Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith

Back When You Were Easier to Love
Emily Wing Smith
Publisher: Dutton
Released: April 28, 2011
Genre: Contemporary
Pages: 304
Source: Teen {Book} Scene
What's worse than getting dumped? Not even knowing if you've been dumped. Joy got no goodbye, and certainly no explanation when Zan - the love of her life and the only good thing about stifling, backward Haven, Utah - unceremoniously and unexpectedly left for college a year early. Joy needs closure almost as much as she needs Zan, so she heads for California, and Zan, riding shotgun beside Zan's former-best-friend Noah.

Original and insightful, quirky and crushing, Joy's story is told in surprising and artfully shifting flashbacks between her life then and now. Exquisite craft and wry, relatable humor signal the arrival of Emily Wing Smith as a breakout talent.
I am going to be frank: I did not like Joy, but that is exactly why I liked this book.

Joy is still reeling from the unexpected disappearance of her boyfriend. Okay, he didn't exactly disappear - he moved away for college a year early - but to Joy, it feels that way. She always thought their biggest connection was their mutual dislike for the ultra Conservative, Mormon town they lived in and its people. But when Zan leaves for California without so much as a goodbye, Joy is left wondering if Zan saw her that way, too.

The reason I say I disliked Joy is because she really wasn't very likeable... in the beginning. Her goal was to get out of Haven, go to college in California, and do it all with Zan. When he leaves without her, she is devastated. She alienates her friends, who try to tell her she's better off. She blows off Noah, Zan's former best friend, because she believes he is, essentially, the reason Zan left in the first place. When Joy realizes Noah isn't giving up so easily, she convinces him to drive her to California to find Zan - an idea no one thinks is very good besides Joy.

You can probably imagine what happens from there. I must disagree with the synopsis, and say that I didn't find this story to be particularly original. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't still read it. Think about it. How often do we do things despite already knowing the general outcome? Sometimes we have to learn things the hard way just for the sake of learning. This is exactly why I loved this book and why I loved Joy in the end. Despite her bad decisions and her crappy attitude, she is a very real character. Contemporary literature is based on this - if I can't believe it, then I can't read it. And even though I didn't always agree with Joy, I thought her actions and emotions were always believable.

I'm so glad to have been included on Emily's tour. Be sure to visit the other stops for more reviews, interviews, and more.

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