Monday, June 8, 2015

Proof Of Forever by Lexa Hillyer

Proof Of Forever by Lexa Hillyer
Release Date - June 2, 2015
Publisher Website - Harper Collins
Publisher Social Media - Twitter/Facebook/SavvyReader/Frenzy
Pages - 352 pages
My Rating - 3/5
**received for an honest review from publisher**

Here is the Goodreads synopsis
From debut author and poet Lexa Hillyer comes the lyrical story of four seventeen-year-old friends who receive an unlikely chance to relive the perfect summer . . . and the devastating secret that could unravel it all. Elegant and evocative, Proof of Forever is one of those first novels that hooks you from the beginning and builds toward a stunning--and unexpected--end, calling to mind Gayle Forman and Ann Brashares.

Joy, Tali, Luce, and Zoe were once best friends. Now they barely speak. That is, until the fateful flash of a photo-booth camera transports them back in time, to the summer they were fifteen--the summer everything changed. Photos fade. Friendships dissolve. Summers end. But this one will change the girls forever . . . again.

Wendy Wunder calls Proof of Forever "The Sisterhood of the (Time) Traveling Pants for a new generation!"
Novels that have friendships at their core are some of my favourite to read. I am still in love with the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series and hoped Proof of Forever would deliver similar feelings of sisterhood. While I was enchanted by the premise, and Lexa's writing, I couldn't connect to the characters enough to make the story resonate.

Lexa Hillyer's writing has a poetic, lyrical quality to it. The fact that she's published poetry before is not in the least surprising. Her writing style is indicative of this. Her descriptions, in particular, are lush and evocative. It's the writing that made this story capture my interest in any manner, and I look forward to seeing what she might write next.

I wanted a deep, complex look at a close knit group of female friends. I wanted the friendship to be the brightest element of the story, something that shone from the pages effortlessly. While there are certainly aspects of the friendship and how it impacts the each of the girls, especially in terms of their reconnection, it's the romances that overtakes the story. It changes the tone and feel of the story immensely. It's all hormones, and intense feelings, and heightened experiences. The aspect of the romance that feels true is the intensity of it all. Every single emotion, particularly in relationships, as a teen is felt just a little more deeply. Each crush feels immense. Each heartbreak is the most excruciating.  This felt like what Lexa Hillyer was going for with the romances in this novel. While romances can be a vital part of any novel, I was disappointed that it seemed to feel like it was at the cost of the friendship element in this case.

Each of the girls learns something from their trip back in time. Mostly that what we think we want most may not be what we need, and that the things we think are important now may not matter later. There is a message about being yourself, and doing things because you want to instead of doing them because you think you should. The notion that our choices make us who we are is also touched upon because these girls would not have seen things with fresh eyes if they hadn't had the experiences they had. The novel adeptly showcases that we'll all make mistakes, it's learning from them and growing as a result that is important.

This novel favours plot over the characters. Sadly, the characters themselves are not overly memorable. It felt like a cohesion of stories I had read before, and nothing stood out to make it linger after I finished the book. It's filled with pretty writing, and an interesting storyline, but the deeper connection just wasn't there for me. It reminded me of the candy the girls devoured - delicious, but immediately forgotten afterwards.

The ending, for me, did not have the impact it was supposed to. The rushed pacing felt like the characters didn't get a chance to breathe and process what happens, and therefore the reader doesn't get a chance to either. The lack of connection to the characters, coupled with this, left me feeling a lack of urgency or investment in the outcome.

A fluffy, sweet read that will bring to mind long summer days, cotton candy and the feeling you had as a teen of being invincible. While it didn't hold quite the impact I was hoping, Lexa  Hillyer's poetic writing, kept me pulled in. 

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