Back When You Were Easier to Love by Emily Wing Smith
Dutton, 296 Pages
US Release Date: April 28, 2011
Challenges: Completely Contemp Challenge (2011), Local Library Challenge
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.
There are already two other people there, girls in berets, but they just smile like it's cool, mainly smiling at Noah, I think, but I can't tell because my eyes are on Zan. I don't want him to see me, but I do want him to see me, and I want both those things so much and why doesn't he see me?
This book is summed up entirely in one word: cute. It's an adorable tale of a girl named Joy seeking closure when Zan, her boyfriend, suddenly gets his GED early and moves hundreds of miles away to attend college without even telling her goodbye. She reflects on the relationship, trying to see when it became the "this" he had to get away from; and eventually she sets off with Zan's best friend Noah to visit Zan and get the answers she craves.
It's a swift read with an equal amount of short insightful snaps and lighthearted giggles. You learn easily how to hate Zan, and you question why she's really chasing after him -- although you also completely get Joy and what she's missing, too. Noah is perfect, helping her along the way and being a strong, supportive friend at her side.
I have to mention that there is a bit of religion in the book; but nothing that's overtly or even overly preachy. I was a bit surprised to find out the Mormonism present, but it's handled well and I never, ever felt like I was reading propaganda. It was just another facet to the characters, and done in a way I appreciated. If every book handled religion this way, I wouldn't ever protest it in novels.
Emily Wing Smith captures the hurt of a snubbed first love and the struggle to come to terms with it perfectly, coming together in a quick, lighthearted read that makes you remember the pain and joy of understanding love and what it can do to you.
4 Stars / 5