I enjoyed the Gossip Girl novels in my youth—although I never got into the TV show—so I was intrigued by the prospect of a new novel by Cecily Von Siegesar.
Cobble Hill features an eclectic cast of neighbors, who meet and mingle in the titular Brooklyn neighborhood. Their shared narrative unfolds via a multitude of perspectives; quite frankly, I lost count of the number of POV characters, but there are four married couples and three children, most of whom have at least one POV scene.
One might think that it would be difficult to keep track of all these characters, but fortunately, they all have well-developed personalities and motivations, so they all stand out in their own ways. The author has infused these characters with quirky little details to help make them memorable.
As for the plot, not much happens. But also, a lot of things happen. Much like Seinfeld, the focus is on these amazing characters and how they interact with their environment and with each other. On the other hand, much like Gossip Girl, there are *some* juicy secrets, like the fact that one of the characters pretends to have MS in order to gain attention and sympathy from her husband, which left me anxiously waiting for the fallout from this duplicity. Yes, some of the events do beggar belief, but then again, truth is stranger than fiction.
I would absolutely recommend Cobble Hill. This book is engaging and fun, and held my interest amidst all the chaos going on in the real world. Von Siegesar has once again given us a glimpse into the world of a select group of New Yorkers. This time, we’re dealing with Gen-X Brooklynites rather than UES Millennials, but the commonalities are astounding. I would love to see Cobble Hill turned into a limited series on Netflix.
I received an ARC of this book from Atria Books/Netgalley.
Shoshana loves working at Once Upon, an independent bookstore at her local mall. She’s always loved reading, but lately, it’s become a place of refuge for her because her two moms are fighting a lot and her car needs expensive repairs that she can’t afford. But when Jake Kaplan starts working at Once Upon, Shoshana’s beloved bookstore becomes full of tension, and not because Jake is a total hottie.
Okay, maybe because he’s a total hottie, but he’s also a bit of a jerk who doesn’t even read, and when the owner announces a holiday sales competition, Shoshana is determined to win.
New Jersey: 1991
Cassie Worthy’s senior year spring did not go as planned—she got mono and missed prom and graduation and a bunch of other stuff. But now she’s better, and she’s starting her job at the America’s Best Cookie store with her amazing boyfriend of two years. They’re going to spend the summer working at the mall together, and then head up to NYC together for college.
And then almost immediately, everything goes wrong. Cassie finds herself dumped, jobless, and wondering what happened. Our intrepid heroine has pick herself up, find something to do all summer, and most importantly, realize that plans can only go so far.
I loved The Royal We, so I was very excited to find out there was going to be a sequel and even more excited to receive an ARC of The Heir Affair.
NB: If Royal Family alt-history interests you, but you have not read The Royal We, I suggest you proceed with caution because it’s almost impossible to properly discuss The Heir Affair without mentioning key details from The Royal We.
Adelaide Buchwald is a “fac brat” (child of a faculty member) at a boarding school. She has just broken up with her boyfriend and is spending the summer walking dogs, and she is going to spend her summer walking dogs. On her third day at the park, she meets a boy.
The narrative splits into three different possibilities (accentuated by bold text) of how the conversation could proceed, before the real possibility plays out.
To say much more would be delving into spoiler territory, but needless to say, this is a summer where anything can happen. This book is so much more than the classic tale of “girl meets boy”.
Sage Morgan is starting her senior year at the The Bexley School, along with her best friends Charlie and Nick Carmichael. Everyone thinks that Sage and Charlie would be perfect together, but Charlie is a serial dater and they’re strictly friends. Besides, Sage secretly kissed Nick at a summer bonfire on Martha’s Vineyard.
There’s also a new student at Bexley: Luke Morrison, a PG (post-graduate). He and Charlie form a connection almost immediately, but Charlie has always dated girls and he’s worried about what people will think if he starts dating Luke.
This book takes place over the course of the school year and unfolds from Sage and Charlie’s dual perspectives. The pace is a little slow at times, but this is exactly what boarding school is like in real life. There’s a whole lot of status quo, punctuated by moments of high drama. Needless to say, friendships are tested and the characters have to figure out who they are and what they want out of life.
I have been excited about this book since I first heard about it, so needless to say, I was thrilled to pieces when I finally got my (digital) hands on a copy.
“Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda meets Clueless in this boy-meets-boy spin on Grease”
Um, yes please!
Ollie had an amazing summer fling with Will, but their relationship came to a natural end because Ollie was supposed to go back home at the end of the summer. But circumstances changed, and his family ends up moving to the area to support his aunt while she battles cancer. Ollie texted Will, of course, but he didn’t text back—no big deal, Ollie has enough to deal with.
But then Ollie *sees* Will at his school, and he realizes that Summer Will is a completely different boy. School Year Will is a jock, a bit of a jerk, and most definitely not out of the closet.
So Ollie is left trying to start over at a brand new school and babysitting his cousins to help his aunt. He doesn’t have time for a boy who says one thing when they’re alone, and acts completely different when they’re in public. Read more
Life is pretty good for Brooklyn teen Cal; he has an impressive follower count on the FlashFame app and he’s about to start an internship at BuzzFeed. But then Cal’s father announces that he has been selected for NASA’s upcoming mission to Mars, and the whole family is moving to Houston.
Cal thinks this is terrible: not only is his NY-based internship delayed indefinitely, but then he learns that he can’t even parlay his streaming journalism into providing content for his father’s new opportunity because StarWatch, a reality television production company has exclusive rights and they’re filming everything for their Shooting Stars show. Read more
Ben De Backer tells their parents that they are nonbinary, and is promptly kicked out of the house. Ben calls their older sister, who they haven’t spoken to in years, and she says that Ben can stay with her and her husband.
It’s not easy to be the new kid at school, but it’s even tougher when it’s the second semester of senior year. Ben just wants to keep a low profile and finish school. They don’t expect to make any friends, but a boy named Nathan keeps popping up. He’s everywhere; he even lives next door to Ben’s sister! It’s not clear to Ben whether Nathan is just being friendly, or whether there’s something more.
There are so many poignant moments in this book, like Ben’s mixed feelings about being kicked out of their house. From an outside perspective, this seems like such an unforgiveable act, but Ben’s feelings are more complicated. Naturally, they are scared and angry, but after a while, they have a sense of cautious optimism regarding resolution. My heart just ached for the kid because I didn’t want to see them get hurt again.
While the story might begin with a catastrophic rejection, the tone of this book is very positive. Ben is accepted as who they are by their sister and brother-in-law, and they also have the opportunity to start therapy to help process their feelings about everything. What starts out as survival turns into thriving, and they even find a friend in Nathan.
I would absolutely recommend I Wish You All the Best. This is a beautiful book, and I am looking forward to reading more of Deaver’s books in the future.
I came across Hold My Hand by Michael Barakiva when I was browsing Netgalley, and the blurb piqued my interest. My request was accepted, and so I added the book to my reading queue.
Alek is an Armenian-American high school student. He has been dating Ethan for almost six months. Things are getting pretty serious, but Alek has reservations. He loves kissing Ethan, but he’s not sure if he’s ready for things to go further physically. Alek measures his life in terms of Before Ethan and After Ethan; he’s changed so much for the better because of this relationship, and he can’t imagine what would happen if it ended. Read more