It's summer so apparently that means I'm drawn to sunny seaside YA contemporary like a nerd to a library, like a geek to binary. It would seem it also means that I'm drawn to books featuring protagonists struggling with change and the BIG question: What am I supposed to do with my life? (See my review of Jessi Kirby's Golden for similar themes.) This time, the MC asking the question is Cricket in Deb Caletti's The Story of Us. Here's the flap description:
Cricket has a very long week ahead of her -- her entire family has come together for her mom's wedding, and it's supposed to be a time for celebration. But for Cricket, the timing couldn't be worse.
For years Cricket's been half of the perfect couple, destined to be together forever. Now, because of what she's done -- something she would give anything to take back -- Janssen has walked away. Maybe for good.
Cricket has always panicked in the face of change. Now she is forced to face her fears and decide once and for al what she wants, and how she's going to get it. Over the course of the week, secrets will be revealed, bonds will be tested, and Cricket's confusion --and her desires -- may very well send her spiraling down a path she never thought she'd take...with no idea where it will lead her.
Here's what I loved about this book:
Quite frankly, beachy/seaside summer reads are my favourite thing when summer rolls around. Something to do with wishing I was there, living vicariously through the characters, and so on and so forth. The Story of Us, is just such a story. Cricket and her family spend the week leading up to her mother's wedding at a beach guest house. So much about this setting appealed to me.
There was a fairly extensive cast of characters, some sort of irksome (reluctant stepsisters and immature guy friends), others I wish I knew in real life. Among my favourites were Cricket's older brother, Ben, and Cricket's mother, and I particularly loved the dynamic between the three of them. Perhaps two of the most surprising favourites were Jupiter, the aging family beagle, and Janssen, Cricket's erstwhile boyfriend who shows up almost exclusively in flashback sequences. It's weird, but this was enough for me to grow attached to him, despite other eligible male characters in Cricket's life in real time.
Like so many other upper YA reads, The Story of Us deals with themes of growth and change. In Cricket's case this plays out as growing up, growing apart, moving on, and loss. As the title suggests, there's this notion of stories and memories binding us together no matter where life takes us. The "story of us" can refer to Cricket and Janssen's story, Cricket's family's story, and even the story of Jupiter the beagle and the family that loves her. (That might sound weird, but there's actually a good deal of interesting relationship metaphors linked to dogs, specifically Jupiter, in Cricket's emails to Janssen. Surprisingly, it worked.) Aside from the question of what to do with her life, Cricket also needs to figure out who to keep holding onto and who to set free.
This book is partly epistolary in nature, something I'm not usually a big fan of, but since this is where Cricket and Janssen's story was told, I rather enjoyed it. Cricket and Janssen have recently parted ways, but they still communicate via email while Cricket's away for her mother's wedding. We're only privvy to Cricket's emails, but it's through these messages that she reminds Janssen of what their relationship has meant to her, where she reveals to the reader their love story. It's bittersweet, heartwarming, and at times suspenseful while we wait to find out what Cricket did to screw things up between them. (Spoiler: Nothing too horrible.)
The Story of Us was a fun, mostly light book (except for that one part that made me cry) even while it dealt with heavier themes so often found in contemporary YA. It was the perfect summer read and as such, has earned a spot on my Favourites shelf.