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Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Book Review: How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

The end of the summer season is drawing perilously close and I still have several reviews to post in my Summer Fun Review Wrap Up.  Gaahh!  I hope I can manage to get them posted.

While Fall is actually my favorite season of the year, I always  feel a little saddened by the Summer end.  I look forward to the heat, or rather humidity, being over, but I know that Winter is never too far behind.  I do love the crisp Autumn smell to the air and I really look forward to decorating for Halloween, but growing up a shore girl, there's just something about those warm summer days that I'll always miss.  Nostalgia catching up with me I guess.

But Labor Day is not for another 6 days and one must eke out every bit of summer fun one can before it's time to don the hockey jerseys.  Although, it may not yet be time to trade the sandals for the DMs.  I usually wear sandals through September 30.  It's my little rebellion that the summer is over.

Well, before the summer slips away, it is time for a little summer romance.  This time I bring you How My Summer Went Up in Flames by Jennifer Salvato Doktorski.

Book Description (From Amazon):
First she lost her heart. Then she lost her mind. And now she’s on a road trip to win back her ex. This debut novel’s packed with drama and romance!
Rosie’s always been impulsive. She didn’t intend to set her cheating ex-boyfriend’s car on fire. And she never thought her attempts to make amends could be considered stalking. So when she’s served with a temporary restraining order on the first day of summer vacation, she’s heartbroken—and furious. To put distance between Rosie and her ex, Rosie’s parents send her on a cross-country road trip with responsible, reliable neighbor Matty and his two friends. Forget freedom of the road, Rosie wants to hitchhike home and win back her ex. But her determination starts to dwindle with each passing mile. Because Rosie’s spark of anger? It may have just ignited a romance with someone new…

My Review:
This book had me from the very first sentence, "I wasn't always the kind of girl who wakes up on the first day of summer vacation to find herself on the receiving end of a temporary restraining order."

The books opens up with Rosie dealing with her broken heart. We all have ways to deal with a broken heart, but I thought Rosie's method was creative if not a little bit mad, but it goes horribly awry. Taking all her mementos over to her Ex's, Joey, she sets the box down in the driveway and sets the box and contents on fire. What she didn't count on was that the fire would spread and Joey's car would catch on fire. So now she has a restraining order, a lawyer and a court date to look forward to over the summer.

I might have lost it too if my Ex had shown up to a party with his new , in Rosie's words, ho bag. I was never violent, though, well back then, and the worst I managed was giving the ho bag the skank eye, to which my Ex dressed me down and told me to be nice. What I found to be amusing was that Rosie did not seem to grasp the concept of restraining order. She was persistent in vocalizing her need to speak with Joey to sort everything out. She was basically stalking him after the break-up hence the restraining order. Even after she is served with the TRO, she still makes plans to go out with the girls and do a drive by of his house and work. Which may have worked had her mother not realized she left the house without permission and new just where Rosie was going.

Clearly what she needs is a way to stay out of trouble. And her best friend, Matty, has provided the means. He is driving to Arizona with his friend Spencer and Spencer's brother, Logan. Logan is off to college in Arizona and he wants to take his car. The three are going to make a road trip out of it and Rosie has just been volunteered to go.

Since her parent's can't trust her, they give her phone to Matty to hold. He will be her phone police, letting her have it when she needs it, but taking it right back. They can't trust her to not try to contact Joey and if she can't wrap her head around how much trouble she is in, it will be much worse.

Logan is in charge of the trip. He seems like the man of her dreams while he is talking to Rosie's parents, but once they are on their way, he turns into the demon from hell, laying down the laws: no special treatment, they're basically going to treat her like one of the guys, if she's not back to the car on time at stops, he'll leave her behind, etc. Is this going to be a fun ride or a trip down the Highway to Hell?

So, I thought the characters would good. I was endlessly amused by Rosie's rationale and how she could justify the things she did. I imagine it would be hard being on the road for that long with three guys and being the only girl. I took a cross country road trip once, but I went with two brothers and a sister. Not quite so much testosterone. Even though she started the trip as a minor inconvenience, she did manage to worm her way into all their hearts and I enjoyed seeing how their relationships changed. It's hard for it not to when you're that close together for a period of time.

While I really enjoyed the book and would read it again, I do have to say that while the characters were well thought out, there wasn't as much by way of description. It was like reading a travel diary. You know, this is how we got from point A to point B. I never got a good sense of where they were geographically. The settings and backgrounds were not as fleshed out. The book was definitely more about the characters and their growth. The trip was just a vehicle. While that may leave some stories lacking, I found that it worked for this story. The back drop was not as important as the journey the characters were taking in their relationships.

Overall, this was a good, fun summer read. Just the kind of escapism I crave on a hot, lazy summer day.

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