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Jenn Bennett is my YA Rom Com Queen.
Granted, I’ve only read two of her books (Night Owls being her first contemporary YA), but it’s a crown I’m willing to give. People turn up their nose at romantic comedies, more so when it’s YA because it equates with fluff. If fluffy and cute are dirty words, I’m reclaiming them back, because Jenn Bennett proves that you have can an intricate, well thought out story and still be light and fluffy, so screw anyone who says else wise.
Starry Eyes is Zorie’s homecoming, our kickass astronomy loving, plaid wearing heroine, who goes on a literal journey of self discovery. When she finds out that her dad has been cheating on her step-mother (who she sees as the mother figure she’s grown up with), she reluctantly takes the chance to go on a ‘glamping’ trip with school friends, including, unbeknown to Zorie, her once best friend and ex boyfriend, Lennon. When teenage drama llamas leave Zorie and Lennon alone together in the wilderness, sparks begin to fly as the past collides with the present.
What I loved about this book was how amazingly well developed the characters were. I’m so used to reading books where characters are out-of-the-ordinary and different from their peers for the sake of a plot, but everyone was so real life with real world problems. Zorie’s parents face challenges of running a small business. Her mother is Korean-American, so Zorie’s always facing racial stereotyping. Lennon’s parents own a sex shop, and, with the exception of Zorie’s father, it’s just accepted. Even the characters I hated, like Rachel and Brett were facing their own inner demons that gave them somewhat (but not quite) redeeming qualities.
On top of all that, Bennett was able to weave into the narrative Zorie’s anxiety into the story in such a thoughtful, yet honest way, that I know the mental health aspect of this book will stay with people for a long time. I’ll admit I had reservations about a book set in the wilderness, mainly because there are not a lot of books with this setting, and the last one I did read left me in a bundle of tears and scarred me for life.
So if you’re looking for a smart, sexy and fluffy read with fantastic portrayals of family, friendship and love, then look no further than to the stars, because Starry Eyes the read for you.
THE BOOK: Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett
THE PUBLISHER: Simon and Schuster Australia
THE DATE: 1 June 2018
THE RRP: $17.99
THE SYNOPSIS: Ever since last year’s homecoming dance, best-friends-turned-worst-enemies Zorie and Lennon have made an art of avoiding each other. It doesn’t hurt that their families are the modern-day version of the Montagues and Capulets. But when a group camping trip goes south, Zorie and Lennon find themselves stranded in the wilderness. Alone. Together. Zorie and Lennon have no choice but to try to make their way to safety. But as the two travel deeper into the rugged Californian countryside, secrets and hidden feelings surface. Soon it’s not simply a matter of enduring each other’s company, but taming their growing feelings for each other.
THE AUTHOR: Jenn Bennett is an award-winning author of young adult contemporary romance books, including: Alex, Approximately; Night Owls; and Starry Eyes. She also writes romance and urban fantasy for adults. Her books have garnered multiple starred reviews, won the Romance Writers of America’s prestigious RITA®Award, and been included on Publishers Weekly Best Books annual list. She lives near Atlanta with one husband and two dogs. Author image ©Heidi Darbo
A review copy of this book was given to me by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.