Release Date - September 1, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 480 pages
My Rating - 4/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**
Here is the Goodreads synopsis
Printz Honor author Carolyn Mackler returns with this striking new novel that chronicles the lives of five teenagers through the thrills, heartbreaks, and joys of their four years in high school.Carolyn Mackler takes the experience of high school and condenses it into a five character perspective that not only feels authentic but offers up a fun, fast read that will immediately make you want to watch The Breakfast Club.
Zoe, Jake, Mia, Gregor, and Whitney meet at freshman orientation. At the end of that first day, they make a promise to reunite after graduation. So much can happen in those in-between years….
Zoe feels like she will live forever in her famous mother’s shadow. Jake struggles to find the right connections in friendship and in love. Mia keeps trying on new identities, looking for one that actually fits. Gregor thought he wanted to be more than just a band geek. And Whitney seems to have it all, until it’s all falling apart around her.
Echoing aspects of John Hughes’s The Breakfast Club, Carolyn Mackler skillfully brings the stories of these five disparate teens together to create a distinct and cohesive whole—a novel about how we can all affect one another’s lives in the most unexpected and amazing ways.
The writing style of using small snapshots into the lives of each of the characters was a choice that both worked for and against the novel. The downside of this style was that we didn't get to be in the moment with the characters. We sometimes leave them at the precipice of an emotional fallout without following the moment. What we do get to see, however, is the changes that these situations invoke in the characters. I believe the trade off of seeing the larger, overarching picture, rather than focusing on each of the moments individually, worked in this case. It's not a style that would work in each novel, but shines here. The entire point of the novel is the journey and this is the way that best showcases that.
Character growth is the central focus of the novel. It trumps everything else in the novel, and is where Carolyn Mackler's voice shines. We get to see how each of them have been changed by their experiences, and how far they've come since the first year of high school. This all encompassing picture offers up a realistic look at how the high school experiences shapes us. The reality is that nobody is the same person at the end of high school that they are in the beginning. That growth is really the most magical part of high school and is something that continues into college.
The comparisons to The Breakfast Club are warranted. It would be easy to label these characters, particularly in the beginning. Fitting them into these restrictive categories would be almost effortless. The truth is that people are much more complex than that, and we see what a disservice it would have been to label them at all. They are not just that one thing, but may thing. It may seem like an obvious lesson, but for high school students labels are still a brutal reality. This novel shows that you are more than any label, and that you can continue to grow and change yourself regardless of what others say. It's a brilliant, affirming story that offers up a message of strength.
This novel offers up a larger picture at the four formative years of high school. Carolyn Mackler adeptly showcases how much that time changes us, and the ways in which our stories can unexpectedly converge. Fans of The Breakfast Club will love this, and those looking for a little nostalgia will certainly find it here.