From What I Remember by Stacy Kramer and Valerie Thomas
Disney Hyperion, 462 Pages
US Release Date: May 15, 2012
Source: NetGalley (thank you Hyperion!)
KYLIE: Tijuana WHAT? I should be putting the finishing touches on my valedictorian speech. Graduation is TODAY, and is this a wedding band on my finger.
MAX: It all started with Kylie's laptop and a truck full of stolen electronics. Okay, it was kind of hot, the way she broke us out like some chick in an action movie. But now we're stranded in Tijuana. With less than twenty-four hours before graduation. Awesome.
WILL: Saving Kylie Flores from herself is kind of a full-time occupation. Luckily, I, Will Bixby, was born for the job. And when I found out she was stuck in Mexico with dreamy Max Langston, sure, I agreed to bring their passports across the border -- but there's no reason to rush back home right away. This party is just getting started.
LILY: I just walked in on my boyfriend, Max Langston, canoodling with Kylie Flores, freak of the century. Still, I can't completely hold it against him. He NEEDS me. It's even clearer now. And I'm not giving him up without a fight
Maybe life is full of moments like this, fleeting, genius moments that don't bleed into real life. And don't mean much when they're over.
What a fun book! I can't even begin to describe how much I loved this story. It is obvious in the best way that Stacy and Valerie are screenwriters, because it seriously flows like a movie in your head as you're reading. There's just the right amount of action, introspection, romance and humor, perfectly balanced together.
Going into it, I'd had concerns that it was told from four (later to find out five) perspectives, but it was basically a non-worry by three chapters in. Not only are they clearly labeled and defined whose perspective we're in at the time, the writing is done so well and each character's voice is so clear that there was never an issue. I liked that Kylie's brother Jake got his own little part in the story as well, it was a really touching bit that made it just a little more personal.
Will is by far my favourite, though I was surprised to realize Max is a close, close second. Will is that awesome over-the-top gay boy personality, and I loved the reversal that he wears women's clothing but feels weird trying to transition back to men's clothing. (I love me some Tom Ford suits too). His fierce loyalty to Kylie is sweet, and I loved seeing that kind of friendship in a YA novel. Hell, most of the friendships in this book are fantastic, notably Charlie and Max. Theirs was that typical male friendship, but didn't make it any less genuine. Very real writing, and awesome to see. Even Lily is done well, and though I think she is a major bitch, there are parts of her that are endearing, too. I can't talk about her too much without spoiling the story, but I do like how she ended - it felt genuine.
The story itself is fantastic, fast-paced and so much fun. While the general premise of how Max and Kylie end up in Ensenada is a bit of a stretch to me (I'm a daughter of a security officer, crossing borders is a sensitive topic), it didn't lessen how much I enjoyed the entire novel. While sometimes it seems that Max and Kylie's friendship is reminiscent of "insta-love," since the entire novel is really only a span of a day and a half, the development is real and paced just right. The ups and downs are what any relationship would actually go through, shoved into a smaller timeframe. The secondary storylines are just as well developed and meaningful as the main story arc, and I enjoyed how everything linked up together. Each character has their own shit to get through, and it all came together seamlessly. Max is a great male lead too, with definite negatives - but the positives far outweigh them. He really is like a lot of the typical southern california guys I know, a bit douchey but still lovable...especially in the end, where I was totally falling in love with him multiple times.
Something wonderful in the novel as well was the varying family relationships. Family is something I always study in YA novels because the teenage years are a big part to developing a relationship with parents and siblings. It's a tough time in our lives! So it was great to see the different degrees in this novel: some were overbearing, others were dysfunctional, some were strained, others were supportive. Maybe some were a bit of all of those. Whatever each character's family was, I was glad to see it in in the novel, and I thought each was handled great.
So yes, pretty much a perfect book! However...
Did you know that the movie Anchorman has a discrepancy in it? The movie is set in San Diego during the '70s and there's a scene where they do a sky shot of San Diego and pan across the downtown area. In this shot, you can actually spot Petco Park; which didn't break ground until 2000 and was completed in 2004. It's not something anyone would know unless they were from San Diego or some crazy diehard fan of the San Diego Padres (which, let's face it, not even San Diegans are die-hard Padres fans) so it's not really a big deal, but it's definitely something I always think of.
Why do I write that nonsense up there?
That discrepancy didn't stop me from loving that movie, but it bothers me enough to always think of it. And the same goes for From What I Remember: I loved this book...except it's set in San Diego and there are some problems that just stick out and bother me! Nobody would ever know them unless they're from here, but for me it was like constant little ticks as I was reading. I'd be like "it's not 'National' it's 'National City''" or "a school wouldn't have six floors or be indoors here, buildings rarely exceed 3 because it's earthquake country and most schools are outdoor" or "that road is misspelled" or "no way would anyone native to San Diego use 'wicked' as a qualifier"...tiny little things like that. I had a major freak out when Will was driving down the 405 to get to the border, because the 405 doesn't exist in San Diego - what is the 405 in LA and OC turns into the 5 just past Irvine, and that is the freeway that will take you to San Ysidro and the border to get into Mexico. THAT felt like a big mistake, but...again, I'm from here. I'm going to nitpick.
So yes, while I enjoyed the book immensely, I am always going to think of the locational discrepancies. I just can't think about this story and not want to yell about the freeway. BUT! Really, truly, I love this book. I felt like I was on this awesome, non-stop adventure with some great scenes and a fantastic cast. It's a pretty fantastic end-of-high-school story, with an important message of learning to let go just a little bit.
And to end on a high note, you know what was absolutely the cherry on top of a great book? All the movie quotes that began each chapter! So appropriate, so fun, and so fitting to the overall tone. They made me laugh as I remembered movies and want to watch all of them again - except I wasn't about to put this book down until I finished it. Go read this book!
5 Stars / 5