encouraged to explore multiple genres and topics. Sometimes they fail, but they still deserve points for trying. In her case, Brigid Kemmerer can write anything and everything because she fully understands emotions, compassion and the concepts of intention, motivation and dedication. She manages to breathe that knowledge into her own characters so that they, too, can be three-dimensional human beings who have a purpose.
This isn’t an easy story to read. It’s fast-paced, so technically the amazing reader in you could potentially finish it in one or two sittings, but personally I needed to take a couple of breaks here and there. It has been a while since I’ve read a YA book so heavy in content. I’m not new to conflict and tension or any topic that makes you feel anything but happy, but it’s rare for characters to face so many struggles in one story. Every single main and secondary character has something going on here. For instance, Rob needs to take care of his father who tried to commit suicide. He also needs to deal with his new status as an outcast and his former best friend placing a target on his back. He and his mom also face money problems. Then there’s Maegan who is caught between being the good girl and following her instincts that tell her to give Rob a chance and to help her sister who is pregnant and alone.
I’m not sure I smiled once reading this but it was a very realistic, dramatic and overall captivating story. There are beautiful moments, of course, especially between Maegan and Rob and Maegan and her sister. The emphasis is less on the action, the plot, and more on what the characters are feeling and thinking about what happens in their lives at any given moment and what they themselves make happen. It’s slightly predictable but the characters managed to surprise me at times, too. I can’t wait for the author’s future release, whatever genre it may be.
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