Where to Begin...
I loved it. I just got to start by writing that. This story has such a strong beginning and captured me instantly. I said to myself as I was reading that if I had stumbled upon this book as a teenager, I would've bought it. The humour, oh my gosh! I laughed out loud so many times, and I had to cover my mouth to stifle my giggles as not to wake up my baby. I'm not very good at writing reviews, but I'm going to try because I have a lot going through my mind with this story, but I'm not very good at expressing my thoughts. So here goes...
Read the story now
It's corny. I am not going to lie. There are quite a few corny and cheesy scenes, but it's not over the top. It's like just the right amount of corniness. Which I appreciate because I like corny. A little corny. Not too much. When reading a romance, it's nice to get that fuzzy feeling in your gut that makes you squirmish and, as an adult, takes you right back to when... just accidentally brushing shoulders with your crush made your head explode with fireworks. This story definitely hits those feelings on the mark. I'm actually very picky with romance novels, and most romances fail to hold my attention, but this story delivered a romantic slice of life on a gold platter. So, bravo there.
This story has a few hooks. The first is finding out why Andy is self-conscious. I caught on right away when she wore her hood to the dinner table, and her dad made her take it off that there was something up. To be honest, I was a little disappointed that I found out rather quickly that it was due to the birthmark on her face. I felt like the author could have kept us in suspense for a little longer. I love suspense, and I don't enjoy it as much when I feel like all the answers are handed to me. Granted, I suck at figuring things out, but that's what makes it fun.
There are two types of books. Those that force the reader to rack their brain and read in between the lines and those that give the reader all the answers without them having to put in much thought. For the birthmark, it was the latter. I feel like it would've made a more enormous impact if there was a scene of Andy maybe being bullied about her looks, which would really make the readers wonder what's wrong with her face? Why is she being picked on? Then, doing the reveal of oh, she has a birthmark that would have triggered anger and sympathy. Yes, there are bullying scenes, but we are introduced to these scenes already knowing about the birthmark. So, while yes, it still made me upset, it just wasn't as powerful, if that makes sense. Did it take away from the story? No, not really, this was just my thought as I was reading, because honestly, for me, finding out so quickly about the birthmark, I did lose a little interest, but the second hook kept me going.
Andy's dad and the Tetamores. Seriously, what was the feud? I was so hooked on finding out what happened that the Tetamores names couldn't even be mentioned under the Sharpe's roof. That was the major hook that kept me reading.
Sorry if this review is so scattered. It's because my thoughts are scattered. Let me see... grammar and punctuation! Okay, I will admit that sometimes the grammar distracts and breaks me out of the story while reading. I do believe that this story needs some more editing. All are simple fixes, really, so I only took off one star. I understand that this story was written around the time I was born, and grammar has changed significantly since then. I started writing in the late 90s myself, and many of the rules in writing that I learned no longer exist or have changed. However, I feel some things should be addressed, such as starting a new paragraph when a different character is speaking. There were times while reading when I had to reread the same thing two or three times because I couldn't tell who was talking due to how the paragraphs were organized.
I mentioned earlier that the story has a strong beginning, but the middle didn't have me as enthusiastic. This is my problem, though, and it is no fault of the author. My high school was very BIG on Shakespeare. Every year we went to the theatre to watch Shakespeare. Every year we would put on a play by Shakespeare, and every year, we would read the plays and watch the videos. I still have my copy of Romeo and Juliet from high school. I know Romeo and Juliet like the back of my hand that I was reciting the lines at the top of my head as I read the chapters. Unfortunately, that made those chapters somewhat dull for me. It was very repetitive. I understand the author tried to do the rehearsals as realistic as possible, which he did nail it because yes, that definitely took me back to my rehearsal days, but it was a little too much.
I personally don't think it was necessary to have that much dialogue from the play. It made me groan sometimes. I understand how Romeo and Juliet connect to the family feud, but at the same time, if I wanted to read Romeo and Juliet, I would just read the play. I was more interested in reading about Andy, Dan, Mari, Fer, and Cornsilk. The author created such a fantastic cast of characters, but I felt like they were sometimes overshadowed by Romeo and Juliet, which was a shame.
Lastly, I did find that the dialogue, in general, didn't sound like ordinary teenagers. As I was reading, I compared how the students talked to that of when I was in high school, and I remember laughing to myself and saying, "wow, we must've been very uneducated," because we were so immature. The way the characters spoke, I pictured them more to be at the college or university level and sometimes had to remind myself that I was reading about high school students. There were times when the characters acted immaturely, but for the most part, they were very adult-like. I did read the author's note at the end, and he mentioned that he's aware of this, so I'm not going to say anything further on that.
Overall though, a very heartwarming slice of life romance. Is this a story I would talk about to friends? Yes. Would I reread it? Yes, but I would skip some chapters with the theatre rehearsals. I'm delighted to have had the opportunity to read this book, even if it did keep me reading up until sunrise.