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Friday, September 6, 2013

Book Review: From What I Remember... by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas

It is time for the next installment of my Summer Fun Review Wrap Up. I am just about ready to wrap it up just as I'm about ready to put my shorts in the attic and put away my sandals for another 9 months. But summer is not quite over yet, at least not for me.

This installment is a book I just happened upon in the book store while I was browsing. I wasn't necessarily looking for anything or perhaps I had something very specific in mind which I couldn't find. (Happens far too often. If it's a new book, why is it not on the shelf? But I digress.) Regardless of the reason, I picked up From What I Remember... by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas along with a few other books and made my way to the café so I could peruse the first chapter of each and decide which I wanted to pick up. I believe I got no further than the first chapter of From What I Remember... and I knew I had to buy it. And now I will share with you...

Book Description:
Publication Date: January 7, 2013

Kylie Flores – class brain and movie addict – has been planning her big graduation day speech for three months. A scholarship student she would never dream of mixing with the likes of Max Langston – rich undeniably handsome and athletic but totally dead from the neck up. So it’s a total mystery when Kylie wakes up in Mexico with the hangover from hell in a bed she doesn’t recognise next to Max – and they are both wearing wedding bands…

Rewind 48 hours to find out just how and why they got there!

My Review:
So that is the set up. How did they get there? I had to know.

It's Graduation week, the day before the last day of school in fact and Ms. Murphy, the English teacher, is handing out a project that is due the next day. To make matters worse, she is pairing up the class randomly. Kylie, who is the Valedictorian and doesn't mind a last minute assignment is paired up with Max Langston, who she considers to be an arrogant rich kid. The paper is going to count towards the final grade, so Kylie doesn't want to skip the assignment like most of the senior class is planning on doing, Max, for instance.

Kylie is an outsider. She is more interested in studying and making her place in the world than making friends, but she has one friend, Will, who has appointed himself Kylie's fashion consultant, since Kylie doesn't make much effort in her appearance. She wears unflattering clothes and keeps her hair in a pony tail. As much as Will tries to improve her style, she is reluctant and resistant to it. Because she is a big geek when it comes to school work and she is not wealthy like the majority of the body of students at her high school, she is often picked on. Now she just counts the days until she can get to NYU and start her career in film.

Max, on the other hand, one of the popular crowd, is loaded and dating the most gorgeous girl in school, Lilly Wentworth. He is also captain of the football team and has lots of friends. Max is planning on skipping the assignment, but Kylie presses him to cooperate, agreeing to write his paper for him if he would just give her 10 minutes.

When Max doesn't show up for their meet up, Kylie decides to go looking for him. Finding him on the squash courts, she confronts him about about their missed appointment. Some words are spoken, one thing leads to another, Kylie goes nuclear and kicks Max's friend Charlie after he's made some really snarky remarks about where she lives. Max gets angry with her and tells her he's not doing the assignment and she stalks off after cursing him out.

Later that night, Max calls Kylie to apologize and tell her he'll do the paper, or rather, he'll give her what she needs so she can write both papers. They agree to meet at a coffee shop before school the next day.

Kylie is late to meet Max, but she gets coffee, settles down and asks him what the two most influential books he's read are. She's expecting him to mention some shallow easy reading kind of books, but he surprises her with a couple of books that are thought provoking and deep. Once he's given her the information she needs, he moves to leave, but Kylie is searching about the floor. Her back pack has been stolen and she races out the door of the coffee shop in pursuit of the thief.

That backpack is Kylie's life. It has her laptop in it which has her Valedictorian speech as well as a screenplay she is working on and she has no back up. She catches up to him, but he slips away and hops on a dirt bike. Max gets his car, picks Kylie up and offers to take her to school, but she refuses. After she cries about her computer, he offers to go after the thief with her. They follow the dirt bike until it meets up with a U Haul truck. The thief unloads his haul, gets paid and races off. Then the truck drives off.

Max again wants to head back to school, but Kylie wants to get out of the car and go after them. Reluctantly, Max decides he's give her a half hour and they go after the truck. They follow the truck to a convenience store and while the criminals are inside, Kylie and Max sneak into the van so she can get her back pack. They almost make it, but run out of time and get stuck in the back of the truck while the two guys get back in and drive off to who knows where.

What follows is either a trip down the highway to hell or the road to heaven.

I wasn't sure what to expect, but I liked the premise. I could relate to Kylie, not that I've ever blacked out and found myself not remembering a thing the next day. I found the characters of Kylie to be complex and interesting. Both of them have their own secrets they don't share and they are both guilty of bias of the other based on their own assumptions. But neither of them is what the other thinks.

Kylie is a little obsessive and seems to need to take charge. She has issues at home and loaded down with responsibility. She is also way too serious and doesn't seem to let loose much.

Max has it all. A perfect life. But what people don't know is that he is basically putting on a show. He acts the way people think he should act, but he is much deeper and thoughtful underneath it all. He has an over inflated sense of responsibility to every one around him, but he seems to be going through the motions. His life is not his to control and it doesn't matter what he wants to do. 

The road trip starts with Max resenting Kylie and blaming her for their current predicament. He's also scared, but doesn't want to show it. Kylie has to be strong and try to figure things out as it seems Max is incapable. As they are forced to travel on together they begin to confide in each other the issues that they are both dealing with and they come to understand one another, realizing that they are neither what the other at first assumed.

It is a beautiful story to watch unfold, like a morning glory opening up at the first kiss of the sun. You know how the story ends, well almost. It doesn't quite start at the end, but it is a wonderful journey to see how they get there and how they both transform. The story is at times heartbreaking, but at other times tremendously funny and well worth the trip.

Plus it's got a pretty darn good tag line: Ever wish your life was like a movie?

Well who doesn't? I know I do.

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