Thank you to Harper Collins and Balzer + Bray for providing this eARC in exchange for an honest review.
AUTHOR: Robin Constantine
PUBLISHER: December 31, 2013 by Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins)
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary
SOURCE: eARC from Edelweiss
SOURCE: eARC from Edelweiss
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For fans of Stephanie Perkins, Sarah Mlynowski, and Maureen Johnson comes a sexy, poignant, funny, and authentic debut novel by Robin Constantine about the journeys of two New Jersey teens as they discover who they really are—and find their way to each other.
Wren Caswell is average. Ranked in the middle of her class at Sacred Heart, she's not popular, not a social misfit. Wren is the quiet good girl who's always done what she's supposed to—only now, in her junior year, this passive strategy is backfiring. She wants to change but doesn't know how.
Grayson Barrett was the king of St. Gabe's: star of the lacrosse team, at the top of his class, and on the fast track to a brilliant future—until he was expelled for being a "term-paper pimp." Now Gray is in a downward spiral and needs to change but doesn't know how.
Here's a little known fact about me: I used to hatehatehatehate contemporary books. Particularly YA contemporary. I think it came from the fact that as a pre-teen, I had this friend who was a big reader (like me) but was also totally into super sad, major downer reads (not at all like me). So I got this very strange idea that all contemporary was depressing. I'm also not super romantic and I never really have been. This has been a problem for me at all stages of dating in my life because I literally just don't know how to get across how I feel about a person by gestures. I suck at them. I'm also painfully shy in romantic situations.
So I guess my aversion to contemporary was two-fold: I was convinced that they were either all flowery and romantic and not something I could relate to or super depressing and not something I ever wanted to relate to.
That all changed this summer, though, when I went to BEA and met the amazing Katie McGarry (who Pushing The Limits and continued the series with Dare You To and Crash Into You). Katie actually remembered seeing me on Twitter and I wasn't about to turn down an autographed copy of Dare You To. Pushing The Limits was one of my favorite reads of the summer and it completely flipped me into a lover of most things contemporary.
Here's what I loved about The Promise of Amazing:
I think that Robin Constantine does a really great job of writing in two voices, one male and one female. I think that it's a huge challenge as a woman writer to write authentically and accurately in the voice of a teenage guy. I feel like it can be hard to make them feel believable just because I have no idea what is going on in the minds of dudes, let alone teenage dudes. And strangely, I actually found the voice of Grayson (the male protagonist) to be more compelling than the voice of Wren (the female protagonist), which is not normal for me. But I really enjoyed the way he came across and seeing his personal growth from his point of view.
I also really enjoyed the story. I think it felt really believable and so many things were accurate to the experience of being a teenager. It was compelling and heartwarming.
I loved Wren's friendships with Jazz and Madison. I felt like they were a really solid trio and their friendship was one of the warmest parts of the story. And despite the fact that it's evident that their friendships are going through some growing pain, they are unfailing in their loyalty to each other.
Eben was easily one of my favorite characters. He was funny and provided comic relief at just the right times.
I loved Wryn's evolution. At the beginning, I was a little annoyed with her and wanted her to take charge more often. By the end of the book, she definitely was.
Here's are a few points for me that I either wanted more of or didn't love:
I feel like Wren's sister's pregnancy is a big deal when we find out of it. It's like a huge bomb dropping and with the exception of a dinner that happens, it then mostly goes away. I kind of wanted to see more of the ripple effect there.
I have this pet peeve about teen lingo and slang. Things like "luv" using the letter "z" instead of "s" or "es" for something plural, multiple nicknames for one person (I get confused easily), and anything kind of like that drives me crazy. There's definitely some of that in this book, but I don't feel it distracted too much from the story.
I wanted more of it. Like I felt like an epilogue would've been really great. I wanted to know more about where and what Grayson decided his future was going to be, the same for Wren. I would've liked more development there.
I would definitely recommend The Promise of Amazing. It's a pretty fast contemporary read -- I finished it in two sittings. It's easy to follow, there's a lot of interest, it's paced well, and the characters are well-written.