Rummanah Aasi
Description: Reiko loves the endless sky and electric colors of the Californian desert. It is a refuge from an increasingly claustrophobic life of family pressures and her own secrets. Then she meets Seth, a boy who shares a love of the desert and her yearning for a different kind of life. But Reiko and Seth both want something the other can't give them. As summer ends, things begin to fall apart. But the end of love can sometimes be the beginning of you.

Review: Reiko seems to have it all: she is popular, pretty, smart, and comes from an affluent family. Reiko also secretly hides her grief for her lost beloved sister Mika and still has frequent imagined conversations with her. Reiko has a hard time talking to anyone else about her loss and the idea of going back to the ocean where Mika died is unbearable.
  Reiko is haunted by survivor's guilt and tries to live her life for both Mika and herself, but is failing to do so. She tries to fill this emotional void by starting a secret relationship with Seth, a poor boy live in a trailer from her school who she has never really noticed before. Reiko claims that her rationale for keeping a secret relationship has to do with her uncertainty of being a romantic relationship rather than being unsure about how to handle their very different social and class statuses. As Seth's social status at school rises due to Reiko's association,  Reiko feels more uncertain about her own position and privilege.
 The publisher has marketed this book as a story of grief and romance, but Reiko's grief provides the emotional backbone for this uneven novel. The author does a good job in showcasing Reiko's journey of grief; however, I wanted the epiphany moment to be much stronger and personal. It is actually Reiko's best friend, Dre, who makes the discovery instead of Reiko. I also had issues with Reiko who comes across as conceited and self absorbed. The author mentions that Reiko is biracial-her mom is white and her father is Japanese, but this adds nothing to her character and comes across as a diversity checklist.
  Readers who might pick this book up in hopes of a sweet romance will be disappointed. The romance is non-existent. Seth teeters on the verge of being an abusive boyfriend who pouts and whines when Reiko wants to spend her time with her friends though he does have a point in being used by her. Similarly, Reiko also uses Seth as an emotional band-aid. One can argue that the lack of romance emphasizes the point of the author: nothing can fix you unless you fix yourself. I agree with that statement, but I think book would have been more efficient and stronger if this book centered on a full character arc of self-discovery without the romance subplot.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is some minor language, scenes of underage drinking, and a scene of making out that goes too far. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: The Beauty that Remains by Ashley Woodfolk
1 Response
  1. Hmmmm. Doesn't sound as if this one hit it out of the park. If you're going to bill a book as a romance, it better be in there.

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