Author: Claire LaZebnik
Publication date: April 22, 2014
Anna Eliot is tired of worrying about what other people think. After all, that was how she lost the only guy she ever really liked, Finn Westbrook.
Now, three years after she broke his heart, the one who got away is back in her life.
All Anna wants is a chance to relive their last kiss again (and again and again). But Finn obviously hasn’t forgotten how she treated him, and he’s made it clear he has no interest in having anything to do with her.
Anna keeps trying to persuade herself that she doesn’t care about Finn either, but even though they’ve both changed since they first met, deep down she knows he’s the guy for her. Now if only she can get him to believe that, too....
With her signature wit and expertly authentic teen voice, Claire LaZebnik (the author of fan favorites Epic Fail and The Trouble with Flirting) once again breathes new life into a perennially popular love story. Fans of Polly Shulman, Maureen Johnson, and, of course, Jane Austen will love this irresistibly funny and romantic tale of first loves and second chances.
First line: On nights when I'm honest with myself, I can admit that Finn Westbrook was the best thing about my ninth grade year.
I always liked the original Persuasion storyline because there's so much chemistry involved. Girl and boy like each other, girl's family disapproves, girl stupidly listens to family so she breaks things off with boy. Then boy comes back, boy is all "look at me now," flirts with others, and girl is emotionally tormented. Finally, boy and girl share moments, and reunite. Some people might be annoyed at the sound of so much going back and forth, but for me, there's chemistry to make it all come together
Anna and Finn became quick friends through her sister's carpooling when they were younger. Because Anna was apart of the popular group (and Finn was most definitely not), they hung out only outside of school. I felt like there was quite a lot of telling and not showing in this beginning part, but strangely, I didn't care. I loved getting to know cute, geeky Finn and insecure Anna. Anna's narration perfectly showed how conflicted she was. She knew that Finn deserved better than how she was treating him, but like most preteen girls, she cared about what her friends would think of her. As we all know, she ends up breaking his heart because of her friends. However, I could clearly see she wasn't all the way in denial. She might make an excuse here and there about keeping him in secret, but she wasn't in denial that it was wrong. That's how you make a character redeemable in my eyes.
Years later, Finn comes back very grown up. Grown up as in hello, hot stuff. Anna's friends (the same ones she broke Finn's heart for) are immediately taken in by him (to their credit, they didn't know Anna had a thing for him) and he joins their group. While he snubs Anna, you just know they still have a spark between them. You can't deny it, Finn, you just can't. Enter the tension. Really, unlike most YA novels, they don't have many "moments," but you can see that the past is still very present between them and that old feelings haven't died.
I liked Finn. I liked Anna. I did NOT like Lily or Lucy. Honestly, I was confused by all the many characters added in, but Lily and Lucy stole the show in this book, mainly in the annoyance department. Both of them had their faults; Lucy with her insane obsession over perfection and Lily with her strangle-worthy way of being "look at me!" While I connected with Anna throughout the book, when it came to her friends, we clearly were not alike. Too. Much. Lily was a hot mess, Lucy was close to being one, and I could have done without all of that.
LaZebnik drew parallels between Anna's sister Molly and Anna's current situation, also making the story her own. While Finn/Lily's subplot wasn't a favorite of mine, Molly's was. She added likability into Anna's twisted family and able to coincidentally show Anna right and wrong in the confusing mess. I do think Anna's father's sublot could've been ditched. That was one point where I felt as if LaZebnik added an element to the story just for the sake of staying close to Persuasion. Also, ew.
I reviewed Epic Fail back in the summer of 2013 and while I really enjoyed that Jane Austen retelling, I'm relieved to say that I think I might like this latest LaZebnik novel a little bit better.
Verdict: A fresh retelling on one of my favorite plots, solidifying my love for Claire LaZebnik.
Note: All quotes are taken from an ARC and may be changed at publication.