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Friday, October 17, 2014

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

So, as I said before, pile of books I read last summer, never got around to posting the reviews, pages yellowing due to sunlight streaming through the window and now I basically have to re-read them if I want to actually write a review. Such hardship. I don't mind the re-read, though, especially if I liked the book in the first place. How My Summer Went Up in Flames is one I enjoyed just as much the second time around.

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 Thoughts:
I loved this book! Who wouldn't like a story that begins with a car fire and a restraining order?
Rosie’s ex, Joey, cheats on her while her family is away on vacation. The story starts with her at a party where Joey shows up with his new girlfriend. What does Rosie do? Of course she goes to his house and sets his car on fire. Okay she didn't actually mean to set his car on fire. She took everything he had ever given her and set the box on fire, but it was a little too close to Joey’s car and whoosh, instant inferno.

Unfortunately, her actions were witnessed and she has been slapped with a temporary restraining order, here by referred to as the TRO, and will need to appear in court to plead her case. The purpose of the court date is to determine if the restraining order should be permanent.

Now, you would think after being dumped and then having her ex showing off his new girlfriend, setting his car on fire and being issues a TRO that Rosie might want to lay low for a while and not do anything to jeopardize her case. But Rosie doesn't seem to have a lot of sense. She’s too obsessed with wanting to get Joey back, even though her brother and her best friend Matty told her he really is just a big jerk.

Instead, she does drive bys. She’ll drive by his house, drive by his job, she’s tried texting him. She is convinced that if she could just talk to him that they will be able to sort it all out and things will go back to the way they were. She is caught by her mother lying when she said she was at a friend’s house but her mother followed her and found out Rosie was driving by Joey’s house.

Her friend Matty offers the perfect solution. Matty is heading to Arizon with his friend Spencer and Spencer’s brother Logan. Logan is going to university in Phoenix and wants to take his car. He’s decided to take his brother on a road trip and Spencer would fly home. Spencer hates to fly, though, so Matty is going to fly back with Spencer. Matty suggests Rosie go with them to get her out of the state and far away from Joey so she won’t get into any more trouble.

The night before they are set to leave, Rosie takes some benadryll to sleep and has a dream that she sent Joey a message saying she would be in Phoenix on such and such a date and for him to meet her there.
Her mother not trusting Rosie to leave Joey alone, she give’s Rosie’s phone to Matty to manage. Spencer is kind of nerdy, like Matty and Logan while being the very vision of a well behaved young man turns into the devil once they are out of sight of her house. They have an itinerary to follow and if Rosie can’t keep to the schedule, they’ll leave her behind. She’s miserable and just wants to go home so she can go to the beach and to try to fix things with Joey.

Somewhere along the road, though, she sort of finds herself and starts enjoying the ride of her life.

Ms. Salvato has a unique writing style. There is really no world building and very little description of the places they all travel to. It’s not about where they are. It’s about what goes on inside Rosie’s head. Ordinarily, I wouldn't really enjoy a book where the back drop is not completely fleshed out, but she makes it work. It’s about the emotional journey and not the physical journey. JSD also write about things I am familiar with. She hails from New Jersey, northern New Jersey in fact. She is a Springsteen fan. As a matter of fact, Rosie was named after Rosalita, one of Springsteen’s biggest hits, and she makes a mix tape of Bruce for the ride, not that the guys let her listen to it. Rosie’s love of the beach is also very real to me. While I never vacationed at the shore, I didn't have to as I grew up there. And I was probably every bit as obsessed as Rosie. Me and my friends would also do drive bys and check out the houses of the guys we liked. Not overly proud of that now, but there it is. Although she takes it to the extreme, Rosie is very relate-able to me.

So if you’re looking for a fun adventure, join Rosie, Matty, Spencer and Logan in their cross country road trip.

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