Hello Readers! New year, new salutation. Let’s just try it on and see how it goes. For my first review of the new year, I’m bringing you a sweet debut YA contemporary that has a little romance, a little family tension, a couple of great friendships, and a heroine who has a lot to discover about her own self-worth. It’s a comforting read to start off the year and it had me both smiling and heartbroken in turns. I think there are characters in here that everyone can connect with and their experiences are authentic and important. This one comes out in a couple of days and I highly recommend it if you’re looking to escape and read something that has absolutely nothing to do with a pandemic.
Title: Happily Ever Afters
Author: Elise Bryant
Author website: https://elisebryant.com/ (this website is super cute)
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/Harpercollins
Publish date: January 5, 2021
Tessa Johnson is a teen with a passion for writing romance stories. She started out with fanfiction but has graduated to long-form romance stories that she only lets one other person read, her best friend Caroline. When Tessa’s mom submits her stories to an ultra-selective private school in the town that they are moving to soon, Tessa is equal parts furious and excited. When she is accepted into the prestigious Chrysalis Academy for their creative writing program, she is thrilled to finally have the chance to spend her days writing and developing her craft.
This new school comes with extremely high expectations and Tessa has to face it all without her best friend for the first time. Add to that the pressures of moving to a new town and navigating new neighbors who aren’t as understanding about her older brother’s disabilities, and Tessa finds herself completely overwhelmed. She’s always had her writing to see her through the tough times, but when she gets a case of severe writer’s block, she is forced to face the idea that it may not only be her writing that isn’t good enough Chrysalis.
Fortunately for Tessa, there are a few people in this new town who immediately see her for who she is and who she can be. It will take all her new friends, her best friend, her family, and a few new love interests to get her “groove” back.
Why I liked it:
The characters are incredibly well-developed. I felt like they were each real people who had backstories, even if they were just side characters. It would have been easy for some of the characters to fall into stereotype territory, but each of their personalities were written so strongly that it just didn’t happen.
I also appreciated that all of the trauma and emotion that Tessa feels, as a part-time caregiver to a sibling with disabilities, as the daughter of parents who can’t always give her their full attention and occasionally ask a lot of her, and as a black girl in a predominately white town. I appreciate that we see a range of what allyship could look like and what it most definitely should not look like.
What I would like to change:
I wish there had been more justice for the wrongs that were done to Tessa. I know that justice is rare in the real world, but I like an unrealistic dose of it in my fiction.
Disclaimer: I received an electronic galley of this title from the publisher through NetGalley with the expectation of an honest review.
My library rating: There are a couple of cuss words in here, but there is very little else that I think would ruffle any feathers.
5 glasses of lemonade= you could recommend this book to anyone. There is nothing in here that is going to upset anyone and you could start handing it out on street corners.
My personal preference rating: I gave this one 4.25 stars. I loved the concept, the characters, and the writing style. I’ll be recommending it to co-workers and friends alike.