Reunited by Hilary Weisham Graham
Simon & Schuster BYR, 336 Pages
US Release Date: June 12, 2012
Challenges: Local Library Challenge, Contemporary Challenge
3 Ex-Best Friends
Alice, Summer, and Tiernan are ex-best friends.
Back in middle school, the three girls were inseparable. They were also the number one fans of the rock band Level3.
But when the band broke up, so did their friendship. Summer ran with the popular crowd, Tiernan was a rebellious wild-child, and Alice spent high school with her nose buried in books.
Now, just as the girls are about to graduate, Level3 announces a one-time-only reunion show.
Even though the concert’s 2000 miles away, Alice buys three tickets on impulse. And as it turns out, Summer and Tiernan have their own reasons for wanting to get out of town. Good thing Alice’s graduation gift (a pea-green 1976 VW camper van known as the Pea Pod) is just the vehicle to get them there.
But on the long drive cross-country, the girls hit more than a few bumps in the road. Will their friendship get an encore or is the show really over?
Summer had always admired how uncensored Tiernan was. Sure, her lack of a filter got her into trouble sometimes, but it also got her what she wanted. Summer, on the other hand, spent so much effort not saying what she actually thought and denying herself the things she thought she "shouldn't" have that sometimes it was hard to remember what she really wanted in the first place.
I've always known that if *NSYNC ever reunited, I'd drop everything and every penny in my pocket to get to that show. Now thanks to Reunion, I'd absolutely love to do it with my two best friends in a green VW Van Pea Pod, too.
Reunion is a fun, winding adventure of 3 ex-best friends chasing the childhood band that had brought them together so many years ago. Though they're not friends now and have no plans of ever being friends again - thanks in part to a Winter Ball Showdown during their sophomore year - it seems their trip has other plans for them.
I'm never one to turn down a road trip novel, and this definitely ranks among one I'd love to have been on! The description of the Pea Pod was so much fun and so vivid, I felt like I could really see the band posters and collages plastered on the interior wall. The shenanigans they find themselves on during the trip, from the wayside hippie festival to the hot swimming boys to the radio contest were hilarious and filled with good hearted hijinks, and I loved every second of it.
I'll admit that some of the elements to this novel are not the most original. Each personality the friends represent are pretty typical, and the movement of friendships followed a clear path that a reader could have guessed no problem. And I know I'm not the only one who had flashbacks to the movie Crossroads with Britney Spears. Even the personalities of the three felt suspiciously like the characters from the movie - one studious, straight-laced brain, one popular flighty girl, and one party girl with a side of snark. I know there's no funny business going on, but I couldn't help but remember the movie as I was reading.
Still, despite some of the originality issues, this book was pure fun and friendship. Alice, the instigator of the trip and purchaser of the tickets, is fairly innocent throughout the entire novel; but Summer and Tiernan both have some other motives. I love the quote from Tiernan about how a runaway can always spot another runaway - it was so fitting and meaningful. And even though I'm focused on the friendship and adventures the girls stumble on, there's a great depth to the meaning of true friends and figuring out who you are as an individual amongst your friends - former or otherwise.
My only other issue with the book was how long it dragged out this Sophomore Year Winter Ball Showdown. Each girl constantly refers to it throughout the entire novel, always getting so close to finally explaining what happened until backing off. And that's fine, I get the point of drawing it out, but I felt it was a little...lackluster. A little underwhelming. It fit fine with the book, and I was quite happy that it's a situation that I understood how it would break up the friendship. In that respect, it's near perfect. But the buildup was so much, and the followthrough didn't quite live up to it.
Something I did love though? The ending. Parts of it were a bit unexpected, but it's totally a predictable ending that kind of ends all wrapped up in a pretty bow. Normally I'm not a fan of those, but with Reunited? It's so perfect and playful that I couldn't NOT love it. It's exactly as it should have happened, and I closed this book with a ginormous smile on my face.
4 Stars / 5