Today, I'm reviewing The Promise of Amazing by Robin Constantine. It's a charming YA debut novel, and I think you'll enjoy it as much as I will!
YA Contemporary/Contemporary Thursday is when we review the latest and the greatest!
Expected publication: December 31st 2013 by Balzer + Bray
Format read: E-ARC via Edelweiss
Synopsis via Goodreads:
Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe’s. Star of the lacrosse team, top of his class, on a fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a “term paper pimp.” Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change, but doesn’t know how.
One fateful night their paths cross when Wren, working at her family’s Arthurian-themed catering hall, performs the Heimlich on Gray as he chokes on a cocktail weenie, saving his life literally and figuratively. What follows is the complicated, awkward, hilarious, and tender tale of two teens shedding their pasts, figuring out who they are—and falling in love.
* A contemporary setting
* Two engaging characters
* What looked to be a really cute story - just look at that cover!
* A debut from a talented new writer.
So when I was able to get the e-arc of The Promise of Amazing from HarperCollins via Edelweiss , I was absolutely thrilled.
Things that worked:
One of my biggest issues with dual-narration novels is when characters sound alike, and I need to occasionally flip back to see who's saying what.
This was absolutely not an issue with Grayson and Wren. They're charmingly imperfect - Wren's shy and uncertain about her abilities, while Grayson is cocky but wounded, and Constantine's characterizations are lovely to read and discern.
As for the secondary characters - several of them are conniving and mean in a way that kind of shocked me. But that's what I loved about Constantine's willingness to include them - because there really are characters that mean out there, and it's compelling to see how Wren and Grayson deal with them.
* The writing
Constantine's writing is vivid and visceral, and really helped pull me into the world of Wren and Grayson. I could absolutely feel Wren's frustration at having been defined by her family's banquet hall her whole life, while also thinking that she just isn't necessarily meant to do more.
At the same time, I could similarly feel Grayson's frustration at not feeling like he has a place in the world after losing everything, but still not wanting to fall back into the old ways. Constantine uses dialogue and action to show us Grayson's conflicted emotions between striving for the difficult and falling back into the easy, and make sit compelling.
* The power of family
If you read any of my reviews, you'll know that I'm a pretty big advocate for families in YA. Wren and Grayson's families are both present throughout the book, driving forward the action and emphasizing just why both of them are the way they are.
I liked that even though the parents in both cases weren't perfect, they tried. They worked with what their kids threw at them (and vice versa), while not necessarily acting as enemies or antagonists. I loved that, and I think it really enriched the book.
* The ending
Without giving any spoilers away, the ending is pitch-perfect. Constantine knocks it out of the park with this one.
Things that didn't work:
Don't get me wrong - it's not instalove - it's more that they took a lot from of their interactions with one another, and seemed to come to the conclusion that strong attraction/strong emotion = love, if that makes any sense.
It didn't take away anything from the book, but it did make me wonder occasionally if Wren and Grayson would actually have enough common ground to stay together, long after the book was over. However, YMMV - and honestly, I probably think about these things way too much.
I highly recommend this book for fans of YA contemporary stories, but also for fans of sweet love stories (with imperfect heroes and heroines - this is the book for you.
Disclaimer: I received an e-arc of The Promise of Amazing from HarperCollins via Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
About the author:
Her YA debut, THE PROMISE OF AMAZING, will be released in 2014 by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.