From What I Remember, by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas
Publisher: Hyperion, 2012
My very last Olympic review!!! And I’m actually doing this while I watch the Closing Ceremony so if this makes even less sense than my normal review I’m sorry but it’s not easy to sing, type, and keep an eye out for Prince Hot Ginger at the same time. But according to my resume I’m an excellent multi-tasker so let’s do this!!
Plot: Max and Kylie have been going to the same posh private school outside of San Diego for years but it’s not until days before graduation that they actually interact. When an evil teacher pairs off the class and gives them an assignment on the second-to-last day of school everyone is determined to ignore it. Well, everyone except Kylie who needs to keep her average up so she can remain class valedictorian. Unfortunately she’s paired with hottie hot hot Max who couldn’t care less about the assignment. After a VERY public confrontation Max and Kylie agree to meet up. During the meeting Kylie’s book bag is stolen – the book bag which contains her laptop with her screenplay, her valedictory speech, her journal…and none if it is backed up (girl, I feel your pain). Kylie follows the thief, with Max deciding to tag along, which leads to the two of them ending up in a U-Haul full of stolen merchandise on its way to Mexico. They eventually rescue Kylie’s laptop but are now stranded in Mexico with no passports and no way to get home. What follows is quite possibly the craziest/greatest day ever full of amazing tacos, revealing family backstory, deep talks, celebrating St. John the Baptist, group weddings, and lots of margaritas (YAY!!!!).
Sport: This one just barely made the cut because there’s only one scene but Max is an excellent squash player. I’m not going to lie – I have NO CLUE what squash is and sounds really WASPy but it counts! I mean, I’d never heard of handball until last week and yet it’s evidently an Olympic sport? The more you know (picture the rainbow).
Review: What I like best about this book is that, unlike so many of the books we love, these are not perfect characters. Both Kylie and Max are flawed people who can be uptight, stand-offish, suspicious of people’s motives…but also fun, loyal friends, adventurous, and totally awesome. I loved how much the two of them grew as individuals throughout the book. Max stopped being afraid of living up to people’s expectations, Kylie learned how to let her hair down and not be such a control freak, and together they became such an amazing couple who compliment each other in so many ways.
The sub-plot in which they just happen to end up in the town where Kylie’s father grew up, and stumble into the bar run by his best friend who Kylie has never even heard of, was overly convenient but it still worked. I loved all the house party stuff, Max trying on the dress so Kylie would also, how welcoming everyone was, the fact that Max didn’t completely freak out when told he’d eaten tripe (ewwwwwwwwww!). It was all great.
The only thing that upsets me about this book isn’t actually about the book (Closing Ceremony note: OMG SPICE GIRLS!!!!!!!! Even though I knew this was coming I’m so beyond excited. I love them!) but that our review structure doesn’t have a “How awesome was the bff” category. Because Charlie would get a 10 but Will would get a 1000000000. I love Will so much I want him to be my bestie. Not only can he quote an amazing number of movies, but he’s so loyal, and fun, and endearing, and has great fashion sense, and honestly – I want to read a book just about Will.
In the end I’m going to give this one a 10 out of 10.
Based on the following criteria:
How much did I like the heroine: 9. Kylie defines anal-retentive. Granted this is in large part because of the pressure from her parents to be valedictorian, get into a great college, take care of her brother with Asperger’s…basically to be perfect. I love the scenes with her and Will quoting all those movies, and she was SO Jason Bourne when she and Max were in jeopardy. I loved the fact that when Max began to f everything up she didn’t get all whiny but knew that she’d be able to get through it all. I would definitely want to be friends with this girl…even though she’d probably intimidate me a lot. Oh and she gave the greatest graduation speech EVER. At the end all I could picture was this. (Closing Ceremony: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life!” And Prince Hot Ginger is singing!!!! I’m the happiest Ellen ever!)
How much did I like the love interest: 9. Oh Max. Seemingly so confident on the outside but in reality you have no clue who you are or how to be yourself. In the pre-Mexico scenes I really disliked you and when Kylie told you off I cheered. But then you gradually exposed your real self to Kylie and I fell in love. The love of photography, ability to talk to anyone, adventurous spirit, even how quick you were to realize that Kylie was an amazing person. I also have to give major props for realizing that it’s best in a crisis situation to let Kylie lead the way rather than arguing and trying to always be the alpha male. Which is probably the first time in my life I’ve ever felt that way.
How believable is the plot: 10. While a little overly dramatic at times and too convenient at others in the end it’s all still believable. And awesome.
How much did I like the writing style/editing/etc: 9. There was only one error I saw but it was a pretty big one – the chapters are labeled by narrator and there was one chapter labeled “Kylie” which should have been “Max”. I was SO confused for an embarrassing length of time. Other than that it was all good.
How much did I want to keep reading: 10. There was not a dull moment in this one. On my list of books to review I have this one listed as “Mexico…squash…SO GOOD”.
Glasses of wine I drank while reading: 3. But only because they constantly drank what my family now refers to as “the ‘S’ drink”
(Sangr…don’t make me finish). It brought back a very bad night which needed to be erased and drinking is always the answer!
Final Score: 10/10. I can’t recommend this one enough. When I realized this would be my last official Olympic review (although obvi I’ll never stop the sports reviews) I knew I had to end on something I loved and this was the first book that came to mind. (Last Closing Ceremony note: This was my favorite cauldron ever. I know people keep mentioning Barcelona but I don’t remember it and this was was just tops for me. Opinions??)
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